Grammy nominations! First the bad news: I received no nominations, despite having released an album during the eligibility period. I blame The Man.
So with that out of the way, I'll do my traditional rundown of the nominees. That is, I'll read through the list and comment on those things that catch my eye, and ignore the rest.
- This crop of nominations is unusual in that I actually like four of the five nominated songs in the Record of the Year category, and have no strenuous objections to the fifth. "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas is among my five favorite songs of 2004. "Heaven" is not my favorite Los Lonely Boys song (that would be "Crazy Dream") but I liked it well enough to buy the album after hearing only that track. Green Day's "American Idiot" is a fun little number, and I like the old-schol soul stylings of the Ray Charles/Norah Jones duet "Here We Go Again." I'm pretty indifferent about Usher's "Yeah!," but of the songs I've heard from Confessions, I find it the least objectionable. So kudos to the Recording Academy for demonstrating good taste for a change.
- The Song of the Year nominees, on the other hand, are pretty lame. I affirmatively dislike Alicia Keyes's "If I Ain't Got You" and Hoobastank's "The Reason," and John Mayer's "Daughters" and Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying" are both a bit too treacly for my taste. I don't know that would say I like Kanye West's "Jesus Walks"—I've only heard it once—but at least I don't dislike it, which in this category is high praise.
- It's interesting that there is no overlap between the Song of the Year and Record of the Year categories. I think that's unprecedented in Grammy history. (I've only researched it as far back as 1984, so I'm not positive.) Interstingly, the intersection of the sets of Record of the Year and Song of the Year nominees has been steadily declining since the end of the twentieth century. Last year, there was only one song nominated in both categories; the year before that, two songs; before that, three. I sense a trend!
- For the first time in several years, the Best New Artist category failed to infuriate me. Neither Maroon 5 nor Joss Stone are exactly new artists, but they're at least closer to being new that than some other recent nominees, like Fountains of Wayne or Lauryn Hill (possibly the dumbest Best New Artist nominee ever; she was nominated in that category two years after winning a Grammy as a member of the Fugees). My favorite of the nominees is Los Lonely Boys, but all five nominees are pretty good, in my opinion.
- The Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals category is dominated by the recently deceased this year, with Ray Charles pulling down two nominations and Johnny Cash a third. And Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton received a nomination for a song they performed at a concert memorializing George Harrison.
- My favorite Britney Spears song, "Toxic," earned a nomination in the Best Dance Recording category. But I'll have to root against it, because it's up against Scissor Sisters's cover of "Comfortably Numb."
- Steve Earle pulled down a nomination in the Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance category for "The Revolution Starts Now," another of my top ten songs from this year. And the album on which it appears, the similarly titled The Revolution Starts…Now, pulled down a nomination in the Best Contemporary Folk Album category.
- The Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal category is almost as solid as Record of the Year. I agree with tomthedog that U2's "Vertigo" sounds like a parody of a U2 song, but I still like it. And "Somebody Told Me" by the Killers is, again, one of my favorite songs of the year. Not sure if it's in the top ten, but it's up there. "Take Me Out" is my second favorite Franz Ferdinand song (I slightly prefer "This Fire").
- I've never heard of three of the nominees in the Best Metal Performance category: Cradle of Filth, Hatebreed, and Killswitch Engage. Judging from the category and the names, I think the odds are good that I would hate their music, so I don't feel too bad about my ignorance.
- "Onda," another Los Lonely Boys song I like better than "Heaven," picked up a nomination for Best Rock Instrumental. A well deserved nomination, I might add.
- I'm not particularly fond of "Float On," the Modest Mouse song that was nominated in the Best Rock Song category, but seeing it among the nominees reminded me that whenever I saw the video, in which lead singer Isaac Brock wears a Russian-style fur hat, I would amuse myself by imagining that the first word in the name of the band was pronounced like the first name of Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky. I'm easily amused.
- It's back to the 80s in the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance category, with both Janet Jackson and Teena Marie earning nominations. Also nominated in this category was Jill Scott, who recorded one of my least favorite songs of the year, "Golden," and the aforementioned "If I Ain't Got You." I've never heard the fifth nomination, "U-Haul" by Angie Stone," but I feel safe in assuming that I woundn't have liked it.
- One of my least favorite rap songs of the year, "Ch-Check It Out" by the Beastie Boys, was nominated as Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group. It's got a terrible video too.
- The Black Eyed Peas got two nominations in the Best Rap Song category, one for "Let's Get It Started" and another for "Hey Mama." Good on them, but I don't really think of either one as a rap song. Speaking of the Peas, I was surprised that Elephunk didn't get any album nominations, though now that I think about it, it was probably released during the previous eligibility period. (Wait, no, I just looked it up and it was released in May of this year. So I'm back to being surprised.)
- Best name among the nominated songs: "It's Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long" by the Notorious Cherry Bombs, nominated in the Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal and Best Country Song categories. Unfortunately, its title is much better than the song itself. Incidentally, if you'd asked me yesterday what kind of music the Notorious Cherry Bombs played, I would have guessed they were a swing band.
- Can anyone explain to me why there are six Latin music categories in the Grammys when there's a seperate awards ceremony devoted entirely to Latin music?
- Yay, a nomination for Patty Griffin in the Best Contemporary Folk Album category, for her album "Impossible Dream." Once again I must give props to hcwoodward for convincing me to buy this album.
- Michael Kinsley once used the phrase "wacky specificity" to describe the news headline "Methodists Oppose Use of Nuclear Arms" (New York Times, April 30, 1986). That phrase immediately sprang to mind when I read the names of a couple of the nominees in the Best Traditional World Music Album: Abayudaya - Music From The Jewish People Of Uganda and Sí, Soy Llanero - Joropo Music From The Orinoco Plains Of Colombia. Both albums were released by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
- Bill Clinton was nominated in the Best Spoken Word Album for his recording of his autobiography, My Life. That's his second Grammy nomination; Hillary still only has one. You know he's going to be holding that over her head.
- For the first time in several years, a majority of the Best Musical Show Album nominees are for new shows (as opposed to revivals or revues, which have dominated the category in recent years). A sign of a Broadway revival?
- Triumph The Insult Comic Dog earned a nomination in the Best Comedy Album category. This may be the first time a fictional character has received a Grammy nomination. I can't really make fun of this, because it was just last year that "Donald Kaufman" was nominated for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for "co-writing" Adaptation with his "brother" Charlie.
- Speaking of the Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should follow the lead of the Recording Academy and start offering an award for compilation soundtracks.
- Four of the five nominees for the Best Song Written For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media Grammy were also nominated for the Best Original Song Oscar. The fifth Oscar nominee, "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow," wasn't eligible for a Grammy this year (and it wasn't nominated last year, when it was eligible); the other, so the Recording Academy filled its spot with "Accidentally in Love" from Shrek 2.
- Oh, here's another nomination for a person who doesn't actually exist: Nathanial Hornblower, nominated for a Best Recording Package Grammy. My understanding is that Hornblower is the alter ego of Adam Yauch.
- T Bone Burnett earned two nominations under two different names. In the Best Song Written For A Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media category, his nomination for writing "The Scarlet Tide" is under his given name, Henry; his Producer of the Year, Non-Classical nod is under the name T Bone.
- Two of the Best Short Form Music Video nominees were for songs featured in iPod commercials: Steriogram's "Walkie Talkie Man" and U2's "Vertigo." My favorite video of the year, Alanis Morissette's clever and creepy "Eight Easy Steps," was unfortunately not nominated. Alas.
And that's all I got. Winners announced February 13, 2005!