I happened to hear Seal's "Kiss From a Rose" this morning, and suddenly remembered that I had failed to say anything about the Grammy nominations, which were announced a week ago yesterday. Not on! So let's see what I can do to rectify the situation.
Of course, one of the problems I have wen it comes to the Grammys is that I am fairly well disconnected from the popular music scene. My radio station of choice most days is WAMU, one of the local NPR affiliates. Over the course of the last month or so, I've been listening to an adult contemporary station, WRQX (a.k.a. Mix 107.3), while at work, but like most radio stations, they're not too good at giving the names of the songs they play, so there are a lot of songs I hear fairly frequently but can't identify. I'll also occasionally listen to WWDC, DC 101, the local rock station, but they have the same problem as Mix 107.3 when it comes to identifying the songs they play. That's why I can look at the Record of the Year nominees are identify only one of them off the top of my head. (James Blunt's "Beautiful," which is in heavy rotation on Mix 107.3.) I've heard of the Gnarls Barkley and Dixie Chicks songs, but I can't place either off the top of my head. The other two are complete mysteries to me. I've heard of Mary J. Blige, but if I've ever heard any of her songs, I've unaware of it. And I don't think I've even ever heard of Corinne Bailey Rae before.
Moving on to Album of the Year... nope, haven't heard any of those albums. I wouldn't be opposed to hearing the ones by the Dixie Chicks or Red Hot Chili Peppers, though. I'll pass on the Justin Timberlake and John Mayer albums; I've heard enough of their singles to know I have no interest in hearing whole albums by either one. As for Gnarls Barkley, who knows? As previously indicated, I don't know if I;ve ever heard anything of theirs.
Song of the Year: again, the only one of the nominees I know off the top of my head is "Beautiful," and I wouldn't call it Grammy-worthy. There's more overlap between Song of the Year and Record of the Year than we've seen in some recent years; only the Carrie Underwood songs failed to snag a Record of the Year nom. Which proves... something.
Best New Artist is surprisingly unobjectionable this year. The Best New Artist category has seen way more than its share of ridiculous nominations (e.g. nominating Lauryn Hill two years after she won a Grammy as a member of the Fugees) or non-nominations (e.g. not nominating Whitney Houston because she'd sung backup on one of her aunt's albums) over the years, but this year they mostly got it right. Imogen Heap is a little dubious -- she's been recording professionally since 1998 -- but she was far more obscure prior to this year than, say, Fountains of Wayne were before they were nominated in this category in 2004. That said, none of these nominees strike me as particularly impressive.
OK, with the Big Four out of the way, let me scan the rest of the 103 (
- Best Female Pop Vocal Performance: I have to wonder if KT Tunstall's nomination for "Black Horse And The Cherry Tree" has more to do with the recent success of "Suddenly I See" (which was ineligible to be nominated) or with Katherine McPhee's cover of it during the last season on American Idol?
- Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal: "My Humps" is not a good song. I'm willing to cut it a little slack, however, for inspiring this work of sublime genius.
- Best Rock Instrumental Performance: Peter Frampton did an instrumental cover of "Black Hole Sun"? Huh.
- Best Country Collaboration With Vocals: I'm tickled to see Bon Jovi nominated in this category (for their collaboration with Jennifer Nettles, " Who Says You Can't Go Home"). It's a fine song, but if you'd told me twenty years ago that Bon Jovi would one day be nominated for a Grammy in a country music category, I would have laughed in your face.
- Best Jazz Vocal Album: All five nominees in this category -- Karrin Allyson, Roberta Gambarini, Nancy King, Diana Krall, and Nancy Wilson -- makes me wonder: are there any male jazz vocalists? The only ones I can think of off the top of my head are dead.
- Best Traditional World Music Album: You know, it's easy to make fun of the fact that there are more than 100 categories in which Grammys are awarded, but at the same time, it's kind of wonderful that an album like Music Of Central Asia Vol. 2: Invisible Face Of The Beloved: Classical Music Of The Tajiks And Uzbeks has a chance to win a Grammy.
- Best Comedy Album: Go Ron White for being nominated twice in the Best Comedy Album category. I've always thought the funniest thing about Ron White was that he's part of something called the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, yet is frequently pictured wearing a stylish suit and holding a crystal tumbler of scotch.
- Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media: Hey's here's a nomination for an album I actually own: the soundtrack to Walk the Line. Well deserved, in my opinion.
- Best Score Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media: Hans Zimmer and John Williams account for four of the five nominees in this category. That could be good news for Harry Gregson-Williams, who was nominated for his score to The Chronicles Of Narnia — The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe.
- Best Classical Album: The London Symphony picked up a nomination in this category for their recordings of all nine Beethoven symphonies. Which reminds me of a conversation my brother and I had not too long ago. He heard someone on NPR refer to Beethoven's musical setting of "Ode to Joy" as Beethoven's most famous work, and wondered if that was in fact true, given the rather well known four-note theme found in the opening movement to his 5th Symphony. We talked it over, and decided that while "Ode to Joy" was probably known to more people due to its use as a popular hymn tune and as the European Union anthem, it probably was not as well known as a Beethoven composition as Beethoven's 5th. That is, we're not convinced that everyone who knows the tune to "Ode to Joy" knows it was written by Beethoven. Your thoughts?
- Best Short Form Music Video: A well deserved nomination for OK Go's entertaining video for "Here It Goes Again." I would have liked to see the song nominated as well -- it was released as a single within the eligibility period -- but you can't have it all, I guess.