By: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: In what could be described as the darkest timeline for serious music fans, retro-sounding funk pop icon Bruno Mars swept the major awards at the 60th GRAMMY Awards on Sunday night. But we'll get back to Album of the Year in a moment. It was icing on the cake for a week that saw the GRAMMYs under fire when Lorde turned down performing during the televised ceremony because she wasn't allowed to perform solo. All of the male nominees were.
The ceremony itself wasn't much better. The most nominated female artist, upcoming alt-R&B star SZA lost in all of her 5 nominated categories, and Lorde, the only female nominee in the main categories, lost to the aforementioned Bruno Mars. It didn't get much better after the show, when Recording Academy President Neil Portnow word vomited this nonsense:
"It has to begin with... women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level. [They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome. I don't have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face but I think it's upon us - us as an industry - to make the welcome mat very obvious, bredding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists"
But don't worry, GRAMMYs producer Ken Ehrlich has hope that Taylor Swift will take up the torch for women next year. "She was kind of off cycle. Hopefully we'll see her next year."
Onto the actual awards.
As we mentioned above, Bruno Mars took the top award of the night, marking this the third undeserving AOTY to take the prize over Kendrick Lamar (previously Taylor Swift and Macklemore had that honor). Mars was easily the safest pick of the nominees. Despite being snubbed for AOTY, Lamar still took home many of the rap genre awards, including Best Rap Album.
"Despacito", one of the most popular songs in Latin music history, lost in every category that it was nominated in, proving that the GRAMMY voters have officially turned against Justin Bieber... or they weren't ready to let a song in Spanish win any of the top awards.
The War on Drugs rightfully claimed Best Rock Album, one of the lone bright spots of the evening, even though it wasn't part of the television broadcast. The obligatory dead rock star category, Best Rock Performance, went to Leonard Cohen for "You Want It Darker". Foo Fighters won for Best Rock Song.
Best Alternative Album was won by The National for their great album Sleep Well Beast.
Country was dominated by Chris Stapleton, who won the 3 categories he was nominated in, including Best Country Album. He also performed a good cover of Tom Petty's "Wildflowers" with Emmylous Harris.
Speaking of performances, it was a pretty mixed bag. The best of the night came from Kesha, whose rousing #MeToo/#TimesUp rendition of "Praying" captivated everyone. There was enough raw emotion to fill the otherwise dull ceremony and then some.
Kendrick Lamar's multi-part performance was also powerful. It was theatrical, timely, and Lamar himself was at the top of his game (which is something we didn't see during his mixed bag NCAAF Championship halftime show). Could have done without the Dave Chappelle interruptions, but I get it.
"I just wanted to remind the audience that the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America is being an honest black man in America."
On the flip side, U2's performance of "Get Out Of Your Own Way", outside with the Statue of Liberty in the background was a little to try hard for my tastes. But the worse by far was a cover of Eric Clapton's "Tears In Heaven" done by Eric Church, Maren Morris, and the Brothers Osbourne. Not only was the song selection a head scratcher (the song was originally written by Clapton for his young song who accidentally fell to his death in 1991), but the performance itself was fringe-worthy how pitchy and disconnected it was. Eric Church was the worst offender. Watch the below at your own risk.
Joseph: The GRAMMYs have always been frustrating, but this year it felt even more pointedly so. After dropping a surprisingly decent set of nominees, the GRAMMYs went with the lowest common denominator in nearly every category. Seeing Bruno Mars sweep every major award was just hilarious, and in hindsight it's pretty much exactly what I would expect the GRAMMYs to do.
I liked 24k Magic, no disrespect to Bruno Mars, but it was undoubtedly the weakest album in the AOTY list. Even if you were going to snub King Kendrick again, why don't you pick the lone female artist on that list in his stead?? Lorde's Melodrama was an accessible and (at least somewhat) safe album that was a massive follow-up for the Australian singer. This just points to the larger problem with the GRAMMYs: the voters are old and out-of-touch.
It's amazing, now, to see how stark the contrast is between "music's biggest night" and the Oscars, or "Hollywood's biggest night." When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences started to sense that they were becoming out-of-touch because their voter's average age was over 60, (and following two straight years of #OscarsSoWhite) they made the voting body more accessible and younger. And here we are, just two years removed from #OscarsSoWhite, and we have a diverse and joyous list of nominees. There's actually only one white American actor in the acting categories, and it's the son of a French immigrant. Meanwhile, the Recording Academy's sad excuse for a president has the nerve to say women need to "step up their game" as they lose most of their respective categories again, all while snubbing hip hop for a safe/generic pop album for the 3405th time in the AOTY category. Sure, Bruno Mars is Latino, but he also represented a nostalgic feeling pop album, one that would definitely appeal to an old and out-of-touch Recording Academy.
Sure, Kesha provided the most powerful moment of the night, but it felt somewhat hollow when you remind yourself that Lorde wasn't allowed to perform solo. She was asked to join in a tribute to Tom Petty, which doesn't make much sense anyway outside of the fact that Lorde is a fan of rock 'n' roll, but don't worry guys! We have time for three Sting features! Really? Three? And what was that U2 song? It was obviously pre-recorded, why did it need to be in the GRAMMYs at all? Oh wait, I know! Because the old farts that vote for these categories love U2 and Sting!
Oh, ya! Can we talk about Best Pop Solo Performance for a second? How does Ed Sheeran win that category? Social media is STILL up in arms over this disgusting decision. He beat four women who all had better songs than him, not to mention the fact that his song is pretty sexist IN ADDITION TO just being a generic mid-2000s pop song. Sheeran was wise enough to not show up at the GRAMMYs, (though I'm sure him skipping the GRAMMYs was due to logistical issues) but I doubt even he thought he would walk away with this win. I mean, even if two of the other songs split most of the votes, there was STILL enough dinosaurs that listened to all the songs in that category and said, with a straight face, "Ya. This Ed Sheeran song really speaks to me. It's the best song in this category." I'm sure next year will be at least a little different, but chances are Ken Ehrlich and others like him will think it'll all be ok to just rain GRAMMYs down on Taylor Swift again. Until the Recording Academy opens up to a younger voter base, it's going to be like this every year Taylor Swift/Adele don't make an album. The Recording Academy is akin to your racist uncle that claims he's not a racist because he has a black friend. Just because you rain down GRAMMYs on Taylor Swift/Adele doesn't mean you're not sexist dinosaurs, guys. Personally, I'm so done with the Recording Academy until they announce significant changes to their voting process. But, until then, the GRAMMYs can go F themselves.
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Another year, another batch of GRAMMY nominations to sift through. This year's nominees aren't all that surprising, but given the incredible year of music that we had (check out our favorites here), this year's GRAMMY nominees continue to be a disappointing, yet not all that unsurprising group.
Here are who we think will take home the golden phonograph at this year's ceremony. We haven't looked at the Vegas odds before compiling these lists. This is purely on what we think. Right or wrong. Not that it matters.
Derek: Honestly, this is probably the best Album of the Year lineup that the GRAMMYs has had in a long time. There are your mainstram standards like Bruno Mars and JAY-Z, your "not quite indie anymore" pick like Lorde, and your truly worthy nominees like Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino. Of the two that I personally deem "worthy" nominees, only one has a clear shot at taking the title, and that's the king of hip-hop, Kendrick Lamar. Move over middle aged JAY-Z and your Tidal exclusivity. For an album that was clearly less impactful than his last, Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. still set the standard for albums in 2017, and none of the other choices on the list come even close. I'm curious if the vote will split between JAY-Z and Kendrick, leading the way for Lorde or Bruno Mars to take the title, but for me Kendrick breaks his GRAMMYs drought and takes home the top prize of the night.
Who Should Win: Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
Who Will Win: Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.
Derek: Song of the Year is quite the shitshow this year. Instead of posting only the main artist or group of this category, we've decided to type out each of the songwriters nominated to show just how many people it takes to come up with some of the catchiest, poppiest songs of the year. Despacito broke records this past year, and I don't think there's anything that takes it off its pillar. It either takes this, Record of the Year, or both.
Who Should Win: Despacito (Derek), That's What I Like (Joseph)
Who Will Win: Despacito
Derek: Once again, the Record of the Year category is where things get tricky. HUMBLE. and Redbone were two of my favorite songs of 2017, however you can't deny Despacito of the impact that it's has on popular culture this past year. HUMBLE. takes the prize unless Despacito doesn't take Song of the Year. In that case, it takes the win here. Sorry JAY-Z, Tidal is your worst enemy.
Who Should Win: Kendrick Lamar - HUMBLE. (Derek), Childish Gambino - Redbone (Joseph)
Who Will Win: Kendrick Lamar - HUMBLE. (or Despacito if it doesn't win Song of the Year)
Derek: Shockingly, there are two new artist nominees that I'm actually not familiar with. After years of being a joke category, could the GRAMMYs actually be choosing NEW artists? Or maybe I'm just getting old. Khalid and Lil Uzi Vert have been stars over the last year, but in my mind SZA is on a complete other planet compared to the rest of the competition here. Her debut album is a monster, and she's risen as fast as any of the superstars of the last decade. She takes the win here if the GRAMMYs know what's best for them, which is debatable.
Who Should Win: SZA
Who Will Win: SZA
Derek: When will the GRAMMYs get rock right? Between the different subgenres of rock represented we have thrash metal, progressive metal, indie jam rock, stoner rock, and more mainstream rock all represented. How in the world is it possible to pick a winner from this. Well, we have to. The two metal records here, Mastodon and Metallica, were both rather disappointing compared to their previous work. Queens of the Stone Age put out a good, albeit different album. The War On Drugs put out their best release to date and one of my favorite albums of 2017. I honestly think either Queens of the Stone Age or Metallica take the win here. Queens of the Stone Age for their name recognition and the middle of the road appeal of Villains. If Metallica wins, it'll be on name alone.
Who Should Win: The War On Drugs - A Deeper Understanding
Who Will Win: Queens of The Stone Age - Villains (Derek), Mastodon - Emperor of Sand (Joseph)
Derek: Ah, yes. The obligatory dead rock star category. We lost both Leonard Cohen and Chris Cornell in 2017, and while Cohen's performance on You Want It Darker was a stellar final release, I don't believe Cornell's hold the same light. I think ubiquitous rockers Foo Fighters take the prize, but don't be surprised if that Kaleo song that got stuck in your head last year takes the dark horse victory.
Who Should Win: Foo Fighters - Run (Derek), Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker (Joseph)
Who Will Win: Foo Fighters - Run (Derek), Chris Cornell - The Promise (Joseph)
Derek: With this weak set of nominees, Foo Fighters are going to *wait for it* RUN away with this one. (I'll let myself out). But seriously, all the other nominees here are terrible.
Who Should Win: Foo Fighters - Run
Who Will Win: Foo Fighters - Run
Derek: Best Alternative Album is probably one of the stronger categories of the evening, despite fielding three only so-so albums. The real magic comes with the bottom two on the above list. Father John Misty's best album to date, and easily one of my favorites of 2017 as a whole, and the best National release since their magnum opus, Boxer. Both are worthy picks, but I think Father John Misty has the edge ever so slightly.
Who Should Win: Father John Misty - Pure Comedy (Derek), The National - Sleep Well Beast (Joseph)
Who Will Win: Father John Misty - Pure Comedy
While we can't give an overview on every category, here are some highlights from the rest of the bunch, many of which will be presented live during the televised ceremony.
We at The Busted Amp fully expect Kendrick Lamar to clean up the rap categories, including wins for Best Rap Performance (HUMBLE.), Best Rap/Sung Performance (LOYALTY.), Best Rap Song (HUMBLE.), and Best Rap Album (DAMN.).
Similarly, we hope Chris Stapleton cleans up the country categories, including Best Country Solo Performance (Either Way), Best Country Song (Broken Halos), and Best Country Album (From A Room: Volume 1).
One of our favorites, Jason Isbell, is nominated for a few Americana/Roots categories, including Best American Roots Song (If We Were Vampires) and Best Americana Album (The Nashville Sound). We don't see him losing either.
Best Contemporary Blues Album is stacked with some great nominees, including Robert Cray, Sonny Landreth, Taj Mahal, Robert Randolph, and Tedeschi Trucks Band. Derek hopes Randolph takes the prize, but honestly all of them are deserving.
Producer of the Year is also a coin flip category. Derek's personal favorites are Greg Kurstin and Blake Mills. No I.D. wouldn't be a big surprise either.
By: The Busted Amp Staff
It's crazy to think that we are entering our third full year here at The Busted Amp. First off, let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading. We started this site not only because we're passionate about music, but also to introduce friends, family, and internet strangers to artists that we enjoy (and some that we hate). We might not bring you breaking news right when it happens, but we're dedicated to writing our true feelings on what we listen to, and if that takes some time to digest, a week or maybe even a month, we'll only post it once we know we got it right.
So here's to another year in the book. We've had a blast experiencing it with you all. Joseph and I have seen 250+ sets this year and listened to nearly 1,000 hours of music. We've done our best to consolidate all of that into a series of top 10 lists. We hope you'll find something you love, something you missed, and maybe even something that pushes your musical boundaries just a little bit.
Derek's Favorites of 2017
Best Albums of 2017
1. Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights
This album hit me like a ton of bricks. The passion in Baker's songwriting and her ability to translate depression, uncertainty, and melancholy into these impressive bursts of energy makes this easily one of my top albums of the year. This is an album you put on when you're really sad. This is an album you put on when you're happy and just want to sing your heart out. This is an album for the ages.
2. The War On Drugs - A Deeper Understanding
The follow-up to one of my favorite albums of 2014. A Deeper Understanding takes the same craftsmanship of Lost In The Dream and amps up the confidence level of lead singer Adam Granduciel. The product is better hooks, soaring solos, and a much more consistent product front to back.
3. Zola Jesus - Okovi
Noisy, brooding synths build the foundation for Nika Roza Danilova's vocals to shine through the darkness. This is a heavy album, filled with themes that aren't for the faint of heart. But the payoff is glorious.
4. John Moreland - Big Bad Luv
I discovered Moreland this year when he opened for Shovels & Rope and stole the show. Now nearly a year later and after acquiring his entire discography, he's become one of my favorite songwriters in the business. Big Bad Luv is larger in scope, especially for an artist that still only tours with an accompanist, but the hooks are tighter, the lyrics are just as thoughtful and reflective (despite being a little bit more hopeful), and the production is rock solid.
5. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy
It's easy to dismiss FatherJohn Misty and roll your eyes at the people who take his sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek brand of songwriting seriously, but if you listen to what the man's actually saying and take the time to digest his absurdist style, he's absolutely brilliant. If it weren't for the 10+ minute snooze-fest "Leaving LA", this album would be higher on the list.
6. Kendrick Lamar - damn.
Even though this isn't as great as To Pimp A Butterfly, the man is still in icon in a genre that's becoming increasingly diluted by wannabes who lack the substance for me to take seriously. Pay attention.
7. Jason Isbell & the 400 unit - The nashville sound
While The Nashville Sound doesn't have the personal punch that made me fall in love with his previous two albums, there's no doubt that the man is one of the best, consistent storytelling songwriters of this generation. This album is no different.
8. Ryan Adams - Prisoner
An uber-personal break up album was an odd transition for an artist who crafted an entire Taylor Swift cover album just a year earlier, but Ryan Adams does just that here. The lead single, "Do You Still Love Me?" was my favorite song of last year, and the album, despite being much more mellow than the aforementioned single, was good enough to land a spot on this list. It's a sad one, folks. But it's a good one.
9 jd mcpherson - undivided heart & soul
The old school rock and roll album you didn't realize you needed this summer. McPherson has a slew of well known influences from the era, but he manages to keep it fresh. There's a lot to boogie-woogie to, so what are you waiting for? Shake your hips a little and get loose.
10. white reaper - The world's best american band
But Derek, you gave this album a 6.5 in your review. How can it be in your top 10 above albums that you gave 7's and 8's?
Out of all the albums from 2017, this is probably the one that grew on me the most. Yes, seeing the band a few times during the course of the summer helped, but there's no denying the power of the hooks that White Reaper crafts. These are ten quick, fun songs to dance to, and there's nothing wrong with that at all.
Best Songs of 2017
Best Shows of 2017
Joseph's Favorites of 2017
Best Albums of 2017
1. Kendrick Lamar - Damn.
This was the number one album of the year for a lot of people, and for good reason. Despite not being quite as good as its predecessor, To Pimp a Butterfly, no album was more influential this year in our society than Kendrick Lamar's Damn. All hail the king.
2. Lorde - Melodrama
Lorde's follow-up to her hugely successful debut LP Pure Heroine, this album managed to surpass its predecessor in nearly every way. While it didn't quite have the same culture impact as Damn., it still featured many great songs and two of my favorite singles of the year ("Liability" and "Green Light") and it solidified Lorde's deserving place at the top of the pop music world.
3. Zola Jesus - Okovi
One of the more fulfilling album listens of the year, Zola Jesus crafted an ominous and boding experience with a simply perfect payoff. It's not for the feint of heart, but it's well worth your time.
4. The War on Drugs - A Deeper Understanding
Another great album experience, The War on Drugs (with their distinguished discography) crafted their best LP to date here, featuring some truly mesmerizing songs along the way. (There's a good reason "Pain" is Derek's second favorite song of the year)
5. Queens of the Stone Age - Villains
While it's not quite as good as its predecessor, .....Like Clockwork, and does have a misstep or two, Villains is still yet another strong installment for one of the biggest names in rock 'n' roll featuring some of my favorite singles of the year.
6. Future Islands - The Far Field
Another heavily played album for me throughout the year, Future Islands found their full stride in 2017 on the heels of their strongest and most intense LP to date. While it took a little while to grow on me.....grow on me it did.
7. St. Vincent - MASSEDUCTION
St. Vincent delivered her strongest LP to date with this eccentric and original album, delivered in a very St. Vincent sort of way. It also happens to be her most accessible piece yet so if you've never listened to her before....it's time to change that.
8. Mutemath - Play Dead
While this has some weak points later on, it was still one of my most played albums of the year and featured several singles that I've listened to over and over. It's accessible to all and a very fun listen for a band that fits that mantra perfectly
9. Father John Misty - Pure Comedy
Father John Misty further solidified his place as one of music's weirdest minds with this LP that is exactly that: weird. But it's weird in a lovable sort of way, and Father John Misty earned a lot of deserving praise because of it.
10. Zac Brown Band - Welcome Home
I'll openly admit that this album is very much in the realm of pop country (though at least every song isn't about drinking beer and driving trucks) but Zac Brown Band found their way into my heart with this LP. It was easily my most played country album of 2017.
Best Songs of 2017
Best Shows of 2017
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Derek: Unless you live under a musical rock, you've probably seen or heard some of the hype surrounding Prophets of Rage, a super group featuring members of Rage Against the Machine, Cyprus Hill, and Public Enemy. I haven't been a big fan of the band's premise, and have bemoaned Joseph's liking of the band's released material leading up to the release of their self-titled debut album later this year. What transpires below is loosely paraphrased conversation that we had on the band, how it affects Rage Against the Machine's legacy, and how time and commercial success can muddy the waters of a band's message and purpose.
Joseph: So Prophets of Rage dropped three new songs in preparation for their impending album release!
Derek: I don't care at all. The first single sucked and I haven't listened to any of the others since.
Derek: Fine, I'll listen to them now.
Wow, the lyrics to "Radical Eyes" are f****** laughable.
"They say we're radicalized. See my radical eyes"
Joseph: See, on my first listen I didn't even notice the lyrics.
Derek: It's a band whose message is central to their reason for existing. How can you not pay attention to the lyrics?
Joseph: For me, Rage Against the Machine has always been about the instrumentation. Of course I like the lyrics too. But the number one thing for me has always been what Tom Morello is doing on the guitar.
Derek: Even the riffs are limp dick compared to what Rage Against the Machine was putting out in their prime.
Joseph: Yeah, I'm not going to defend "Radical Eyes", but at least "Living On The 110" started off a bit better. (said while listening to the song for the first time)
Derek: Even "Living On The 110". There's no edge, and I think it only solidifies why I'm glad Rage Against The Machine never got back together for new material. Morello has his dick so far up his own ass that he's the mixed ethnic poster child for socialistic idealism that he lost sight that the message of the music, which was supposed to be the most important thing.
Joseph: (after listening to the full song) I won't disagree with you on the lack of edge in "Living On The 110", but it doesn't change the fact that Tom Morello is a f****** great guitarist. He was 25 years ago and still is today.
Derek: Except he's been doing the same f****** gimmicks for the last 25 years. Yes, in the early nineties it was cutting edge, but since then bands from alternative to nu-metal have put similar effects on their guitars.
Joseph: Who cares. It doesn't have to be cutting edge to be good. As they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I'd much rather a musician do the same thing over and over again if it works than innovate simply for the sake of innovating. (And fail miserably in the process)
Derek: That's not what I meant though. With Rage Against The Machine, he made this cutting edge music with a clear, defined message. At this point, it's none of those things anymore. It tries to be edgy, but it's still 40-something millionaires in a super group touring some of the biggest and most luxurious pavilions in the world. So it loses any and all of its remaining message's credibility for me.
Joseph: But you're hung up on the "street cred" of Rage Against The Machine. And the message. I don't care about that any more, and I never really did.
Derek: But that's the thing. For me, it was always one and the same. The effect they had on the social-economic environment in rock music, as a reaction to some of the same things groups like NWA were notorious for doing at the same time, was unprecedented. To say that we're just going to ignore parts of that is, to me, destroying the very meaning of their legacy and existence. Which is why I have nothing but respect for Zach de la Rocha for NOT getting back together with them. Because the aspect that was most important to him has been lost. At least, that's what I like to believe.
Joseph: I'm not sure we'll ever see that effect again on such a large scale. I guess I've just lost that feeling of authenticity in music over the past decade or two to the point that it doesn't matter to me any more.
Derek: That, honestly, makes listening to Rage Against The Machine even more worthless in the current musical and political climate in terms of legacy. They were trying to start a revolution, whereas all they got was fame, money, and our generation that likes their music and couldn't care less about the political/social/economic messages that accompanied it. Same goes for other protest groups like NWA from the same era, although that's another rabbit hole completely with Dr. Dre and the like.
Joseph: That was inevitable, though. As they say, the house always wins. While I do agree with you on de la Rocha, I'm not mad at all that they haven't gotten back together, even though I would still very much like to see them. But I think the problem is these entertainment companies have all gotten too big, and their focus is no longer on the consumer but instead on their shareholders, and there's nothing we can do about it to stop them from turning any feeling of authenticity in music (or any other form of media, for that matter) into a commercial enterprise. Everything is put through focus groups nowadays before it reaches the end user because it has to appeal to the widest demographic possible. It's reached the point that I just don't think about that anymore when I'm consuming entertainment.
Derek: I'd agree with you to a certain extent. It's just like all of the Vietnam Era protest songs from The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, CCR, etc.. They're probably all on every war-mongering senator's iPod.
Joseph: There's no doubt RATM has (minus Zack) become the very thing they were inspiring people to fight against years ago. But I don't care nearly as much as you do about that because to me, cynical as it certainly is, I think it was inevitable. There's too much money in giant entertainment companies for us to waste energy getting upset over artists (or actors, or shows, or video game developers) selling out to the highest bidder. All I can do is enjoy the entertainment provided for what it is, and to me RATM still provided us with some of the best f****** music of the 90s, and I have no problem with them sticking with that formula now because it's still a good formula, even if it is behind on the times now and has 3,000 other bands imitating it.
By: Derek Jung
It was bound to happen again.
Last week, Joseph, a few friends, and I saw Mastodon, and the opening act was none other than Eagles of Death Metal, who were performing at the Bataclan during the November 2015 Paris attacks that left 130 people dead, 89 inside the theater alone. Horrific images of bodies strewn about the dance floor flooded the internet, and stories of survivors echoed on news stations around the world. For concertgoers, it was a wake up call that somewhere so sacred and so safe could be violated by such an evil act. I had seen Eagles of Death Metal with my wife less than two months before the attack. To think that something could have happened to us while watching one of my favorite bands chilled me to the bone.
I remember attending my first show post-Bataclan. It was a week after the attack and I was seeing Houndmouth at my second home, Madison Theater. I found myself morbidly aware of the exit signs in case I needed to make a mad dash to escape. The unpleasant mixture of excitement and nervousness made my stomach churn, excited to be back at a show again and nervous that someone would be inspired by events halfway around the world and try to hurt us. But the show went on without a hitch and everything started to feel ok again. Life returned to normal as it always does and I rarely thought about my safety at shows. That is, until last week.
Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes was out front before the show taking pictures with fans and thanking each police officer for their service. It was a simple gesture, but it demonstrated how different life was for him. After staring pure evil in the eyes and watching friends and fans die in front of him, I can't imagine the strength it takes to get on stage every night to perform. There was a noticeable security presence at the show that night and I couldn't help but thinking that, in the back of Jesse's mind, he feared it could happen again. But once again nothing happened and the thought faded from memory.
This past Friday Joseph, my wife, my brother, and a friend saw Red Hot Chili Peppers at US Bank Arena, where another non-terrorist related tragedy happened nearly forty years prior. Eleven fans were trampled while trying to enter to see The Who. Security has been upped in recent years and we even received an email reminder of new security protocols and to arrive early. It wasn't until the conclusion of the show, when we were walking towards the exits did I feel the unnerving sensation that something was wrong. Loud booms echoed through the stadium and for a split second I was afraid. The Friday night fireworks at the Cincinnati Reds game next to the arena had begun. There was no attack. We were completely safe. I didn't think twice about it.
Less than three days later, Manchester England was rocked by a different boom as concertgoers exited an Ariana Grande show. At last count, twenty-two people were killed by a suicide bomber, many of them children and teenagers. Their safe place was shattered in an instant. We live in a different world. Cowardly acts of terrorism are becoming more frequent, and it's increasingly important to be diligent and aware of potential dangers in public. I'm not going to offer any solutions, because frankly I don't have any. Security measures can only go so far. My condolences to all of those affected by both attacks. My condolences to their families, friends, and to Ariana Grande, who will live with this pain for the rest of her life. I hope Jesse reaches out to her. I'm sure she needs some assurance that everything is going to be ok.
I'm not going to stop attending shows. After the Paris attacks I wanted to go to a show that same night in solidarity. They make me happy and I love connecting with and sharing music. It's what I do and nothing is going to end that. I'm sure that Manchester, with such a rich musical history (The Bee Gees, The Smiths, and Oasis to name a few), will continue to be a beacon in the music industry. No coward can take that away. Rock on, Manchester.
Top image source: NPR.org
By: The Busted Amp Staff
JOSEPH: Well, they did it. They snubbed Queen Bey once more. As much as I was rooting for Sturgill Simpson to upset everyone just to see his acceptance speech, I was shocked to hear Adele's name called. This moment was unexpected, but it is (and rightfully so) dominating the talk of the Grammys, as Beyonce is now an unprecedented 0 for 4 when it comes to AotY nominations/wins. But it looked like Adele was just as shocked as I was, and she proceeded to deliver one of the most humble acceptance speeches I have ever heard, during which she proclaimed Queen Bey the deserving winner. Adele's transcendence into legend didn't stop there. After the ceremony she split the award in two and gave the other half to Queen Bey in what has to be one of the best disses ever towards the Academy. This to me highlighted what was a mixed bag from this year's Grammy's.
On the one hand and for the most part....the Grammy's were pretty good with the winners. David Bowie swept all of his categories, including the stacked Alternative AotY category, and Chance the Rapper made a YUGE splash as well.
Sturgill did get his Best Country Album award, which is still a pretty strong statement to Nashville's Bro Country scene, and Megadeth even won it's first (and incredibly overdue) Grammy. Overall the performances were solid, with my highlights surprisingly being the two hip-hop performances from A Tribe Called Quest and Chance the Rapper, as well as Katy Perry's stunning Grammy-esque performance. But it seemed for every great thing the Grammy's did, there was an equally crappy thing to boot.
There were several lowlights, but to me the low point was, once again, the heavy rock performance. It's amazing how it seems every year the problems with the Grammy's lie in their one heavy rock performance, and their Lady Gaga/Metallica performance was marred by sound issues and the presenter actually forgetting to mention that Metallica was even a part of the performance. About the only thing that could've made it worse was if CBS had cut to black randomly during it. Additionally, what the heck was going on with that Keith Urban/Carrie Underwood duet? Really don't understand how the Academy thought it was a good idea to put two of the biggest names in country right now for the most generic 80s pop song ever. I mean I get that Bro Country is bad right now, but c'mon. It's not that bad. Also, and I think Derek may disagree with me on this, but I was not a huge fan of James Corden. He had a few moments that were alright, but they were sprinkled in between shameless and obvious CBS plugs for his Late Late Show, which were completely unnecessary. I fear that the Oscars will suffer the same fate in this regard in a few weeks, as they are on ABC and are being hosted by Jimmy Kimmel.
Derek: Ah yes, the 2017 Grammy's.
I'd agree with Joseph. For an awards show that has a history of making some head scratching decisions, I was pleased to see just how many they got right. If you were keeping track at home, we were right 50% of the time for our "who will win" predictions but 67% right for who we thought should win. Maybe we should have a little more faith in the Grammy voters next year? Not a chance. Adele winning Album of the Year for 25 over Beyonce is almost as bad as Taylor Swift winning over Kendrick Lamar last year.
There's going to be a lot of speculation into why Beyonce lost, so I'll throw a few thoughts into the ring. Frankly, I think TIDAL killed her chances. By streaming her album exclusively on TIDAL, a service that has only 1% of the global streaming subscriptions and no free tier, she cut off an impressively large audience for her music. Yes, Adele did the same thing for a few months, but eventually she came around and added her catalog to the major streaming services. I'd argue that enough voters were cut off from hearing her album, especially the older Grammy voters, that Adele was able to win out.
In terms of performances, the highlight for me was Sturgill Simpson's brilliant rendition of "All Around You" with the Dap-Kings, who helped him record his newly crowned Best Country Album. While he didn't pull off a dramatic upset for Album of the Year, he can be extremely proud of the showing. He also had a noteworthy post-Grammy celebration.
Bruno Mars had a stellar tribute for Prince, much better than the unwatchable David Bowie tribute that Lady Gaga put on last year. Speaking of Gaga, her performance with Metallica this year wasn't much better. Putting on her best 80's hair metal stripper impression while James Hetfield battled microphone issues, she definitely won the "trainwreck performance I can't turn away from" award for the night, but she wasn't the only one. James Corden, riding the success of his Carpool Karaoke bit into a hosting gig, was a mess the whole night, as was the production. Can someone please get a bigger teleprompter so the presenters can actually read what they're supposed to say? I feel bad for John Travolta, who suffered another awards show blunder when he couldn't make out his speech, so he just winged it. It wasn't his fault, and he wasn't the only one affected by it either. Travolta was at the Grammys to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Fever and The Bee Gees, which had a fun medley tribute from Devi Levato, Tori Kelly, Little Big Town, and Andra Day. I was very surprised that they didn't do a tribute for Leonard Cohen or Merle Haggard, and if it were my show, I'd have cut the Bee Gees tribute in favor of giving Cohen and Haggard the tributes they deserved. Or at least cut a little off of Beyonce's nearly 10 minute performance, which granted will probably be one of the night's most watched clips. But goodness was that production excruciatingly long.
Jospeh: In conclusion, I think the biggest highlight for me tonight was Adele. I have never truly understood why people revere her as much as they do, but after watching her stop a tribute to George Michael mid-song so she could get it perfect for him, and after breaking down because she thought Beyonce deserved the highest profile award of the night, I can see why. However, both of these moments were accidental #GrammyMoments, and there were far too many attempts to "manufacture" #GrammyMoments for me to enjoy the show too much. Maybe it's just cause I'm cynical, but I just can't get the crappy parts of the night out of my head. Sure, there were great moments with Sturgill Simpson making even his ballads sound awesome and Bruno Mars delivering the Prince tribute to end all Prince tributes, but....I don't know. Hopefully as time goes on we'll just remember the good parts of this year's show, but right now I just can't shake the bad. And, of course, it all starts with yet another snubbing of Queen Bey.
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Another year in the books and here we are in 2017 already. Even though we lost an excruciatingly large number of legendary artists in 2016, David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, 2/3 of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, and more, we also saw the rise of new artists that are putting their mark on the industry.
We at The Busted Amp are honored that you've taken this journey with us. Collectively we've seen dozens of shows and listened to tens of thousands of songs. Every part of it was an adventure that we wouldn't trade for anything. While it's so difficult to narrow down what we saw and listened to this year, we've made our best attempt. What follows is each of our favorite albums, songs, and shows from 2016. We hope you discover something new that you might have missed. Or maybe you see one of your favorites and want to bask in its glory with us. Or maybe you think our tastes in music suck, but why would you be reading this if you thought that? I'm not really sure. But I digress.
It should be noted that a lot of you may notice the absence of one album in particular from our list. An album from Beyonce. While this album is making a lot of top ten lists out there, it is completely absent from ours for one simple reason: the album isn't available to stream on Spotify. Beyonce has chosen to jump on a new trend started by Taylor Swift and championed by Adele: delaying an album's Spotify release to increase album sales. While it may make them a few more bucks, it's not a good move for the industry as a whole, as it ignores the real problem which is miniscule compensation for artists on Spotify. Let's just leave that for the jam band struggling to make ends meet, right? As a result we have made no effort to listen to the album. And yes, that also means that we made our Grammy predictions based solely on the hype. Sorry, Bey. #1 in our hearts. Forever.
Derek's Favorites of 2016
Best Albums of 2016
Best Songs of 2016
Best Shows of 2016
Disappointing Album of 2016
Joseph's Favorites of 2016
Best Albums of 2016
Best Songs of 2016
Best Shows of 2016
Disappointing Album of 2016
Thanks for reading, everyone! Here's to a great 2017!
By: The Busted Amp Staff
Oh, the Grammys. If you remember our preview from last year, you'll know that we at The Busted Amp have never been big fans of The Grammys. In fact, we tend to despise it from time to time. But, in a world where music awards shows dominate, we would be remiss if we didn't spend some time talking about the picks.
So here are our 2017 Grammy predictions based on the nominees.
Derek: From someone that tries to avoid mainstream pop at all costs, two of these albums are obviously puzzlers to me. Justin Bieber's Purpose and Drake's Views are lowest common denominator artists that, in my opinion, shouldn't be in the same stratosphere as the other nominees in this category. Even with Bieber's supposed, insert airquotes here, growth. There's no doubt that "Hello" was one of the biggest singles in the last decade, but frankly the rest of the album was forgettable. Beyonce brings the most clout into this group of nominees with Lemonade, but will it be enough to overcome the other nominees? Time will tell, and you'll surely hear all about it from Bey-Nation. But wait, there's a 5th nominee? Oh yes, the obligatory non-mainstream, alternative AotY nominee. This year it's alt-country icon and music industry tackling Sturgill Simpson with his fantastic album A Sailor's Guide To Earth. Out of all of these nominees, my pick would be him, but I don't see a repeat of 2011 or 2015's shocking victories for Arcade Fire and Beck, respectively. I think Bey takes this one, with Adele as a close second.
Joseph: While we will probably disagree several times on this list, the AotY category will not be one of them. I have no idea why Drake and Justin Bieber are on here, but that's the Grammys for you. They are clearly setting this show up as a "Beyonce versus Adele" showdown, (just look at virtually every music publication and you'll see it already being framed as such) which will certainly generate the clicks and viewership they are looking for. That said, I think there's a better chance than we might think that Sturgill pulls out a dark horse and wins this category, and here's why: up until Beyonce dropped Lemonade, I thought Adele was going to sweep the Grammys this year. Now, I think there's a good chance that Adele and Beyonce are going to split the voting pretty evenly, and that does give a third party like Sturgill a better chance to win than not. After all, the same thing happened in 2015 when Beck was the dark horse. (The vote likely split between Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, and Sam Smith which gave Beck a chance) That said, I would not bet money on this, and I'm with Derek-I think Beyonce will be walking out of the Grammys with her first AotY victory.
Who Should Win: Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide To Earth
Who Will Win: Beyonce - Lemonade
Derek: The songwriting single category really leaves a lot to be desired this year. The obvious winner from my perspective is Beyonce, as "Formation" probably has the deepest lyrics of the bunch. "Hello" is another Adele waterworks single that *sings as Adele* must have heard a thousand timesssss. Bieber tried to be deep, but it took a roomful of writers to get remotely close. Posner took some drugs and it sounds like it took Lukas Graham seven years to write the song "7 Years". Bey-nation should take this one, but don't be surprised if it goes to someone else.
Who Should Win: Beyonce - Formation
Joseph: I laugh at this category, and this is coming from a guy who has long cared little for lyrics. But there's no doubt these are some weak selections for SotY. I think this category will come down to Beyonce versus Adele, (again) with Adele pulling it out just because of the sheer popularity of Hello. I think many voters at The Academy will give Beyonce AotY and then give Adele Record + Song of the Year to try and balance them out. But that's just my uneducated guess. All of these picks to me are laughable, so it's hard to pick just one. But hey! Maybe they'll say fuck it and give this one to Justin Bieber. Just to try and make the Beliebers happy. Because why not?
Also, can I just point out how "7 Years" and "I Took a Pill in Ibiza" sound EXACTLY the same? I can't get over how terrible these songs are.
Who Should Win:
Derek: Beyonce - Formation
Joseph: David Bowie- Lazarus
Who Will Win:
Derek: Beyonce - Formation
Joseph: Adele - Hello
Derek: This is where things get more tricky. For the single of the year, there's no denying that "Hello" has been above and beyond one of the biggest singles of the decade. But does popularity equate to being the single of the year. Wait...yes it does. Adele takes this, and I think it's an easy call.
Joseph: Hey! Twenty One Pilots got a nomination! That's pretty cool. Even though I have NO idea how it did given the fact that "Stressed Out" was dropped in April of 2015. But what does it matter, right? None of these stand a chance against Adelle's "Hello." This just might be the easiest pick for the Academy this year, and I would be shocked if any name other than Adele's was called as it's hard to deny the cultural impact this single has had over the past year.
Who Should Win: Adele - Hello
Who Will Win: Adele - Hello
Derek: Chance The Rapper has been absolutely everywhere this year, and his debut album Coloring Book is one of the most played albums of the year. Everyone loves him, especially the music industry websites, so I think he takes this award pretty easily.
Joseph: Once again I'm with Derek on this. Hard to imagine seeing anyone other than Chance the Rapper getting the nomination. Though, as is per usual with this category, he's hardly a "new artist." I mean heck I remember when he packed the That Tent for a late night set back at Bonnaroo 2014. But hey, at least his nomination is not as bad is some of the previous winners. But I digress. Watch for a potential dark horse in The Chainsmokers because they are super popular, but I fully expect Chance's name to be called here.
Also, I have to give a shout-out to Kelsea Ballerini. We're obviously cynical about this show, but she's a super likeable sweetheart down here in Nashville, and I hope this nomination further elevates her career.
Who Should Win: Chance The Rapper
Who Will Win: Chance The Rapper
Derek: For the second year in a row, the rock album category is a complete clusterfuck, but I guess you can attribute that to the blurring lines between Rock and Alternative and the fall from grace of the traditional rock genre. If you remember, we gave Tell Me I'm Pretty a pretty mediocre review, but the other albums in this category aren't much better. Magma is your obligatory metal album nominee in this category, and it's a good one, but I don't think they take the golden phonograph. This is a toss up, but I think they give it to Blink-182 or Weezer because of name recognition.
Joseph: Just give this award to Blink-182 for their "comeback story" completion and be done with it. I can't even look at this joke of a list without wanting to throw my keyboard against the wall. Even from a popular standpoint, this list is ridiculous. Like....
Who Should Win: Cage The Elephant - Tell Me I'm Pretty
Who Will Win: Blink-182 - California
Joseph: Another hilarious category from the Grammys featuring a cover (albeit a good cover, but still a cover) and Beyonce. I guess The Academy thought they could slip "Don't Hurt Yourself" in because Jack White is featured on it, but it hardly classifies as rock in my book. I hope "Blackstar" is the winner here, or "Heathens," but I'm so cynical about all of this I would not be surprised to hear Beyonce's name called for this category. Because it's the Grammys.
Derek: Rock Performance is definitely one of the worst categories of the year. Just because Jack White is featured on a song doesn't immediately make it rock, although my beef is less with that and more with these left field choices. You're telling me that none of the Best Rock Album nominees have a song worthy of Best Rock Performance? Jeez, fellas. That should tell you a little bit about the quality of the category. I have to hand it to Disturbed. Their cover of "The Sound of Silence" was a refreshing take, especially from a band that hasn't had anything refreshing since 2005's Ten Thousand Fists. Alabama Shakes is the most pure "rock" of the bunch, but David Bowie just has to take the prize here. Right guys?
Who Should Win: David Bowie - Blackstar
Who Will Win: Beyonce - Don't Hurt Yourself
Joseph: This is one of the better category this year, despite the laughable nomination of Metallica's "Hardwired." (I was not a fan of this album at all) But, beyond that, it's a strong category. While I think "Burn the Witch" should get the award, I think it will ultimately go to "Heathens." No one can deny that out of this list, "Heathens" was by far the most popular song. "Heathens" has more than double the plays on Spotify than every other song on this list, combined. While that's hardly a good reason to give it the statue, it's all the reason the Grammys need.
Who Should Win: Radiohead - Burn the Witch
Who Will Win: Twenty One Pilots - Heathens
Derek: For alternative music lovers, this category is absolutely stacked. You have five musical legends going up against each other. Bon Iver with his musical pivot album 22, a Million, David Bowie with his swansong Blackstar, PJ Harvey with her long anticipated album, Iggy Pop with his Joshua Homme collaborative final album, and Radiohead with their least rock album yet. Boy, this will be fun. I think the Grammy voters realize this is the last time they'll be able to vote for David Bowie, so I think he takes the win here. Honestly though, I think any of these are worthy choices.
Joseph: This to me is the single most frustrating category of the Grammys this year. Because it is SO GOOD. Like....who picked these? How do we have such lackluster categories everywhere else and then all the sudden this? I wish all of these could win, or at LEAST be transferred over to the Best Rock Album category, but as is, I'm with Derek. I think this one will go to David Bowie. Even though the man has never needed a Grammy for validation, it would be pretty shocking to me if The Academy didn't give this award to Bowie simply out of respect. Or at least their idea of respect. It would be my choice as well. As great as all these choices are, I think Blackstar rose above the rest and is one of the best albums of the year.
Who Should Win: David Bowie - Blackstar
Who Will Win: David Bowie - Blackstar
There's always a lot to cover with the Grammys, and we have neither the time nor the length to cover it all. So, here are a few highlights in the other categories.
Joseph: If you can't tell already, I find the Grammys main selections this year pretty ludacris, but to their credit I will say it evens out a bit (just a bit) in the less-signifcant categories. The pop categories are still awful, but to be fair I wouldn't expect otherwise. At least Sia snuck in a couple of nominations, though expect all of these to be toss ups between Beyonce and Adele. Though I do expect JBiebs to sneak in one win because otherwise there will be angry Tweets for days from angry adolescent girls. Get those thumbs warmed up, girls.
Flume has been making a lot of splashes in the electronic world, and even though I won't even try to claim I know every name on those lists, I expect Flume and Chainsmokers to divide the electronic categories.
I have no idea why Beyonce's Lemonade is labeled as Best Urban Contemporary Album, but expect an easy win there because it's Beyonce and it's the Grammys.
The rap category is stacked heavy with Drake, Chance the Rapper, and Kanye West. I think all three will win at least one, and I'll take it a step further and say Chance wins Best Rap Performance, Kanye wins Best Rap/Sung Performance, (though Beyonce might steal this one because it's Beyonce and King Kendrick and Kanye has been even more Kanye-y recently) and Drake wins Best Rap Album. Even though that should go to Chance. Rap Song is a total clusterfuck, (in a good way) and honestly I have no idea who will pull that one out. I'd go with "Ultralight Beam", but I think "Hotline Bling" or "No Problem" stand a better chance. And Famous might dark horse it because the vote splits on everything else and some people might want to see Kanye's acceptance speech for his controversial Taylor Swift song. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
The country category is once again full of bro Country, but at least there's a lot of variety. Loretta Lynn's nomination for Best Country Album is awesome, but I am surprised/sad that Kelsea Ballerini didn't receive any love in these categories despite receiving a Best New Artist nomination. Even though he had the best country album of the year, Sturgill's blacklisting in Nashville means the odds of him winning Best Country Album are next to nill. I think bro Country is going to take it this year.
Finally, I want to highlight the Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media category. Ennio Morricone, one of the busiest film composers in the history of cinema with over 500 film credits to his name, has finally been receiving the recognition he deserves with Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight. He received his first Oscar this year, and I fully expect him to win just his second Grammy (first one was for The Untouchables-take THAT, Derek) for this as well, despite the stiff competition.
Derek: HA, you know my feelings on movie scores. Not my cup of tea, but I am SO excited for you and Ennio.
I'll have to disagree with you on Best Country Album. The fact that he was even nominated of Album of the Year should be a big hint that Sturgill is going to scoop up the award. These aren't the CMA's or (enter one of the gazillion other country music award shows here). The voters comes from a number of different genres, not just the country music elite, and Sturgill's meteoric rise to the top of the outlaw country scene and cross-genre appeal makes him, in my opinion, a shoo-in to win this award.
In the Americana category, indie favorites The Avett Brothers got a nomination for their so-so album True Sadness, but I don't think they'll win it. I'll give it to Kris Kristofferson.
Here's to another year of awards, controversy, and judging a very subjective subject. Enjoy the show.
Now that 2015 is finally behind us, we at The Busted Amp would just like to extend our thanks for reading. It's a privilege to be able to write about something that we are passionate about and have someone actually care enough to take the time to read our ramblings.
That being said, it's time to reveal our end of year lists. 2015 was a great year for music, both live and recorded. We saw the triumphant returns of many of our favorite bands, while some of them slipped up with their new releases. Artists that we loved passed away, including Lemmy from Motorhead, BB King, Scott Weiland from Stone Temple Pilots, and Chris Squire from Yes. New bands took us by storm and made us instant fans, and we both rocked out to around 150 (100 Derek + 50 Joseph) artists and 4 music festivals (2 Derek + 2 Joseph) during the course of the year. All of that listening made it difficult to narrow down our favorites, but we did it.
So without further adieu, here are our favorite albums and songs of 2015.
While there's no doubt Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly is worthy of being the best album of the year, and I respect the hell out of it, it's just not in my wheelhouse.
Here are my favorite albums of the year according to what I've been listening to the most this year. Every album is linked to a song from the album to give you a taste of why I enjoyed it. Take a listen and enjoy.
Well, fortunately for the world, Kendrick Lamar will appear in my favorites, because I'm a rational human being. You'll find our lists to be somewhat similar, but that's definitely in part because our tastes are really quite identical. However, just a reminder, this is not what we felt were the best albums albums of the year. There is simply just too much music out there for us to get to all of it. No these are just our favorites from what we listened to. You probably don't agree with them, but that's ok. We still love you.
But it doesn't stop there. Now let's take a look at some of our favorite singles from the year. This was significantly harder, but we did our best for you. So we hope you enjoy them.
Joseph's Favorite Songs from 2015
Mark Ronson Ft. Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk
The official "mainstream" single on this list, Uptown Funk was a refreshing departure from the normal superhit, offering a funky dance line nestled in between some catchy choruses. I have definitely found myself playing this song a lot over the course of 2015.
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats - S.O.B.
A great shout chorus, combined with Rateliff's lumberjack voice made this a favorite of mine to introduce to friends over the course of 2015. A fun song through and through.
Tame Impala - Let It Happen
While I can't call this the "best" single of 2015, it was definitely the "best" single I listened to throughout the year. A spectacular song featuring a great repeating section that made me think something happened to my computer the first time I listened to it. But it fits within the song! Well played, Kevin Parker.
Diane Coffee - Everyday
My God do I love this song. As an ordinary person might say, Diane Coffee's single, "Everyday," was my fight song for 2015. Whenever I needed a pick-me-up, Coffee was there. This trend will likely continue into the early part of 2016.
Wolf Alice -Moaning Lisa Smile
A late entrant to this list, this song was the moment I realized I had fallen in love with Wolf Alice. Featuring my favorite chorus of 2015, this song really showcases the greatness of Wolf Alice.
Derek's Favorite Songs from 2015:
Diane Coffee - Everyday
I had the honor and privilege of introducing this song to Joseph. Foxygen is, of course, one of my favorite bands of the past few years, and hearing Diane Coffee have such a great release was a very gratifying (especially considering Foxygen's latest ...And Star Power was pretty terrible).
Ryley Walker - Primrose Green
This beautifully constructed acoustic jazz folk song reminds me of a calm summer day, which is comforting in the depths of winter. There's no doubt that Walker has the compositional talent, but I'd like to hear his voice catch up. Unfortunately I missed his tour stop in Cincinnati this fall, but I hope he'll be back around soon enough.
Tame Impala - Eventually
Yes, I included this song above as the example in my album of the year list, but this is easily my favorite song on what is a fantastic album. The vocal effects, the head-bobbing jams, the psychedelic synths. Perfection.
Dawes - All Your Favorite Bands
The song for your ex-love when you wish them well but things just don't work out. Dawes always have had a way to tug at my heart strings, and this may be the best of them all. "I hope the world sees the same person that you always were to me. And may all your favorite bands stay together..."
The Lone Bellow - Fake Roses
When I first heard this song like in February at historic Memorial Hall in downtown Cincinnati, it gave me chills. The passion of this band never ceases to amaze me, and this song is just the tip of the iceberg.
Well, that concludes our look back at 2015! We hope you enjoyed this journey back to some of our favorite music of the year. We sure did! Stay tuned throughout 2016 as we continue our quest to justify our musical habits. Hope you'll join us in the future!
By: The Busted Amp Staff
It's that time of year again; the GRAMMYS have released their 2016 nominees. And for people who still take stock in these sort of things, the release of the nominees is like a second Christmas
While we at the Busted Amp don't like the popularity (or name recognition) contest that the GRAMMYS can so often be, we'd be remiss to not give an overview for your viewing pleasure. (Stay tuned later this month for our end of year lists!)
Without further adieu, here are the nominees:
Boy, are there some head scratchers in this bunch. I think this award comes down the 1989 vs. To Pimp a Butterfly. There's no denying that Taylor Swift put out the epitome of a good pop album this year, and naysayers of the genre need not look farther than Ryan Adams' cover album to see that the songs have cross-genre appeal. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Kendrick Lamar gave the world a poignant, politically charged, genre-fusing hip-hop masterpiece that cemented his spot in the top echelon of rap artists.
Admittedly, I was not super familiar with Chris Stapleton, and even though I think Traveller is a better country release than just about anything else in the genre this year, I cannot see it being more appealing than the above two. Sorry Chris. Last but not least, Alabama Shakes. This is the pick that, throughout the varies categories, I don't understand. Yes, I thought Sound & Color was a good album, and I liked the change of direction that the band took from their debut Boys & Girls, but that's about it. For me, this album didn't have nearly the punch as To Pimp a Butterfly or the repeatability of 1989. In fact, after a while I thought the album was a little forgettable, even in its own genre, which I'll talk about a little later.
We are going to agree on this one. Both in who should win and who will win. The GRAMMYS are absolutely going to favor the popular selection as they always do, but as usual the popular selection is not the best. While none of these albums will likely make it on my top 5 albums of the year, only one of them will make it to my top 10. King Kendrick's latest album is a cultural masterpiece, and one that will be looked at in the future as the 2010's Straight Outta Compton or The Chronic. It's already being compared to some of the greatest and culturally relevant hip hop albums ever. But none of those albums won a GRAMMY, and the same will almost certainly stay true here. It's been over a year since 1989 was dropped, but it's easy to forget that it was 2014's only album to go platinum on the sales charts. While it's definitely not the best album of the last year, it's hard to justify not rewarding the success of 2014's biggest seller. Expect this one to be winning a lot of undeserved awards. Don't worry, Adele fans: this will be her next year.
PS-While it's on a totally unrelated note, don't cast aside Chris Stapleton's debut album. Now granted I live in Nashville so I'm in the heart of country music, but I cannot tell you how many people have come into my store asking for his album. I've had more requests for this artist's new album in the last few months than any other artist combined. Just saying.
Who should win: Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly (consensus)
Who will win: Taylor Swift - 1989
Another easy to predict category. None of these songs are anywhere near my top 10 songs of the year, but then again they never are. This one is T. Swift's category to lose, but out of these choices I would personally go for "Girl Crush." Derek and I will likely disagree on this one, but honestly "Alright" was not my favorite single from King Kendrick. However the raw emotion of "Girl Crush" is what ultimately does it for me. But here I'm really just picking my favorite song out of a list of, frankly, dull songs. In my opinion the GRAMMYS put together this list so they could give T. Swift a GRAMMY among a group where even haters would have to agree it's ok she wins.
On another note, why is "Blank Space" specifically up for all the awards? Wasn't "Shake It Off" the more popular song? I know I liked that song far more than "Blank Space." Honestly I thought "Blank Space" was pretty forgettable. Oh well. What do I know.
Ah, the old "Record of the Year vs. Song of the Year" debate, we meet again. It's my understanding that Record of the Year is more about songwriting and Song of the Year is "the year's best single". If that's the case, then they got these nominations pretty right for what you'd expect them to be. Don't speak too soon, Joe, "Alright" isn't my favorite single either, and especially in the context of songwriting. "King Kunta" takes the cake there. But I digress.
Taylor Swift is bound to win a few of these, it's just a matter of which ones. I think she takes this one instead of Record of the Year, and that's fine with me.
Who should win: None of them, Derek: Taylor Swift - "Blank Space"
Who will win: Taylor Swift - "Blank Space" (consensus)
Hey! I actually have a preference here! "Uptown Funk" was easily my favorite mainstream hit from the past year. Its awesome combination of modern-day electronic music and '80s style funk made it the catchiest and funnest single of the year in my opinion. It absolutely deserves this award, but will it win it? Probably not. Once again I expect the committee to cave and give another award to Taylor Swift, because she really needs more recognition. But in all seriousness, this is a pretty tight category when it comes to successful singles from the past year. Definitely tighter than Song of the Year. I think the consensus will be pretty split between "Blank Space" and "Uptown Funk," however this split may open the door to pretty much anyone in this category. If The Weeknd's name gets called here, I would honestly not be even remotely surprised.
There's no doubt that "Uptown Funk" has been one of the biggest earworm in recent memory. That old school feeling, Bruno Mars, and all the girls hitting you hallelujah (woo!). When it comes to the best single, Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars are the heavyweights. The only problem being that they're up against other heavyweights. Taylor Swift and The Weeknd released two powerhouse songs of their own. Personally, I don't think "Blank Space" is as strong as, say, "Shake It Off", but both it and "Can't Feel My Face" are going to make this category mighty interesting. As for the other two nominees, Ed Sheeran has the unfortunate match up against the formerly mentioned songs, and this year "Thinking Out Loud" just doesn't have the fighting power. I'd be shocked if D'Angelo wins, not that "Really Love" isn't a good song, but to me it's not even in the same league.
Who I think should win: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars - "Uptown Funk" (consensus)
Who will win: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars - "Uptown Funk"
This category has always been one of the most mind-boggling, frustrating categories of the GRAMMYS, especially recently. I think the favorite to win this category is Meghan Trainor, even though she was nominated twice last year for Record and Song of the Year for "All About That Bass". I think between Sam Hunt, James Bay, and Tori Kelly, it's really anyone's game. Hunt is also nominated for Country Album of the Year, so I think his chances are a bit higher than the rest. The indie crowd, including myself, are going to be pulling for Australian Courtney Barnett because of her fantastic release Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, which has, in my opinion, some of the best storytelling of any album released this
I definitely agree that in recent years this category has been a head-scratcher. I think Meghan Trainor will win this category easily because GRAMMYS will want to include her in this year's festivities somehow. Even though she was also nominated last year....? This makes little sense, but I won't question it. I'll be hoping for Courtney Barnett to pull off the upset but I think too many pop fans would storm the Twitter front if she actually did for the GRAMMYS taste. I do miss the years when Bon Iver would win and the pop fans would storm Twitter though....
Who should win: Courtney Barnett
Who will win: Meghan Trainor
I have a few bones to pick with this year's Rock Album nominees. First, how in the world do they consider James Bay rock? Second, if Slipknot's song "Custer" is up for Best Metal Performance, how is the album up for Best Rock Album and not Best Metal Album? Third, Muse's album Drones has to be one of the biggest piles of shit this year. It was utterly terrible and borderline unlistenable. Either I'm just getting old, forgot what rock is, or this category is nothing but junk this year. I certainly don't think rock had this bad of a year.
Out of this list, give the GRAMMYS to Death Cab For Cutie, even though I didn't think that album was phenomenal either, but at least it was dark and brooding because Ben Gibbard and Zooey Deschanel divorced. This list is so forgettable that I don't have any clue who they'll actually pick. I'm going to say James Bay for the sole reason that he's had the biggest "hits" of this year from the nominees. Either him or Muse - solely because of name recognition, because it can't possibly be for the actual album.
Lol. That's all I have to say. Every year, the GRAMMYS have at least one "Lol" category with an absolutely ridiculous group of members comprising the category. Last year it was the Best Metal Category. This year it's the Best Rock Category. I really don't care for any of these albums, so I will refrain from having a stake in this fight at all, but I will 100% agree with Derek. Muse was once my favorite band. I stuck with them all the way through The Resistance, but in recent years even I admit they have lost much of their former glory, and the fact that they are on this list is an insult to the genre. I'm worried that the GRAMMYS will take this whole thing one step further and even nominate them for a victory simply due to the recognizability of their name. But, I don't think they will go THAT far and will instead hand this ridiculous category to James Bay. Shame on you, GRAMMYS.
Who Derek wants to win: Death Cab For Cutie - Kintsugi
Who will win: James Bay - Chaos and the Calm
For clarity, Best Performance is for the people who actually perform the song as well as the songwriters. Best Song (see below) is for the songwriters only.
The inclusion of Alabama Shakes was a no brainer considering their inclusion in the Album of the Year discussions. It's definitely the single that's gotten the most airplay from the album, and a worthy addition to the nominees since there is no "Best Alternative Performance". "Something From Nothing" was the best single on the new Foo Fighters ambitious album/tv series, even though the tv series was much better than the album itself. Wolf Alice is huge across the pond in the UK, but hasn't quite broken out here in the USA yet. A win here could change all of that, and "Moaning Lisa Smile" is a churning, guttural jam of a song to debut with.
I'm a little confused on the category choices for Florence + The Machine and Elle King. Florence is also nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album and Elle, in my opinion, is straight up pop. Despite all of this, I think Florence + The Machine take the prize.
Ya, I think Florence is on this list so she can win a category, because she is definitely not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of rock music. She's also not the second or third thing that comes to mind either. Yet, here she is, and she'll likely win the category. Which is a shame because, while I do like Florence Welch despite my terrible experience seeing her live, I absolutely loved "Moaning Lisa Smile." It's one of my favorite songs of the year and is a shining example of where the rock genre can move towards. Never thought I'd be upset at the prospect of Florence Welch winning a GRAMMY but I guess that day was bound to come eventually.
Who should win: Wolf Alice - "Moaning Lisa Smile"
Who will win: Florence + The Machine - "What Kind of Man"
Again, for clarity, Best Performance is for the people who actually perform the song as well as the songwriters (see above). Best Song is for the songwriters only.
My opinions here aren't much different than the Rock Performance category. I don't see why the songwriting for James Bay and Highly Suspect are any better than Wolf Alice, Foo Fighters, and even Courtney Barnett, who's up for Best New Artist.
If Florence wins the last category, Elle King will win this one. Or it will be reversed. This year rock was the official dumping ground for the GRAMMYS, with most of the picks making little to no sense or not even being classified as rock by everyone but the GRAMMYS. And ya, why are James Bay and Highly Suspect both in this category when Wolf Alice and Foo Fighters aren't? And why least rock-iest tracks in both categories? Oh. That's right. So the GRAMMYS can give them these categories and let T. Swift sweep the pop categories. Give the people what they want, right?
Who should win: Alabama Shakes - "Don't Wanna Fight"
Who will win: Elle King - "Ex's & Oh's"
I think I am one of the few people in the music world that doesn't understand why Bjork gets the praise that she does. To me, at least, her voice is abrasive and hard to listen to and a lot of the music is jumbled and noisy. Part of me wouldn't be surprised if she takes this category, because she has 14 nominations without a win, which is the sixth highest all time without a win. I think it would be unfortunate if she got it here though.
The big gun here is obviously Alabama Shakes, who is also nominated for Album of the Year. If they don't win the latter, I wouldn't be surprised if they win this. If they do win Album of the Year, however, I can see this award going to someone else.
Personally, I'm rooting for Tame Impala, which put out one of the best records of the year, and an album I'm still listening to on heavy repeat. I wouldn't be shocked if they gave it to Wilco because they have a pretty huge following and Star Wars was a pretty decent album overall...(Star Wars HYPE).
I think My Morning Jacket is the clear underdog here with The Waterfall, even though it was a solid follow-up to the also GRAMMY nominated Circuital. Even though I think hit a sweet spot between Circuital and frontman Jim James' solo album Regions of Light and Sound of God, I think there are too many better choices here for them to garner the necessary votes.
For all my bitching about the GRAMMYS, I will give them this category. They did an excellent job here, lining up some of the best albums of the year in this category. I'm with Derek on this one, though: I really want to see Tame Impala walk away with the most prestigious honor at this year's ceremony, but I don't think the GRAMMYS have the guts to give this award to an experimental/psychedelic group. No, I think we'll just have to be impressed with the fact that they even received a nomination. I think this award will come down to either Bjork or Alabama Shakes.
While I do like Bjork more than Derek does, I do also think she's rather overrated. So many people revere Bjork, and I don't really see why short of the fact that she's inspired a lot of big name artists we see today. But this album to me was just meh, and it would be a damn shame to see this category go to her simply because the GRAMMYS feel bad they've nominated her 14 times without a nomination, because her fans are the kind of fans to be acutely aware of this fact. Wilco stands a pretty good chance just because of his fervently loyal following, but his following also couldn't care less how many awards his albums receive. Alabama Shakes will likely be the ones to walk away with this award, especially since they don't stand a chance in the main category against T. Swift. I'm ok with this because Sound & Color is an excellent album, but both My Morning Jacket and Tame Impala had better albums this year.
Who should win: Tame Impala - Currents
Who will win: Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color
While there are a lot of other categories we could talk about, that would make for a ridiculously long post, so we'll just leave you with some of our thoughts.
While we can be left to wonder what the heck the GRAMMYS were thinking with their rock categories, it's pretty hard to deny that Kendrick Lamar is going to sweep the rap categories. Especially given the infamous "Macklemore over Kendrick" debacle that happened a few years ago. The Best Country Album category is also going to be a tight one, with the GRAMMYS likely wanting to hand the award to Sam Hunt or Kacey Musgraves to stay in line with "pop" country, but they'll be overlooking one of the best traditional country albums of recent memory in The Traveler in the process. Other than that, the only other thing I want to mention is the egregious overlook of Kamasi Washington's The Epic in Best Jazz Album. That's a head-scratcher if I ever saw one, given the fact that The Epic is very close to my favorite album of the year and a monumental accomplishment within the jazz world, but whatever, guys. That's cool.
I could not agree more with Kamasi Washington. The Epic is a fascinating, heart-stopping, exhilarating adventure and its absence on the nominee list for Best Jazz Album is a travesty. For Best Country Album, I was not at all impressed with Kacey Musgraves' album, and I found her live act at Bunbury Music Festival to be lacking in both energy and interesting material. I think this one goes to the heavy hitting newcomer, Chris Stapleton, who actually released a gritty, relatable album.. And finally, for the rap categories, Kendrick is life, Kendrick is love.
Enjoy the show.