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.