Sunday, February 8, 2015

57th Grammys Have Actually Made Some Good Choices (So Far)

The Grammy Awards are...problematic. NEWS FLASH. Peer awards for an intensely conservative, artistically sprawling industry about ten years behind the times, with baffling voting procedures and no guild or critics' awards to act as a check and counterpoint? What could go wrong?

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga win Best Traditional Pop Album
Complaining about the Grammy Awards is a familiar trope (Why are there so few awards during the telecast? Hey, that's not a New Artist! What's the difference between a record and an album? Best Polka Album hahahaha oh they got rid of that one.), and for those of us who care about good music, this can be an aggravating event.

But with most of the awards having been presented during the pre-telecast "Premiere Ceremony," it looks like the Recording Academy has made some decent selections within the imperfect framework they've given themselves with variously shambolic nominations.

"Weird Al" Yankovic wins Best Comedy Album for Mandatory Fun
The 50 year old legend scored his first #1 on the Billboard 200 with what he says may be his final traditional album. Yankovic used a canny video release strategy to maximize impact.

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett win Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for Cheek to Cheek
This album is awesome. Haters can suck it. 

A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera win Best Pop Duo/Group Vocal Performance for "Say Something"
This I did not expect, and I'm thrilled to see it prevail over "Dark Horse" and "Bang Bang" (although "Fancy" could have won and I'd be okay). Read my thoughts on the hot mess of a video!

St. Vincent wins Best Alternative Album
I'm not in this game, but I hear that's a good thing. Plus, woman beats Jack White always a plus.

"Let It Go" wins Best Original Song From Visual Media/Frozen wins Compilation Album from Visual Media
Because duh.

20 Feet From Stardom wins Best Music Film
A documentary about backup singers beating Jay Z and Beyonce's On the Run Tour is a big deal.

The late Joan Rivers wins Best Spoken Word Album for Diary of a Mad Diva
RIP Ms. Rivers.

Dianne Reeves wins Best Jazz Vocal Album for Beautiful Life
Dianne Reeves is amazing. Her voice is like buttah.

Kendrick Lamar wins Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song
Lamar was famously "robbed" of rap Grammys last year when white voters picked white Macklemore and white Ryan Lewis to win everything. People were not happy. This feels like reparations.

Iggy Azalea doesn't win Best Rap Album
Huzzah. The Academy learned something! (It did go to Eminem, but it always does.)

Grammy Also-Ran Iggy Azalea

So far in the telecast (not that we can watch it live on the west coast), Sam Smith has won Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album (barf) and Pharrell cheats his way to a Best Pop Solo Performance win for a live version of "Happy," because the actual record was ineligible for being too old. That's more like the Grammys I know!
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