Another year and another Grammys ceremony has come and passed. As always, there were moments that thrilled while others made me curse under my breath. Luckily, as a music journalist, this guy has learned how to think like the Recording Academy, hence the accuracy of many of my picks this year. Still, even being correct, you have to wonder what the Academy is thinking sometimes. Yes, I’m specifically referencing the fact that Kendrick Lamar was shut out – ridiculous! But here goes nothing examining the awards given.
The Big Four: Record, Album and Song of the Year & Best New Artist
Record of the Year: “Get Lucky,” Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers
Honestly, “Get Lucky” had been a lock for Record of the Year all summer. Even with such a tight category, “Get Lucky” felt like the strongest candidate here. Additionally, Daft Punk’s victory in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category was a lock.
Album of the Year: Random Access Memories, Daft Punk
Personally, Good Kid M.A.A.D. City would’ve been my choice for album of the year, but using Recording Academy psychology, I knew Kendrick Lamar didn’t stand a chance – NONE! So ultimately, Random Access Memories seemed the logical, safe choice for voters. It was also a great album and moved some major numbers for an electronic album. Not even Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ brand of hip-hop was going to take this one. Additionally, Daft Punk was a lock in the Best Dance/Electronica Album category.
Song of the Year: “Royals,” Lorde
Here, voters made the best choice in regards to impact. “Royals” was a gargantuan hit, with only “Roar” rivaling in regards to buzz. “Same Love” was a breakthrough record (same sex marriage equality, etc.), but would’ve been a stretch over the most unique record of the bunch. And as good as “Same Love” was, was it necessarily more special than P!nk’s “Just Give Me A Reason” or Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven”?
“Royals” victory in the Best Pop Performance category was also #winning; it was the most unique song/performance of the bunch.
Best New Artist: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
I picked Kendrick Lamar, but honestly, I’m not too angry about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis winning this one. Still, Kendrick is the more valuable long-term artist in my eyes.
Best Pop Vocal Album: Unorthodox Jukebox, Bruno Mars
While I predicted Justin Timberlake would be rewarded for his ‘comeback’ album The 20/20 Experience, this category was one of the more wide-open ones in years. This might be attributed to the fact that for the early portion of 2013, pop had a so-so year aside from these standouts. Ultimately, a gifted Bruno Mars going home victorious is neither upset nor disappointing.
Best Dance Recording: “Clarity,” Zedd featuring Foxes
Predictable; would’ve been an upset had Zedd fallen short.
Best Rock Performance: “Radioactive,” Imagine Dragons
Best Metal Performance: “God Is Dead?” Black Sabbath
If ROTY was considered to prestigious an honor for “Radioactive” over the likes of “Get Lucky” and perhaps “Royals”, this was the perfect recognition for rock’s biggest and most infectious song of 2013. Similarly, “God Is Dead?” was nothing short of epic and inescapable in the metal category. Too bad Ozzy and companies fell short in the Best Rock Song and Best Rock Album categories.
Best Rock Album: Celebration Day, Led Zeppelin
Like the Best Pop Vocal Album category, Best Rock Album was wide-open. Still, it felt like someone ‘older’ was going to win, and it happened to be Led Zeppelin’s night. I ain’t mad at ‘em, even if I was pulling for Black Sabbath.
Best Alternative Music Album: Modern Vampires of the City, Vampire Weekend
Finally, some recognition for those Ivy League vampires!
Best R&B Performance: “Something”, Snarky Puppy with Lalah Hathaway
Personally, the R&B voting seems to be getting odder. Not to take away from Snarky Puppy or the better known Lalah Hathaway, but it’s a surprising choice, particularly with a huge R&B record in “Love And War” and an opportunity to give Miguel another Grammy… no to mention Kendrick Lamar. Ugh!
Best Urban Contemporary Album: Unapologetic, Rihanna
Best R&B Album: Girl On Fire, Alicia Keys
Ultimately, I didn’t pick either of these albums to win, but there’s nothing wrong with either choice either. If one is a bit more surprising, perhaps its Alicia Keys’ victory over arguably John Legend’s best album in Love in the Future. Still, as much as John Legend is a Grammy darling, Alicia Keys was the darling first.
Best Rap Performance: “Thrift Shop,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz
Best Rap Song: “Thrift Shop”
Best Rap Album: The Heist
Honestly, I have a problem with only one of these three victories for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Best Rap Album. Don’t get it twisted, The Heist is a fine album, but was it the BEST rap album? Nope – that belonged to Good Kid M.A.A.D. City followed by Kanye West’s Yeezus. As devastating as the blow is to Kendrick, what about Kanye West – he loses for the first time in this category as a solo artist. Sure, he might confidently suggest he “gives no fucks,” but who believes that?
Best Country Song: “Merry Go ‘Round,” Kacey Musgraves
Best Country Album: Same Trailer Different Park, Kacey Musgraves
Basically, when Kacey Musgraves was announced as the winner for Best Country Album over Taylor Swift, it was game over for TS. I haven’t heard KM’s album, but I’ve heard a lot of good things.
Best Blues Album: Get Up! Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite
No brainer – this album deserved much wider recognition than being confined to the blues category.
Best Song Written For Visual Media: “Skyfall,” Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth (Adele)
Adele won yet another Grammy! #BeastMode
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical: Pharrell Williams
Had Pharrell somehow lost, I would’ve had to slap somebody!!!
Daft Punk won every award they were nominated for.
Kendrick Lamar was snubbed, which is a shame. He’s a special talent who should have won something.
Taylor Swift had a horrible night, and not just because she lost. That performance, girl!
Sara Bareilles… I’m still trying to figure out why she was nominated…
The Grammys are still very uncomfortable with awarding hip-hop in big categories, though they did give Best New Artist to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
Katy Perry is no Grammy darling… she’s yet to win…