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Grammys Confuse Once Again With “Album of the Year”

Grammys Confuse Once Again With "Album of the Year"

The week of analyzing and criticizing entertainment award nominations keeps rolling…

While the film world watches closely as Sundance announces its 2010 lineup, and the movie awards season kicks into full gear, the music business crosses its fingers for a strong retail fourth quarter (Susan Boyle gets it off to a nice start by selling over 700,000 copies in her first week). The annual Grammy Awards decided to try something a little different this year, by holding a TV special on Wednesday night, when this edition’s nominees would be revealed. Typically the subject of early morning press conferences, I actually believe this method makes more sense for the music industry’s yearly honors. However, while the way in which these nominees were announced may have been new, the choices are still the same old popularity contest. Up for “Album of the Year” (which is really, “Album of October 2008 to November 2009”) are: Beyonce’s I Am… Sasha Fierce, The Black Eyed Peas’ The E.N.D., Lady Gaga’s The Fame, Dave Matthews Band’s Big Whiskey And The Groogrux King, and Taylor Swift’s Fearless. When including Dave Matthews Band feels like the edgiest choice, you know we have a weak selection. It’s very likely Lady Gaga will win, considering she’s become the most uniquely provocative pop singer in years, but aren’t all of these albums just so-so with a few killer singles mixed in?

The real race happens in the “Record of the Year” and “Song of the Year” categories, and I think you’ll find Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” winning those prizes, respectively. Which is deserving, because those are two amazing singles. But, do they justify the entire albums being nominated as best of the year? Especially when all the same albums nominated for the top prize are also nominated again for best album within their genre? Sprinkled throughout the genre-specific album categories, you see some decent representation of true quality. Mos Def’s great, but uncommercial, The Ecstatic scored a “Best Rap Album” nod, but the genius Kid Cudi was unfortunately left off (he did get some song nominations). “Best Alternative Music Album” gave a shot to David Byrne & Brian Eno’s sweet Everything That Happens Will Happen Today as well as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ sleeper It’s Blitz!. U2’s divisive but deserving No Line On The Horizon has to settle for a chance at “Best Rock Album,” and the pitch-perfect single “Magnificent” failed to get recognized properly. Over in the “Best New Artist” category, though, there are actually great new artists (but no Kid Cudi): MGMT, The Ting Tings, and Silversun Pickups. That’s the spirit.

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