Well folks, here you have it. My own forthcoming year-end survey has been rendered entirely irrelevant by the decrees of the Recording Industry Association of America. Look no further than their nominations for Album of the Year, what (should) be the most esteemed of all their categories at the 2008 Grammy Awards:
Album of the Year
Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace
Vince Gill – These Days
Herbie Hancock – River: The Joni Letters
Kanye West – Graduation
Amy Winehouse – Back in Black
These are the records that were sweeping the nation, that were playing out car stereos and defining music across generations. Does that jive with you? Does that make you feel inspired about the state of the art form? Are these the essential records that you feel empty and vacant without?
You know what? I’m feeling positive for some reason, so I’m not even going to dwell on the negatives of the nominations list (to name a few: the woeful lack of Springsteen, Kanye not submitting “Stronger” for Record/Song of the Year, and nothing from Fall Out Boy or My Chemical Romance – arguably the two most relevant rock bands for today’s teens). In an attempt to remedy mediocrity through ignorance, here’s the nominations that you, McNutt Against the Music reader, might almost/sorta/kinda give a damn about.
Kanye/Winehouse domination: Kanye West leads the pack with eight nominations, including best album and several nominations in the rap categories. He’s got to be considered the frontrunner for the big one – considering he deserved it for each of his last two records and lost – and is bound to be performing at the show. Less likely to be performing (because of, you know, the drugs) but equally likely to take home hardware is Amy Winehouse, with six nominations including Album of the Year, Best New Artist and several noms in the pop categories.
Record of the Year: While Song of the Year trades out for some weaker entries, Record of the Year is a strong (if incredibly mainstream) category. “Irreplacable,” “The Pretender,” “Umbrella,” “What Goes Around…Comes Around” and “Rehab” may all be more than a little bit ubiquitous, but stand up well compared to a lot of 2007’s other pop hits. It could have been much, much worse (looking at you, Fergie…)
“Best New Artist” nominee Feist: Sure, we’ve all been loving Feist since the ‘Scene released You Forgot It In People in 2002, but if Steve Jobs has convinced the Grammy Awards that she’s a “new” artist, so be it. She’s also up for Best Video and a couple of nominations in the pop categories that she might have a chance of winning if Grammy voters don’t want to see a coked-up Winehouse on their stage. Strangely, Feist was absent from the Best Alternative Album category, equally odd because…
The always-dependable Best Alternative Album category: The Recording Academy inexplicably considered Lily Allen, of all people, to have made an “alternative” album with Alirght, Still. It’s a good record, but feels completely out of place compared to the rest of the category. With apologies to Bjork’s Volta and The Shins’ Wincing the Night Away, this will be another showdown between The White Stripes (Icky Thump) and Arcade Fire (Neon Bible). Two years ago the Stripes won the duel, but does the Fire juggarnaut have enough momentum now to steamroll over the Red and White Brigade?
Wilco Rocks: The Stripes didn’t get a nomination for Rock Album, though. In their place? Wilco. Methinks I could find many an indie nerd who would not consider Sky Blue Sky a “rock” album in the slightest, but hey, good for the lads.
The Dance Categories: There’s only two of them – song and album – but deserving nominations for Justice in both categories, along with songs from JT (“Lovestoned”) and Rihanna (“Don’t Stop the Music”) and LCD Soundsystem’s quite-excellent Sound of Silver.
Spoken Word Album: Barack Obama is catching up in the presidential polls, and now he’s hoping to catch up to Hillary in the Grammy Award count. Hillary won this category in 1997, and Obama’s recording of The Audacity of Hope “hopes” to event the score. Standing in his way? Hillary’s husband.
Best Music Video: In the short form category, there’s great videos from Feist and Justice, but the long form? The increasingly-bizarre “Trapped in the Closet – Chapters 13-22.” Awesome.