Reward Rewind: 61st Grammy Awards

The 61st Grammys are in the books! Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable parts of the night!

Best Performance: Natural Woman – Yolanda Adams, Fantasia, and Andra Day

There were many excellent performances at the 61st Grammy awards, from Jennifer Lopez’ Motown medley to a perfectly choreographed piece from Janelle Monet, but none of the were quite as powerful as the tribute to the queen of soul herself, Aretha Franklin. All three women gave heartfelt and moving performances of one of Aretha’s most infamous tracks. The harmonies were air tight and the solos were remarkable. A fitting tribute to the queen.

Worst Performance: Shallow – Lady Gaga

Let me preface this by saying that I not only love this song, but the soundtrack from which it came as well. It’s a strong centerpiece to a great album and I also generally like Lady Gaga. That being said, her performance here was jarring to say the least. Her decision to sing Bradley Cooper’s part as well as her own was strange and hurt the conversational aspect of the track, her pronunciation and vocal inflections were manic and distracting, and worst of all, her dancing was simply bizarre. It’s a shame as she’s very talented and the track is excellent, but this performance was a big missed opportunity.

Most Surprising Win: Invasion Of Privacy – Cardi B (Best Rap Album)

Cardi B became the first solo woman to win a Best Rap Album Grammy last night and I certainly couldn’t have guessed this before it happened. Judging by Cardi’s nervous but endearing acceptance speech, neither could she. While Invasion of Privacy was one of the better records in the lineup, it was up against several juggernauts. Drake’s Scorpion and Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD would have been infinitely less surprising as both featured their fair share of radio hits and name recognition. Ultimately, however, Cardi B took home a much deserved win for her studio debut.

Worst Win: Pharrell Williams (Producer of the Year, Non-Classical)

I went back and forth on whether I should mention this one as the only reference to it came from a quick mention by Alicia Keys. However, it’s just too egregious to ignore. Kanye West produced five albums this year, each of which was not only extremely successful, but found much of their success thanks to Kanye’s production. His decision to cut the albums’ runtime below 30 minutes and his more raw style has been incredibly influential this year. While I haven’t loved all of his output this year, there is simply no way to deny the impact he’s had on the industry this year.

Best Win: Golden Hour – Kacey Musgraves (Album of the Year)

This was another of the most surprising choices by the committee. I would’ve ranked Golden Hour as the single least likely winner as country music gets very little recognition in this category and other records offered more of a cultural importance and diversity factor. That being said, this was an extremely fun listen with great instrumentation and really heartfelt lyrics and vocals from Kacey. It’s nice to see some reward for an album that made an attempt to step out of the box and though it wasn’t the most experimental piece of work to come out this year, it was daring and unique in it’s own right. It’s an exciting win for very talented young woman with a bright future.

The 61st Grammy Awards: Thoughts and Predictions!!

Let’s take a look at the 61st annual Grammy Awards! Who will win? Who should win? Will Taylor Swift sweep it all? All the big questions answered!

Best Comedy Album

Who Should Win:Dave Chapelle – Equanimity & The Bird Revelation

     After a very long hiatus, Dave Chapelle is finally back with one of the most thoughtful and hilarious comedy specials in the last decade. He touches on politics, marriage, race, and even O.J. Simpson, all with the trademark Chapelle wit and wisdom.

Who Will Win: Dave Chapelle – Equanimity & The Bird Revelation

   After the long break and thanks to the massive amount of content he put out this year, Chapelle provides Grammy voters with something they love even more than a quality album, and that’s a great story.

Best Americana Album

Who Should Win:John Prine – The Tree of Forgiveness

   I’ve said on multiple occasions that this category shouldn’t exist, and should simply be folded into the country category. This is especially apparent this year with the rather weak field in both sets of nominees. The Tree of Forgiveness, however, would stand out in any crowd as one of the best entries in a legendary discography.

Who Will Win: John Prine – The Tree of Forgiveness

   The Grammys value popularity quite a bit, and Prine’s is the only name on the record with any mainstream recognition. In addition, the album contemplates quite a bit on the career of the infamous Singing Mailman, a quality the committee rarely fails to reward.

Best Country Album

Who Should Win:Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hours

   Here, there are two strong contenders, but I think Golden Hours edges out Stapleton’s record by an inch. It’s by far Kacey Musgraves’ best album to date, and the unique marriage of an orchestral pallet, classic pop-country songwriting, and progressive production makes for an ambitious album that deserves to be rewarded.

Who Will Win: Chris Stapleton – From A Room Vol. 2

   This isn’t a win that would disappoint me, but it’s certainly Stapleton’s least impressive LP and much weaker than its predecessor. However, Chris is a darling of the Grammy committee, having won last year with Vol. 1, and boasting a few other nominations this year.

Best Rock Album

Who Should Win:Alice in Chains – Rainier Fog

   2018 has been one of rock music’s best years in recent memory, this category stands as a shining example of how little the Grammys know about the current music scene. Of the rather weak selection, though, Alice in Chains’ most recent effort is easily the best. The heavy guitars and powerful vocals are a more mature form of grunge revolution the band pioneered in the 90’s.

Who Will Win: Fall Out Boy – M A N I A

   This is something of a worst case scenario. Only a decade after their seminole pop-punk debut, Fall Out Boy abandoned all semblance of rock influences and recorded one of the most grating, unlistenable LP’s of the century. Wouldn’t it be just like the Grammys to reward that?

Best New Artist

Who Should Win:Greta Van Fleet

   One of the more controversial bands nominated, I’m a fan of Greta Van Fleet, and I won’t apologize for it. No matter where you stand on the their originality, they’ve put out two very successful LP’s and played multiple festivals just this year. They’re the most accomplished nominee in this category, and they’ve got a lot of promise.

Who Will Win: Greta Van Fleet

   Regardless of the controversy, GVF seems to have accrued enough of a following and generated enough buzz that the Grammys would be out of their minds to pass them up.

Record of the Year

Who Should Win:Kendrick Lamar feat. SZA – All the Stars

   Record of the year is meant to reward the finished product of a track, as apposed to Song of the Year which rewards only the songwriter. With that in mind, “All the Stars” seems the obvious choice. The production is tight, Kendrick’s flow is as slick as ever, and SZA gives a powerful performance on the choruses.

Who Will Win: Post Malone feat. 21 Savage – Rockstar

   I can’t say I mind this song, and in fact, I love the album, but the production is slightly lacking and 21 Savage’s feature is one of the worst of the year. Regardless, this feels like a big year for Post Malone, and I doubt that will stop when it comes to the big four.

Song of the Year

Who Should Win:Childish Gambino – This is America

   It’s been a few months now and it’s easy to forget, but the entire country seemed to stop on a dime for a couple days when Childish Gambino released “This is America.” While the music video is the most important element to the song’s success, the lyricism and the brilliance of using trap influences as commentary in of themselves is more than deserving of this award.

Who Will Win: Drake – God’s Plan

   Perhaps I’m being a bit cynical here, but I can’t see Drake losing in a big four category, especially to such a creative and politically charged song. “God’s Plan,” was another massive summer hit, and it seems likely to me that it will bring home this award.

Album of the Year

Who Should Win:Post Malone – Beerbongs & Bentleys

   The Album of the Year field was particularly weak this year, but this Post Malone album is one of a few projects I could actually stomach giving this award to. Is it ambitious? No. Inventive? No. But it aims to be a collection of well made pop/hip-hop songs that everyone can enjoy, and it does that very well.

Who Will Win: Drake – Scorpion

   Again, perhaps I’m cynical, but when the field is weak, we tend to see the award go to a big name in pop music and there is no bigger name on this year’s list.

Reward Show Rewind: 2018 MTV Video Music Awards!!

Every award show makes mistakes, some more than others! Here are some of my thoughts on the winners at this year’s VMAs.

Video of the Year

Winner: Havannah by Camila Cabello

Should’ve Won: This is America by Childish Gambino

220px-This_Is_America_(single_cover)_2018   This decision isn’t quite as unforgivable as it may seem at first. Havannah sports some genuinely impressive ideas, creatively, and the performances, apart from LeLe Pons’ atrocious work, are quite fun and impressive. This is America, however, is a beautiful example of what a music video can be. Childish Gambino crafted a hell-scape which is eerily similar to the world we all live in, hiding it just inches beneath the surface of the same fun dances and symbolism which had been used to take the edges off of such suffering for hundreds of years. There are layers upon layers, and every repeat viewing shows something completely new. It is a genuine shame that the one show which makes a point to honor the world of music videos didn’t take the opportunity to reward one of the music videos in recent memory.

Artist of the Year

Winner: Camila Cabello

Should’ve Won: Post Malone

download (1)   This one cuts a bit deeper than Cabello’s video win. Of course the list of nominees is a laughable attempt in the first place, but of the pool, perhaps only Drake would’ve been a worse choice. Post Malone’s Beerbongs & Bentleys, on the other hand, has dethroned the likes of The Beatles and Michael Jackson en route to setting a multitude of records and achieving unprecedented commercial success. Beyond all of that, it’s an extremely impressive record on which nearly every song is fantastic. Yet another missed opportunity from MTV.

Song of the Year

Winner: Rockstar by Post Malone feat. 21 Savage

Should’ve Won: Rockstar by Post Malone feat. 21 Savage

Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 3.35.52 AM   Here, the internet made the right call. Post Malone’s groundbreaking new record was certainly boosted quite a bit in the sales department by the tremendous success of it’s lead single. While “Rockstar,” may not even be the highlight of the project, it definitely deserves a little recognition. From Post’s catchy chorus, to the dreamy beat, to the shockingly competent verse from 21 Savage, this track sucks listeners in for a very enjoyable experience.

Best New Artist

Winner: Cardi B

Should’ve Won: Cardi B

220px-Cardi_B_-_Invasion_of_Privacy   Again, a good call on this one. Cardi’s major label debut this year was not only a commercial smash, but critically impressive as well. Her New York flow meshed really well with the heavy trap. Influences she was working with, and her unbridled attitude immediately placed her as a much needed female voice in the ever-growing landscape of rap music. The vast majority of the album’s hefty feature list goes off without a hitch, and Cardi’s lyricism along with her impressive pre-label work would seem to suggest that she has quite a bit of longevity in her upcoming career.