Monday, December 07, 2015

2016 Grammy Nominations Revealed, Does Anyone Care?

The Grammys are fighting to retain some kind of relevance and I'm not sure they're succeeding. How long ago was it that Homer Simpson gave away his Grammy? Do people even care? What's the point?

The joke, that is the Grammys, continues to flounder and beg the question what are the criteria for these awards? Apparently, the rules call for voting based on quality alone, and not be influenced by sales, chart performance, personal friendships, regional preferences or company loyalty. Quality alone. Hmm, that's not very clear, what kind of quality? Whatever quality they are talking about, they have spoken with their latest list of nominees. There are the usual suspects and there are the usual seemingly random unknown nominees (see Al Walser's 2013 nomination). Below you'll find my take on the four categories relevant to this blog; Best Dance Recording, Best Dance/Electronic Album, Best Remixed Recording (Non-Classical), and Best Producer (Non-Classical).

Best Remixed Recording (Non-Classical)
Let's first start with the weirdest category, Best Remix. Presumably this would be the most vastly populated category with nearly infinite potential. Somehow the voters always seem to find tracks that I've never heard of, and aside from the Kaskade remix, I've not heard any of the nominees. I've never heard of CFCF (who I'm now just learning is from Montreal, oops). This one almost strikes me as a typo, sounds like it could easily fit in the best remixed recording (classical), if there were such a category. The Fatum remix is actually a really nice jacking number, that utilizes the vocals really beautifully; definitely a quality recording. Then there's the seemingly obligatory Kaskade nod. Of course Runaway is nominated twice (the remix here and the original, in best dance recording). I'm really not a fan of this one, I have a hard time making in through a single play of it. Were I to bet on a front runner, it would be this one, I don't think they can shut out Galantis; it'll likely be their consolation prize.  The RAC remix is a really nice, clean and simple take on Odesza who have had as big as year as Galantis. I'd watch out for this one as the dark horse contender. Finally there's Dave Aude's remix jacking take on Uptown Funk. There's no questioning the skill and talent of Aude's remix and it's probably my favourite of the bunch (because the lyrics are a guilty pleasure of mine). If I were to nominate one track for this category, I'd choose A-Trak's remix of The Chainsmokers and Great Good Fine OK "Let You Go."

Best Dance/Electronic Album

This category is absolutely stacked, it's probably the best five nominees in the just over a decade of the category's existence. There's no debating the merits of any of the nominees; all are deserving. I'd rather talk about the snubs as I see them. Jean Michel Jarre's Electronica 1: The Time Machine is deserving, but it was released a mere two weeks too late, oh well, next year. Flux Pavilion's Tesla is most definitely a snub, without a doubt one of the best albums this year, and one of the best electronic albums of all time. I'm really surprised Nero's Between II Worlds didn't get a nod considering how much success they've had at the Grammys before. I guess the whole concept album wasn't their cup of tea. I would've thought Kolsch's 1983 might appear on this list but it's becoming more clear that the Grammy voters and I don't often agree on quality. Groove Armada's Little Black Book is an epic two part-er that has merits not only in its originality but also the amazing remixes that come with it. Despite the single "We Are All We Need" being nominated the same cannot be said for Above & Beyond's masterful album. Hudson Mohawke's Lantern was truly masterful, and its absence from this list is truly tragic. The Prodigy made their triumphant return yet were somehow not nominated for The Day Is My Enemy, why no love? Despite Alison Wonderland's ridiculously successful year her truly amazing album Run wasn't nominated; someone screwed up. I really thought RL Grime's VOID would have had a good shot at being nominated, but I guess I'm wrong again. Were I in charge of giving this award to someone, it would have to be Daktyl, for his beyond brilliant Cyclical, I knew it was my favourite for album of the year as soon as I heard it. But back to the sad reality that is the Grammys, I'd bet the voters go to Skrillex and Diplo.

Producer Of The Year, (Non-Classical)
  • Jeff  Bhasker
  • Dave Cobb
  • Diplo
  • Larry Klein
  • Blake Mills
I remember thinking that when Diplo was first nominated for this award in 2013 that he absolutely had to win, and I still think of the five nominees he should win, but the other four are serious heavyweights in the industry, Bhasker having done work for Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, Cobb a butt load of country artists, Klein with Adam Cohen among countless others and Mills with Alabama Shakes and others I'm unfamiliar with. I'd be putting my money on Bhasker taking the title but I'm cautiously optimistic that Diplo can take hope the title. I mean if Pharell was 'quality' enough to be 'deserving' then Diplo is too.

Best Dance Recording

It's the big one. Best Dance Recording. All the big names are here, including Kendrick Lamar who has the most nominees of anyone with 11 total. I've linked each nominee to their music video, which (of course) all have videos. Without a doubt these are all pop dance recordings. There's nothing truly subversive or out of the ordinary about these tracks. They are all uber popular and I guess in that sense are successful in what they were meant to do. But does that really make them quality? There's no way that I'm ever going to really understand what the Grammys' definition of quality is. It seems to run in the face of their negative qualifications (sales, chart performance). Personally, I'm really hopeful that The Chemical Brothers take home this award but I'm almost positive that Skrillex, Diplo and Bieber will take home another piece of hardware. Picking just one track for Best Dance Recording is one of the most difficult tasks I can think of, and could easily spend days arguing and debating the merits of hundreds of tracks that could be nominated. Just to be contrary I'd have to pick a track that doesn't have a music video. It'd probably be a 3 way tie between Stephen Walking's "The Difference Between Us And The Aliens," Lazy Rich's "Opus," and Slumberjack "Horus."