By Caitlin Gardner
Within two years, the Grammy Awards have honored both country-pop princess Taylor Swift and indie rock ensemble Arcade Fire with Record of the Year, suggesting that the ceremony is a hugely unpredictable spectacle, mostly due to its redundant, bordering-on-niche categories.
Unlike other award shows of its kind, however, the Grammys consistently feature memorable performances ranging from awesome (Radiohead performing “15 Step” with the USC marching band) to bold (Eminem and Elton John collaborating on “Stan”) to fun (Cee-Lo Green in an Elton John-inspired costume performing “Forget You” with puppets and Gwyneth Paltrow) to train-wreck (Taylor Swift and Stevie Nicks collaborating on with “Rhiannon”).
The Grammys fashion themselves representative of the year’s music, but the material often seems stale; in some cases, artists receive awards in different years for pieces released on the same album, such as Katy Perry’s “Firework,” featured on her 2010 album Teenage Dream. And what, exactly, is the difference between Record of the Year and Song of the Year?
The Grammys require us to set aside reason and just enjoy the spectacle, be it good or bad. In any case, here are my picks for a few of the major categories:
RECORD OF THE YEAR:Adele, ‘Rolling in the Deep’
Is there really any question? She made the torch song listenable again and will likely receive Song of the Year for the same piece.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR:Adele, 21
I think this year has the makings of an Adele sweep, which would not be out of the ordinary considering the Grammy’s history of honoring female artists like Beyoncé, Lauryn Hill, and Mary J. Blige with multiple awards on any given night. I, however, think that the award belongs to someone else this year.
I have always considered the Foo Fighters to be a band with great singles that, unfortunately, lacks the ability to produce the complete album. Wasting Light, however, proved to be that winning album with great energy and chords seen in singles such as ‘Rope’ and ‘Walk.’
I don’t anticipate the rockers actually taking down their competition – Adele, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, and Lady Gaga, whose Born This Way is equal parts brilliant pop ballads and guilty pleasures that, in some cases, evolved into brilliant pop ballads – but they may dominate sub-categories such as Best Rock Song (‘Walk’) and Best Rock Album.
BEST NEW ARTIST:Nicki Minaj
This is a quirky category where it seems, thanks in part to the internet introducing people to new music early, that the industry is way behind what even the average music listener has discovered. I think anybody winning aside from rap queen Minaj would be an upset. However, I find myself rooting for Bon Iver, if only because of frontman Justin Vernon’s refusal to perform at the Grammys, making a big stink about it as some Indie vs. Mainstream protest that felt stale in 1997.