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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Evolution of Grammys places commercialization over artistry

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    The 54th Annual Grammy Awards, which could act as a way for fans to see their favorite acts perform live and win big, probably will have as many people checking updates on Twitter as tuning in live because of one simple point. The Recording Academy has turned a deaf ear to what matters most: the music.

    Although some viewers complain that the Academy adheres to choices that are maddeningly mainstream or that the show focuses more on marketing artists as commodities rather than talent, past wins like Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs snagging “Album of the Year” over Lady Gaga’s worldwide hit The Fame Monster last year, contradict that argument. However, recognizing lesser-known artists loses its integrity when the awards rely on overblown personalities and past drama (Rihanna and Chris Brown are reportedly performing this year, despite a certain restraining order) to gain viewers.

    Outside of all of this, fans will still want their favorite artists to snag those golden statuettes Sunday night.

    Here’s who I want to see recognized in a few key categories:

    Record of the Year

    The nominees: “Rolling in the Deep” (Adele), “Holocene” (Bon Iver), “Grenade” (Bruno Mars), “Firework” (Katy Perry), “The Cave” (Mumford and Sons)

    Should win: Please, for the love of all that’s sonically holy, anyone but Bruno Mars. The artist to beat here (and in every category she’s nominated) is Adele. While “Rolling in the Deep” was nearly tarnished by its incessant radio rotation this fall, it retains its power because Adele’s voice has a lasting sincerity that doesn’t fade, even on the hundredth listen.

    Album of the Year

    The nominees: 21 (Adele), Wasting Light (Foo Fighters), Born This Way (Lady Gaga), Doo-Wops & Hooligans (Bruno Mars), Loud (Rihanna)

    Should win: Rihanna has an unfair advantage when it comes to award shows, considering that she releases a new album on what seems like every other Tuesday, so she’s out. Wasting Light was a commercial and critical success, but it’s doubtful the Academy will acknowledge an alternative rock group in this category for the second year in a row, and Born This Way just tried a little too hard. So, despite lingering anger over a particularly devastating snub (see below), Adele has earned the win by releasing a sophomore album so poignant that anyone with a beating heart and the slimmest sense of human compassion can find something to relate to — and Adele’s powerhouse voice doesn’t hurt either.

    Best New Artist

    The nominees: The Band Perry, Bon Iver, J. Cole, Nicki Minaj, Skrillex

    Should win: In perhaps the most poorly nominated category of any awards show, the most deserved winner should naturally be the artist that is actually new. That immediately rules out Bon Iver (For Emma, Forever Ago, their first album, was released in 2008) and Nicki Minaj (who signed with Young Money almost three years ago). The stand-out then, is Skrillex, who has used his extensive experience in the industry, both as a singer-songwriter and producer, to transform a genre formerly dominated by Europe into the consummate sound of the past year. Whether it’s dubstep, “brostep,” or something else entirely, Skrillex’s music is here for the long haul.

    Best Alternative Music Album

    The nominees: Bon Iver, Bon Iver (Bon Iver), Codes and Keys (Death Cab for Cutie), Torches (Foster the People), Circuital (My Morning Jacket), The King of Limbs (Radiohead)

    Should win: Though Justin Vernon of Bon Iver made headlines recently with some not-so-subtle anti-Grammy comments (he told The New York Times Magazine that “we should not be gathering in a big room and looking at each other and pretending that this is important” around the time nominations were announced) while also refusing to perform at the awards, I doubt he’d be completely distraught if his group walked away with a win. At least, I hope not, because this near-flawless album was one of the best 2011 had to offer.

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