There’s the Super Bowl. There’s the Academy Awards, which some folks call the Gay Super Bowl. Then there’s the Grammys, which is the…hell, I don’t know. I wouldn’t even call it the Music Nerds Super Bowl, seeing as how most folks who are passionate and particular about music dismiss the ceremony as record industry back-slapping at its finest.
I guess they have a point. However, music is so subjective, it’s hard to reach any consensus on the “best” of anything, which is what the Grammys does. That said, the ceremonies are often entertaining, and there’s usually at least one “oh shit” moment in either a performance or an award category that makes sitting in front of the tube for three hours worthwhile.
This year’s ceremony is interesting if only for the fact that there’s no clear-cut frontrunner. Last year, you knew Adele was gonna win everything. There wasn’t very much in the way of suspense. As it turned out, people came out in droves to watch, anyway. This year, the nominations are split between a clutch of popular acts (The Black Keys, Kanye, Jay-Z, fun, Jack White, Mumford & Sons and Frank Ocean,) many of who haven’t totally broken through to mass appeal yet. The Grammy show could turn out to be a coming out party as far as taking one of these acts (with the exception of Jigga & Kanye, who are already ubiquitous) to the proverbial “next level” of notoriety/success.
I’ve been predicting winners in the major categories for a few years now, and my track record is pretty good. That said, if you’ve watched a couple of Grammy ceremonies and know how the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences works, it’s pretty easy. Not so much this year, so my prognostications (which will be made over the next few days) could turn out to be the worst ever. But…doing this is fun, so here are my (completely uneducated) predictions for who’s gonna win in the rock categories. Keep your eyes on the site for the rest of the week, as I look at rap, pop/dance, R&B, and the general field categories, respectively.
BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE
Hold On | Alabama Shakes
Lonely Boy | The Black Keys
Charlie Brown | Coldplay
I Will Wait | Mumford & Sons
We Take Care Of Our Own | Bruce Springsteen
GRAMMY PICKS: In a lot of cases, it’s easier to pick who won’t win than it is to pick who will win. Coldplay’s “Charlie Brown” isn’t a particularly recognizable song, and Mylo Xyloto was widely acknowledged as an inferior album, so Chris Martin and co. will not be adding to a sizable collection of golden gramophones this time. The Alabama Shakes are too green, and although Springsteen always has a shot, I’m betting (spoiler alert) that he’ll pick up his hardware later. Ultimately, the category comes down to the two biggest rock bands in America right now: Mumford & Sons and The Black Keys. The Keys are relatively young, they’re popular, and what gives them the edge, they’ve already got a handful of Grammys. I say they win in a squeaker.
BIG MONEY PICKS: Not familiar with the Alabama Shakes? You should be. Lead singer Brittany Howard wails like a reincarnated Janis Joplin. While the Shakes are best experienced in concert, “Hold On” is a high water mark on their debut album, Boys & Girls.
BEST HARD ROCK/METAL PERFORMANCE
I’m Alive | Anthrax
Love Bites (So Do I) | Halestorm
Blood Brothers | Iron Maiden
Ghost Walking | Lamb Of God
No Reflection | Marilyn Manson
Whose Life (Is It Anyways?) | Megadeth
GRAMMY PICKS: This is always the hardest category for me to pick, because hard rock and metal aren’t necessarily my “thang.” Nevertheless, I’ll give it my best shot. I disqualify Iron Maiden only because “Blood Brothers” is a live track (I didn’t say there was always going to be rhyme of reason to my predictions.) Manson still has the stigma of being MARILYN MANSON to wash off, I don’t know that Halestorm is well-known enough to win a Grammy, and Anthrax perennially flies under the radar. The award will be won by either Lamb of God or Megadeth. Dave Mustaine is a fucking jerk, and Grammy voters do like to vote with their politics, so I say the award goes to Lamb of God, whose frontman, Randy Blythe, is in a bit of (possibly undeserved) legal trouble these days.
BIG MONEY PICKS: I don’t fucking know. As I said, hard rock and metal aren’t necessarily my “thang.” So why do I have an opinion on who wins the category? Because I can.
BEST ROCK SONG
Freedom At 21 | Jack White, songwriter
I Will Wait | Ted Dwane, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall & Marcus Mumford, songwriters
Lonely Boy | Dan Auerbach, Brian Burton & Patrick Carney, songwriters
Madness | Matthew Bellamy, songwriter
We Take Care Of Our Own | Bruce Springsteen, songwriter
GRAMMY PICKS: Poor Jack White might get hosed this year, as he is up against some quite formidable competition in a year when he made a kick-ass record. Since this award is given for songwriting, I’m inclined to say that Springsteen’s politically-motivated tune (which many feel was rooked of a Song of the Year nomination) will take the prize. It was an election year, and although Grammy voters have backed away from honoring dinosaurs in the last couple of years (at least since Herbie Hancock inexplicably won Album of the Year over Amy Winehouse) I say the Boss still reigns supreme here. Sorry, Black Keys and Mumford & Sons. Your time will come.
BIG MONEY PICKS: You can’t really go wrong here, can you? As much of a Wrecking Ball fan as I am not, “We Take Care of Our Own” is a pretty passionate song. As is “I Will Wait” (for totally different reasons.) “Lonely Boy” is fun as hell, “Madness” is predictably epic, and…yeah, poor Jack White.
BEST ROCK ALBUM
El Camino | The Black Keys
Mylo Xyloto | Coldplay
The 2nd Law | Muse
Wrecking Ball | Bruce Springsteen
Blunderbuss | Jack White
GRAMMY PICKS: Generally speaking, this award is a consolation prize for losing the Album of The Year trophy, which means it’ll go to either The Black Keys or Jack White. Again, I’ll lean towards the Keys. I hope Patrick Carney gets nice and soused during the ceremony, and delivers one of the more obnoxious speeches in Grammy show history–assuming that the presentation of this award will be televised.
BIG MONEY PICKS: One earnest but not very good (IMO) album (Springsteen,) one boring pop experiment (Coldplay) and three above-average discs here. If my vote mattered, I’d go with Jack White by a nosehair over the Keys.
BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM
The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do | Fiona Apple
Biophilia | Björk
Making Mirrors | Gotye
Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. | M83
Bad As Me | Tom Waits
GRAMMY PICKS: This category (rightfully, I guess) is difficult to predict. Even a look through the nominees makes you wonder how these guys wound up in the same category. Gotye would appear to be the obvious winner here (and may actually have an edge, especially if he gets shut out of the major categories.) I only wonder if there’ll be some backlash from voters who don’t consider him “alternative.” Tom Waits (who garnered the highest-charting album of his career with Bad As Me) will get a sizable amount of votes. Will there be enough to topple the guy who had the year’s best-selling single? Maybe. Maybe not. Yes, I’m hedging my bets.
BIG MONEY PICKS: Fiona Apple. All day. Every day. Have I mentioned before that I have a ginormous crush on Fiona Apple?