Published: February 2, 2011
Record of the Year
Who Should Win: Cee Lo Green—“Fuck You”
Who Will Win: Couldn’t Care Less
To say Cee Lo Green has written some of the catchiest songs of our generation would be an understatement. The short and stumpy sultan of retro R&B hasn’t disappointed yet. “Fuck You” is the kind of song whose production is perfectly effortless. Its sound pays homage to the pioneers of soul and R&B and updates it for a generation of people who might be unacquainted with those early icons, but still recognize a good song when they hear one. It’s memorable and easy to sing. I even heard a mother singing it to herself while pushing her toddler in a shopping cart and picking out ice cream. God, I wish I was that kid.
Best Rock Album
Who Should Win: Pearl Jam—“Backspacer”
Who Will Win: Muse—“The Resistance”
I’m going with Pearl Jam for Best Rock Album. And yes, I know what all you serious music lovers are saying. But Pearl Jam is undeniably one of the most consistent aging rock groups out there right now. We should be thankful for the fact that Eddie Vedder can still howl like the wolfman he is. I guarantee by the time you’re in your 30s, have a wife and kids, they’ll still be rocking out harder than ever.
One album this year that surprised me was New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus and their Civil War-themed album, “The Monitor.” Following in the footsteps of Jersey patron saint Bruce Springsteen, the boys from Glen Rock have paid their dues with furious, raucous playing and passionate, fiery lyrics. Their album caught the attention and imagination of many music lovers, regarded by many as one of the best albums of 2010.
Album of the Year
Who Should Win: Arcade Fire—“The Suburbs”
Who Will Win: Lady Gaga—“The Fame Monster”
In the world of indie music Christendom, Arcade Fire are kind of a big deal. And I mean that as a compliment. “The Suburbs” has everything a good concept album should have: a gripping, attention-grabbing storyline with a beginning, middle and end. Unfortunately, it seems like Lady Gaga may steal this one. It seems like everything that woman touches turns to sh… I mean gold.
Best Recording Package
Who Should Win: The Black Keys
Who Will Win: The Black Keys
Best Recording Package, or best album art, goes to the minimalist, in-your-face brashness of Akron, Ohio’s The Black Keys. Their latest album, “Brothers,” takes the idea of the traditional album and throws it out the window. I’m not exaggerating when I say minimalist. The cover appears black with red and white text that reads, “This is an album by the Black Keys—The name of this album is Brothers.” The album art is not complex by any means, forgoing expert, high-level graphics.
Best New Artist
Who Should Win: Esperanza Spalding
Who Will Win: Drake
If Esperanza Spalding doesn’t win this Best New Artist category, the faith I have in society will drop dramatically. Before this, Spalding was just another “no name” that I had never heard of. But God, I’m glad that I did.
Spalding is a beautiful, innovative jazz bassist and singer who constructs gorgeous, jazz-infused string arrangements with elements of world music. Her voice is fresh and sensuous; a nice change among names like Justin Bieber (I don’t even have to say anything), Florence and the Machine (amazing voice, used way too much in movies about self empowerment… cough, cough, “Eat Pray Love”) and Mumford & Sons (trying too hard to be folk). Many people may argue on this one with me, but I see nothing special about Drake. There is nothing original about him that I find noteworthy or worthy of admiration. The guy was on Noggin’s “Degrassi” for God’s sake.
Song of the Year
Who Should Win: “Fuck You”—Cee Lo Green
Who Will Win:“Love The Way You Lie”—Eminem feat. Rihanna
Again, I stand by Cee Lo and his brilliant song “Fuck You” for a number of reasons. If you can listen to a song several times in a row and never get tired of it, you have a hit. If you can incorporate a curse word into a song numerous times and make it catchy without being cheesy, you have a hit. Lastly, if the name of your song is actually “Fuck You,” you should just be given the award by default.
Best Rap Album
Who Should Win: The Roots—“How I Got Over”
Who Will Win: Eminem—“Recovery”
In my eyes, the legendary Roots crew can do no wrong. ?uestlove could be limbless, stick two pencils in his mouth, and still sound like a God among Gods with a metronome for a brain. The Roots are the rap group everyone loves; they are easily accessible, poetic and actually PLAY their instruments. “How I Got Over” may not be the best album of their career, but it’s certainly one of the best this year. From “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” to the house band for the “Rally to Restore Sanity,” I don’t see The Roots ending their victory run anytime soon.
Best Long Form Music Video
Who Should Win: “Under Great White Northern Lights”—The White Stripes
Who Will Win: “Under Great White Northern Lights”—The White Stripes
Best Long Form Music Video or, in other words, music documentary, has to go to Emmet Malloy’s “Under Great White Northern Lights.” Malloy films the White Stripes while venturing on their tour throughout every province and territory of Canada, stretching as far the Eskimo communities of the North. Malloy’s poignant display of musical emotion between Jack and Meg shows a side of the duo the media has rarely ever seen. The concert footage is raw and the interviews with Jack and Meg are even rawer.
Best Pop Vocal Album
Who Should Win: “I Dreamed a Dream”—Susan Boyle
Who Will Win: “The Fame Monster”—Lady Gaga
Susan Boyle has a gift from God: actual talent. Boyle is arguably one of the biggest things to hit contemporary music in a long time with a voice that isn’t all bells and whistles. Her voice isn’t melodramatic, overworked or demonstrative of the wagging figure technique when venturing up and down the scale (big thanks to Christina Aguilera for that one). On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, we have the constantly changing, emotionless Lady Gaga, a woman whose talent is shown more in her fashion sense than her songwriting and vocal deliverance. But, I give her some credit. Not everyone can pull off a head-to-toe meat dress.