Recordings | February 2016

By Cait Brennan, February 2016 Issue.

Grammy Awards season is upon us, and you’re probably thinking Adele should just go ahead and buy that Tuff Shed trophy room she’s been eyeing at Costco. But, tragically, you’d be mistaken – or at least 12 months early – because due to the Recording Academy calendar, Adele’s chart-topping heartbreaker won’t be eligible for the awards until 2017.

Not to worry though, the 58th annual Grammy Awards – which will air Feb. 15 on CBS –have a wide variety of musical flavors included this year’s nominations.

But wait, is this the same organization that named Milli Vanilli Best New Artist? The same one that gave 1992’s Best Rock Song to Eric Clapton’s umpteenth Ambien-fueled snoozefest reworking of “Layla” over Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? We’re gonna trust these guys?

Short answer: no. You don’t have to trust them when you have your pals here at Echo. Here’s a look at who we think should win, who probably will win and who got ridiculously snubbed in the process.

Record Of The Year

Who should win: D’angelo and The Vanguard, “Really Love.”

Who will win: hopefully Taylor Swift for “Blank Space,” but probably “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars.

This category is as tough as it gets. Slick, genetically engineered Frankensteinian pop freakshows, so addictive that no mere human can possibly resist them, concocted by a phalanx of producers, engineers and songwriters that would not even fit in your house. That’s why D’Angelo’s “Really Love” stands out; his album Black Messiah was as personal and powerful a statement as it gets these days, and the man himself produced the record, with help from two engineers and the mastering guy. By contrast, “Uptown Funk” had a team of 12. Don’t believe me? Just watch them all stagger to the stage when they win.

Album Of The Year

Who will win: Taylor Swift, 1989

Who should win: Taylor Swift

OK look, Alabama Shakes should win. Their album Sound & Color is a powerhouse slab of cosmic soul that will blow your feet out from under you and possibly send you rocketing into low Earth orbit. But Taylor’s had the kind of year that only legends get: when unbathed indie grouches are compelled to jump your train and cover your entire album in a quasi-condescending manner. But then, instead of it being a joke, it causes everyone to reevaluate how great your songs are AND you get paid twice because BOTH albums become hits … well, it’s your moment, girl. There are Taylor haters, but they have to be killing themselves making the effort, because her songs are just too good for words. It’s like hating oxygen. Kendrick Lamar has a decent shot at stealing this. No, I’m kidding.

Song Of The Year

Who will win: Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Shellback, “Blank Space”

Who should win: Meh.

Sometimes this one goes out as a consolation prize to those who aren’t going to win record of the year or album of the year, and Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” is a fine song with an excellent pedigree. But Max Martin, who co-wrote “Blank Space,” is some kind of weird Swede who did a Faust deal with Kenny Loggins’ beard or something, because the man wrote every song we grew up listening to, from “I Want It That Way” to “Baby One More Time” to “Since U Been Gone.” Yes, of course I was a tween in the late ‘90s (that headshot is my grandma).

Best New Artist

Who will win: Meghan Trainor, I guess?

Who should win: Courtney Barnett.

Trainor isn’t a gaurantee for this – she was insanely hot nine months ago, but timing is everything, and the shine’s off the rose. The bloom’s off the … look, I’m fresh out of folksy country metaphors here, let’s just say Meghan and our ears need some time apart. But Grammy voters aren’t exactly cutting edge live-in-the-moment types and they probably just now heard “All About That Bass” and it is their jam, y’all. Courtney Barnett is a brilliant indie artist and should win for quality reasons, but then when she was nominated she said something like “huh? wha? I don’t follow awards shows, but thanks.” She’s from Australia; so I guess it could be true. In any case, I hope she wins and has to come down in person to get it, in an artisanal reclaimed-driftwood plane or something.

Best Pop Solo Performance

Who will win: Taylor Swift, “Blank Space.”

Who should win: The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel My Face.”

Taylor is probably going to take home every award, put wigs on them and cart them around as her new squad, but give this one to the Weeknd, Mx. Grammy Voter. Why? Obvs. For god’s sake, The Weeknd can’t even feel his face. And yet he still summons the courage to make records. So brave.

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

Who will win: “Uptown Funk,” probably.

Who should win: Taylor Swift featuring Kendrick Lamar, “Bad Blood.”

This award is a slightly lower-tier thing and if they give it to Bruno Mars he can deffo kiss record of the year goodbye.

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

Who will win: That horrendous Bob Dylan album where he murders Frank Sinatra songs.

Who should win: Seth McFarlane, NoOne Ever Tells You.

Fine, Tony Bennett air-quotes should un-air-quotes win, but he has 677 Grammys. McFarlane is obnoxious and offensive but at least he didn’t tell Bob Dylan he can sing like Ol’ Blue Eyes.

Most Egregious Snubs

Sleater-Kinney, No Cities To Love.

I’m going to save my editor the trouble and not type the various Germanic obscenities I would normally type here. I’m not even a huge Riot Grrl fan, but the Sleater-Kinney record was hella brilliant.Lana_Del_Rey

Lana Del Rey, Honeymoon.

Look, authenticity isn’t everything, and in fact most artists are just better at faking it (and covering their tracks). She has a gorgeous, haunting voice and her material suits her well, but the haters, well. You know.

Beck, Dreams.

I’ll be honest with you, I really don’t care that he wasn’t nominated; this is just an excuse to tell you I met Beck last month at a thing. He’s tiny. So, so tiny. He’s like a “fun-size” version of a larger artist. He won a Grammy in 2014 so he’ll be fine. Tiny, but fine.

Nicki Minaj and Beyonce, “Feeling Myself.” Not nominated as best rap collaboration. What. The. Genuine. Flip.

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