55th Grammy Nominations Quick Analysis

Posted December 14, 2012 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

Okay, folk pestered me into posting my reaction to the 55th annual GRAMMY nominations. Well, here it goes.

A decent amount of good records got their just due when the nominations for the 55th  annual GRAMMY Awards were announced on December 5. Thanks to really good projects by Bruce Springsteen, former White Stripe Jack White, Fun. and the Black Keys, plus some new and competitive talent like Frank Ocean, the top categories this year look very impressive.

Going through every category and picking winners isn’t really a chore for me, because I’m not always right. Plus I’m not going to ramble like a bitch over who didn’t get nominated. Some are just having a complete meltdown over the tough news of the goose eggs rendered to Justin Bieber. Just because the kid was nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist back in 2011 doesn’t mean he qualifies for a Grammy takeover on the next round. He might have been king at the American Music Awards, but the Grammys is a total different ball game. Accept it and move on. As his artistry gets better, hopefully he will have his day at the podium.

In case you didn’t get the memo, 2012 was a very good year for rock music. And that’s why the nominees are probably going to eclipse the night’s major pop-studded attractions.

In the field for Record of the Year, some major contenders stand out. The Black Keys should be very proud of themselves to have a seat in this category. “Lonely Boy” was a fun rock n’ roll gem and showcasing a smart combination of rock and pop, but I seriously doubt it’s going to compete against major chart-topping players like fun. or Gotye. Out of nowhere, their artsy gems revolutionized the current Top 40 playlist, allowing avant-garde pop to penetrate the mood dominated by EDM-friendly synthpop. Expect fun. or Gotye to take the reign, unless Taylor Swift pulls off the upset with her “Never Ever” song.

Fun. is also nominated for Song of the Year for “We Are Young.” Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” and Miguel’s sexy r&b killer “Adorn.” This category is one to watch. The victory could fall into anyone’s hands.

Alabama Shakes performing at Good People Brewing Company in Birmingham, Ala., months before releasing their debut album Boys & Girls. Photo courtesy of J Matthew Cobb / Facebook

Late last year, I predicted on my Facebook page that Alabama Shakes was bound to blow up. I saw them live at a gig at Good People Brewing Company in Birmingham, Ala. before an intimate crowd of 100-something folk and the Athens, Ala.-band completely wrecked the place with their garage rock-meets-Southern blues formula. And boy was I right about my predictions. Although I personally felt their debut album Boys & Girls was a bit overhyped and in many ways a bit underwhelming for a debut, it managed to get a nod for Best Rock Performance (“Hold On”). The group also stands in a pack of decent newbies for Best New Artist. Shakes will probably win the upset (thanks to Rolling Stone naming it their Number One Song of 2012), but I have my eyes fixed on fun. Won’t be totally surprised if Frank Ocean wins though.

If the powers from on high work are working on schedule, expect to see Bruce Springsteen take home a large case of trophies. Mumford & SonsBabel also got a few nods; one against The Boss. But Wrecking Ball, a terrific album from start to finish and possibly the year’s finest, will easily take Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song for “We Take Care Of Our Own.” Even Best Rock Album will probably go to him, even though The Black Keys’ El Camino, Jack White’s first solo disc Blunderbuss and Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto are most certain to take on a beefy challenge.

Pleased to see the Black Keys-produced Locked Down by New Orleans blues-funk guru Dr. John get a nod for Best Blues Album, while I’m a bit stunned to see Bonnie Raitt getting snubbed in the top categories for her performance on Slipstream. Thankfully, she did walk away with a nod for Best Americana album.

Just to let you know how dry R&B is right now, Best Urban Contemporary Album only had three nominations listed. Expect for the academy to axe this one next year if something doesn’t change.

Plus, two of the nods for Best Traditional R&B Performance were cover tunes (Anita Baker whipped up Tyrese’s “Lately,” while SWV pulled out Patti’s “If Only You Knew”). Goes to show you just how much progress has been made in this genre. I know a few titles that would’ve done better in this list. Beyoncé will probably come out on top for “Love on Top,” while Baker might score the upset.  But the rest of the list could’ve been replaced by some superior soul performances.

Maroon 5 earned a few nominations also. They may be the pop/rock saviors on the Top 40 in 2012, but they face mighty competition in the Grammy categories. In the category for Best Pop Duo/Group, “Payphone” goes up against Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” fun.’s “We Are Young” and Florence + the Machine’s “Shake It Out.” Here’s the funny part: I’m actually laughing my fucking ass off that LMFAO was chosen in this category for “Sexy and I Know It.” To me, it’s more comical than seeing PSY’s “Gangnam Style” getting a Best Rap nod. Despite its popularity as a ring tone, I doubt LMFAO will be in the audience to even hear their name.

Maroon 5 also fights a mighty battle in the Best Pop Vocal Album category. Kelly Clarkson’s Stronger and Pink’s The Truth About Love are mentioned. Eh, far from great albums. Florence + the Machine deserve the win for Ceremonials, but because of the album’s age I doubt Welch will get enough votes. Fun. is also nominated, but because of being newborns to the industry, they have a better shot at taking home Best New Artist. This is probably Maroon 5 ‘s best chance of winning.

Rihanna is nominated for all the wrong songs. “Where Have You Been” and “Talk That Talk” all got nods, instead of “We Found Love” or “Diamonds.” Oh well, it could’ve been worse. Thank God that ass worshipping “Birthday Cake” didn’t make it.

Best Traditional Pop should’ve been called the Best Christmas Album category, since two of the three nominees are showing off their holiday spirit. Michael Bublé (Christmas) and Carole King (A Holiday Carole) are going up against a Beatle. Expect Sir Paul McCartney to take an easy win for Kisses on the Bottom.

And don’t count Carly Rae Jepsen out. She might be the Taylor Swift of pop right now, but the newcomer delivered one heck of a firecracker with “Call Me Maybe” that even left hardcore rap mags stunned. The song is nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance. Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” is also nominated in that same category.

Winners for the 55th annual GRAMMY Awards are scheduled to be announced on February 10, 2013 on CBS. It will be aired live at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Cali. from 8–11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

For full list of nominations, go to:


What’d I Say is a public opinion series focusing on recent events featuring commentary from our team of skillful writers and guest bloggers. The opinions expressed at this forum are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the parent company HiFi Magazine.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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