While I may be insanely passionate about good ROCK music, I’m apparently not much of a prognosticator. I did up this GRAMMY Award for Album of the Year preview prior to what host LL Cool J would claim as the best show ever…and then proceeded to snooze during most of it. Oh, I was up for The Black Keys absolutely killing it with Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and of course Jack White pulling double duty with the Peacocks and Buzzards. Mumford & Sons taking home the big prize was definitely a surprise. Not to mention a let-down, at least in my opinion. Read on to find out what else I thought of the five who were competing for the same hono(u)r.
Pardon the weak pun, but my Sunday night TV viewing for February 10th would usually be a no-brainer. Even as the self-professed ROCKthusiast, if you’re forcing me to chose between the invariably “pop”tentious GRAMMY Awards or The Walking Dead midseason premiere, zombies are going to win – Every. Time!
This past year, however, has seen rock music mount a resurgence that I believe is going to come to a head on the internationally televised ceremony. I could go through a long-winded rigmarole where I analyze and try to predict a whole whack of GRAMMY categories, but I’m going to keep this relatively short and stick with what is arguably the most important statue handed out over the course of the night – Album of the Year.
Saying the Recording Academy is hopelessly out of touch with what’s relevant in music is pretty irrelevant in and of itself. As a longtime criticizer and non viewer, I dare say the GRAMMYs got it right this year. OK, they may have pandered to the masses a bit with fun., who are essentially Foster the People 2.0. with a song in “We Are Young” that will soon surpass Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” in terms of memory slideshow popularly. Their Some Nights is alternative rock in the most watered-down sense, but I’ll take its nom for Album of the Year over say, oh I don’t know, Maroon 5…
Mumford & Sons have never really done much for me, but the way they’ve gone about developing a sizeable following for their English interpretation of Americana folk is admirable. Maybe it’s just me, but all that banjo on Babel gets repetitive and a little tiresome after awhile I find. They’re different enough from the norm that I am looking forward to seeing them perform on the broadcast, especially knowing that they’re to be part of the tribute to Levon Helm.
If we were to play ‘which of these artists isn’t like the other,’ Frank Ocean would be the easy winner here. Of all these GRAMMY candidates, Ocean and his channel ORANGE is the most decidedly un-rock by far. It is pure R&B soul, oozing sexily out of every pore, not unlike Prince at his purplish height, or even (Gasp!) Michael Jackson. My allegiances may lie with pounding drums and shredding guitars, but it wouldn’t shock me if the Odd Future rapper-turned-solo-star upset the field like Arcade Fire memorably did a few years ago.
I honestly think the Album of the Year will come down to a two-horse race. In one stable are The Black Keys, whose upward trajectory to festival headliner status and genre-defining superstardom has been nothing short of breathtaking. In less than three years, they’ve gone from a rough-and-tumble blues rock duo to suing anyone whose ads sound even remotely like their own Gary Glitter/T. Rex/Led Zeppelin hybrid. If they don’t win for El Camino, that’s a’ight – They’re rumoured to be already working on its follow-up, ostensibly in time for next February’s GRAMMY Awards.
Coming down the stretch to the finish line is Jack White III. It admittedly took me awhile to get used to the gentler-than-usual, country twang-ish material on his solo debut Blunderbuss. Once I did, I realized it more than measures up to anything in his peppermint candy striped canon, which has already netted him multiple GRAMMYs. It’s funny; I don’t consider it the absolute best record I heard in 2012, but White will be the one in the winner’s circle when it’s all said and done. And like all the other Album of the Year contenders, White will also play live, although what he’ll actually do, much like his career for the last 10+ years, is anyone’s freaking guess. One thing is for sure; I’ll be watching.
Sorry zombies, I’ll see you on PVR later! (And I did; don’t know about any of you, but I found the latest episode of The Walking Dead a little disappointing, probably because I’m chomping at the bit to get to the eventual Prison vs. Woodbury showdown!)