Sunday, February 13, 2011

Grammy Record and Song of the Year

Record of the Year

  • "Nothin' on You" - B.o.B feat. Bruno Mars
  • "Love the Way You Lie" - Eminem featuring Rihanna
  • "Fuck You!" - Cee Lo Green
  • "Empire State of Mind" - Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys
  • "Need You Now" - Lady Antebellum
Recent Grammy history could be most instructive in determining who will win this. Based on my quick analysis, two rules stick out: 1) A #1 hit has not won this single since 2000, and 2) voters have shied away from more contemporary and cutting edge sounds, in favor of songs that lean toward rock, folk and old school sounds and away from contemporary R&B and hip-hop.

Rule #1 would mean strikes against "Love the Way You Lie," "Nothin' on You" and "Empire State of Mind." Additionally, "Love the Way You Lie," although a remarkable record, is probably too dark to win this. Conversely, "Nothin' on You" didn't have enough impact to pull it off. Of these three, I'd give the best shot to Jay-Z & Alicia Keys' feel good New York anthem, "Empire State of Mind," but then it's time to factor in rule #2. The record most affected by this is Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You!" Of course, it is the song that has had the biggest cultural impact, which could attract Grammy interest, although that criterion seems to apply more to the Song of the Year category. I think it's biggest strike against it is that it's also obscene, which will certainly turn off older voters. Yes, it has the old school flavor that voters like, but I think it's controversial nature ultimately works against it. The song then that best satisfies both my criteria is Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now," a lovely country-pop mid-tempo love song of late-night desire. I expect Grammy voters will find this the song they most want to reward.

Will win: "Need You Now" Lady Antebellum
Should win: "Empire State of Mind" Jay-Z & Alicia Keys (or "Love the Way You Lie" Eminem & Rihanna)

Song of the Year

  • "Beg Steal or Borrow" - Ray LaMontagne (Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs)
  • "Fuck You!" - Cee Lo Green, Philip Lawrence & Bruno Mars (Cee Lo Green)
  • "The House that Built Me" - Tom Douglas & Allen Shamblin (Miranda Lambert)
  • "Love the Way You Lie"- Alexander Grant, Holly Hafferman & Marshall Mathers, songwriters (Eminem featuring Rihanna)
  • "Need You Now" - Dave Haywood, Josh Kear, Charles Kelley & Hillary Scott (Lady Antebellum)
This category is even harder to figure out. This is the songwriter's award, so as much as it's possible, try to divorce yourself from the artist's performance in judging this. Although less well-known songs often are nominated here, they never win, so cross of "Beg Steal or Borrow" and "The House that Built Me," although I must say that I just listened to the latter for the first time, and it is a particularly lovely song.

Of the three songs remaining, "Love the Way You Lie" is the most topical, effectively tackling a dark story of domestic abuse. Grammy has awarded songs with political and social messages, such as Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice," but it's not an overriding consideration. Love songs have fared well too, such as "Don't Know Why" and "Fallin,'" although it's been awhile. Voters have actually embraced more cutting edge sounds here than in ROTY, with Beyonce's "Single Ladies" having won last year, and Coldplay's "Viva la Vida" the year before. Amy Winehouse's "Rehab," a ROTY and SOTY winner, shows they aren't afraid to give the award to something cheeky. This could be good news for Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You!" which had the cultural impact and general social "buzz" this award seems to favor.

Will win: "Fuck You!" - Cee Lo Green, Philip Lawrence & Bruno Mars (Cee Lo Green)
Should win: "Love the Way You Lie"- Alexander Grant, Holly Hafferman & Marshall Mathers, songwriters (Eminem featuring Rihanna)

No comments: