If you take the Grammy Awards seriously, then it’s your own damn fault for feeling shitty year after year when it doesn’t go your way. There are ways to enjoy these awards, though. For one night, and one night only (you wouldn’t want to damage your cred too much), leave your judgmental, too-cool-for-school, my-opinion-rules, attitude at home and just enjoy popular music for what it is. If you need some points of guidance for how to pick out the bright spots in this award show, we’ve got you covered.
Obviously. Metallica shreds. The Grammys typically don’t. Watching the two be forced to coexist is going to be beautiful. Not to mention Chinese pianist Lang Lang will be sitting in with the band for a rendition of “One.” Watching Kirk Hammett rip with a classical pianist is a once in a lifetime pairing.
It may be the year for electronic music
Rolling Stone points out that the Grammys have always had a rocky relationship with EDM, and dance music purists are quick to point out that the nominees of this year’s best dance/electronica album and best dance recording categories are poor representatives of the booming success of electronic music in general. First, chill, this is the Grammys we’re talking about. The Grammys still don’t have a good grip on rock music and that shit’s been huge for years now. Second, keep your eye on Daft Punk’s performance, as it will surely win over a wide audience, even if only for what it represents. The French electronic duo will lead a show that includes the legendary Stevie Wonder, who is liked by basically everyone who has a soul, Nile Rogers of Chic, who infamous but knowledgeable griper Noel Gallagher of Oasis claimed was by far the best performer he saw at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, and of course Pharrell, who is arguably the most successful man in music right now. This definitely won’t be the FooMau5 blunder of yesteryear.
There are plenty of underdogs to root for
Wasn’t it awesome seeing Arcade Fire win album of the year in 2011? Or watching Twitter’s head explode when Bon Iver was victorious in 2012? It’s always fun watching David beat Goliath, especially if you don’t give a shit about sports, and the Grammys are one of a few opportunities each year to vicariously feel this sense of underdog-dom. This year, the major categories are rather predictable but maybe we’ll see young acts like Disclosure, Alabama Shakes, and Gary Clark Jr. come away with trophies in their respective categories. It would also be cool to see Queens of the Stone Age beat out all the crusty old vets that are somehow nominated for best rock album. With only two nomination this year, I think Kanye West could also be considered an underdog. A win for ‘Ye is a win for all of us.
Pop music had an awesome year
At least in my opinion. 2013 was a year of painfully catchy (but nonetheless catchy) pop songwriting. Whether it was the Marvin Gaye ripoff of “Blurred Lines” or the neo-disco of “Get Lucky,” we had plenty in the category of feel-good music. Not to mention we saw a teenager nicknamed Lorde come out of nowhere to record one of the most likeable pop debuts in recent memory (although if her AMA performance is any indication, don’t expect anything dazzling from her live show), and tried-and-true pop heroes like Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, and Taylor Swift continued to dazzle and write extremely memorable hooks. Feel how you will about their tabloid-documented personal lives, but these artists kept pop music fresh and interesting in 2013. They may not be able to play Vivaldi’s “L’Estro Armonico, Op. 3, Concerto No. 3 in G major” on violin (if that’s even a thing), but they are the most popular artists in the world for a reason and deserve these honors. Not to mention “Stay” by Rihanna is a modern masterpiece.
With Kendrick Lamar, We can finally get over Jay Z
Jay Z is one of the best ever and the fact he gathered nine nominations this year is a huge step forward for hip-hop and recognition among celebrated forms of music. Unfortunately, most of these nominations are for one of his worst albums to date, “Magna Carta Holy Grail.” Furthermore, with his loud business pursuits and constant celebrity limelight, Jay Z hasn’t exactly been the most likable figure in hip-hop the past year. To offer some consolation, his performance with wife Beyonce at this year’s awards will have to be the apex of his music career and the celebrity couple’s stardom. That’s not to say the two will just disappear after this Sunday, but it’s difficult to think of any additional step up. Additionally, we may have a new rookie to root for with Kendrick Lamar. Lamar is no newcomer to true hip-hop fans, but his 2012 album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” got him seven nominations and a Grammy performance. Not to mention, he’s like hip-hop’s Richard Sherman: loud, proud, and confident. He’s already declared himself the king of hip-hop with a verse of Big Sean’s “Control” and now it’s time for him to show American viewers that it’s true.
Two Beatles are playing together
Noisey recently said it best: Shut Your Dumb, Stupid Mouth About The Beatles Being Overrated. Yes, McCartney ends up making an appearance basically every year, and no, he did not record the best rock song of 2013 despite being nominated for it. But anyone who complains about seeing half of the Beatles perform together is either trying to make a pointless statement or is just an idiot jerk.
Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age
Noise rock isn’t typically recognized by any old-boy nomination clubs. When was the last time Sonic Youth was featured at the Grammys? The collaborative performance of of Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age won’t magically make discordant music the next big thing, but to put it on the same stage as the rest of the world’s most respected performers is a victory in itself. And no, they aren’t sellouts, so shut it. Notice I didn’t include Dave Grohl on here despite him being part of this performance, too. Honestly, there’s a lot to love about Dave Grohl, but the man will literally play any and every momentous televised event. He’s been at the forefront of every Grammy, VMA, AMA, and Kennedy Center honor for like the past 10 years. If he were to show up at my cousin’s birthday party and play a Paul McCartney song, I’d be fucking thrilled, but it would only further prove my point.
We have a new ‘American Idol’ to rally around
Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood have both earned their accolades in the music business after being victorious on their respective seasons of “American Idol.” A quieter champion, Season 3’s Fantasia Barrino, has never seen the radio success that her counterparts have, despite winning over a niche audience in the R&B world. It’s a respectable approach that may not have gotten her pop stardom, but has led her to opportunities that include working with Missy Elliot and starring on Broadway. The singer has overcome personal battles since being thrown into the limelight, but has successfully reinvented her sound to earn her latest album three nominations and give her a seat next to some of the great R&B singers of modern times.