By Chris Moore:
Hey there, all you blog-reading rock music fans! I just tuned in to the Grammy awards, and it’s a surreal experience. After all, I haven’t watched the Grammy awards since Bob Dylan was up for a few awards in 2002, after releasing his Love and Theft album. There’s really nothing quite as exciting as seeing your favorite musicians honored and – especially – peforming on national television. I’ll never forget that Dylan performance of “Cry a While”…
But, back to this year. I’m tuning in a bit late, in hopes of seeing rock music represent! I bought a LOT of new music last year, and I’m very interested to see if any of my favorites actually get a Grammy nod. In all honesty, I don’t expect many of mine to win, but I see some hope for rock in Coldplay, Radiohead, and others.
So, for those of you who missed the show or would like to take a second look, here are the results of the rock music-related Grammy’s…
Song of the Year: Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”
Say what you will about Coldplay, but this is a rock band with an amazing rock album if I’ve ever heard one. And here, officially, they have received the “Song of the Year” nod! That will be the first album I listen to after the show — the Viva La Vida (or Death And All His Friends) album really is one of the two or three best albums of the year for 2008. But that award is up for grabs later…
Performance: Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus
While this really isn’t my cup of tea, I really can’t complain when I see a performance with just a singer or two and acoustic guitars. It’s the Laptop Sessions business model, after all! I see some hope for rock, or at least acoustic guitar music, in the pop music world when I see two young, attractive women playing a bare-bones, acoustic performance for a national television audience.
Pop Collaboration with Vocals: Robert Plant and Allison Krauss
Again, this is not music that I was excited for or even interested in last year. I haven’t even heard the Plant and Krauss duets yet. That being said, I think there’s a victory for rock music in here somewhere. I think.
Performance: Stevie Wonder and the Jonas Brothers
I really don’t want to be excited about this performance. And I’m admittedly watching it on mute so I can hear the TNA “Against All Odds” Pay-Per-View playing on the other television in the room. But – and this is a significant BUT – I think it’s really cool to see the Grammy’s schedule a meeting between old and new, the past and present. I never thought I’d see the Jonas Brothers rocking out on their guitars, standing shoulder to shoulder with Stevie Wonder on keyboards. Wonder really has transcended all sorts of boundaries over the years, though, so I suppose it shouldn’t be that big a surprise.
Rock Album: Coldplay’s Viva La Vida (or Death and All His Friends)
Coldplay wins! How many times have Chris Martin and his boys heard those two words? Even a couple years ago, I would have happily jumped right on the “Coldplay is overrated” train, but after the release of this album in 2008 I have a newfound respect for this band. Yes, they’re wearing the faux-Sgt. Pepper’s jackets. Yes, I can’t understand why they are so univerally loved. But this album is amazing. From start to finish, it flows from song to song without losing momentum and building on a number of themes over the course of its ten tracks. It reminds me of a classic Moody Blues album. They’re not as good as the Moodies at crafting albums yet, but they have plenty more time to work on that painfully underrated art form. (And, hey, if they WERE as good as the Moody Blues, then maybe they’d be just as obscure and under-appreciated as Justin Hayward and company are!)
Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida”
I’ve reinforced several times that I love this album. I like this song quite a bit, although perhaps not as much as the rest of the world. But the real question here is – how many times can you win for one album and its title track?? Just had to ask.
Pop Instrumental Performance: Eagles’ “I Dreamed There Was No War”
I haven’t heard it, but now I’m very interested…
I think it deserves a note that Morgan Freeman (a) looks better than ever, even after that car accident that made headlines a while back, and (b) is announcing a performance at exactly the same time as a match on the TNA Pay-Per-View between Abyss and Matt MORGAN. Coincidence?
Well, yes, but I was excited.
Performance: Paul McCartney (“I Saw Her Standing There”)
Awesome. The man still has it. Of course, he has the same thing he’s had for forty years. And, of course, I must rephrase my earlier question — how much mileage can you get out of one song? As Jim mentioned, isn’t the credo of rock’n roll that “only the good die young”? As for me, I’m not complaining. It’s good to see McCartney out there showing all the younger acts how it’s done!
Male Pop Vocal Performance: John Mayer (“Say”)
Really? Am I the only one who thought this song was really boring? The chorus goes as follows: “Say what you need to say” repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, etc., etc… I miss younger, short-haired John Mayer…
Solo Rock Vocal Performance: John Mayer (“Gravity”)
To be fair, I’ll include Paul McCartney (for “I Saw Her Standing There” from Amoeba’s Secret) in the following rant. How can a live track, much less a live performance of a previously released song, make the “Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance”? Isn’t that the beauty of the studio, that the rawness of a vocal performance and the controlled environment of the studio combine to bring the best of two worlds? Even if you disagree, consider the competition — “Girls in Their Summer Clothes,” a great Bruce Springsteen track from Magic, and “Rise,” a track from the great Eddie Vedder soundtrack for Into The Wild. To be honest, I haven’t heard the Neil Young track. But, really, John Mayer? This smacks too much of a high school-esque popularity contest.
Rock Song: Bruce Springsteen (“Girls in Their Summer Clothes”)
I’m not really sure why this song became the flagship of the Magic tracks, but this is indeed a great song and I’m glad to see it getting some credit. Moreover, I hope more people will check out Magic, the Springsteen album that this song originated from. Truly an enjoyable album. And, according to the Grammy’s, this is a great song — just not good enough to beat a live version of “Gravity” by John Mayer for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.
Alternative Music Album: Radiohead (In Rainbows)
I didn’t like this album nearly as much as everyone else who heard it, and I personally would have voted for Beck. But, that being said, I really do appreciate what Radiohead is trying to do and I need to go back to In Rainbows this week to see what I missed…
Recording Package: Metallica (Death Magnetic)
Boxed or Special Limited Edition Packaging: Radiohead (In Rainbows)
I LOVE that there are still awards being given out for physical packaging. There’s hope yet for the CD/vinyl/non-digital format!
Engineered Album, Non-Classical: Raconteurs (Consolers of the Lonely)
I’ll admit that I’m not exactly sure what this means, but I like the new Raconteurs album and it’s truly a great alternative rock album, so I’ll drink to this one!
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical: Rick Rubin
Hands down, this is THE choice for this category. Why do I say this? Four reasons. Jakob Dylan’s Seeing Things. Weezer’s Red Album. Neil Diamond’s Home Before Dark. Metallica’s Death Magnetic. Enough said.
Short Form Music Video: Weezer (“Pork and Beans”)
An instant favorite on YouTube — this choice makes sense.
Long Form Music Video: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Runnin’ Down a Dream)
This really was a great documentary and will go down as perhaps one of the rock documentary essentials, if only for its wonderful treatment of the story of one of the all-time classic rock bands.
Video Montage: Tribute to those who have passed away this year
This was a really nice presentation and is indeed a perfect stage for this sort of tribute.
When all is said and done, I can’t say I’ll rush back for next year’s Grammy awards, but I am glad to see some of my favorites get some attention. I apologize for any negative, ranting-like tones I may have adopted during this report, but there’s just so much music I heard last year that should have received more attention than it did. The Counting Crows and Brian Wilson to start with, never mind R.E.M. and Weezer. But this being said, have a great night and “viva la” rock!