The Grammys are never going to be perfect. They’re too mainstream, they’re too out of touch, they reward past-their-prime legends, their idea of “rock” is comical at best, they focus too heavily on a single album every year (like Supernatural in 1999), they love Taylor Swift more than any 55-year-old should (and this coming from someone who doesn’t hate Red.)…the list goes on and on. And after awhile, it stops being fun. It’s an awards show, people; it’s inherently dumb and pointless. So let’s focus on some positives.
The 2013 Grammy nominees were announced last night by LL Cool J and, you guessed it, Taylor Swift, who beatboxed for no apparent reason, and…they’re not perfect. You can see the full list of nominees here, but everything we said about awards show above is still true this year. But again, enough moanin’ the blues (a song the Grammys would have likely ignored) — let’s focus on 12 things the 2013 Grammys got right.
1. fun., Mumford & Sons, Frank Ocean, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach all received six nominations, the highest of the year. It’s not a rock solid group (Kanye nor Hova didn’t put out their best work this year, and hearing “We Are Young” every day for the past 17 months makes any mention of fun. boil the blood), but it’s not embarrassing, either. For the Grammys, who sure love their earnestness, consider that progress.
2. Good job, including Miguel’s gorgeously sensual “Adorn” in the Song of the Year category (even if he’s almost assuredly going to lose to “Call Me Maybe” or “We Are Young”).
3. Likewise, “Record of the Year” isn’t too shabby: “Lonely Boy” by the Black Keys and “Thinkin Bout You” by Frank Ocean are about as solid as top-40 gets these days, it’s still shocking that Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” became as big of a hit as it did, Kelly Clarkson is always a welcome radio respite (“Stronger”), and “We Are Young” and T-Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” are horrifically catchy. We’ve got our money on Ocean, though.
4. Just ignore “Best Rock Song” (Springsteen, Mumford, AND Coldplay — it’s as if the Grammys are a parody of themselves) and focus on “Best Alternative Music Album,” where Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel, M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, and Tom Waits’s Bad As Me won’t have to compete with the likes of Muse’s latest disappointment. (Sorry, guys, but The 2nd Law isn’t good.)
5. The Grammys always get a lot of crap for their Best New Artist choices because, usually, they’re hardly new at all (like in 2011, when Esperanza Spalding won, despite releasing her first album five years prior). That trend continues this year with fun., who have been making people say, “Wait, is that the same dude from the Format?” since 2009, but the much more recent (and awesome) Alabama Shakes were also selected, and hopefully will join recent winners Bon Iver, Adele, and Amy Winehouse in taking home the trophy.
6. Redeeming the entirety of “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance,” which features songs from LMFAO (“Sexy and I Know it”) and Maroon 5 (“Payphone”), is Florence and the Machine’s anthemic “Shake It Out.”
7. “N*ggas in Paris” is only eligible for a Grammy now? It feels like Watch the Throne came out forever ago. But alas, it rests alongside the likes of “Daughters” by Nas, “Mercy” by Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz, and “I Do” by Young Jeezy, Jay-Z, and Andre 3000, any of which would be a worthwhile winner, especially over fellow nominee “HYFR (Hell Ya F*cking Right).”
8. F*CK YEAH “GHOST WALKING” BY LAMB OF GOD FOR “Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance.”
9. “Best Rap Album”: Take Care; Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1; Life Is Good; Undun; God Forgives, I Don’t; and Based On A T.R.U. Story. There’s honestly not a cringeworthy choice in there, though 2 Chainz’s full-length debut is far behind Nas and the Roots in terms of Grammy-winning quality.
10. Oh thank God: Jesus At The Center Live received a “Best Gospel Album” nominee. Seriously, thank him.
11. After stunning the world in 2011 with a surprise Album of the Year win, Arcade Fire is once again nominated for a Grammy, this time for their “Best Song Written For Visual Media” contribution to The Hunger Games soundtrack, “Abraham’s Daughter.” They’re going against stiff competition with “Man or Muppet,” from The Muppets, but either is > compared to “Let Me Be Your Star” from Smash.
12. No Justin Bieber.