Oh my God, I’M BACK! (And with a 2011 Grammy preview)

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. In the words of that one guy from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I’m not dead yet. I feel fine. I think I’ll go for a walk! I feel happy, I feel happy — *gets knocked out with a stick*


So where have I been for, like, all of 2010? Looking for jobs, mostly (PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE SOMEBODY HIRE ME, I PROMISE I’LL BE GOOD AND I WILL LOVE YOU FOREVER), and also writing and recording my own songs just for fun. I might even share them on the Internet someday after I get over my crippling lack of self-confidence! Hooray for me!

Anyway, the 2011 Grammy nominees were announced recently and this gave me inspiration to make my long-awaited, much-anticipated (by absolutely nobody) return to the blogosphere. Of course, this isn’t a complete Grammy preview — I mean, there are 109 different categories and I’d have to be crazy to cover them all. This isn’t even a complete preview of all the awards people actually care about, just the ones I was able to write about in an entertaining fashion.

The Listen Up! 2011 Grammy Awards That You Care About And That I Was Also Able To Make Jokes About Preview continues after the jump!

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

My Choice: Arcade Fire, The Suburbs. I like Eminem, and I think Recovery is a step in the right direction for him, but the Arcade Fire is just too good to snub here. Plus, they’re like indie rock’s answer to U2, and the Grammys LOVE U2.

My Prediction: Eminem, Recovery. Total make-up award for 10 years ago when Steely Dan somehow beat out The Marshall Mathers LP (along with Radiohead’s Kid A and Beck’s Midnite Vultures) for Album of the Year. It’s a time-honored Grammy tradition of awarding great artists long after they’ve released their best work as a means of saying, “Sorry we didn’t give you the proper recognition for your magnum opus.”

WTF?: Katy Perry, Teenage Dream. This is an Album of the Year nominee? Did any critics actually like this album aside from the singles? Does anyone really think this was a top-5 album this year? No, Russell Brand doesn’t count. If you were in his position, wouldn’t you say whatever you could just to keep your hands on Katy’s, um, Cool Whip cannons?

Oh, Katy. I know you're married now, but you can still top MY sundae any day!

 

SONG OF THE YEAR

My Choice: Cee-Lo Green, “Fuck You.” Simply a great, great song. My favorite pop single of 2010, easily. I find it damn near impossible to listen to this without wanting to sing along, and I hope Cee-Lo wins every award he’s up for.

My Prediction: Eminem feat. Rihanna, “Love the Way You Lie.” Seems kind of odd that Rihanna’s featured on a song about an abusive relationship, isn’t it? You know what else is weird? The Ike Turner reference in Chris Brown’s “Deuces.” It’s not like we needed a reminder that Chris Brown gave Miss Umber-Ella-Ella-Ella swollen lips, a bloody nose, and a shiner, but I really wasn’t expecting to hear it in a Chris Brown song.

Wait, where was I going with this again?

 

RECORD OF THE YEAR

My Choice: Cee-Lo Green, “Fuck You.” See above.

My Prediction: Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys, “Empire State Of Mind.” Because everyone loves New York, right? Well, except maybe Homer Simpson.

BEST NEW ARTIST

My Choice: ANYONE BUT JUSTIN FREAKING BIEBER! If he wins anything this year I will get my trusty shotgun and blow a hole through my TV like I just saw Bristol Palin win Dancing With The Stars. Or any episode of Dancing With The Stars.

…Wait, isn’t this the so-called “cursed” award? Haven’t there been countless Best New Artist winners over the years who immediately proceeded to never be heard from again?

I changed my mind! GIVE IT TO JUSTIN! I’VE GOT THE BIEBER FEVER, YOU GUYS! I HAVE WON THE VICTORY OVER MYSELF!

My Prediction: Florence & the Machine, because every time I want someone to fall victim to the Best New Artist curse they never win the damn award.

WTF?: Seriously, though… Justin Bieber? I’d rather see Sean Kingston win a thousand Grammys for his collaboration with Kidz Bop. (Fun fact: The original version of that song seems to think that “go[ing] to the slums/Where killers get hung” is a good idea for a date. I should keep that in mind, because nothing says “romance” quite like public executions.)

 

BEST FEMALE POP VOCAL

My Choice: Lady Gaga, “Bad Romance.” But only because Taylor Swift didn’t release her new album in time. And thank God for that, because after an entire year of seeing T-Swift accept trophy after trophy after trophy for cutesy songs about high school romance and fairy tales I was starting to think she’d be winning awards she wasn’t even nominated for soon enough.

My Prediction: “Bad Romance.” Seriously, the other nominations are pretty much a formality. This song has been inescapable for an entire year. “Bad Romance” is the new “Poker Face.”

“Now, for those still doubting the artistic integrity of Lady Gaga, this next verse has three Hitchcock references and the use of the word ‘schtick.’ Pretty good for a shiksa goddess.”

Joseph Gordon Levitt

WTF?: Beyonce is nominated for a live performance of a song released in 2008. Really? There weren’t any other singers who released anything good enough to merit a nomination in 2010? What, is Beyonce’s dad on the Grammy committee or something?

Oh, wait…

 

BEST MALE POP VOCAL

My Choice: Do I really have to? None of these songs really left a strong impression on me. Can’t I just pick Cee-Lo again? I know he isn’t up for this award, but I really want to.

My Prediction: Michael Jackson, “This Is It.” Mainly because he died last year. Remember the time that posthumous Ray Charles duets album beat out American Idiot and The College Dropout, among others, for Album of the Year? Same logic. (The song itself is OK but Michael’s dance songs are so much better than his ballads.)

 

BEST POP PERFORMANCE BY DUO/GROUP

My Choice: Maroon 5, “Misery.” Mostly because I haven’t heard that Sade song, and they’re supposed to be pretty good. Er… I mean Sade, not Maroon 5.

My Prediction: Train, “Hey, Soul Sister.” Because Grammy voters hate us all. And what better way to show it than by rewarding the most hideously overplayed song of the year? On the plus side, “Hey, Soul Sister” is pretty unintentionally hilarious, what with Pat Monahan outing himself as a Mr. Mister fan who’s, like, totally down with hip-hop culture, y’all. Don’t get me started on the lyric “so gangsta, I’m so thug.” When I think of gangstas and thugs, of course I think of 40-something white guys singing ukulele pop songs that reference INXS (who apparently were the inspiration behind “Hey, Soul Sister” even though the song sounds nothing like INXS at all), Madonna, and Mr. Mister and are constantly playing on repeat in your dentist’s waiting room… in hell.

“INXS. You were trying to sound like INXS. You were trying to emulate one of the sexiest bands of all time, and instead you wrote ‘Hey, Soul Sister.’ You were trying to sound like this… and instead you sound like this.

“My God! That’s like if you tried to make scrambled eggs… and instead you caught syphilis! How does that level of failure even exist?”

Todd In The Shadows

Also, he has untrimmed chest hair. Thank you, Pat Monahan, for telling us all about your personal grooming habits. Why did we need to know this?

WTF?: The Glee version of “Don’t Stop Believin’”? Really? It’s not enough that “Don’t Stop Believin’” is officially music’s answer to herpes – just when you think it’s gone forever, it pops up again just to remind you that it will never ever go away. Did we really need a new version for the High School Musical audience? Wasn’t it accessible enough already? And how is a watered-down cover of an overplayed 30-year-old arena rock song somehow good enough to merit award nominations? Ladies and gentlemen, this is the state of pop music in 2010.

 

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

My Choice: Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster. Because you couldn’t go five minutes without hearing something from this album all year.

My Prediction: John Mayer, Battle Studies. Because the Grammys just can’t get enough of the Sultan of Sexual Napalm.

WTF?: Let’s review, shall we? Music-related Grammy nominations for Justin Bieber: 2. Music-related Grammy nominations for Gorillaz: 1 (they’re also up for Best Short Form Music Video, but that’s a video award, not a music award). Oh, and guess who won the American Music Award for Artist of the Year? Once again, this is the state of pop music in 2010.

 

BEST ROCK SONG

My Choice: Muse, “Resistance.” It kind of reminds me of “New Year’s Day” by U2, and as I said before, the Grammys LOVE U2. Do not be surprised if Bono’s Spider-Man Broadway musical sweeps the awards next year. (Memo to Jason Segel: There is hope yet for your Dracula musical!)

My Prediction: Neil Young, “Angry World.” For reasons I will explain shortly.

Question Mark: “Little Lion Man” by Mumford & Sons. It seems odd to call it a rock song when its instrumentation is closer to bluegrass or folk – banjo, acoustic guitar, stand-up bass… no fiddle, though. Instead there’s a piano and a kick drum. So it doesn’t really count as bluegrass. Well, they’re from the UK, so I contemplated calling it Britgrass, but… actually, you know what, I’ll stop there. I was about to make a really disgusting joke and it probably wouldn’t have been very funny. All I’m going to say is that it involved Britney Spears. You can do the rest.

 

BEST ROCK ALBUM

My Choice: Muse, The Resistance. Even though it’s their weakest album in a long time, I like seeing bands I like getting recognition. They’re the only one out of the group of nominees to never even be nominated for a Grammy. It’s kind of like how I pulled for the Texas Rangers to win the World Series this year, since they’d never won it before and were there for the first time ever. It totally has nothing to do with the fact that the Giants eliminated my Fightin’ Phils and that I am a very sore loser.

My Prediction: Neil Young, Le Noise. I figured I’d go with whoever had gone the longest without winning a Grammy for their music. Muse, of course, is a first-time nominee. They still have another 30 years before the Grammy voters decide that they’ve “paid their dues” and have earned recognition for some obscure category. Jeff Beck got one last year, so he’s out. Pearl Jam won in the ‘90s for “Spin The Black Circle.” Tom Petty won before that for “You Don’t Know How It Feels.” So that leaves us with Neil Young. Surely the “Godfather of Grunge” has earned his share of honors over the years, right?

Wrong. The man who told us to keep on rockin’ in the free world and taught us that it’s better to burn out than fade away has never won a music Grammy. His only win was for Best Boxed/Special Limited Edition Package last year. That’s like Alfred Hitchcock winning an Oscar for re-releasing his films on Blu-Ray.

Long story short: Neil Young is way overdue.

 

BEST ALTERNATIVE ALBUM

My Choice: Arcade Fire, The Suburbs. The middle stretch is kind of slow, but it’s still got some pretty epic stuff – especially “Sprawl II.” Talk about saving the best for last… or next to last, or whatever.

My Prediction:The Suburbs. Why nominate it for Album of the Year if it isn’t even the best in its own genre? Then again, they did nominate that Katy Perry album…

 

BEST RAP SOLO PERFORMANCE

My Choice: Hmm. I’m torn between two choices here. Do I go with Eminem’s big comeback single, or the Kanye West track that the Phillies pretty much adopted as their theme song during the playoffs? Lyrically I’m kind of leaning toward “Not Afraid,” but overall “Power” is the stronger song, so I’m rolling with the self-proclaimed 21st Century Schizoid Man.

My Prediction: Kanye West, “Power.” If only to keep him from flipping out at an award show for the 587th time.

 

BEST RAP PERFORMANCE BY DUO/GROUP

My Choice: Big Boi feat. Cutty, “Shutterbug.” Because it’s been entirely too long since we’ve heard from Outkast and maybe if we give Big Boi enough recognition they might be encouraged to get back together. That and this song’s a pretty fun listen.

My Prediction: Jay-Z feat. Swizz Beatz, “On To The Next One.” Just because it would be funny to see how the conspiracy theorists who think Jay-Z is down with the Illuminati would react.

 

BEST RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION

My Choice: Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys, “Empire State Of Mind.”  This has pretty much become one of the most iconic songs of 2010, so it’s bound to take home some trophies. The Alicia Keys chorus basically makes this song. Sort of like how Bruno Mars’s chorus in “Nothin’ On You” is the best part of that song, except unlike Jay-Z B.O.B. seems to have a knack for being overshadowed by the big-name stars who sing his choruses. See also: Rivers Cuomo in “Magic” and Hayley Williams in “Airplanes.” He’s by no means bad – hey, anyone who can rap while playing guitar is fine by me, because that seems kind of tricky. I just find him unremarkable.

And for whatever reason I’m just not really feeling “Wake Up Everybody.” Not really much more to it than that, I’m afraid.

My Prediction: Either “Empire State Of Mind” or “Love The Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna.

WTF?: Chris Brown feat. Tyga and Kevin McCall, “Deuces.” Chris Brown is also up for Best R&B Album with Graffiti, which has a Metacritic score of 39/100, making it the worst-reviewed album of 2009 and only a few points better than the crime against music that is Lil Wayne’s Rebirth. (I have a theory that Rebirth is the real reason Weezy went to jail.) Did someone forget to tell the Grammy voters that Chris Brown is kind of a pop pariah?

 

BEST RAP SONG

My Choice: Wait, haven’t I done this already? *checks nominee list again* Oh, I’m sorry. Turns out the nominees for this category are all nominees for each of the last two categories. At least the Grammy judges are consistent.

So, yeah… I’m gonna go with “Empire State Of Mind” again.

My Prediction: B.O.B. feat. Bruno Mars, “Nothin’ On You.” The other nominees for this award are Jay-Z feat. Swizz Beatz, Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys, Eminem feat. Rihanna, and Eminem feat. nobody, because apparently the Grammy judges think if Jay-Z and Eminem weren’t involved IT WAS HORRIBLE FOR EVERYONE AND THAT INCLUDES YOU. The ballots… they shall be split. And I foresee one Bobby Ray reaping the benefits.

 

BEST RAP ALBUM

My Choice: Drake, Thank Me Later. Because I felt like going with a dark horse and I’m sick of writing about Jay-Z and Eminem.

Yeah, I know… “Forever” wasn’t actually on Thank Me Later. I don’t really care. It’s still the best track Drake’s ever been involved in. Plus, considering who the guests are, it comes with a built-in segue to the next paragraph!

My Prediction: Eminem, Recovery. Because everyone loves a good comeback story, and after a long hiatus and two inconsistent (at best) albums made at the height of his drug problems Eminem has delivered his best album in about eight years. Somewhere in Hollywood there is a sequel to 8 Mile being greenlit.

Well, that just about wraps up the Grammy preview. See you in another ten months… or, you know, preferably sooner than that. I feel like I’ve just written the Chinese Democracy of blog posts or something.

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