Yep, it’s that time again. Buckle up, boys and girls…
The 61st annual show is scheduled for February 10th and will be televised on CBS, if you’re into watching this sort of thing. Here is a list of the few categories I am interested in talking about or paying any attention to (with all due respect to Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Lady Gaga, and the like)… spoiler alert: this is going to make me sound dangerously ignorant to popular music, especially for a guy with a music blog. Yep, and I’m fine with that. Complete list of nominees can be found here: https://www.grammy.com/grammys/news/2019-grammy-awards-complete-nominations-list
Moving quickly right past Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year…
Best New Artist
Of the eight artists included, I do enjoy two of them: Greta Van Fleet and Margo Price. I personally give the edge to GVF because they are doing their best to reignite the dormant classic rock sound and also because they are more accurately depicted as “new”.
Anna Burch, Mt. Joy, and Caamp would have all made it in an alternate universe where I select the nominees… just sayin’.
Best Solo Pop Performance
When Beck decided to go full-on pop with last year’s Colors, he seemed destined for a Grammy. His title track from the record is nominated, and is the best of the bunch. Now please go back to following literally any of the other musical muses you have, bro. Also nominated are Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Camina Cabello, and Post Malone.
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Willie Nelson – My Way was hit and miss but it sure took balls to do. I bet Tony Bennett and Diana Krall win the award, but I would give the nod to the other octogenarian since he covered Sinatra, and did it on his own (his way?).
Best Rock Performance
This one is tough, because there were so many, many more worthy songs – but there are three decent options here:
Arctic Monkeys – “Four Stars out of Five” is my pick, as this gem is an earworm and the highlight of a mostly disappointing album. I mean, who doesn’t like keyboard rock about a taco restaurant on the moon?
Chris Cornell – “When Bad Does Good” is a solid song, even though it is nowhere near his best. I would venture a guess that it has a good chance to win, given the circumstances… and I’m good with that.
Greta Van Fleet – “Highway Tune” is also nominated.
Best Rock Song
“Black Smoke Rising” by Greta Van Fleet is quite a bit better than the rest of the field here, and continues a pattern of copious nominations for this young band.
Best Rock Album
Alice In chains – Rainier Fog, Weezer – Pacific Daydream, Greta Van Fleet – From the Fires, Fall Out Boy – Mania, and Ghost – Prequelle are all up for this award.
This and the next category are usually my favorites, and this year is no exception. The committee got it wrong once again and missed out on some better albums (Nathaniel Rateliff, A Perfect Circle, Godsmack, and Interpol all come to mind), but Rainier Fog is not only hands down the best of this group but also one of the truly best albums of 2018.
Best Alternative Album
Beck – Colors, David Byrne – American Utopia, Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, Bjork – Utopia, and St. Vincent – Masseduction round out this list, and I have to go with Mr. Byrne. Again, there were better options, but we have what we have.
Best country Solo Performance
Chris Stapleton – Millionaire
Let him bring home more hardware after crushing last year’s show.
Best Country Album
Stapleton – From A Room: Volume 2
No brainer – back to back for him in this category.
Best American Roots Performance
Willie Nelson’s “Last Man Standing” or Anderson East’s “All on My Mind” would both be terrific winners, although neither are even the best tracks on the respective albums.
Jon Batiste’s “St James Infirmary Blues” is fine, but I much prefer The White Stripes (aka Jack White) version. Do yourself a favor and check it out (from their eponymous debut).
Best American Roots Song
Soon to be inducted Hall of Famer John Prine gets some serious Americana love, including two nominations in this category for “Knockin’ On Your Screen Door” and “Summer’s End”. Another worthy choice is “Build A Bridge”, the Mavis Staples song written by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy.
Best Americana Album
Hands down, John Prine’s The Tree of Forgiveness is the best of this bunch.
Best Traditional Blues Album
I’m rooting for Cedric Burnside’s Benton Country Relic because it is a fun listen and because he will be here for Treefort next spring.