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2016 Grammy Nominations: Who Will Win and Who Should Win?

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Monday, the people in charge of the Grammy awards announced their nominations. While the 2017 Grammy nominations will likely just consist of Adele’s name written repeatedly on a single piece of paper, the 2016 Grammy nominations took a bit more thought.

Of course there are some obvious choices for the winner of these awards. That does not mean, though, that they are the best choices. Some nominees will certainly take home a trophy, but there are other nominees that are definitely more deserving. While I was not permitted to vote for some bizarre mysterious reason, I think I have this all figured out.

They should probably let me vote next year. It seems insane to let an opinion as valuable as mine waste away.

 

Best Music Video:

Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”

Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar, “Bad Blood”

Pharrell Williams, “Freedom”

A$AP Rocky, “LSD”

The Dead Weather, “I Feel Love”

Who will win: Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”

Who should win: Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”

The Grammy’s this year might as well just all be handed directly to Kendrick Lamar and rightfully so. His album perfectly captured the current attitude of racial divide in America while at the same time avoiding any tired or clichéd feelings.

This video, directed by Colin Tilley, takes a good cut from the album and makes a perfect representation of this, showing Lamar separated from the state of his hometown of Compton before a reminder of where he came from and how this has shaped his view of the world. It plays more like a short film than a music video and has cinematic direction you do not expect out of this art form.

Also, I know that Taylor Swift fans are very aghast right now that she is not listed as the  person who should win this category. Yes, “Bad Blood” was directed well. It was not directed as well, though, and the 5,999 cameos (approximately) do not make up for this.

 

Best Rap Album:

Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly

Drake, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

Dr. Dre, Compton

J. Cole, 2014 Forest Hills Drive

Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint

Who will win: Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly

Who should win: Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly

The hip hop world has been interesting in 2015. Drake released a free mix tape that he then decided was an album in If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. Dr. Dre released an album completely unrelated to the one everyone had been expecting for a decade and a half. Nicki Minaj featured an ode to her own gluteus maximus as a single.

By far, the most monumental album of the year was To Pimp A Butterfly. Not only did the album fit jazz and funk into hip hop in a way no one else ever has, but the subject matter could not have been timelier, finding an audience in this post-Ferguson society.

There’s no wondering why Dr. Dre has called him the new king of the west coast.

 

Best Rap Song:

Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”

Kanye West feat. Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom & Paul McCartney, “All Day”

Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen”

Drake, “Energy”

Common and John Legend, “Glory”

Who will win: Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”

Who should win: Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”

This category has two real candidates in my opinion. While the other three are good songs, Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” and Kanye West’s “All Day” stand out as the two songs that break the mold. As much as I would love for Paul McCartney to be involved in a rap Grammy, in the end Lamar is again the winner.

Kanye may say he thinks the Grammy’s are him right now, but maybe he’ll have better luck next year after his full album is released. Judging by the single here, there will be a lot to see from Kanye in the next year.

 

Best Rap Performance:

Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”

Drake, “Back to Back”

Kanye West feat. Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom, and Paul McCartney, “All Day”

Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen”

Nicki Minaj feat. Drake and Lil Wayne, “Truffle Butter”

J. Cole, “Apparently”

Who will win: Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”

Who should win: Drake, “Back to Back”

Enough with Kendrick! Let’s give Drake some credit here. While “Alright” is a good song all-around, the performance exhibited by Drake surpasses Lamar’s performance. The song is a showcase of energy and bravado at its very best. Drake manages to outrap Kendrick Lamar here which is no minor feat.

 

Best Dance/Electronic Album:

Disclosure, Caracal

Jamie xx, In Colour

Skrillex and Diplo, Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü

The Chemical Brothers, Born in the Echoesm

Caribou, Our Love

Who will win: Jamie XX, In Colour

Who should win: Jamie XX, In Colour

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I am fully aware that the next sentence will make me sound like an old man, but I accept that. I do not get dance/ electronica. I think this may come from my inability to move in any sort of rhythmic fashion. Whatever the cause, I do not understand it.

That being said, there was one album that seems heads and tails above the others. In Colour is full of instrumentals that sound less like the chaotic piece of technology that I expect. It evokes emotion more than the other albums in this category. Also, every other critic seems to agree with me, so I assume I’m correct in saying it’s the best. Or not. I have no real idea.

 

Best Dance Recording:

Skrillex and Diplo feat. Justin Bieber, “Where Are Ü Now”

The Chemical Brothers, “Go”

Flying Lotus feat. Kendrick Lamar, “Never Catch Me”

Above & Beyond feat. Zoë Johnston, :We’re All We Need”

Galantis, “Runaway (U & I)”

Who will win: Skrillex and Diplo feat. Justin Bieber, “Where Are Ü Now”

Who Should Win: The Chemical Brothers, “Go”

Yes, we should expect the song featuring Bieber to win. And it’s a good song. When I imagine dance recordings, though, I imagine energy. This is found in The Chemical Brothers “Go”.

The song features Q-Tip and while the lyrics may not be the most inspired at times, the thick laser-like synths definitely bring the energy desired in this genre. I do not know this for a fact, but I hear that is a desirable state when one wants dance music.

 

Best Pop Vocal Album:

Barry Manilow (& Various Artists), My Dream Duets

Bob Dylan, Shadows in the Night

Josh Groban, Stages

Tony Bennett & Bill Charlap, The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern

Seth MacFarlane, No One Ever Tells You

Who will win: Barry Manilow, My Dream Duets

The concept of Manilow’s latest album sounds like an idea that could possibly have thrown it into the Most Morbid Album of the Year category. Fortunately for him, that category does not exist and a full album of duets with deceased performers actually turned out very good. It is hard for anyone to vote against an album with duets featuring the likes of Judy Garland, Whitney Houston, and Sammy Davis, Jr. You can pretty much count on Manilow taking home a shiny new trophy.

Who should win: Bob Dylan, Shadows in the Night

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For one of the most influential musicians of all-time, Bob Dylan takes a lot of crap. Even his most ardent fans, myself included, are not that slow to point out that his voice sounds like the man has spent every second of the last fifty years gargling razor blades and glass shards.

For his thirty-sixth album, Dylan took on songs recorded by the late great Frank Sinatra, and somehow found an entire album of material that perfectly complimented his voice. It’s a brilliant album full of understated instrumentals that not only does Sinatra justice, but at times surpasses his performances.

 

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:

Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”

Taylor Swift feat. Kendrick Lamar, “Bad Blood”

Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, “See You Again”

Maroon 5, “Sugar”

Florence + The Machine, ”Ship to Wreck”

Who will win: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”

Who should win: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”

Was there a place you could go earlier this year where this song was not playing? While you try to think of a place, I will just go ahead and answer for you. No. And rightfully so. This song is so catchy that you could find yourself humming it days after the last time you heard it. It is a fantastic effort at bringing old school funk back into the mainstream and Bruno Mars does his best soul impression to great results. Compared to the other songs in this category, “Uptown Funk” is more fun and is musically superior to the other entries in this list.

 

Best New Artist:

Meghan Trainor

Sam Hunt

James Bay

Courtney Barnett

Tori Kelly

Who will win: Meghan Trainor

Who should win: Courtney Barnett

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“All About That Bass” was a runaway hit. That is a gigantic bummer for this category. That song pushed Meghan Trainor in front of everyone’s face for so long that it’s hard to imagine her losing.

The two standouts in this category should be Sam Hunt and Courtney Barnett. Hunt’s music will not please country purists, but his combination of country pop and R&B is unique. The most unique, though, is Courntey Barnett. While there is a timeless characteristic to her music, her rambling witty vocals are unlike anything else you will hear on the radio. She might be a runaway winner here if only she had written a catchy tune about booties.

 

Record of the Year:

Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”

The Weeknd, “Can’t Feel my Face”

Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”

Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”

D’Angelo and the Vanguard, “Really Love”

Who will win: Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”

Who should win: D’Angelo and the Vanguard, “Really Love”

No, it is not as catchy as “Uptown Funk.” It is not as fun. It is not as popular or well-known or universal. It is, however, the better record.

The layering of delicate string arrangements and vocal harmonies over a smooth yet funky bass line is something that has not been done this well in decades. D’Angelo is this generation’s answer to Al Green and on this track show’s why he deserves the ridiculously lofty expectation I just placed on him.

 

Song of the Year:

Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”

Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”

Kendrick Lamar, “Alright”

Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth, “See You Again”

Little Big Town, “Girl Crush”

Who will win: Taylor Swift

Relax, Swiftites. As much as some people would like it to happen, Taylor Swift will not be shut out at the Grammy’s. Her ode to future failed relationships will no doubt take home song of the year, if for no other reason than the music video would terrify anyone who was planning on not voting for her.

Who should win: Taylor Swift, “Blank Space”

It pains me to write this. It really does. I do not care for Taylor Swift in any way. “Blank Space,” though, is the best written song in the group. “See You Again” is too cheesy as is the sad ex-girlfriend longing in “Girl Crush”. (Yes, Bible-belt. She is talking about being jealous of her ex’s new girlfriend. Read a lyric every now and again.)

“Thinking Out Loud” is good, but has a lack of personality in the song. That leaves Swift and Kendrick Lamar. While many other songs from Kendrick would win this easily, we’ll give this to Taylor simply on the strength of the personality in her lyrics.

 

Album of the Year:

Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly

Taylor Swift, 1989

The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness

Alabama Shakes, Sound and Color

Chris Stapleton, Traveller

Who will win: Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly

Who should win: Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly

ToPimpAButterfly.0

Big surprise, right?

Written by Nathan Badley

When Nathan is not writing about music, he might be writing material for his often neglected blog at nathanbadley.com. Or he might be writing something else. Or podcasting. Or playing music. Most likely he is just watching TV thinking about how he should be doing those things. You can tweet him @badlandsbadley and congratulate him on his mad 3rd person writing skills.

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