Friday, December 04, 2015

2016 Grammy Nomination Predictions: Album of the Year & Song of the Year

Call me whatever, but the first week of December has always been an exciting time for me. There's so much that the Grammys could do to improve the integrity of their award, yet I still come back every year to take a crack at guessing who will get nominated where. It's the most important game in town when it comes to music awards. My infinite optimism, for better or worse, allows me to keep thinking that they'll eventually get it right one day. Regardless, it's always fun to take a look back at the year in music.

The nominations for the 58th Annual Grammy will be announced on Dec. 7 during CBS' This Morning and the actual hardware will be handed out Feb. 15, 2016. Back in June, I took a look at the Big Four categories and now I'm ready to walk the tightrope without a net and declare my final predictions for all the world to see. For this post, I'll be examining the fields for Album of the Year and Song of the Year. I also took a look at Record of the Year and Best New Artist, which you need to check out as well.

Album of the Year

I alluded to it a bit in my post for Best New Artist, but it's becoming harder and harder to create new stars. All this means is that the field becomes easier to predict and there is a shallower pool of contenders to choose from. This category has always tried to reward albums that have sold well and are also critically acclaimed. With sales being in a downward trend, it makes it harder to come up with a consensus choice on what could be a potential Album of the Year nominee.

Right now, we're at the precipice of the digital sales cliff before streaming becomes the dominant format. The definition of what we consider success will eventually transition from how many consumers are willing to buy a record to how often consumers are willing to listen to your music. When the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) will catch up to this trend and accurately reflect it in the nominations is unknown, but it may be coming sooner than we think.

This year I think will still play by the old rules, which means you can reserve a spot for Taylor Swift's 1989. Three #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and solid reviews are some of the key ingredients to landing an Album of the Year spot. The fact that Swift is the closest thing we have to a musical juggernaut, aside from Adele, assures her of plenty of Grammy nominations every year as long as she can deliver the quality.

The inclusion of Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly will be significant for a number of reasons, but the one that's most intriguing from a business aspect is that it will be the first AOTY nominee to make as much noise for first week sales as well it did for streaming numbers. Glossy stats aside, the album stands as one of the most critically acclaimed of the year and was as culturally relevant as any mainstream album released in the past decade. I'd consider him a lock.

Going further along with the sales + acclaim equation, The Weeknd's Beauty Behind The Madness seems like another obvious fit. This category is often seen as a reward for being dominant over the course of a calendar and The Weeknd has had a hit that stayed on everyone's radar nearly every step of the way. "Earned It (Fifty Shades Of Grey)", "Can't Feel My Face" and now "The Hills" have all shown great legs, which should bode well for his chances. Reviews have also been positive and his sound is contemporary, which will help the NARAS sleep well at night with their decision. Plus, the kids aren't going to tune in to your awards show unless they see some names they recognize.

If there aren't enough popular acts, the blue ribbon panel—which is the secret committee that decides upon the Big Four nominees based on the top 15 vote-getters among submissions—will try to come up with a few albums that bring some integrity to the category.

Rock always appears to be the equivalent of quality at the Grammys and seen to be a driving force in making great music, even as it's now being outsold by other key genres. Although great rock albums still exist, they don't exactly drive the culture like they used to, yet the NARAS feels its mandatory to always include something from the genre. Nine out of the past ten years have seen a rock album get nominated here, with hip hop following up with six and only three country albums in that same span.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

2016 Grammy Nomination Predictions: Record of the Year & Best New Artist

You have no idea how happy I get during this time of year. Poring over a list of songs and artists in order to determine who will get nominated for an award that's perpetually behind the curve, but still the most important in its industry, truly gets my neurons percolating. It's like trying to solve a puzzle that not many have the passion to attempt and why I do it every year.

The nominations for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards will be announced on Dec. 7 during CBS' This Morning, with the actual ceremony on Feb. 15, 2016. I'm here once again to give my final predictions as to who will be nominated in the general field. Over the summer, I examined the contenders and where they stood at the moment, if you want further insight into my thought process. For this post, I'll only be taking a look at Record of the Year and Best New Artist, with Album of the Year and Song of the Year to follow in a separate post.

Record of the Year 

The first thing to do when analyzing this category is revisit some of the biggest hits of the year. Over the past five years, sixteen of the thirty-one nominees reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, with last year's group dominating the summit for a combined total of 19 weeks.

I think you know where I'm going this.

There was no bigger song than Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk," truly the only track this year to unite a nation. Its place in Record of the Year is a foregone conclusion, so let's just get that out of the way.

Taylor Swift manages to dominate the general field conversation whenever she's eligible. This year should be no different, but I'll admit to being slightly worried since timing and momentum played a huge part in the nominations for "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "Shake It Off." But it's Taylor Swift. Time doesn't exist to her. She's on a different plane than the rest of us mere mortals. Save a spot for "Blank Space" as well, despite it being a full year old.

One doesn't always need to reach #1 in order to make a huge impact. Sometimes, just hovering around in the top ten for months will do the job, which is why I like Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud" to grab a spot here as well. It's no secret that the Grammys love acknowledging male vocalists who also happen to be musicians. Strap an acoustic guitar onto a man and everything he coos is automatically going to be "deep." At least that's the perception that's been ingrained into our collective conscience for the past half-century. Sheeran has been nominated in each of the general field categories except for ROTY. Now that he has an actual money song that mostly all of America has heard of, the path to him landing a nod here should be laid out nice and smoothly.

If we're still on the subject of songs that never seem to die, Fetty Wap's "Trap Queen" was a prime example of such in 2015. In one of the most organic rises in recent memory, "Trap Queen" went from being a Soundcloud sensation to knocking on the door of being the #1 song in the country. In an era where there are few ubiquitous songs that everyone can agree on (Can your mother sing the words to OMI's "Cheerleader"? Didn't think so.), it can't be taken for granted when a song had the kind of the legs this one did. Plus, you know things are major when Taylor Swift gives you a co-sign.

For all intents and purposes, "Trap Queen" should be a Record of the Year nominee. But it probably won't. The blue ribbon panelthe secret committee of industry folk who are chosen to determine the Big Four categories each year from the top 15 submissions—may not be ready to welcome someone as rough around the edges as Fetty Wap to their party. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences doesn't usually have the greatest understanding of the latest trends in hip hop, but they're cagey enough to recognize those that are obviously talented (Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Outkast, Kanye West, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis). Therefore, I think there's probably an elitism that might prevent certain kinds of hip hop that's lacking in lyrical dexterity or seen as "too street" from ever getting a major nomination.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

The Definitive Track Listing of Miley Cyrus And Her Dead Petz

At the conclusion of this year's MTV Video Music Awards, hostess Miley Cyrus announced her latest album, Miley Cyrus And Her Dead Petz, was available to stream for free on her website. It was surprising that a pop star of Cyrus' stature would give away her music, considering that sales of Bangerz was solid enough to not steer away from a traditional promo strategy. Although we're currently in an era where the public either expects music for free or at least easily accessible, the rule is that if you can still sell records, you keep charging (it would be difficult to imagine Taylor Swift or Beyoncé pulling the same move, for example).

When listening to Dead Petz, which was released outside of Cyrus' contract with RCA and paid for out of her own pockets, it wasn't hard to tell that this was a project dear to her. With The Flaming Lips producing the majority of the album and a few oddball songs dedicated to the passing of her aforementioned pets, it was clear radio was never the goal here. It was also clear that this was an album made without the assistance of an A&R or someone who could keep everything tethered. At a running time of 92:06, it's a slog to get through at times as Cyrus goes to many lengths to not be placed in a box, much to the detriment of the listener or anyone with an attention span.

The main source of my frustration is that I can never shake the feeling there's a better album lurking within. While there are a good deal of quality songs, one can only judge an album as a whole, not just cherry picking their favorites, which is why the critical response has been pretty divisive. Still, the potential for a good album was so intriguing to me that I decided to revise the sequencing and come up with my own track list, one that would still hold the original freewheeling intent and hopefully cut straight to the core of some of the album's main themes of loss and lust. I came up with something that tries to be a bit more cohesive and that comes in at just over an hour. This version is at least worth 3 stars.

1. Cyrus Skies
2. I Get So Scared
3. The Floyd Song (Sunrise)
4. Karen Don't Be Sad
5. Space Boots
6. Slab Of Butter
7. Pablow The Blow Fish
8. BB Talk
9. Bang Me Box
10. I Forgive Yiew
11. Lighter
12. Tangerine
13. Something About Space Dude
14. Twinkle Song

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ten Real Life Heel Promos

Let the record show that I'm still a wrestling fan to this day (no snarky comments before watching this). It's an old habit from childhood that has simply refused to die, even after discovering it's all predetermined. As my understanding of the business expanded, I grew more appreciative of the artistry behind what made the product so appealing and effective to me.

One of the cornerstones of moving along plot lines and interactions between wrestlers (also known as angles) is the promo. The promo is a segment on a program, usually done through a interview or monologue, which is used by a wrestler to promote themselves and/or a feud they have between another wrestler. A memorable promo is filled with charisma and substance that simultaneously captures your attention while you making heavily invested in the story. Here is an example:

In that promo, Dusty Rhodes played the role of the face (a good guy) and used his energy and a sympathetic inflection to make sure that people cheered for him. On the other end of the spectrum, you have heels (the villains) whose job it is to gain heat (getting jeered and booed) by sharing unpopular opinions or verbally attacking a face. This is what a typical heel promo sounds like:

Pretty straightforward, right? You piss people off, which makes them want to spend money to see you get your comeuppance. There are varying degrees to how to get heat, but that's the basic gist. In my mind, the heel promo is something that isn't just limited to wrestling but in the reality that we live in. There's no shortage of public figures that say things the majority of the people disagree with, but we really take notice when it's done enthusiastically and sincerely. The fun of a great heel promo in wrestling is that we know this person is portraying a character, but they do such a great job of toying with our emotions and convincing us to hate them that we can't help but react outwardly. A real life heel promo carries that same weight of sincerity and the result is that we're usually appalled yet slightly entertained. With WWE's SummerSlam this weekend, (the 2nd biggest wrestling event of the year behind Wrestlemania), I decided to look at ten of the most notable heel promos in pop culture, listed chronologically.

Mike Love vs. The Oldies Station

The angle: The Beach Boys were inducted into the 1988 Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame along side The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, for whom Mike Love had choice words (skip to 3:48).

Heat index (on a scale of 1 to 10): 9. Love's tirade included shots at Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, Woody Guthrie and apparently Brian Wilson's speech, which Love couldn't help but interrupt. His self-serving rambling made for the most awkward moment in Hall Of Fame history and turned what should have been a night of celebration and class into a train wreck.

Infamous heel quote: "I know Mick Jagger won’t be here tonight, he’s gonna have to stay in England. But I’d like to see us in the Coliseum and he at Wembley Stadium because he’s always been chickenshit to get on stage with The Beach Boys.”

GG Allin vs. Decency

The angle: Anti-establishment punk rocker GG Allin appeared on The Jane Whitney Show to declare his hate for society and good taste.

Heat index: 10. Allin displayed all of the classic heel traits during this appearance (which would be his final interview) from having a defiant, electric delivery to challenging audience members to a fight, but he really earned disgust by boasting that he raped women and men onstage and that he liked to have sex with underage kids and animals.

Infamous heel quote: Way too many to count, so here are a few samples.

"I'm gonna rape the girls, I might rape the guys. I might have sex wi-, I want it all! I want it all and I'm gonna have it all! Because I am everything!"

"I don't care about anything but myself and what I write. And what I do is law."

"You go to school? You go to school? Wow. What are you gonna learn in school? You ain't gonna learn nothin' in school! 'Cause I'm the only one that can teach you! I'm the only one that can teach you!"

Suge Knight vs. The East Coast

The angle: The East Coast-West Coast rivalry kicked into high gear at the 1995 Source Awards when Suge Knight fanned the flames by mocking Sean "Puffy" Combs.

Heat index: 8. Depending on where you resided, Knight's stance on Bad Boy Records could have been inspiring. The vocal NYC crowd decried anyone who wasn't from their hometown (they even booed Outkast. OUTKAST!) and the head of Death Row Records refused to let his label's accomplishments go unrecognized. Instead of trying to appease New York, Suge took the road less traveled to much derision. The best heels are aware of the venue that they're at and use it to their advantage to gain heat and who has been a bigger one in the music industry over the past twenty years than this man?

Infamous heel quote: "Any artist out there wanna be an artist and stay a star and won't have to worry about the executive producer trying to be all in the video, all on the records, dancing, come to Death Row!"

Monday, July 20, 2015

#classicalbumtweets: Superfly

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Internet feat. KAYTRANADA - "Girl"

Syd Tha Kyd's voice is one of the most underrated instruments on the music scene today. Its fragility is so relatable because it sounds like it's coming from a timid person that will likely retreat back into their cocoon after they've said what they've had to say. For a lot of people, the general appeal in vocalists can sometimes be that the confidence they display also provide a window of escape from the monotony of life. They share feelings that we only fantasize about sharing and for that, they take up space in our hearts and our playlists. Syd's voice isn't overpowering, but her vulnerability has an incredible amount of sex appeal. It's especially true on "Girl," a slab of cosmic soul coated in molasses with a bubbling bass practically fit for slow, gyrating limbs. The tenderness on display here serves as a reality check that as deeply as some of us might desire something, the most that we can usually muster up is a whisper. Thankfully, few can whisper like The Internet.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

An early preview of the 2016 Grammys

In what's become an annual pre-summer tradition here at Hectic But Eclectic, I've decided to try my hand at guessing who will be nominated in the general field at the Grammys. The 58th Grammy Awards won't be handed out until next year and nominations will be announced later on in 2015, but we've already been through most of the eligibility period, which means we've already heard a lot of the likely nominees. I will of course share my final predictions in December, so check back in for that.

Album of the Year

1. Taylor Swift - 1989
What's in its favor: She's practically guaranteed an AOTY nod at this point in her career as long as she can deliver a few hits and change her sound with each release. Swift is also the only artist who can be counted on to sell a million in a week, which makes her appealing to have in the biggest category of the night.
What might work against it: Absolutely nothing.

2. Alabama Shakes - Sound and Color
What's in its favor: They're former Best New Artist nominees and it wouldn't hurt the NARAS' credibility to nominate them. A lot of strides have been made to include rock acts that break away from previous mainstream sounds here and they fit the bill best so far this year. Include a #1 album and a great reputation as a live act among their credentials and the blue ribbon panel that picks nominees for the general field will have a hard time saying no.
What might work against it: Despite all the good reviews, they're lacking a song the casual listener can identify them with.

3. Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly
What's in its favor: It's a topically relevant album with the year's best reviews and has sold very well. He's also another former Best New Artist nominee that has lived up to their potential.
What might work against it: All the critical acclaim may not matter if it fails to land a single within the top 40 this year.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Jhené Aiko - "Eternal Sunshine" music video

The first image we see is of Aiko on her back facing the camera with her eyes closed and her body slowly ascending from the pavement. Even when she starts singing and her eyes begin to open, they don't do so fully, suggesting that she's only half-awake while reciting the lyrics, "Is it strange for me to say/That if I were to die today/There's not a thing that I would change/I've lived well." Meanwhile, the camera continues to follow her as she rises and we see more and more of the scene that's happening below her. No cuts. No jumps. Just Jhené. It's a terrific way to draw in the audience within the first thirty seconds.

"Eternal Sunshine" is a song about reflecting on the good in one's life and in this Jay Ahn-helmed video, we picture Aiko doing so in a fashion that's meant to detail her soul leaving this world. Things become clearer as the video goes on and our patience is rewarded with a graceful depiction of life and death that's earned it a spot as one of the best music videos of the year. By incorporating personal events like a 2013 car accident with her family and the death of her brother, the emotional gravity of it all is on Aiko's face to carry and it's done successfully with a calm, contemplative melancholy. In this interpretation of death, all of the good things come to us right before our time. It's undoubtedly somber, but there's some comfort to be found in there.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

#classicalbumtweets: Weezer (The Blue Album)

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Charlie Belle - "Shake You Off"

With all the members of Charlie Belle still being in their teens, it's only fitting that their music reminds me of a time when I was a younger listener more in tune with the purity of a message and more open-minded in my embrace. I can still do it as an adult, but it was certainly much easier as a kid that wasn't as preoccupied with the cynicism of trends. Indie pop is a term that has been slowly disappearing from the landscape for sometime now as the focus of online music criticism has practically shifted its attention towards R&B influenced sounds and the DIY alternative phase of the mid-90s when it comes to rock. What's so endearing about "Shake You Off" is that it exists in its own bubble outside of the trends of the world and these three kids from Austin are simply making the music that sounds best to them, which existed during the late 90s and early 2000s. It covers some of the same ground that a lot of great twee rock from that era did, which often placed itself sonically and thematically in the mindset of adolescence and childhood with a heavy dose of wonderment. That makes a lot of sense as to why this song is so charming since Charlie Belle didn't have to journey back in time too far to go that place.

To purchase Charlie Belle's Get To Know EP, visit their Bandcamp page.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

#classicalbumtweets: The Marshall Mathers LP

Friday, March 06, 2015

Gunakadeit - "After School Special"

This guy in the video gets it. Sometimes you hear a marimba and you just have to lip-synch yourself into a frenzy on the beach. "After School Special" lends itself pretty easily to such hysterics. That slight tropical feel during the chorus ups the giddy factor considerably even as the song details a teacher-student infatuation that flirts with the inappropriate. Much like "South" before it, Natasha Kozily's harmonies brightly burst through with a sweetness that belies its dark material. It's pure pop music with some muscle and a freewheeling nature.

For more info on Gunakadeit, you can go to the official website here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Major & Minor of the 87th Academy Awards

Welcome to the first edition of the Major & Minor. I'm trying this out as way to provide analysis to the many awards shows that are out there, while hopefully bringing something new to the table. I'll be looking at the highs and lows, best and worst, positives and negatives, or whatever you want to call it, of the 2015 Oscars, which is the biggest of all awards shows and not a bad place to start.

Major: Good Things Happen When Neil Patrick Harris Sings (and Jack Black & Anna Kendrick Cameo)

The opening show number written by Robert and Kristin-Anderson Lopez (Frozen's "Let It Go") provided the kind of pizazz and showbiz acumen most of us had hoped for when it was announced that Harris would be the host. His past stints doing the same duties for the Emmys and Tonys showed how apt he was and for four minutes, he lived up to the hype. Comedic timing and a solid voice should be all you need to do this thing successfully, right?

Major: #Cumberflask

Best "I'm A Big Star, But Don't Take Myself Too Seriously" moment since Meryl Streep stared down Anne Hathaway and Emily Blunt.

Major: O to the N to the D to the Pearls Of Love

I'll leave the fashion analysis to the experts, but the eyes don't lie: stunning is stunning. Also, someone please include Lupita Nyong'o's smile in a romantic comedy.

Major/Minor: This Was More Of A Leading Role, But The Right Man Won

I'm a huge fan of  Whiplash and I'm happy to see J.K. Simmons get some recognition, but you can't convince me that he didn't have a leading role. There's no doubt that Miles Teller had the bigger transformational arc. He's the protagonist. I get that, but Simmons' is the force that pushes that movie. I understand studios submit actors and actresses in categories they have the best shot at winning (once upon a time, Harvey Weinsten tried to push off Kate Winslet as a supporting actress in The Reader), but it will always continue to rub me the wrong way. I could always just stop nitpicking and appreciate the fact he won an award for the role of the tyrannical Terence Fletcher, one of the scariest, most well-rounded, brimstone-spewing characters we've seen this decade. I'm not entirely sure that it's a given he would have lost if he had been submitted in Best Actor. Sure, the category was already loaded with major contenders like Keaton, Redmayne and Cumberbatch already, but neither one of them was as showy as Simmons' performance, which the Academy often leans towards. Let's say Best Actor ends up like this:

Friday, February 20, 2015

Best Films Of 2014

These are the movies from 2014 I loved the most. Anything from my top ten stayed with me hours, most cases days after my first viewing and even in the second month of 2015, I can recall them vividly. If you're wondering why this list is so late, I do not have the luxury of attending the festival circuit, nor do I live in New York or Los Angeles, so a lot of late 2014 prestige releases don't make their way to the rest of the country until January. To be able to put movies in the proper context of their respective years, it helps to see the films that have been lauded the most or were highly anticipated, hence the February arrival of this list. In my own world, it's still relevant as long as it's before the Oscars. So here it is.

1. Life Itself

Roger Ebert was a huge influence on me as a cinephile. If I hadn't started reading his reviews as a high school freshman, this very list you're reading may not even exist. I fought hard not to make Life Itself, my #1 movie of 2014 because of how much I adored its subject and for fear that I wasn't being objective, yet in the end, honesty won out. The emphasis on Ebert's love for movies alone would have still made this a memorable film, seeing as how his writing was filled with an observation, wit and insight that made him more accessible than some of his more sophisticated contemporaries at the time. The love he had for cinema was a very genuine and touching one, but in the spirit of objectivity, director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) delved into the man behind the reviews, warts and all. The documentary follows Ebert through the last months of his life as he battled cancer, an ordeal that is not skimmed over in the least and quite graphic at times, in addition to less flattering biographical nuggets mentioned throughout the film. It's the kind of portrayal Ebert himself likely would have championed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

#classicalbumtweets: Crazysexycool

The front page of Hectic But Eclectic was getting a little too #classicalbumtweets heavy, so I withheld posting and tried to space them out more. I still kept on with the tweets and now I do it every 2nd Saturday of the month instead. I'll be doing Discovery by Daft Punk this Saturday, actually.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Live Blogging The 2015 Grammys

7:00 Back here to live blog the Grammys again another year. I'll be providing running analysis on who might win and the overall spectacle of the show.

7:02 AC/DC are kicking off the show. LL Cool J makes it a point to tell everyone that this is their first performance at the ceremony. I'm totally happy for them and all, especially with Malcolm Young having to leave the band, but it doesn't scream current. My only guess is that the NARAS noticed there was an alarming lack of guitars on the show, so they had to dig into the vault to balance things out.

7:08 LL Cool J is back onstage the show officially begins. He just announced that there were will be 23 performances tonight. 23. Oof.

7:11 Sam Smith takes home Best New Artist in a win that shocks absolutely no one. I'm still recovering from the shell shock that we're going to have to sit through 23 performances. It appears as if the awards have truly become secondary, which is a shame. You look at the Oscars, Tonys, Emmys and even the Golden Globes, there is buzz and importance surrounding who will win. For the Grammys, it's as if Album of the Year is the only thing anyone is waiting for. The collaborative performances have always felt desperate and forced. It's great that veterans can still get a rub from being on a nationally televised appearance because I think it's important that younger viewers know about previous generations, but it's done in a way that's very insincere and not entertaining in the least. I love music, so naturally I look forward to the Grammys, but it's frustrating when you know it could be so much more.

7:24 Ariana Grande performs "Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart" and does a solid job, because well, she's Ariana. I would have preferred to see her do a more uptempo song, but I like that she went opposite of what her singles have been. If she still feels like she has something to prove, I think everyone is much better off for it. Jessie J and Tom Jones also perform "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" in honor of its songwriters, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. Neither were bad choices to perform, seeing as how Jones' baritone is not a half-bad match for what Bill Medley did on the original, but it's incredibly stiff. I dislike it whenever they have performances on that small stage in the middle of the audience that isn't minimal. It feels too overstuffed for such an intimate and the entire sequence felt like it could have been on telethon instead of the biggest night in music. Pharrell beats out Sam Smith and Sia for Best Pop Solo Vocal Performance with a live version of "Happy." This is the first sign of vulnerability for Smith I've seen tonight and I like Beyonce's chances for AOTY better now. We'll have to see how Record and Song of the Year pan out.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Grammy Winner Predictions for 2015

The 57th Grammy Awards will take place this Sunday, Feb. 8 on CBS. As I do every year, I took my hand at predicting who will walk away with a miniature gramophone on the big night. I'll also be live blogging the event, so make sure to come back during the show for up-to-date analysis and comments.

Record of the Year

Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX - "Fancy"
Sia - "Chandelier"
Sam Smith - "Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)"
Taylor Swift - "Shake It Off"
Meghan Trainor - "All About That Bass"

Will win: It'll likely be between Sia and Sam Smith, with "Chandelier" taking the edge due to it feeling like more of an event song.
Should win: "Chandelier," because it cracked my top ten singles of 2014.
Overlooked: Arctic Monkeys - "Do I Wanna Know"; Paramore - "Ain't It Fun"

Album of the Year

Beck - Morning Phase
Beyoncé - Beyoncé
Ed Sheeran - x
Sam Smith - In the Lonely Hour
Pharrell Williams - G I R L

Will win: Beyoncé delivered an album worthy of her superstardom and she will be rewarded for it.
Should win: I was pretty fond of the Beyoncé album as well.
Overlooked: Miley Cyrus - Bangerz; Haim - Days Are Gone; St. Vincent - St. Vincent

Sunday, January 18, 2015

#classicalbumtweets: Tapestry

Friday, January 09, 2015

Top 250 Singles of 2014

As the years go on, this list has become more agonizing to sift through because of the amount of great stuff that's out there. I won't complain though. The time and effort that goes into this makes me feel good about songs even in the lower reaches of the list, and that's a feeling that increases with each year. So yes, it's definitely worth it. As usual, I've included a Spotify playlist and for the tracks that weren't available there, I used Soundcloud to compile them (those songs will have a * next to them). Both playlists are also embedded at the bottom. For songs that couldn't be found on either, I just simply included a hyperlink to where you can listen (designated with a ^). If you haven't yet, check out my albums list as well. Hope you find something new that you'll enjoy!

1. FKA twigs - Two Weeks

The past couple of years in music have seen an increasing fascination with the spaced-out, drum heavy sounds of mid to late-90s R&B to much acclaim. One has to wonder where the critical adoration has been all this time and why it took a touch of the fringe to make it palatable and hip (i.e. Banks, The Weeknd, How To Dress Well, etc.). FKA twigs' career has definitely benefited from this growing trend, but with all the comparisons to experimental artists like Björk and James Blake, make no mistake about it; "Two Weeks" is a pure R&B record. Once upon a time, turntable scratches and Auto-Tune were alien to rhythm and blues, so don't let the screwed vocals that pop up throughout deter from classifying it as such. If anything, they add to the atmosphere, which is probably one of the most sensual to come down the pipeline in a year or two. That uneasy tension is likely what twigs wants. For the audience to be kept off guard, to be lulled away from their equilibrium leaving themselves susceptible, until finally, she coos in a voice dripping with confidence and candle wax, "Give me two weeks/you won't recognize her." You're left helpless, she's in full control and more than likely, you're regretfully enjoying every minute of it. What genre besides R&B is more notorious for moves like that?