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What another craptastic year in music. That’s the point, I guess. But some happy things happened in the nominees this year. Yes, there is a token old timer, but that old timer is Robert ” I’m the lead singer of fucking Led Zeppelin” Plant with Alison Krauss, and that album is so freakin’ awesome. There’s a favored rapper, but it’s the twisted and gifted Lil Wayne.  There are the young chanteuses with golden voices, but they’re both British and one ( Adele) has barely made a dent on the charts.  And there are the giants- Radiohead and Coldplay. Overall, the list this year is better than most.

Now for the play by play…

Album of the Year
Coldplay, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III
Ne-Yo, Year of the Gentleman
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand
Radiohead, In Rainbows

All five of these are on my year end list ( guess where they are, you get a ” Lollipop”. Heh.) But despite it’s groundbreaking release, I think Radiohead is the underdog. They get nominated often, but the don’t win in the big one ( remember OK Computer?)  Lil Wayne- one of the best albums of the year, but seriously, do you see it winning with the panel form the Jurassic era running the show? Ne-Yo is a mere tot, and his album is the weakest of the five. It comes down to Coldplay and Plant and Krauss. I’m giving it to Plant and Krauss. Because they are freaking awesome! And T-Bone Burnett produced this gem of covers.

Best New Artist
Adele
Duffy
Jonas Brothers
Lady Antebellum
Jazmine Sullivan

Who will win? Don’t be surprised if the Jonas Brothers did, because despite myself, I give begrudging respect to fifteen year old Nick, who writes those songs, and his clear gift for melody. Who should win? Adele. That girl sings from her toes, and that voice is so freakin’ soulful, she makes Amy Winehouse sound like she’s the lead singer from Bread.

Record of the Year
Adele, “Chasing Pavements”
Coldplay, “Viva la Vida”
Leona Lewis, “Bleeding Love”
M.I.A., “Paper Planes”
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, “Please Read the Letter”

When you see my year end lists, three of these songs are in my top twenty five. Clearly this one is one of them.

Song of the Year
Estelle (featuring Kanye West), “American Boy”
Adele, “Chasing Pavements”
Jason Mraz, “I’m Yours”
Sara Bareilles, “Love Song”
Coldplay, “Viva la Vida”

Yeah, I know. Mraz is more interesting, Adele’s  is the best of the lot, Bareilles’ was everywhere, and Estelle’s should break her here ( seriously, she’s another Brit beauty with a voice like a sodding angel). But Coldplay’s anthemic piano pop is what Grammy voters eat up. And they’re Coldplay- the biggest band on the planet when U2 is on vaycay.

Best Alternative Music Album
Beck, Modern Guilt
Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs
Gnarls Barkley, The Odd Couple
My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges
Radiohead, In Rainbows

Um… duh, yeah. Jeez. MMJ is a close second.

It’s a pretty safe bet that if they’re nominated in the big categories, they should win the subs- Coldplay in rock and pop, Lil Wayne in Rap, and so on.

Question- why is Beyonce nominated for ” Me Myself and I”? Wasn’t that on her first solo album back five years ago? Did I miss something?

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Coldplay, Radiohead, U2, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Kid Rock, Rihanna, Kenny Chesney, Jennifer Hudson, the Jonas Brothers, Lil’ Wayne, Paul McCartney ( with Dave Grohl on drums!), Katy Perry, T.I. with Justin Timberlake, and Carrie Underwood are all scheduled to play the big show, with a special performance by Jay-Z, Lil’ Wayne, T.I., and Kanye Wesy of ” Swagga Like Us”. Coolness.

Neil Diamond is receiving the MusiCares humanitarian honor.

The Grammys air on CBS Sunday, February 8th.

UPDATE:  Added On Tuesday/Wednesday were Adele, Estelle, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Chris Brown, Sugarland, and a Four Tops tribute with Jamie Foxx, Ne-Yo, and original Top Duke Fakir.

UPDATE # 2:  Added on Friday were Robin Thicke, Neil Diamond, M.I.A. ( unless labor interferes), Terence Blanchard, Smokey Robinson, Allen Toussaint, Stevie Wonder, and a Bo Diddley Tribute with Buddy Guy, BB King, John Mayer, and Keith Urban.

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25. Constatines ” Hard Feelings”

Canadian art-punks bring us a grinding, hard charging about the difficulty of emotions.

24. Ne-Yo ” Closer”

Usher’s heir apparent delivers on a R&B-hip hop jam that is smoother than creamy peanut butter.

23. T.I. ” Whatever You Like”

He’s such a generous guy, over trippy hio hop beats and a surprisingly warm chorus.

22. Jordin Sparks f. Chris Brown ” No Air”

Gorgeous, soaring vocal gymnastics by two teen sensations as they sing about the importance of oxygen, but the devastation of love.

21. Kings Of Leon ” Sex On Fire”

Southern gothic melodrama, with ringing guitars, as the Followills literally set things a flame.

20. Kid Rock ” All Summer Long”

Someone had the courage to do what I always thought about- put ” sweet Home Alabama” and ” Werewolves of London” together and see how similar they are. Add lyrics about partying and booze and sex, you have a classic summer jam.

19. Vampire Weekend ” Oxford Comma”

Bouncy African beats mixed with lyrics about sex and punctuation. I’m not joking.

18. Flo Rida ” Low”

Inescapable spring jam about Apple Bottom jeans and Reeboks with the straps.

17. Adele ” Chasing Pavements”

Soulful ruminations about being torn between love or happiness.

16. Kanye West ” Love Lockdown”

Autotune works for the master, and he creates a song about loss and love that is for the ages.

15. Rihanna ” Take A Bow”

“Disturbia” got the glory, but this song about kicking his ass to the curb remains her strongest single.

14. Sam Roberts ” Them Kids”

More folk country rock from the Canadian master of the guitar, with a charming SIMS inspired video mixed with 50s nostalgia.  A song about the fact kids don’t dance to rock and roll anymore.

13.  P!nk ” Sober”

” So What” maybe the typical hard rocking kiss off we expect from her, but Pink’s second single from her album is a more mature, honest song about divorce, alcohol, and love.

12. Katy Perry ” I Kissed A Girl”

Bouncy fun about same sex experiments and old fashioned button pushing. Not as jaw dropping as Jill Sobule’s track of the same name, but this grimy flirty track is a delight.

11. Estelle f. Kanye West ” American Boy”

Soulful British song stylist asking for a trip to NYC. Girl knows her shit. Discofied brilliance.

10.  Ting Tings ” Shut Up And Let Me Go”

Duo of punk inspired dance artists sing about how you are never gonna hit this again.

9. City And Colour ” Waiting…”

Quiet acoustic jam about waiting for the end of everything. Depression sounds almost peaceful.

8. David Cook ” Bar ba Sol”

Grinding punk guitar stylings mixed with lyrics about regretting the night before, where alcohol and possibly blonde skanks played a role in humiliation. Did I just say that?

7.  Billy Talent f. Rise Against ” Turn Your Back”

Two of the modern punk bands of note dress us down for ignoring the ecological disasters looming in the near future.

6. Duffy ” Mercy”

Sixties style pop soul with a Dusty vibe, and a girl with a voice grittier than gravel.

5. Hedley ” Old School”

Jacob Hoggard reminisces about setting tires on fire and the days where little mattered except getting wasted behind the old school.

4. Coldplay ” Violet Hill”

” Viva La Vida” has gotten all the glory, but this first single remains their grittiest, gungiest track. And the lyrics are mysteriously baroque and the vocals soar.

3. Metro Station ” Shake It”

Eighties inspired dance rock. God, how I’ve missed this stuff. Vaguely reminds me of Flock of Seagulls and Loverboy. Weird, but wonderful. And frickin’ catchy.

2. R.E.M. ” I’m Gonna D.J.”

Alt rock fore fathers come back to form with raging guitars and a plan for the end of days. I wanna be at that party.

1. M.I.A. ” Paper Planes”

I want to thank Seth Rogan and David Gordon Green for allowing this song to explode after the trailer for Pineapple Express introduced it to the world. Clash inspired guns and cash registers mixed with trip hop beats and the idea of exceeding what your borders permit. Stunning.

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20. David Cook David Cook

The mysteries of life. Idol winner’s first albums as a rule are supposed to suck hardcore. Except if you’re Kelly and manage to sneak ” Low” on yours.
Or Carrie and you luck out with ” Before He Cheats”. But David C. managed to do something surprising- delivering a rather cohesive ( more shocking considering the group think writing) rock album that was among the best rock albums of the year. ” Bar Ba Sol” is simply one of the best rock songs of 2008 period, and ” Light On” has grown on me significantly over the last several weeks.

19. Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago

I picked up this album simply because it has one of my daughter’s names in the title. I love it when I discover something in the process, though, of picking up crap stuff with my kids names on it. Spare acoustic tacks that feel like winter in Canada ( or Wisconsin, where it was recorded in a cabin), Justin Vernon’s elegant isolation remains bleak and unrelenting.

18. Ne Yo Year Of The Gentleman

I try to avoid flavor of the month hip hop soul stars. Couldn’t resist ” Closer”, though, and this album shows a maturing I didn’t expect.

17.  Gnarls Barkley The Odd Couple

It’s not as accessible or fun as St. Elsewhere, but I deign for people to tell me this album isn’t going to be regarded as a classic in ten years time.  Cee-Lo remains one of the most underrated singers in music, and Danger Mouse is a musical genius.

16. Billy Talent 666

A Live album from the St. Catherines punk purists with a matching DVD. They are fantabulous live, and they hit all the right notes and sing the hits as well as fan faves. ” Devil In A Midnight Mass” still remains scorching.

15. MGMT Oracular Spectacular

Experimental yet somehow classic, the Brooklyn duo create magic on their second full length album, and believe me when I say we are all better off to just buy it. Influenced by New Order and space rock that would make Bowie proud, I recommend just listening to ” Kids” and reminding yourself of happier times.

14. Adele 19

Duffy had the big hit, Amy the big headlines, and Leona the big benefactor ( Simon Cowell), but Adele has the big voice, and her songs are not written by frickin’ Jesse McCartney. Simply stunning.

13 Rise Against Appeal To Reason

More punk purists, this time with an decidedly Marxist lean. They are passionate and surprisingly successful- this album debuted at 3 on te Billboard charts.  Political and rocking.

12. Lil Wayne Tha Carter III

He’s a wordsmith that would make Eminem smile, and his prolific bootlegs and internet releases make him a tad over exposed, but he is quickly becoming the MC to listne to. ” Lollipop” is hook filled fun.

11. Coldplay Viva La Vida

Their previous album was so controlled, I wished for some imperfect note to remove the museum like quality. This album is messier, sonically more diverse, baroque and the punkiest we’ll ever hear them. Lyrically as pretentious as ever, at least it rocks harder. Which is still not much, granted.

10. Girl Talk Feed the Animals

Danger Mouse started the internet mash up, but Gregg Gillis perfected it. ” Set It Off” indeed. Brilliantly wacky.

9. Black Keys Attack and Release

Highly recommended to me by a good friend, I finally picked it up about three weeks ago and have been grooving ever since.  With Danger Mouse producing ( what, him agian?), the Akron duo create a world of spare, historical guitar noodling delta blues minimalism. And if that all seems to be contridictory, you’re right, but it works.

8. My Morning Jacket Evil Urges

Blow my mind, moutain men, why don’t you? The soul brothers of my beloved Flaming Lips, these guys mix a gorgeous falsetto, southern rock, space jams, and veiled political references . Why am I coming to them so frickin’ late? Someone? Anyone?

7. TV On The Radio Dear Science

Funk is awesome. Team it with apocolyptic lyrics and the general feeling of doom, you get this masterpiece of an album.

6.  Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend

I can see how people can hate this Ivy league, hyperliterate band with a fondness for Paul Simon’s Graceland and the solo work of Peter Gabriel ( who is namechecked in “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”). But I love the fact they can simply create gently African melodies while asking ” Who gives a fuck about an Oxford Comma?” More fun that it should be.

5. Kings Of Leon Only By the Night

They are becoming one of my new faves, as they take the best of Skynyrd and add some U2 and becomebetter. They always seemed inauthentic in their southern gothic style, but this album launches them out of parody and into the forefront of the Southern rock revolution happening right now. My Morning Jacket has competition…

4. City and Colour Bring Me Your Love

Dallas Green’s solo side project is quickly eclipsing his day job in Alexisonfire. This album, a natural evolution from Sometimes acoustic heartbreaks, is by far the best Canadian album this year ( no one comes close- sorry, Nickelback). All those comparisons to Neil Young’s Harvest are justified.

3. Kanye West 808s and Heartbreaks

The man is broken. His mama died tragically and his fiancee dumped his ass. He has put the bravado aside and created an emotional, adult album with little hip hop braggacio. Stunning and suprising.

2. R.E.M. Accelerate

Whether it’s the hugley catchy vocal hook of ” Supernatural Superserious” or the quiet rage that seeps into ” Houston”, the end of days grandstanding of ” I’m Gonna DJ” or the dressing down given in ” Living Well Is The Best Revenge”, this album says two things. R.E.M. is not fine, and you know what, they still have it.

1. Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue

It’s becoming clear to me Jenny Lewis can do no wrong. I adore Rilo Kiley, her day job band, but her solo work impresses the hell out of me. This album, simple, folksy, county, rock, psychedelic, often all at the same time, remains my favorite this year.

Worst of the year- Scarlett Johannsson Anywhere I Lay My Head

She can’t sing. Not in the charming way Tom Waits can’t sing. She lacks charm as a vocalist, and this album of Tom Waits covers offends the Tom Waits fan in me.

Biggest relief: GNR finally releases Chinese Democracy

Biggest disappointment: GNR’s Chinese Democracy. I’ll never be okay again. It made me cry. Not in a good way. Flashes of genius are overshadowed by an over produced mess.

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What another craptastic year in music. That’s the point, I guess. But some happy things happened in the nominees this year. Yes, there is a token old timer, but that old timer is Robert ” I’m the lead singer of fucking Led Zeppelin” Plant with Alison Krauss, and that album is so freakin’ awesome. There’s a favored rapper, but it’s the twisted and gifted Lil Wayne.  There are the young chanteuses with golden voices, but they’re both British and one ( Adele) has barely made a dent on the charts.  And there are the giants- Radiohead and Coldplay. Overall, the list this year is better than most.

Now for the play by play…

Album of the Year
Coldplay, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III
Ne-Yo, Year of the Gentleman
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand
Radiohead, In Rainbows

All five of these are on my year end list ( guess where they are, you get a ” Lollipop”. Heh.) But despite it’s groundbreaking release, I think Radiohead is the underdog. They get nominated often, but the don’t win in the big one ( remember OK Computer?)  Lil Wayne- one of the best albums of the year, but seriously, do you see it winning with the panel form the Jurassic era running the show? Ne-Yo is a mere tot, and his album is the weakest of the five. It comes down to Coldplay and Plant and Krauss. I’m giving it to Plant and Krauss. Because they are freaking awesome! And T-Bone Burnett produced this gem of covers.

Best New Artist
Adele
Duffy
Jonas Brothers
Lady Antebellum
Jazmine Sullivan

Who will win? Don’t be surprised if the Jonas Brothers did, because despite myself, I give begrudging respect to fifteen year old Nick, who writes those songs, and his clear gift for melody. Who should win? Adele. That girl sings from her toes, and that voice is so freakin’ soulful, she makes Amy Winehouse sound like she’s the lead singer from Bread.

Record of the Year
Adele, “Chasing Pavements”
Coldplay, “Viva la Vida”
Leona Lewis, “Bleeding Love”
M.I.A., “Paper Planes”
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, “Please Read the Letter”

When you see my year end lists, three of these songs are in my top twenty five. Clearly this one is one of them.

Song of the Year
Estelle (featuring Kanye West), “American Boy”
Adele, “Chasing Pavements”
Jason Mraz, “I’m Yours”
Sara Bareilles, “Love Song”
Coldplay, “Viva la Vida”

Yeah, I know. Mraz is more interesting, Adele’s  is the best of the lot, Bareilles’ was everywhere, and Estelle’s should break her here ( seriously, she’s another Brit beauty with a voice like a sodding angel). But Coldplay’s anthemic piano pop is what Grammy voters eat up. And they’re Coldplay- the biggest band on the planet when U2 is on vaycay.

Best Alternative Music Album
Beck, Modern Guilt
Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs
Gnarls Barkley, The Odd Couple
My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges
Radiohead, In Rainbows

Um… duh, yeah. Jeez. MMJ is a close second.

It’s a pretty safe bet that if they’re nominated in the big categories, they should win the subs- Coldplay in rock and pop, Lil Wayne in Rap, and so on.

Question- why is Beyonce nominated for ” Me Myself and I”? Wasn’t that on her first solo album back five years ago? Did I miss something?

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