And the Grammy should (or shouldn’t) go to…

It’s incredible how many awards are actually handed out at the Grammys and there’s always one artist that seems to get overlooked. Then there are the years where a sweep jump starts someone’s career and leads to years and years of great music… look at Bonnie Raitt.
Everybody has their own opinion but if I were picking some of this years winners, these are who I’d choose to take home an award on February 10.

Best New Artist

* Feist

* Ledisi
* Par
* Taylor Swift
* Amy Winehouse

Yes, Leslie Feist got a lot of exposure with the Apple iPod nano commercial but of the nominees she’s the most interesting and her big hit song this year is nowhere near as annoying as my second choice Amy Winehouse with “Rehab.”

Best Pop Instrumental Performance

* Off The Grid
Beastie Boys

* Paris Sunrise #7
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals

* Over The Rainbow
Dave Koz

* One Week Last Summer
Joni Mitchell

* Simple Pleasures
Spyro Gyra

As much as I love that Joni Mitchell put out a new album this year, instead of revamped classics I felt it was a little bit lacking somewhere. Not that it’s not a beautiful set of songs because it is, and it does deserve a Grammy.

Song Of The Year

* Before He Cheats
Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins, songwriters (Carrie Underwood)

* Hey There Delilah
Tom Higgenson, songwriter (Plain White T’s)

* Like A Star
Corinne Bailey Rae, songwriter (Corinne Bailey Rae)

* Rehab
Amy Winehouse, songwriter (Amy Winehouse)

* Umbrella
Shawn Carter, Kuk Harrell, Terius “Dream” Nash & Christopher Stewart,
songwriters (Rihanna Featuring Jay-Z)

I don’t have a problem with any of the songs on this list, they’re all catchy and make for good pop songs but I particularly love Corinne Bailey Rae’s voice and I think she’s been overlooked a lot because she’s not constantly drawing attention to herself.

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance

* Candyman
Christina Aguilera

* 1234

* Big Girls Don’t Cry

* Say It Right
Nelly Furtado

* Rehab
Amy Winehouse

1234 is my pick because it stands out as being different and has good lyrics and an overall catchy melody. Plus I think it spans a few musical bridges bringing indie and mainstream together.

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance

* Everything
Michael Bublé

* Belief
John Mayer

* Dance Tonight
Paul McCartney

* Amazing

* What Goes Around…Comes Around
Justin Timberlake

Really, I’m just glad that Paul McCartney came around and started doing the type of music he does best, it’s worked this long so why mess with a good thing? Plus, it reminds me of something that should have been in the “Tropical Island Hum” series with dancing frogs and birds.

Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals

* (You Want To) Make A Memory
Bon Jovi

* Home

* Makes Me Wonder
Maroon 5

* Hey There Delilah
Plain White T’s

* Window In The Skies

Hey There Delilah is nice because it’s not so heavily produced and layered and it feels more like a group vocal effort.

Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals

* Steppin’ Out
Tony Bennett & Christina Aguilera

* Beautiful Liar
Beyoncé & Shakira

* Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On)
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss

* The Sweet Escape
Gwen Stefani & Akon

* Give It To Me
Timbaland Featuring Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake

Really now, who saw this pairing coming? It almost sounds too weird to work but somehow they really blend in a great way.

Best Pop Vocal Album

* Lost Highway
Bon Jovi

* The Reminder

* It Won’t Be Soon Before Long
Maroon 5

* Memory Almost Full
Paul McCartney

* Back To Black
Amy Winehouse

This one’s a tie because I don’t want to deny that Amy Winehouse did put out a good album but really, if I had to choose one to take to an island, it’d be Feist’s The Reminder.

Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance

* Timebomb

* Only Mama Knows
Paul McCartney

* Our Country
John Mellencamp

* Radio Nowhere
Bruce Springsteen

* Come On
Lucinda Williams

While Lucinda’s album is great and so are Paul’s and Mellencamp’s but it concerns me that Our Country has country and rock versions that don’t sound that different and really, I think “Radio Nowhere” sums up what a rock song is where as the others don’t quite fit.

Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals

* It’s Not Over

* Working Class Hero
Green Day

* If Everyone Cared

* Instant Karma

* Icky Thump
The White Stripes

The biggest issue with this set of tunes is that two of them come from the same CD and are John Lennon covers, neither of which I was particularly in love with. Yes, the cause was good but not too sure about the execution. “Icky Thump” wins over the others because it’s the White Stripes, with a little polish and shine.

Best Rock Song

* Come On
Lucinda Williams, songwriter (Lucinda Williams)

* Icky Thump
Jack White, songwriter (The White Stripes)

* It’s Not Over
Chris Daughtry, Gregg Wattenberg, Mark Wilkerson & Brett Young, songwriters (Daughtry)

* The Pretender
Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel & Chris Shiflett, songwriters (Foo

* Radio Nowhere
Bruce Springsteen, songwriter (Bruce Springsteen)

On a lyrical basis, I think they’re both good. I lean more towards the Boss, but I can’t help it.

Best Rock Album

* Daughtry

* Revival
John Fogerty

* Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
Foo Fighters

* Magic
Bruce Springsteen

* Sky Blue Sky

Of this group, Magic is the only one that I’d put in my cd changer or listen to more than once or twice.

Best Female Country Vocal Performance

* Simple Love
Alison Krauss

* Famous In A Small Town
Miranda Lambert

* Nothin’ Better To Do
LeAnn Rimes

* Before He Cheats
Carrie Underwood

* Heaven, Heartache And The Power Of Love
Trisha Yearwood

Alison is the winner hands down in this contest, there’s a reason she’s got a few shelves worth of trophies already (She holds the record for most Grammys awarded to a female solo artist). LeAnn Rimes is second but I’m not sure that Carrie Underwood owned “Before He Cheats” very well, I would not have guessed she was singing and actually thought it was Miranda Lambert the first time I heard it on the radio.

Best Country Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals

* Proud Of The House We Built
Brooks & Dunn

* How Long

* Moments
Emerson Drive

* Lucky Man
Montgomery Gentry

* Sweet Memories
The Time Jumpers

I actually don’t have a pick for this category, I just wanted to take a moment to point out that the Eagles really just aren’t country and I lost count of their farewell tours.

Best Country Collaboration With Vocals

* Days Aren’t Long Enough
Steve Earle & Allison Moorer

* Because Of You
Reba McEntire & Kelly Clarkson

* I Need You
Tim McGraw & Faith Hill

* Lost Highway
Willie Nelson & Ray Price

* Oh Love
Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood

I’m not sure that I would call Steve Earle and Allison Moorer a pairing that doesn’t usually perform together, same thing with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. If these two married couples are in the collaboration category then it would stand to reason that John and Yoko or Buddy and Julie Miller or even Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris (they weren’t married but they floated in between each other’s albums). Yet, it’s not important because Willie and Ray Price did a great job on a great song.

Best Southern, Country, Or Bluegrass Gospel Album

* Amazing Grace
Bill & Gloria Gaither And The Homecoming Friends

* Journey Of Joy
Karen Peck And New River

* Everybody’s Brother
Billy Joe Shaver

* Salt Of The Earth
Ricky Skaggs & The Whites

* Tell Someone
Kenny & Amanda Smith Band

* I’ll Fly Away: Country Hymns & Songs Of Faith
Various Artists
Ed Cash, producer

Comparing these two albums is a little like apples and oranges. “Salt of the Earth” is a very traditional gospelgrass take that brings together a good church gathering and some of the best pickers and harmonizers to sit under a tree on a sunny day. “Everybody’s Brother” is more of a rainy day, reflective and personal look at gospel. Billy Joe Shaver’s sincerity is one of his best qualities as a performer.

Best Traditional Folk Album

* Try Me One More Time
David Bromberg

* Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John
Peter Case

* Banjo Talkin’
Cathy Fink

* Dirt Farmer
Levon Helm

* Charlie Louvin
Charlie Louvin

While Bromberg’s album is the most folk-y sounding, the lack of original material especially after 17 years of nothing new is disappointing. Cathy Fink’s “Banjo Talkin'” and Charlie Louvin’s albums felt more bluegrass than folk. Both very good albums but Levon Helm’s album combines some great songs, guest appearances and harmonies with his daughters to make a nice sound.

Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album

* The Calling
Mary Chapin Carpenter

* My Name Is Buddy
Ry Cooder

* Washington Square Serenade
Steve Earle

* Children Running Through
Patty Griffin

* Orphans
Tom Waits

Yes, I am biased about Patty, but at the same time her album is amazing. It’s brought her a whole new audience and is very different than the others she’s released but she maintains the qualities that drew in earlier fans. Also, she was passed over with “1000 Kisses” and deserves another chance.

How the winners are chosen

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