Monday, February 6, 2017

The Grammy's Are Coming--Part 1 (2017)

I was hoping to get to this a while ago, but life has kept me from being able to listen to a lot of new music. Plus, this year the top four categories are filled with selections that were under my radar. It's been interesting to review these for sure. There were a few "oh, that song" moments, as well as "really?" moments as well. Last year I was 3 for 4 in the big four categories--Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist. I'm not so sure about beating that this year, but we'll see.

The first category I reviewed was Song of the Year. As a reminder, this is an award to the songwriters, and it is based on the lyrics themselves, not necessarily the recording and production of the song. I'm skeptical that the overall production doesn't factor into the judging, but on the surface, the nominations suggest that these songs are considered independent from the recordings. Not all of them appear in both categories.

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"Formation," recorded by Beyoncé
Songwriters: Khalif Brown, Asheton Hogan, Beyoncé Knowles, and Michael L. Williams II
Album: Lemonade

This song is the lead single on a pretty powerful album. The message is powerful, calling women together "in formation" to stand strong and fight the patriarchy. She completely and without apology embraces her "blackness," the complicated heritage of blacks in America, black culture, and the controversial imagery to come out of post-Katrina New Orleans. I admit that I am not familiar with the "deeper cuts" on Beyoncé's previous albums, but this track stands out to me as something with more depth. I'm not sure how it will all play out with the voters, especially considering how this is a song that has been embraced by social movements such as Black Lives Matter. The Grammy's haven't been shy in the past about rewarding activism, though.

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"Hello," recorded by Adele.
Songwriters: Adele Adkins and Greg Kurstin
Album: 25

This song was released so long ago that I had to shake out the cobwebs to remember it. Although, the endless spoofs of the song and the nature to overplay hits on the radio make it impossible to completely forget. Honestly, this is not my favorite Adele song, and I'm not sure if that's because her music tends to be very similar or if I just really didn't like it as much. There is no doubt that she is a great songwriter, and her lyrics are very well-suited to whatever message she is trying to convey.

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"I Took A Pill In Ibiza," performed by Mike Posner.
Songwriter: Mike Posner
Album: The Truth

It's interesting that this song was released a couple of years ago, but then it was remixed by a Swedish house band, SeeB, and got a bunch of attention. The song is the same lyrically, but I guess radio play matters. It's a remarkably honest song from a musician that has definitely struggled. Posner's written a lot of hits for other people, but this is one of his first big hits for himself. I was a fan of the song earlier in the summer when it was getting a lot of play, and I'm still a fan now.

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"Love Yourself," recorded by Justin Bieber.
Songwriters:  Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin, and Ed Sheeran
Album: Purpose

I don't remember when, but Justin Bieber performed this at some awards show, and I was amused, but not impressed. Part of it is the difficulty I have taking him seriously at all, but I will give him credit for maturing and trying to reinvent himself. It's not half-bad, but does come off as a sort of mediocre break-up song. It's petty and lacks much depth. I'm a little surprised Ed Sheeran wrote it since it's not as deep as his usual fare, but I'm not surprised it got scrapped from Sheeran's third studio album before being picked up by Bieber.

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"7 Years," recorded by Lukas Graham
Songwriters: Lukas Forchhammer, Stefan Forrest, Morten Pilegaard, Morten Ristorp
Album: Lukas Graham (Blue Album)

Lukas Graham is a Danish pop band, who before I started listening to do these reviews, I would have assumed was a solo artist. Anyway, this song has some serious depth. I was pretty amazed overall. The message was consistent and progresses nicely through the entire track, which makes the overal lyricism of the song pretty great. When I get a chance, I will definitely need to see what else they've done.

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My choice: This one is tough this year. There are several songs here that I like, but not one that jumps out as the best in my mind. If I had to pick one, I guess I'd go with "7 Years," but that could change in the next five minutes if I were to hear a different song on the radio.

My prediction: With all that's going on in the world right now, coupled with how many hip-hop and R&B artists are being recognized in the big categories this year, I think this may be a Beyoncé kind of year. And it would definitely be deserving--no Kanye campaigning necessary.

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Next Up, Best New Artist


Jimmy said...

Oh man I love it when you post about music.

It'll be so hard not to acknowledge Beyonce in every category she's nominated. She's past being a pop music scene artist--she's defining pop music right now. Like NPR put it, she's "having her Madonna moment." I guess I'm still prudish enough to hope she doesn't win this one simply because I find some of those lyrics distasteful. And yet I respect her as an artist and that album as a magnum opus.

I never thought I'd say this, but Justin B's "Love Yourself" was my favorite song of the year. The simplicity of it. If you see him perform it live, just Justin and his guitar, and that guy with the harmonica--with some thoughts that he sings out loud-- that's music to me. Not over singing every note like you're competing with Whitney Houston. Just a simple song with a nice melody. Kind of what you could count on from country western before it went off the rails and started sounding techno.

Adele is talented. But I'm tired of it.

I think it'll go to 7 Years. Probably because they'll have voted for Beyonce everywhere else.

Dr. Mark said...

I can see your point about "Love Yourself." Sometimes I think he gets a lot of credit because he's in the "reinvention" stage, but the song's not bad. Not going to win, but a better offering than he's had in the past.

I hear you on Beyonce. There may be Beyonce fatigue in the voting by this category, but who knows? I'd love to be shocked to be right in this category.

The Magic Violinist said...

I'm pretty sure "7 Years" is my favorite, too (although Adele being so overplayed definitely plays a factor in me not liking the song as much). If Beyoncé won, I wouldn't be surprised or upset. I can see her winning a lot this year.

Boquinha said...

This is so much more fun than sports predictions.

I like hearing everyone's thoughts in the comments, too. I personally like "7 years" best. It's between that one and Beyonce, I'll bet.