Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Grammys Are Coming--Part 2 (2017)

Part 1, Song of the Year is done. On to Part 2.

So, last year, I knew 4 of the 5 artists nominated for the Best New Artist Catgory. I had opinions on several, so it was really easy to take a listen and decide what I thought. This year, I have heard of two, and wasn't very familiar with anyone's work. This was challenging for me.

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Kelsea Ballerini

We've found a new country-pop singer-songwriter with a flare for writing catchy tunes about love and heartbreak in Middle America. If I'm being honest, after a certain point I have a hard time deciding how one is different from the next. Ballerini is talented, and she has a knack for writing songs that put her squarely in the middle of what will sell, but she pales in comparison to country artists like Kasey Musgraves. Kasey's songs are harder on the ears for someone who isn't a fan of more traditional country music, but her songwriting is more interesting.

"Peter Pan charted at Number 1 on the U.S. Country charts so I thought I'd include it here. It was probably the best of what I listened to from Ballerini.

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The Chainsmokers

This is a group that I had actually heard of since Max is really into electronic dance music (EDM) and I know he's got a song or two that he likes by The Chainsmokers. They have put out a couple of EPs in the past 2 years, and they do a lot of collaboration, like a lot of the DJs out there do. They are easy to listen to since most of their music is in the house genre rather than some of the more specialized electronic sub-genres.

Here's one of the tracks I listened to. It was one of the songs I enjoyed the most.

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Chance The Rapper

This is one of those artists whose name kept popping up, and I had no clue who he was. In fact, the first time I'd heard anything by Chance, it was a track from the Hamilton Mixtape, and it's not really representative of his style. I listened to his recent album, Coloring Book, and it was last of all the new artists for me to listen to. I wasn't expecting much. From track number 1 I was hooked. He's more than a rapper--he reminds me of a throwback R&B artist from my childhood. He's been bouncing around the industry for a long time, popping up in a lot of recordings as the "featured" artist, but his solo work is really strong. And props to him for doing an entirely streaming release on iTunes, which only recently is allowed to be awarded a Grammy.

So, this track is one of my favorites on the album. From the top I was hooked with a bass line and vocals that could have come straight out of a classic Jackson 5 cut.

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Maren Morris

The first song I heard made me think of Pat Benatar. I easily figured out she was a country artist before getting too far in, but her voice was a bit out of the ordinary for the "typical" Nashville sound. I enjoyed a lot of what she has recorded, and it is a bit more sophisticated than what I usually associate with newcomers in the Country world. There's an edge I appreciate that stops short of the blatantly ridiculous attitude that artists like Carrie Underwood display in an attempt to erase the saccharine image they usually bring initially. I'm not about to run out and buy all her recordings, but I could leave a tune or two on the playlist.

From what I can tell, "My Church" is Morris's biggest hit to date.

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Anderson .Paak

Here is another artist who has been "around" for a long time, writing and producing and collaborating, who is finally breaking out on his own. He is also nominated in the urban category, so I wasn't thinking I'd love what he's done recently. I'm not going to lie and say I like everything I heard. I will say that so much of what .Paak is doing hearkens back to earlier days of hip-hop and R&B, so I'm impressed. As far as I'm concerned, the closer your roots are to Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, and the like, the better for me.

Here is the first track I listened to. I thought to myself, "OK. I can get on board with this guy."

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My Choice: I was going to say Anderson .Paak, and then I heard Chance the Rapper's most recent album. So, yeah, Chance is my choice. I think his recent work is really strong and deserving of attention. I'm just not sure if it will be enough to nab this Grammy. He is nominated for a total of 7 Grammys in a variety of categories.

My Prediction: Maren Morris has already won a CMA for the best new artist, so a Grammy seems a likely fit for me. Her diverse style and a bit more advanced songwriting give her the edge in my opinion.

Next Up, Record of the Year.


Jimmy said...

Yeah, tough category. No one really stands out to me as bringing something groundbreaking to the music scene. I've enjoyed the Chainsmokers. Knowing that Max likes them, I guess they're who I'll be rooting for now.

My prediction is .Paak in the hopes that voters are looking for artistry in the more exotic sense of the word.

Of course any artist that can draw a worthy comparison to the J5 gets bonus points. So I'd be happy to see Chance The Rapper walk away with it, too.

Just not those country artists. Something about that equates to a Trump win in my mind.

Dr. Mark said...

I'm trying to be nicer to the Country world, so I'll chuckle softly to myself. It's really a toss-up to me, so it's one of those "whatever" kind of moments.

The Magic Violinist said...

Most of these were "meh" for me. I didn't love or dislike any of them. Chance is probably the one I'd root for in the end.

Siths and Jedis said...
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Boquinha said...

I like how Jimmy thinks on this - root for Max's favorite! :P

(And I knew Jimmy would give points for that J5 comparison.)

You guys, I have no idea on this one. Remember when Bon Iver won and we were all like, "Who?" Yeah. That. (Also, why don't we ever hear from some of these winners again, it seems?)

Siths and Jedis said...
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Siths and Jedis said...

Anderson .Paak is really cool. I'll have to hear more of his stuff. Chainsmokers have 2 songs on the radio right now, "Don't Let Me Down" and "Closer". Personally, I like "Closer" more than the other ones. I also like "Roses." I am getting kind of tired of the country artists getting more recognition than the others. Esspecially on TV, like American Idol and stuff like that.