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Take a Break from Winter - It's Grammy Time!
on January 22, 2014
The 2014 version of the Grammy Nominees is a solid album. There are a lot of stand-out songs in this collection. "Brave," for example, is brilliant, and it has a powerful social message, too. This year's collection includes some selections that are edgier and riskier than songs included in previous collections. With great risks, the highs can be higher than normal ("Just Give Me a Reason"), but the lows can be lower than normal ("Retrograde").
The songs selected for this CD seemed to represent the different types of music more equally this year than has been the case in the past; previous collections have been more heavily weighted towards the pop charts than those selected this year. The collection also included multiple examples of blended genres ("Highway Don't Care" - country, pop and classic rock, for example), following a growing trend in the music industry.
A short overview of each song follows.
"Locked Out of Heaven," has a 1980's style introduction, and segues into a more modern dance song though the use of sound effects. The song is full of sexual innuendo, and some people (but not me) may consider the lyrics sacrilegious. ***WINNER - Best Pop Album, "Unorthodox Jukebox"***
"Blurred Lines," blends reggae with a 1970's disco beat and current day lingo, and then throws in some rap for good measure. The topic covered here is sexual fantasies about a good girl. The more explicit aspects of the lyrics have been glossed over, giving this song a bit of a blurry effect.
In "Royals," the singers reject the materialism of everyday society. They ( aren't into money or status symbols, and the music cleverly reflects that message. It's very creative. ***WINNER - Best Pop Solo***WINNER - Song of the Year***
"Radioactive" stats off in a peaceful manner, and the music changes dramatically when the singer wakes up to discover a nuclear bomb has gone off. From the time the singer wakes up, the beat is heavy, and the tempo is slow. The background music during the song sounds shaky, like a radio transmission being disrupted by interfering static. The gasping breath, in and then out adds an artistic touch.
"Get Lucky" is a good electronica dance song. The lyrics are sparse and could be interpreted as having a double meaning, the most obvious of the two meanings being the one with the sexual overtones. ***WINNER - Best Pop/Duo Group*** WINNER - Record of the Year"*** ***Winner - Album of the Year***
"Roar" is a fun pop song. I love the use of Mohammad Ali's, "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee," which was very appropriate to the message of the song.
"Mirrors" is a nice, slow pop love song. Justin Timberlake demonstrates his potential as a songwriter, making me wonder what he'll be writing in ten years.
"Brave," is a soft pop song, with an important message about the power of standing up for yourself. Sara Bareilles has an terrific voice that is powerful and full of emotion. Wow!
"Same Love," starts with a simple piano introduction. Profound words of acceptance are voiced over the piano lines in this rap song. Mary Lambert sings each chorus, explaining that she is who she is, and that she loves her girlfriend. The song fades out with a Biblical reference and a soft piano. ***WINNER Best New Artist, Macklemore & Lewis***
"Retrograde," with its heavy dissonance sounds is one of the riskier songs in the collection. Do you like the sound of a balloon, when the air is being allowed to slowly escape from the value? No? Well, I don't like this song because the instrumentals sound like that squealing balloon to me. They just make me cringe. It's a funeral dirge that gasped its last breath and then somebody jumped up and down on it, trying to squeeze the last bit of air out of its lungs. You get the point. To be fair, James Blake sounds like he has a nice voice, but the quality of it is inconsistent in this song.
"Swimming Pools" is an original song, exploring the dangers of alcohol. During the song, Kendrick's conscience "speaks" to him. One of the singers has an extremely deep, bass voice.
"Lego House," is an easy listening song with a bit of a twist. Ed Sheeran sings so quickly during portions of the song that it makes me wonder if he's had training as an auctioneer. This is a beautiful love song.
"Just Give Me a Reason," a duet by Pink and Nate Ruess is one of the strongest songs on the albums. It's not fun! but it's definitely a great song. ;)
"Begin Again," allows Taylor Swift an opportunity to show off her singer/songwriting chops in this pop/country cross-over song about moving on and getting over an old boyfriend.
In a traditional country song, a series of "What is your..." questions are posed. Blake Shelton sings the question, followed by the answer, "Mine Would Be You." That silken voice punches out the lyrics.
It is amazing the number of ways 'Mary' can be used, as shown in "Merry Go `Round." The style of this song is blue-grass, with the sounds of a banjo being plucked. Kacey Musgraves has a sweet voice, softening the gloominess of the lyrics. ***WINNER - Best Country Album***
The song "Highway Don't Care" is another example of a great duet created by the collaboration of two mega-stars. The use of a song within a song is very clever, and I love that electric guitar!
Finally, "Take a Little Ride with You," is a good country song about enjoying the open road in your pickup and your woman.
Take advantage of an opportunity to take a mini-break from the freezing temperatures, buy this CD, and put it on play. With music this good, the temperature won't seem quite so bad.
UPDATED 1/26/2014 with results and additional thoughts
With a staggering number of nominees every year, the list of nominees who were not included on this album is always long. Although I've often wondered why some artists, who seemed like obvious choices were not included, I have always tried to rate the current year's album on the music that is included (which is almost always fabulous), rather than the music that is not included. All of the winners can be seen at the official Grammy dot... website.
In the spirit of recognition of those lost on the cutting room floor, some winners who were not included on the album, but who received their nominations live during the Grammy Awards include:
WINNER - Best Rock Song "Cut Me Some Slack" by Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, Krist Novoselic & Pat Smear.
WINNER - Best Rap/Sung Collaboration "Holy Grail" Jay Z and Beyoncé.
WINNER - Music Educator Award Kent Knappenberger 1st Year awarded. A new and wonderful category! Thanks to all music educators! :)