Originally published in Sunday Magazine in February 2012.
2012 Grammy Nominees – Universal Republic Records (2012)
Every year, the Grammys try to put together about a score of songs that they think every music fan would enjoy. The reality that they fail to acknowledge is that some music, no matter how immensely popular, will always not be liked by all.
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences picks nominees for a vast audience of listeners who take interest in several genres. When it comes to picking even fewer of these nominees for their compilation album, the Academy clearly goes for the ones that have sold the best. Even among the indie/folk hits such as Bon Iver’s ‘Halocene’ and ‘The Cave’ by Mumford & Sons. Interestingly, since last year saw Arcade Fire go home with the album of the year for ‘The Suburbs’, these indie artists are the ones to watch out for.
Besides promotional purposes, the Grammys nominees’ album puts together a list of the best-selling songs of each of the popular nominations. What makes it different from any Top 40 list is its criteria. The Academy chooses songs that have performed well on the charts not just for one week, but for an entire year. This includes Lady Gaga’s ‘You and I’, Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ and Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’.
On the pop rock front, the Foo Fighters – with ‘Walk’ being nominated – have certainly proved to be Grammy favourites, while Coldplay’s happy tune ‘Paradise’ is also in the running. Even then, there is something wrong about having the Black Keys nominated for a two-minute-long cover of Buddy Holly’s ‘Dearest’, when they were better remembered for songs such as ‘Lonely Boy’ from their December 2011 release ‘El Camino’. One supposes the album released on a date that deemed it ineligible to be considered for a nomination, so the Academy did the next best thing – got their name out there anyway.
Artists such as Skrillex (‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites’) and Foster the People (‘Pumped up Kicks’) seem to stick out when grouped together with other artists. Country artists such as Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum – another darling of the Grammys – and Blake Shelton are covered with good range, lest the Academy anger the southern United States.
Like all compilation albums, the Grammy nominees disc does have some sort of flow, but I have heard of very few people who jump from Foster the People to Skrillex, and then to Coldplay on their playlist (and if you do, hats off to people like you). And ending with Tony Bennett’s collaboration with Amy Winehosue doesn’t help much.