Saturday, December 13, 2008

2008 Real Grammy Awards

The year in music is, for all intents and purposes, over. I have to say that as far as my particular tastes go, it wasn't the greatest year for music overall. But here are my picks for the best of. If you want some reference as to why I am posting this, please refer to my original Real Grammy Awards post from February 2008, for a detailed explanation.

This time around, I've created some new categories because, well, these are my awards and I can do as I please. I took the various pop vocal categories and combined them into Best Vocal Performance...male, female, group, whatever. It is exactly what it says...not necessarily the best songs or artists, but best vocal performance. Only two rock categories...Rock Album, and then Rock Performance, which takes into account the quality of the songwriting, production, "catchiness" and vocals...combining elements of the record, song and vocal categories at the traditional Grammy Awards. Best and Worst Live Performance are taken from my concert-going experiences this year. Best Surprise details those artists whose releases I either wasn't aware of, wasn't overly excited about or was expecting to be somewhat "eh" but who turned out to release solid albums. Worst Surprise exposes those whose albums I was looking forward to and turned out to be duds.

So here we go...

Record of the Year
I Can’t Hold You – Dan Wilson
Light On – David Cook
What About Now – Daughtry

Broken – Lifehouse
Underneath – Alanis Morissette
Sweet and Low – Augustana
Pork & Beans – Weezer
Rise Above This – Seether
Won’t Go Home Without You – Maroon 5
Inside the Fire – Disturbed

(I'm calling a tie because I just couldn't decide between these two, so it's an American Idol coup here.)

Song of the Year
Ordinary – Tim Warren & Eric Donnelly (The Alternate Routes)
Shine – Anna Nalick
Pork & Beans – Rivers Cuomo (Weezer)
Underneath – Alanis Morissette & Guy Sigsworth (Alanis Morissette)
Broken – Jason Wade (Lifehouse)
Grace – Jonathan Kingham

(Songwriters listed...performer in parentheses if different. Phenomenal song from a phenomenal album. For some ungodly reason, they had to create a special "radio re-mix" for the commercial single. What was wrong with the original?)

Album of the Year
3 Doors Down – 3 Doors Down
Forever More - Tesla
Light It Up – Rev Theory
District Line – Bob Mould
Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt – Augustana
Flavors of Entanglement – Alanis Morissette
Heavy Weighs the King – I Nine

(Perfect blend of melodies, harmonies, pop, rock, thoughtful lyrics, and everything else needed to be the find of the year. See "Best Surprise" category for more.)

Best New Artist
Rev Theory
Jonathan Kingham
David Cook
Jordin Sparks

(It was a real stretch to even include this category this year. Not a great year for new artists in my book. Rev Theory wins a landslide here. The other three I only included because they each had a couple good songs and they'

Vocal Performance
Grace – Jonathan Kingham
Where Will You Go – Kip Winger
I Can’t Hold You – Dan Wilson
Light On – David Cook
Forever – Live
Tattoo – Jordin Sparks
Broken – Lifehouse
Stand – Candlebox
Not As We – Alanis Morissette
What About Now – Daughtry
Star – Extreme
Shine – Anna Nalick
Sweet and Low – Augustana
In This Life – Delta Goodrem

(Didn't care for much of the album, but the guy can sing. Kudos to Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame and new go-to songwriter, Brian Howes, for co-writing a great song that showcases Cook's abilities.)

Rock Performance
Inside the Fire – Disturbed
Stand – Candlebox

Star – Extreme
Rise Above This – Seether
Nine Lives – Def Leppard
Let It Die – Foo Fighters
Pork & Beans – Weezer
Saints of Los Angeles – Motley Crue

(Didn't know these guys were coming back, wouldn't have cared, never liked their old kick ass rock song.)

Rock Album
3 Doors Down – 3 Doors Down
Forever More - Tesla
Light It Up – Rev Theory
Songs From the Sparkle Lounge – Def Leppard
Chinese Democracy – Guns N’ Roses
Into the Sun – Candlebox

(After a career of radio-friendly hits that I enjoyed for the most part, but that never overwhelmed me, 3 Doors Down surprised me with a solid album of rock tunes. Of course, it turns out to be their worst-selling album to date.)

Worst Song
Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis
No One – Alicia Keys
Love Song – Sara Bareilles
Pocketful of Sunshine – Natasha Bedingfield
Realize – Colbie Caillat
Too Drunk – Buckcherry
Teardrops on My Guitar – Taylor Swift
Say – John Mayer
All Summer Long – Kid Rock
Boots of Chinese Plastic – The Pretenders
Mercy – Duffy
New Soul – Yael Naim
Something in Your Mouth – Nickelback
That’s Not My Name – The Ting Tings
Chasing Pavements - Adele
Empty Walls – Serj Tankian

(In what was overall a mediocre year for Jeremy music, I couldn't pick one standout shitbomb this year. In her defense, Fergie did have singles out this year, but I am not familiar with them. I'm sure they sucked worse than anything on this list though.)

Best Live Performance
Bon Jovi – MGM Grand Arena
Puddle of Mudd/Cinder Road – The Joint
Poison/Sebastian Bach/Dokken – The Pearl
Toad the Wet Sprocket – House of Blues
Shaw-Blades – Aliante Station Hotel & Casino

(Took a chance and broke my rule about not paying more than $40 for a concert. Great move. After 22 years, I figured it was time to give Bon Jovi a shot, since I really liked their latest CD. For $76, I got a lengthy 2 hours plus of awesome hit songs, great vocals, great energy, great song selection...hands down best of the year.)

Worst Live Performance
Live – House of Blues
Daughtry – MGM Grand Garden Arena
Natasha Bedingfield/The Veronicas – House of Blues
Alanis Morissette – The Joint

(I took a chance on an artist I don't really like...mostly because I wanted to see the opening act. Turns out, they both sucked fish. The Veronicas song selection was awful and Nastaha Bedingfield is just a bunch of noise in my opinion. The only concert I've ever walked out on in the middle. In Bedingfield's defense, I am not her audience, so I'm probably not best qualified to judge her music.)

(1/17/09 EDIT TO THE ABOVE) - how did I forget the Warrant fiasco of last summer? A disgustingly inebriated Jani Lane warbling through the lyrics to an entire set's worth of 80's hard rock tunes. My apologies to Ms. Bedingfield...obviously Warrant takes the cake in this category. Hers was only the worst SOBER live performance.

Best Surpise
Guns N’ Roses
Alanis Morissette
3 Doors Down
Bob Mould
The OffSpring

(Guns, Tesla and Offspring have all had awesome albums before. Alanis and 3 Doors have had songs here and there I thought were awesome. Candlebox's CD was really 4 amazing songs with the rest being just OK. So it came down to Mould and Augustana. I wasn't aware that either was releasing new CD's this year until they were out. Augustana's hit single "Boston" from their first CD was OK...but the album didn't really resonate with me. See the "Album of the Year" category for more on why this was the surprise find for me.)

Worst Surprise
Suzie McNeil
Theory of a Deadman
Snow Patrol

(In fairness, I didn't listen to all the full songs from all these CDs. But, from what I did hear, they all clearly missed the mark in my book. I simply had the highest expectations for McNeil's sophomore effort (see February's Grammy blog post). For some reason the "na-na" cheerleader sound that Avril Lavigne utilized on her latest album, seems to be in vogue. McNeil needs to go back to the kick-ass power pop and classic rock ballads from her debut. Emphasis on her amazing vocal ability. Not being the principal songwriter on her material, it's possible McNeil doesn't deserve all the credit for the first CD, nor all the blame for this mess.)

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