Friday, December 9, 2011

The Year in Music: 2011

It's that time of year again - when I have nothing better to do than to recap my taste in pop culture from the preceding 300-some-odd days. Last December, I simply listed my top 20 favorites songs of 2010, but in prior years, I had compiled my votes for the Grammy Awards. No, not the actual Grammy's...because they don't really ask my opinion on those. I went ahead and created the "Jerammies" - a cheesy take-off on the real awards, based on my own oddball musical preferences. I decided to revert back to that idea for 2011, but this time, I'm actually sharing my choices with you all (or tormenting you with them, depending on how you look at it). I've selected several of the more mainstream Grammy categories, and tried to remain true to the actual meaning behind the category names (which the actual Grammy voters never seem to do). This year's posts are replete with actual widgets from the Grooveshark site, which will allow you to listen to the songs I've foisted upon you. Wow, see how remarkably technologically inclined I've become?! In any case, in some instances, my selections this year seem to be uncharacteristically in line with the real nominations (I compiled my list before they were announced), but there are still several obscure gems that I feel should have gotten much more exposure. So, without any further babbling, here is the first category.

Rock Performance
The Grammy's condensed some categories this year, including eliminating the separation of solo and group rock performances. I have followed along with the changes here on my blog. Keep in mind, this category is supposed to highlight the best vocal performances in the rock genre. Again, the Grammy voters never seem to take this into consideration, instead just picking their favorite songs. In my mind, vocal performance is not only about who can belt out the loudest and longest, although that helps. It also encompasses matching the right type of voice with the right song, and other more subtle characteristics of the overall performance. That having been said, there is nothing SUBTLE about my pick for the winner in this category (highlighted in blue italics) - it was easily the most clear-cut decision I made in any of the categories. The nominees are:

Slave to the Grind - Halestorm
Lead singer, Lzzy Hale, is one of rock's best kept secrets. I don't know why Halestorm didn't make a bigger splash with their debut album, but this year's Reanimate - The Covers EP provided a few standout tracks to hold me over until their sophomore effort comes out. Chief among them: Heart's "All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You," Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance," and this rip-your-face-off take on the amazing Skid Row screamer from 1991. Sebastian Bach was perhaps the greatest vocalist of the hair band era, and Lzzy Hale unbelievably almost matches him note for every throat-destroying note on this remake. And, if you check out any live clips on Youtube, you'll see this is no trick of studio engineering; she HITS the notes. Overall, the recording is not an improvement on the original, but the vocal performance deserves to be recognized for what it is: stunning.

The Fire - Rev Theory
The Ballad of Mona Lisa - Panic! at the Disco
Stand - Ed Kowalczyk (ex-lead singer, Live)
Walk - Foo Fighters
Lost in Paradise - Evanescence

Jerammies 2011 by Jeremy Sand on Grooveshark

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