Why should you care about the Grammy Awards? Very valid question. But let’s face it: as the Writer’s Strike threatens to shut down more and more red carpet events, the 50th Annual Grammies may be the only constant in this year’s lagging awards season. In that light, the following is the ninth installment in my three-week countdown to February 10. Read below for my picks & pans in one of 2008’s many Grammy categories.
The award: Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance
Past five winners: Bob Dylan (“Someday Baby”); Bruce Springsteen (“Devils & Dust”); Bruce Springsteen (“Code of Silence”); Pink/Dave Matthews (“Trouble”/“Gravedigger”)
“Only Mama Knows,” Paul McCartney
“Our Country,” John Mellencamp
“Radio Nowhere,” Bruce Springsteen
“Come On,” Lucinda Williams
Who’s Missing: Eddie Vedder. We’ve already covered how the frontman for Pearl Jam got screwed out of the Academy noms; his lack of love in this Grammy category is adding injury to insult. Best Solo Rock Vocal usually goes to a folksy acoustic performance — note past wins for Dylan, Springsteen, and even Dave Matthews. Vedder’s “Guaranteed,” from the Into the Wild soundtrack, is exactly that. But instead, all he has to show for his 2007 work is a Golden Globe, with no shot at an Oscar or a Grammy. It’s kind of like he lost the Super Bowl but picked up an Espy.
Who Shouldn’t Be There: The old guys, but all for different reasons. Springsteen’s “Radio Nowhere” is a blatant rip of Tommy Tutone’s “Jenny” from 1982. Mellencamp’s “Our Country” is that Chevy single from the artist who railed against corporate sell-outs back in the nineties. And Paul McCartney, the artistic ex-Beatle, sold his 2007 album Memory Almost Full through Starbucks. Rock on, dudes.
Who Should Win: Lucinda Williams. This is another Grammy category that used to be split into Best Male and Best Female Solo Performance, but now it’s just one award. Since the switch in 2005, only one of fifteen nominees has been a woman (Melissa Etheridge for “Breathe” in ’05). There’s a long essay on Grammy sexism to be written here, but the fact of the matter is that Lucinda Williams turns in a performance with more testosterone than this year’s other four nominees combined. That said, “Come On” doesn’t have a chance in hell to win.
Who Will Win: John Mellencamp. First of all, he hasn’t won since 1982 for “Hurts So Good.” And second, he’s being inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame this year. So it’s not an unpopular time to give the guy some recognition.