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 eleventh installment in my three-week countdown to February 10. Read below for my picks & pans in one of ’08’s many Grammy categories.
The award: Best Rock Album
Past five winners: Red Hot Chili Peppers (Stadium Arcadium); U2 (How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb); Green Day (American Idiot); Foo Fighters (One By One); Bruce Springsteen (The Rising)
Revival, John Fogerty
Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, Foo Fighters
Magic, Bruce Springsteen
Sky Blue Sky, Wilco
Who’s Missing: The Grammy voters — notorious for nominating the most popular music over the best popular music — left three huge hitters out of this year’s Rock Album category: Fall Out Boy (Infinity on High), Linkin Park (Minutes to Midnight) and Avril Lavigne (The Best Damn Thing). They also ignored critical favorites Queens of the Stone Age (Era Vulgaris) and Nine Inch Nails (Year Zero); although, to be fair, so did the mass public.
Who Shouldn’t Be There: Wilco. Don’t get me wrong; Sky Blue Sky is a fantastic record, it’s just in the wrong group. Nominated as a Rock Album, it has no shot at winning a Grammy. But placed in the Best Alternative Album category — where Wilco won for A Ghost is Born in 2004 — it has more than a chance to take home a golden record. One has to wonder what morphs an alternative band into a rock band in the eyes of Grammy voters. It’s kind of reminiscent of how the Killers lost to Green Day in ’05 in this category, as the Killers are an alternative band that plays primarily synthesizers and wears eye-makeup. (Although Green Day wear eye makeup too.)
Who Should Win: Bruce Springsteen. Magic has all the elements that Grammy voters love: critics waxed hyperbolic when it came out in October (including five stars from Rolling Stone); it achieved commercial success in topping the Billboard Chart; and it comes from a Grammy all star — Springsteen has won 14 awards since ’84. In fact, this year’s biggest Grammy shock was that Bruce wasn’t nominated for Album of the Year.
Who Will Win: Going by Grammy history, this is a tough call. Typically, Grammy voters nominate one rock album for Album of the Year — in 2008, it’s the Foo Fighters. This album rarely takes home Album of the Year, but it naturally becomes the winner of Best Rock Album as a sort of “consolation” prize. In fact, the only time this pattern hasn’t repeated in the last decade was 2004, when Evanescence’s Fallen lost in both the Album of the Year and Best Rock Album categories. Who won Best Rock, you ask? The Foo Fighters for One By One. So in a just universe, the Foo Fighters would lose both Album of the Year and Best Rock Album this year, giving the Rock reward to Bruce Springsteen. But the Grammies ain’t fair. (Evidence: Dave Grohl won one Grammy with Nirvana; he’s won four with the Foo Fighters.) For that reason, I’m voting Foo for Best Rock Album.