Archive for the ‘Grammys’ Category

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What if God could vote on the Grammys?

February 3, 2010

We return to our trip down memory lane with a stroll through 1996:

Let’s see, that’s the year Betty Rubble got her own Flintstones vitamin; IBM’s Deep Blue defeated chess master Gary Kasparov; and Hootie & the Blowfish won the Best New Artist Grammy over the likes of Brandy, Alanis Morrisette, Joan Osborne and Shania Twain.

The Columbia, S.C. band led by Darius Rucker scored a diamond certification for their debut album, “Cracked Rear View.” That means it sold at least 10 million records but we think it was more like 16 million. Anyway, that’s why no matter where you went, you couldn’t get away from “Only Wanna Be With You,” “Let Her Cry” and “Hold My Hand.”

Of note, Hootie’s follow-up album, “Fairweather Johnson,” released in 1996, went multi-platinum. Their third album, 1998’s “Musical Chairs,” also went platinum. They released two more studio albums and a few compilations. The band broke up in 2008 when Rucker embarked on a successful  solo career.

Which brings us to 1997: LeAnn Rimes gets the Grammy for Best New Artist over Garbage, Jewel, No Doubt and The Tony Rich Project.

Rimes was just a teenager when the country star hit it big with “Blue,” her debut album. She has sold more than 50 million worldwide. Now. we won’t lie. At the time, we wanted Garbage to get the Grammy, but with only four albums to date — the last one five years ago — it seems like Grammy voters got this one right. Rumor has it the band will release a new album sometime this year.

In 1998, the year Real Quiet won the Kentucky Derby, singer-songwriter Paula Cole won the Grammy for Best New Artist over Fiona Apple, Erykah Badu, Puff Daddy and Hanson.

Cole struck it big with “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” ( off her second album, BTW), but has hardly been heard from since then. We always liked her voice and hope rumors of a 2010 pan out and wish Cole luck. Badu has an album due this year, the “MMMBop” brothers are all married with children, and still making music. Apple hasn’t released an album since 2005 but she has recorded a song here and there. Puff Daddy, who goes by Diddy or whatever the heck he calls himself now, has a new album coming out this year.

1999: Lauryn Hill gets the Grammy over the Backstreet Boys, Andrea Bocelli, Dixie Chicks and Natalie Imbruglia. Gotta say, we like the former Fugee but wonder she has done with her career.

In 2000, Christina Aguilera won the Best New Artist Grammy over fellow Mousketeer Britney Spears and Macy Gray, Kid Rock and Susan Tedeschi.

Honestly, if the Grammy had to go to either Aguilera or Spears, the voters got it right because Aguilera is clearly the more talented singer. She has a terrific voice. That said, it would have been nice if Macy Gray won.

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Best New Artist Awards from 1991-95

February 2, 2010

Here’s a quick recap of the Best New Artist award winners from 1991 to 1995:

1991: Mariah Carey nabbed the award over The Black Crowes, The Kentucky Headhunters, Lisa Stansfield and Wilson Phillips.

We all know what happened to Mariah. Her career is a fair argument against the so-called curse for winners.  We like to see artists who win this at least continue to release music that people will buy. A lot of people. The Black Crowes enjoyed success as well but what about The Kentucky Headhunters?

1992: Marc Cohn won the award this year over Boyz II Men, C+C Music Factory, Color Me Badd, and Seal.

We’re sure a lot of people remember Cohn’s hit “Walking in Memphis,” but we would have voted for Seal back then. Cohn never matched the success of his debut but he continued to release albums, most recently in 2007.

Seal released his last studio album in 2008, and a greatest hits collection last year. Of course, Seal gets more attention these days because he’s married to model Heidi Klum.

1993: Arrested Development, Billy Ray Cyrus, Sophie B. Hawkins, Kris Kross, Jon Secada

Arrested Development scored a gold record with their follow-up to their multi-platinum selling “3 years, 5 months & 2 Days in the Life of…” debut but they haven’t matched the success since . Then again, how many artists do? At least they continue to make records. They released their ninth album, “Strong,” last year.

[If we  may digress: Although they didn’t sell enough music to register a pulse on the Grammy meter, we would have voted for The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy on the basis of their excellent debut, “Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury.” The album was released in 1992. Thank goodness Michael Franti is still making music.]

1994: Toni Braxton snagged Best New Artist over Belly, Blind Melon, Digable Planets and SWV.

Once again, the winner in this category did not match the success of her debut. Of course, when you sell eight million records with your first album, that’s a high standard to break. Braxton kept busy and has been successful, not counting her legal issues. She is expected to release a new album this year.

1995: Sheryl Crow was the Grammy winner for Best New Artist over Ace of Base, Counting Crows, Crash Test Dummies and Green Day.

Crow was obviously a good choice back then as her career has demonstrated, but we wonder if Grammy voters might have underestimated Green Day. They’ve proven themselves to be among rock’s top acts and won a Grammy for Best Rock Album this year.

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And the Grammy Award for Best New Artist goes to…..

February 1, 2010

In case you missed it, the Zac Brown Band won the Grammy for Best New Artist.

According to the Grammy Web site, the Best New Artist Grammy is given to “a new artist who releases, during the eligibility year, the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist.” I don’t know if this has always been the criteria used for the award, but it explains why an artist like Silversun Pickups can be nominated for an award when they released their first work back  in 2005. Basically, it’s a way for the “experts” who pull together the nominations to say, “Er, yeah, sorry we’ve missed you for the last four years or so, but we know who you are now, so welcome to the club.”

Anyway, that got us thinking about how the best new artist award is considered, by some, as a sort of curse. Kind of like winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and going on to star in “Snow Dogs” and “Norbit” a few years later. Anyway, we wanted to look at some of the past award winners in this category and see where they are today. So here goes:

1985: Cyndi Lauper won the award over Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Judds, Sheila E. and Corey Hart.

While Lauper has matched the success of her 1983 hit “She’s So Unusual,” she’s kept busy writing and recording music and doing some acting.

1986: Sade won the award over nominees a-ha, Freddie Jackson, Katrina and the Waves and Julian Lennon.

Sade was the deserving winner among this group, as much as we like a-ha (One of our favorite cover songs EVER is Morten Harket’s take on “Can’t Take My Eyes off You.” Sorry, it’s only available on the out-of-print “Coneheads” soundtrack.) Anyway, we only wish Sade wouldn’t wait so long between albums (spoiler alert: “Soldier of Love” expected to be released on Feb. 9, 2010.)

1987:  Bruce Hornsby & The Range gets the Grammy over fellow nominees Glass Tiger, Nu Shooz, Simply Red and Timbuk3.

Wow, 1987 was a lousy year for new music – Hornsby and Simply Red aside.  The future wasn’t so bright for all of these nominees. We must have been too busy listening to “The Joshua Tree”  and crying over The Smiths’ break-up to notice what else was going on. (OK, just kidding. Some people we know will say Hey, what about “Hysteria?” And “Faith” And “Music for the Masses?”)

Hornsby, a multi-faceted musician who plays a variety of genres, is still going strong, though he never matched the success of “The Way It Is.”

1988: Jody Watley get the hardware over fellow nominees Breakfast Club, Cutting Crew, Terence Trent D’Arby and Swing Out Sister.

Jody Watley was good but we really liked Terence Trent D’Arby, who changed his name to Sananda Maitreya in 2001. We sold a lot of stereos and albums at Sears back in the day playing “Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby.”

Watley released her ninth studio album in 2006 and is a record producer and  music label mogul. She is expected to release her 10th album, “Chameleon,” sometime this year as an independent release.

1989: Tracy Chapman get the gold over Rick Astley, Toni Childs, Take 6, and Vanessa L. Williams.

Chapman, of course, struck gold, er, muti-platinum with her debut album. That’s a hard mark to hit twice and she almost did, in 1995, with “New Beginning,” but not quite. Still, she continues to write and record music. Her most recent release was 1988’s  “Our Bright Future,” which hit gold.

Astley, of course, would go on to become an Internet phenomenon, thanks to the delightful fun of rickrolling. 

We’re going to end with 1990, that’s the year Milli Vanilli won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist over Neneh  Cherry, Indigo Girls, Soul II Soul and Tone Loc. Of course, the duo, fronted by Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, were later stripped of the award when it was discovered they did not sing the lead vocals. A runner-up winner was never chosen, though we liked Cherry and Soul II Soul.

More Grammy moments tomorrow.

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We’re back….

February 1, 2010

Last night was the 52nd annual Grammy Awards.  Taylor Swift’s pure, adolescent joy at winning the big one, Album of the Year, was a treat. The 20-year-old sensation’s reaction to snagging the night’s top award was sweet and refreshing. Thank God Kanye West wasn’t there to ruin it for her. She had a great year in 2009 and we hope she challenges herself and the expectations of her fans for years to come. Congratulations.