This year’s Grammy nominations may be as muddled as usual, but the Recording Academy sent at least one straightforward message with the picks it announced Friday night: Rock music didn’t matter in 2013.
No rock albums made the shortlist for the Grammys’ flagship album of the year prize, nor is a rock act among the nominees for best new artist; the rock performance category, meanwhile, is padded with a cut from a live disc documenting Led Zeppelin’s one-off reunion gig.
Compare that to 2012, when Jack White, the Black Keys and Mumford & Sons crowded the album category.
Yet if the academy has decided that rock is dead, its verdict didn’t hold much sway Saturday at the Shrine Auditorium, where L.A.’s KROQ-FM (106.7) presented the first night of its annual Almost Acoustic Christmas extravaganza.
Here a very rowdy capacity crowd had gathered to watch nine bands – including Kings of Leon, Vampire...
By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
The ambitious new set "The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records 1917-1932, Volume 1" comes packaged in a sturdy wooden suitcase dubbed "The Cabinet of Wonder," an apt title considering the awe-inducing sounds and history it resurrects.
A label whose ragtag story stars two white Wisconsin business partners more concerned with record player sales than music, an A&R man whose race and history as a Chicago bootlegger (and ex-pro football player) allowed him access to the clubs where unrecorded talent gigged and a roster of artists with equally fascinating biographies, the Paramount and affiliated labels' output during its 15-year life comprises more than 1,600 songs. They were released through a subsidiary of a Port Washington, Wis.-born furniture company during the rise of the phonograph era.
Ultimately, and seemingly against all odds, Paramount tapped into a huge market hungry for so-called race records, selling thousands if not millions of shellacs by some of the most important African...
Of all the narratives that can be spun out of the list of Grammy nominations, announced late Friday, came one head-scratching truth: The Recording Academy still doesn't quite know what to do with alternative R&B.
When the academy announced it had added an urban contemporary album award back to the R&B field ahead of last year’s nominations — an award for urban/alternative performance was discontinued after 2011 — the change bookended a game-changing year for the genre.
By definition the urban contemporary category is “intended for artists whose music may include samples and elements of hip-hop, rap, dance and electronic music” and can incorporate “production elements found in urban pop, urban Euro-pop, urban rock and urban alternative.”
In other words, this is the place where experimental takes on the genre should flourish.
The line between respectable pop music and its gauche, teenage-courting offspring had a physical address on Friday night: Chick Hearn Court in downtown L.A. That’s the street that divides Staples Center and the L.A. Live complex, where the KIIS-FM Jingle Ball and the Grammy nominations concert offered two very different, but occasionally overlapping, schools of Top-40 success.
At Nokia Theatre, the Grammys lent their imprimatur to rising stars offering messages of austerity. The teenage New Zealand electro-pop singer Lorde had a smash with the bling-mocking “Royals,” and hip-hop duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis offered a jollier riff on a similar theme with “Thrift Shop.”
But at Staples Center, Jingle Ball celebrated the tarter, girlier yet often still great stuff that the Grammys rarely acknowledge -- the ‘90s-frizzy dance pop of Fifth Harmony, Ariana Grande’s featherweight R&B, and yes, Miley Cyrus licking a Christmas tree. If the Grammy noms were...
The Grammy Awards may be "music's biggest night," to quote the Recording Academy's dogged branding effort, but they no longer represent its center.
You got a firm sense of how haphazard the awards can seem, particularly as the record industry continues to fragment, during the cobbled-together concert that surrounded the announcement of this year's Grammy nominations Friday night at the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.
Hosted by LL Cool J, "The Grammy Nominations Concert Live!" aimed to drive public attention to an often-baffling list of nominations that include an album of the year nomination for Sara Bareilles' tepid piano pop, Led Zeppelin's nomination for best rock performance and Ed Sheeran's spot in the best new artist category — despite the fact his tune "The A Team" was nominated previously for song of the year.
The now-annual Grammy nomination CBS special is the award-show that isn't. No trophies are handed out, but it plays as a 60-minute teaser for what the Grammys will have to come Jan. 26 when the actual awards take place at the Staples Center. Still, it's not without some award-show-like moments. Here are a few standouts.
Where's Drake? Neil Portnow seemed puzzled by Drake's eleventh-hour dropout from the lineup and admitted he didn't know what happened. "Artists and their careers, things change.... They had some changes with plans and schedules. It was one of those things that was last-minute. But everybody is big boys and girls and everything was amicable."
Past and present: The Grammy Awards, nominally speaking, are a time for drawing connections between pop's past and present. That was evident Friday when country star Keith Urban and soulful local crooner Miguel gave a rendition of Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," a heart-stinging number that deals with loss. The mood stayed dour...
By Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic
With so much music being streamed, swapped and downloaded from so many outlets these days, it's valid to ask whether we can arrive at any sort of Grammy consensus.
The nominations for the 56th annual ceremony, announced late Friday, give us the answer: No.Successfully predicting musical consensus is, more than ever, a fool's game.
Few, for example, would have bet on singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles' "The Blessed Unrest," landing an Album of the Year nomination. Sales have just been so-so, and it dropped out of Billboard's Top 200 album chart recently, only to sneak back in the latest ranking.
Deserved or not — the latter, from this perspective — the album took a slot away from one seeming shoo-in, Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience." The Recording Academy also passed overKanye West's acclaimed "Yeezus" and Kacey Musgraves' far more lyrical and way less treacly "Same Trailer, Different Park."
In a bit of an upset, Chick Corea will not be going home with another award this year.
A winner of 20 Grammys, including two last year, Corea, with his latest album “The Vigil,” was shut out Friday night in this year's list of nominees, which again offered a welcome blend of relative newcomers and familiar faces.
The jazz vocal category is led by 24-year-old phenom Cécile McLorin Salvant, whose ebullient "WomanChild" was nominated along with Gregory Porter's "Liquid Spirit," which was the big-voiced singer's Blue Note Records debut. The pair compete against Tierney Sutton, Lorraine Feather and Andy Bey, who at 73 released the spry "The World According to Andy Bey."
A Grammy winner in 2012, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington earned a nod for "Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue," a homage to the 1963 album by Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Max Roach. Also nominated for instrumental album were young pianist Gerald Clayton along with records by Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett...