Grammys 2011: Justin Bieber, Florence + the Machine and the best new artist crop


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Quick reactions to some of the major Grammy categories. Pop & Hiss continues to provide analysis throughout the night, as well as in the days and weeks leading up to the Feb. 13 ceremony at the Staples Center.


The nominees:

Justin Bieber
Florence & the Machine
Mumford & Sons
Esperanza Spalding

The good: There are some strong contenders here, the one Grammy category with an option to introduce audiences to lesser-known artists. Though there are no unknowns, Florence + the Machine’s soulful rock aims big and has lots of potential, and the Mumford & Sons are nearly hate-proof. The act delivers traditionalism with fire and spark, and live the band will win plenty of new converts should it be invited to perform on the telecast. Though not a new artist -- Esperanza Spalding is on her third album -- the jazz singer and bassist is a young virtuoso who’s equally comfortable with classical and funk. Finally, rap newcomer Drake, though not the experimentalist of Kid Cudi, is one of the genre’s stronger rising stars, and his inward-looking emotional approach recalls the work of Kanye West.

The bad: That leaves just one nominee in Justin Bieber. The teen pop star and Usher protege can make the tweens swoon, but he needs to grow beyond his producer’s shadows before he’s recognized by the Grammys. I have to disagree with my coworker/pal Ann Powers here, especially when there are artists like pop/R&B fanatic V.V. Brown on the ballot.

Robbed? Kid Cudi, first and foremost, as well as the worldly hip-hop of K'naan. Noise artistes Sleigh Bells deserved a look, and electronic minimalists the xx were out-and-out the year’s most adventurous breakout.

-- Todd Martens


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