Grammys: Adele, Foo Fighters, Gaga and the album of the year litter

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Quick reactions to some of the major Grammy categories announced on tonight’s Grammys nomination telecast. Pop & Hiss continues to provide analysis throughout the night, as well as in the days and weeks leading up to the Feb. 12 ceremony at the Staples Center.

Category: Album Of The Year
The nominees

’21' — Adele
‘Wasting Light’ — Foo Fighters
‘Born This Way’ — Lady Gaga
‘Doo-Wops & Hooligans’ — Bruno Mars
‘Loud’ — Rihanna

The good: Stop, everyone, listen. Turn off the TV, no radio. Quietly now. You should pretty much be hearing nothing, nada, zilch. That about sums it all up here. Adele’s ’21' was a lock here, and a deserving one. It’s the year’s bestselling album, and critics have largely been taken with it, thanks to her knockout, old soul of a voice and low-key, everyday approach.

The bad: Where to begin? The Foo Fighters were last seen in this category with the 2008 awards for the album ‘Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace.’ They’ve returned to the field with ‘Wasting Light,’ an album of equally ho-hum, by-the-numbers hard rock. Bruno Mars’ debut is nice and shows off his ability to jump through styles, but he’s more like a chameleon than a true artist. Rihanna’s ‘Loud’ was a step back after the darkly disturbed worlds of ‘Rated R’; Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ was a massive misstep of a pop spectacle, in which everyone-is-normal rallying cries replaced actual songs.


Who was missed? Anything that truly reflects music in 2011, for one. Kanye West’s ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ is considered by many his strongest work, and few albums so openly examine a life under a microscope, and it’s not here. Paul Simon’s ‘So Beautiful or So What’ is a lovely late-career effort from a beloved Grammy artist, but voters seemed more obsessed this year with a Top 40 TV lineup rather than honoring a musical legend. Speaking of vets, the Beastie Boys proved hip-hop can have staying power by not chasing trends, and R&B star Raphael Saadiq had a smoldering, rock-influenced album that dealt with the sort of topical issues most of the nominated artists avoid.


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Critic’s Notebook: Adele’s quiet power amid the pop girl riot

— Todd Martens

Photo: Lady Gaga at the 2011 Grammy Awards. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times