'High School' just doesn't fit in

Times Staff Writer

"High School Musical" is the bestselling album of 2006, with 3.4 million to date, but the soundtrack to the Disney Channel television movie didn't crack the lineup for record of the year, album of the year, best song or best new artist.

And it doesn't take high school-level math to spot the numbers anomaly in the top four Grammy categories this year: This is the first time the year's top seller didn't show up in at least one of those races since 1997, when the Spice Girls got the recording academy's cold shoulder after selling 5.3 million copies of "Spice."

Voters and screening committees had less trouble making room for other credibility-challenged acts, though, as the Backstreet Boys and 'N.Sync scored top nominations with their blockbusters in 1999 and 2000, respectively.

So why couldn't the academy find a way to get this year's biggest album into its showcase categories?

It wouldn't work in the category of best new artist, because "High School Musical" is a multi-act collection. Record of the year? None of the songs was released as a single. And you're not likely to get a best song nomination without a hit recording of the song.

That leaves album of the year, and "High School Musical" is just too distant from the Grammy zeitgeist -- a set of anachronistically wholesome, soul-rooted teen pop sung by a cast of unknown artists.

It's so distant from the academy's mind set that it didn't even show up in the soundtrack categories.

It's been a long time since the Grammys have encountered such a divide between the musical qualities they identify with and the commercial currents in the marketplace.

There's just one term for it: Mickey Mouse.


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