January 27, 2010 > The Grammy's
Once again, style over substance
By Erik Block
The 52nd Annual Grammy Awards take place on January 31 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles at 8 p.m., broadcast on CBS. The Academy will dole out a total of 109 trophies throughout the evening for recording achievements of the past year. Odds are most of them will go to Beyonce, and the rest to Taylor Swift. The Grammy-nod dominance of these pop queens notwithstanding, let's take a closer look at what's to come for Music's Biggest Night.
This year's leading nominees are each representative of the ultra-shiny, vapid pop wilderness we've been exposed to for far too long. Spanning the worlds of Pop, Pop Country, Pop Rock, Pop R&B and Dance Pop, these are the singles The Recording Academy felt, based solely on judgment of quality, were the best 2009 had to offer. First up, R&B diva Beyonce leads the Grammy pack this year with ten nominations, including Record of the Year for her ballad, "Halo". The song is one of eight singles from her latest effort, "I Am... Sasha Fierce," nominated for Album of the Year, and was featured in the Fox sitcom Glee and has sold over 2 million units as a digital release.
Not to be outdone, The Black Eyed Peas garnered six total nods, also including Album of the Year for "The E.N.D.," and are nominated for their massive hit single, "I Gotta Feeling". Featured in a performance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, the song has earned mixed reviews from critics for its over-produced, simplistic style, yet went on to become the longest-running number one single in the U.S. Pop Charts for 2009. This success is due in part to the Peas' producer, French DJ David Guetta, also a multiple nominee this year with five nods of his own.
Dance-pop provocateur Lady Gaga's ode to sex and gambling, "Poker Face", was another huge hit in 2009, with the single selling 4 million copies in the U.S. alone and reaching number one on Singles Charts all over the world. From her bubble-wrapped performance on American Idol to Eric Cartman's Rock Band rendition on South Park, the robotic dance single was a huge part of the pop music landscape this past year, earning the enigmatic pop star five Grammy nominations, including Album of the Year for "The Fame."
Switching gears a bit from the overproduced hip-hop beats of the other leading nominees, Nashville rock band Kings of Leon are up for awards in four different categories for their song, "Use Somebody". Eventually reaching Number One on the Billboard Modern Rock, Pop and Adult Contemporary Top 40 Charts, the song was penned, according to singer Caleb Followill, during a falling out on a December 2007 tour. The radio smash is nominated for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. Say that five times fast.
Coming in a close second to Mrs. Shawn Carter's ten nominations, we have country-pop princess Taylor Swift, earning a respectable eight Grammy nods this year. Her single, "You Belong With Me", is up for three, along with Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Known more for her run-in with rapper Kanye West on the 2009 MTV VMAs or who she's dating at the moment than her prowess as a singer-songwriter, the 20-year old platinum-selling pop star was named Artist of the Year 2009 by Billboard Magazine and continues to make waves in the worlds of Country and Pop.
This year's list of musical performances is shaping up to be more streamlined than last year's twenty-five plus songs, possibly to combat the show's decline in ratings since its 50th anniversary telecast in 2008. Joining the eleven artists lined up to play throughout the night are all five Album of the Year nominees: Beyonce, The Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, the Dave Matthews Band and Taylor Swift. Other artists and nominees set to appear are three-time Grammy winners Green Day, Best New Artist hopeful The Zac Brown Band, two-time winner Pink, Bon Jovi, Lady Antebellum and soul singer Maxwell, up for six awards including Song of the Year for "Pretty Wings".
Among the preening, star-studded roster of Grammy Award presenters confirmed are Taylor Swift, pulling double-duty as both presenter and performer, Miley Cyrus, actress Kristen Bell, actors Jeff Bridges and Josh Duhamel, and the Jonas Brothers. The Brothers will not be performing this year, which I'm sure we're all grateful for. Additional presenters announced are Norah Jones and Ringo Starr, both with nine Grammy's under their belts, 10-time winner and three-time Latin Grammy winner Carlos Santana, pop singer Justin Bieber, two-time Grammy winner L.L. Cool J, three-time Latin Grammy winner Ricky Martin and singer-songwriter Ke$ha. Don't worry; I've no idea who she is, either.
52nd Annual Grammy Awards
Sunday, January 31
8 p.m. on CBS