Kelly premeire’s “Underneath the Tree” music video
Absolutely a-m-a-z-i-n-g. What kind of flawless vocal sleigh-age?
Absolutely a-m-a-z-i-n-g. What kind of flawless vocal sleigh-age?
The Grammy nominations for the biggest award of the night, “Album of the Year,” can be tremendously tricky to predict. Every year, there’s always at least one nominee that elicits an appropriate “WTF!” reaction. Last year, the category was jammed pack with rock and alternative acts: The Black Keys, Mumford & Sons, Jack White, Frank Ocean, and the most pop-leaning of the bunch fun.. It was confusing and mind-boggling that such an anti-pop crowd of artists snagged nominations when the year previously the “Album of the Year” category was dominated by the likes of Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Adele, and Bruno Mars.
In 2014, as always, expect the unexpected. This year, OMFG Music has attempted to predict the unexpected. So here it goes… Here are our predictions for Album of the Year.
The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake
So far, Justin Timberlake has a perfect track record in the “Album of the Year” field. Both his debut and sophomore albums snagged nominations in the illustrious field. His third studio LP (Part 1 of the two-part body of work) should successfully bring JT his third “Album of the Year” nomination. It was well-received by critics and easy outpaced the competition to become the best selling album of 2013. You know how I just said to expect the unexpected? Well forget about that for The 20/20 Experience. A nomination (and subsequent win) here is nearly guaranteed.
RED by Taylor Swift
In 2010 with Fearless, she became the youngest artist to ever take home the trophy for “Album of the Year.” The Grammy committee adores her, and her latest album was her most critically acclaimed offering to date. When the album debuted in late 2012, it shifted more than 1.2 million copies, making the highest first week total sales in more than a decade. The album, because it was released in the fourth quarter of last year, already has a strong presence at the awards. First single “We Are Never Getting Back Together” scored a nomination in the “Record of the Year” category last year. Normally, fourth quarter releases suffer from a time gap (think Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), but Swift has miraculously managed to keep the momentum of RED strong going into Grammy season.
Random Access Memories by Daft Punk
Although the enigmatic duo has never gotten lucky (excuse the pun, I couldn’t resist) enough to snag a nom in this field, the dance music titans have a nearly surefire shot in 2013. The curveball of an album, riddled with 1970s-inspired disco funk and stunning live instrumentation, proved Daft Punk’s unrivaled ability to craft dance music more concretely than ever before. Month’s after its released, it’s been highlighted on lists of the “Best Albums of All Time.” Yes, you read that right: Of All Time. If anything, Random Access Memories is the most deserved of an “Album of the Year” nomination.
Unorthodox Jukebox by Bruno Mars
With major hits like “Locked Out of Heaven” and “When I Was Your Man,” it’s hard to imagine Bruno Mars’s latest offering not securing a spot in this category. The Grammys love when artists can not only escape the daunting black abyss that is the sophomore slump, but also exceed the success of their debut work. Pop queens Katy and Gaga did this with Teenage Dream and The Fame Monster and were rewarded with nominations in the “Album of the Year” category. But even more recently Adele and Mumford & Sons managed this task and were rewarded with not only nominations, but wins in the “Album of the Year” field. Unfortunately for Bruno, the Grammys don’t abide by some kind of formulaic means of granting nominations, or else he’d be a shoo-in. Nonetheless, there’s a strong chance that Unorthodox Jukebox will snatch a nomination.
Who The Hell Knows?:
The fifth and final spot in the “Album of the Year” is guaranteed to provide the “WTF!” moment at this year’s revealing of the nominations. Here are some of the top contenders.
The Grammys snubbed Kanye last year in the field, but will they make up for lost time by nominating the crazed, egocentric Yeezus?
Will this year’s token indie sleeper nomination be The Civil Wars’ self-titled album?
Did Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s independently released album The Heist impress the nomination committee?
Will this year’s head-scratching moment belong to old-timer David Bowie and his well-reviewed LP The Next Day?
Or will Lorde continue her meteoric rise by receiving a nomination with Pure Heroine?
Did hip-hop hit a note with the Grammy voters? Did they appreciate the artistic touches of Kendrick’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City? Or did Drake’s Nothing Was The Same quench their appetite more harmoniously?
What about a rock nom? Vampire Weekend sure impressed critics with Modern Vampires of the City, what did Grammy voters think?
The last and final nomination could belong to any of the albums mentioned above, but who knows? It’s the Grammys. Anything can happen.
Individually, the majority of the songs from the legendary Miss Britney Spears’s eighth studio album, Britney Jean, are exceptional. The opening track, “Alien,” finds an impressive-sounding Britney crooning “I never figured out why I always felt like a stranger in a crowd” over a haunting synth-reverb, courtesy of William Orbit. It’s beautifully heart-rendering—a side we haven’t seen from Britney in years. The album continues to deliver deeply emotional and startling honest tracks like the second single “Perfume” and the closing track “Don’t Cry.” The best track of the bunch, “Till It’s Gone,” is a dazzling trance-inspired track that continues with the heavy message of heartbreak that is interwoven throughout the album.
Unfortunately though, Britney invited one-too-many Wills to assist with the project. Britney Spears promised that Britney Jean would be the most personal record of her career—and there’s a glimpse of this intertwined in the Blackout-singer’s latest LP (see the above paragraph). Half of the album is exceptional. The other half finds will.i.am hyper-autotuning the “Toxic”-singer into a soulless nonentity on tracks like “It Should Be Easy.” The track that follows “Easy” is equally as soulless: “Tik Tik Boom,” a nonsensical snyth-driven sex anthem where rapper TI exclaims that Brit “likes the way [he] eats her” as Britney clumsily comparers her orgasm to a ticking time bomb.
It is unbearably unfortunate (especially as Britney fan) that meaningful and magically crafted and sung tracks like “Alien” and “Till Its Gone”—some of the best songs of Brit’s career—are muddled by the robotic nonsense that was chosen to accompany these tracks on the album (I blame executive producer will.i.am). It’s ironic that, for an album claiming to be so personal, Britney Jean suffers primarily because of its lack of personality.
Stream Britney Jean on iTunes.
Since the arrival of “Just Dance,” Lady Gaga has been the most compelling and most irresistible pop star in the world. Within the last five years of her career, she has single-handedly changed the landscape of the music industry. In an age when most pop artists are satisfied with churning out one factory-made, cookie-cutter pop hit after the next, Lady Gaga has refused to remain stagnant, which is why, even at her worst, she is still outperforming and outshining her pop contemporaries. But when Lady Gaga is at her best, she’s releasing her pop piece de resistance ARTPOP—the single most thrilling, eccentric, and enticing album of her career.
On her fourth studio album, Gaga works hard to address the problems that plagued her previous album Born This Way, and succeeds: the new disc is more polished and more accessible, with less unnecessarily overelaborate production and lyrical redundancy. None of the beats clobber you as instantaneously and abrasively as “Government Hooker” or “Americano.” The tracks on Lady Gaga’s reverse-Warholian experimentation with pop improve with every listen. This is an album that you like on the first listen, but love on the second, third, and fourth.
As good as ARTPOP is, it is far from perfect. Lady Gaga’s hip-hop experiment gone wrong “Jewels ‘N Drugs” is a hollow, over-exaggerated failure that is neither “pop” nor “art.” Similarly, the opening track, “Aura,” with its pseudo-provocative feminist message, is a contrived cacophony of mediocrity.
Thankfully, the missteps of ARTPOP are easily eclipsed by the extraordinary moments of musical magic that run through the veins of the provocateur’s latest LP. There’s a certain melodic magnetism at the core of future worldwide hits like “Do What U Want,” “G.U.Y.,” and the Madeon-produced “Gypsy.” The latter of which is Gaga’s greatest lyrical achievement since “Bad Romance.” What’s truly remarkable about ARTPOP is how effortlessly Gaga blends her kaleidoscope of influences into such a cohesive-sounding record: The stadium-ready Bruce Springsteenesqe anthem “MANiCURE” (and OMFG Music’s personal favorite song from the album) flows seamlessly into the R&B-heavy “fuck-the-haters” second single “Do What U Want” (which, by the way, is brilliantly disguised as an sex song).
Lady Gaga is not ashamed to admit that she lives for the “Applause,” but what she deserves is your attention. On the surface, ARTPOP may thump and groove like the soundtrack to a wild, moly-induced night out at the trendiest club in New York City, but at its core, it’s a stunning and whimsical expedition inside the world of one of this generation’s most important pop visionaries.
OMFG Music’s RATING: 8.5/10
BUY Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP on iTunes.