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Grammy Snubs: Beyonce And Britney Were Robbed, Kanye West, Lady Gaga And Taylor Swift Should Have Gotten Even More Love

Posted by John Mitchell On December - 1 - 2011

Last night’s announcement of the nominees for the 2012 Grammys came with them few surprises: Kanye West earned a leading seven nominations for his solo work on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and the Jay-Z collaboration Watch the Throne and Adele’s mega-selling 21 and its ubiquitous lead single “Rolling in the Deep” dominated the top categories. There were, however, several notable snubs among the nominations, the most glaring of which we’ve cataloged below.

Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Album of the Year

How Kanye West could score the most nominations, including Best Song for “All of the Lights,” and not see his critically adored Fantasy nominated for Album of the Year is beyond us. The set enjoys a 94 out of 100 rating on album review aggregator Metacritic, a full 18 points better than the highest-rated album to make the Grammy cut (Adele’s 21 with a 76).

Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory,” Song of the Year

Lady Gaga has released so many singles off her hit album Born This Way that we sometimes lose track, but the one track that has really stuck is “The Edge of Glory.” Lyrically inspired by the death of her grandfather, the song features soaring hooks and the most anthemic chorus to hit Top 40 radio this year. That the Academy chose to honor only four songs with nominations in this category rather than the usual five while overlooking the highlight of an album it chose to award a nomination for Album of the Year is silly business.

Read on for more.

Beyonce

Beyonce’s 4, Best R&B Album

Perhaps the Recording Academy thinks Beyonce has enough Grammys? It would be easy enough to make a case that 4 should be a contender for Album of the Year – it’s Metacritic rating of 73 is better than four of the nominated albums, and while music critics are far from definitive, consensus acclaim shouldn’t be overlooked – but we would have settled for Best R&B Album because, well, it’s the perfect R&B album. On 4 Beyonce eschewed club bangers for soulful and complex ballads and insanely catchy mid-tempo jams (like “Love on Top” and “Countdown”). In its review, New York Magazine commented on the album’s throw-back vibe, writing, “There’s a streak of nostalgia running through the sound, whether it’s the kind of traditionalist R&B that sells Adele albums or the cheery funk of a track like ‘Love on Top,’ which feels as cozy as seventies Stevie Wonder or eighties Michael Jackson.” And when it comes to R&B, does a higher compliment exist than a comparison to seventies Stevie Wonder and eighties Michael Jackson?

Britney Spears’ “Till The World Ends,” Best Dance Recording

Britney Spears’ Femme Fatale album brought her the best reviews of her career, earning the pop superstar the same Metacritic rating as Rihanna’s Album of the Year-nominated Loud, and became the first album of Spears’ 12-year multi-platinum career to yield three top-ten hits (“Till The World Ends,” “I Wanna Go,” and the #1 “Hold It Against Me”). “Till The World Ends” was one of the year’s biggest radio hits, giving Spears the largest weekly audience of her career in mid-May, and topped Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart the week of May 28. Spears’ sole Grammy win came in the Best Dance Recording category in 2005 for “Toxic,” and she should have scored a nod in the same category this year because, as Rolling Stone said in its three-and-a-half star review, “You want a party song, call a partier. Written by Ke$ha (with Max Martin and Dr. Luke), the second single from Femme Fatale is ginormously pumping uber-Euro uber-disco: sky-sucking synth streaks, a beat that sounds like blimps f**king and a thousand shirtless drunken sailors chanting along on the chorus.” In dance music language, that’s a pretty huge compliment.

Taylor Swift’s Speak Now, Album of the Year

Taylor Swift may have caught a case of the Beyonces. Swift swept through the 2009 Grammys and took home the Album of the Year prize for Fearless, in addition to three other prizes in the country categories. With that win, she became the first female country soloist to win the top prize at the Grammys. And, sure, Speak is up for a number of country-centric prizes this year and that’s nothing to scoff at. But the acclaimed set failed to receive a nod for Album of the Year, despite widespread and near-universal praise. Perhaps the Academy missed all of the subtleties that the New York Times picked up on in its rave review. “It’s [Speak Now] the most savage of her career, and also the most musically diverse. And it’s excellent too, possibly her best,” the Times writes. “In these new songs relationships are no longer fantasies, or neutered; they’re lived-in places, where bodies share space.”

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The Grammys Slim Down, For Their Health And Ours

Posted by MTV News On April - 7 - 2011

By Jett Wells

Smaller, better, faster, shorter. No, these aren’t the lyrics to a Daft Punk remix; it’s just the mantra of America’s post-Google culture. If our entertainment and technology is getting faster, shorter and more efficient as consumer attention span shrinks at an alarming rate, should our award shows be any different?

The answer, apparently, is no. On Wednesday, the Grammys announced they’re shrinking the awards show by shaving off 31 total awards, downsizing from a whopping 109 categories to 78 (for comparison’s sake, the Academy Awards only have 24). Such a drastic move makes one think the glamorous award ceremony just came off a rough few years, ratings-wise, but that couldn’t be further from the truth; the 2011 Grammys posted the best ratings in 10 years, so why the change?

It’s not so much a numbers game, but an outreach issue; by taking away some of what, to the average music fan, could be viewed as esoteric niche categories, the Grammys are — as Recording Academy president Neil Portnow put it — “demonstrat[ing] its dedication to keeping the Academy a pertinent and responsive organization in our dynamic music community.” Simply put, the Grammys needed a good haircut, thought there might be even bigger problems ahead.

Back in 1959, the Grammys had only 29 awards and clearly, the show has bulked up over over the last 50 years. In retrospect, it’s an honorable mission on behalf of the Grammys to expand and include the vast array of music genres from all over the world, but the concept doesn’t really fit into the tight competitive space of primetime television … even though most of the awards handed out aren’t televised. Instead of shelling out awards to uber-specific artists, the awards show will compartmentalize categories and squeeze in solo rock artists with rock groups (why didn’t they do this earlier?) It’s smart, lean and efficient thinking, and a more than sound way of focusing on what’s important: doing due diligence to keep the viewer watching and not getting bored (or attempting to have them keep track of more than 100 winners).

The 2011 Grammys posted the best ratings for the show since 2001 (even though the Oscars scored 10 million more viewers on a bad year), thanks in large part to the arsenal of top talent performances, including Eminem, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga (and her space egg). But despite the good numbers, viewers on Twitter proved a large disconnect between the show and its audience. Massive Grammy hashtags like #whoisArcadeFire or #whoisLadyAntebellum (there was even a Tumblr page dedicated to the former question) pointed out the obese elephant in the room: that Grammy viewers aren’t nearly as educated in music as the Grammys expect them to be. Either this is just an outlier anomaly, or the Grammys are too thorough and wide-spanning for their own good.

With that said, it’s unfair to suggest the Grammys should be as tight and efficient as a show like the Oscars (which people still complain is too long), since music as an art form is arguably a lot more malleable than film. Going by the numbers, the Grammys’ 78 categories look ridiculous when compared to the Oscars’ 24, but like it or not, music is a more individualized art form and there are a ton more musicians than filmmakers in the world. The 2011 Oscars tightened their duration, because of complaints of it moving too slowly, but the real reason both the Oscars and Grammys are seen as under-performers is the disconnect between the average viewers’ knowledge of the shows’ content. And who can blame them? The average movie buff doesn’t see all the top short documentaries or short animated films, much like the average Paramore fan doesn’t know all that much about Sigur Rós.

Award shows pride themselves on glamor, elegance and high-brow understanding of culture, and — in theory, at least — and the average award-show viewer does the same, but both sides could afford to know more about each other to make an even better show down the road. And slimming down is as good a first step as any towards achieving that.

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The Grammy Awards: Five Things That Need To Change

Posted by MTV News On February - 14 - 2011

After the final award of the night was given out at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Grammy Awards had declared a number of winners. Some were literal, in the sense that Lady Gaga, Eminem, Lady Antebellum and Arcade Fire all walked away with high-profile wins in some of the biggest categories of the night. Others scored more professional victories, like Mick Jagger (who proved that he’s still got it after decades on stage) and Justin Bieber (who was one of the night’s most electric performers despite only being 16 years old). Even the producers could consider themselves winner, as the telecast was watched by 26.5 million viewers — the largest audience for the Grammys in a decade.

But the viewers didn’t necessarily walk away with a sense of victory. Though the show contained no shortage of highlights, there were also some things that could be changed moving forward. Here are five things that should be reconsidered moving forward.

Shorten The Show
Even though last night’s show was mostly entertaining, it was still too long. Three-and-a-half hours is an awfully long time to be watching much of anything (most people don’t sit down to watch films for that same amount of time). By tightening the edges and knocking off two or three performances (sorry, Barbra Streisand), you could really have a tight show that is way more viewer friendly and kinetic (which would make them more like the far superior MTV Video Music Awards).

Focus More On The Awards
We know it’s impossible to give out 109 awards live on the air (that’s how many categories there were this year), but the Oscars manage to give out two dozen awards over the course of an evening. Can’t the Grammys give out more awards — and perhaps in the same 15-20 categories every year so there’s a little consistency?

Revamp The Voting Process
The reason why Esperanza Spalding won the Best New Artist award over far more popular acts like Justin Bieber or Drake is because Best New Artist is one of those awards that everybody is allowed to vote for. Grammy voters only vote in their areas of expertise, so people from the jazz world typically only vote for the jazz-related categories. But Best New Artist throws the doors open on everybody, and while it creates some great opportunities for unknown artists, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual year in music (which is theoretically what the Grammys — and all awards shows — are supposed to do).

Don’t Confuse The Viewing Audience With People Who Aren’t Present
When John Mayer, Keith Urban and Norah Jones came out to sing “Jolene” to acknowledge Dolly Parton, more than one person on Twitter thought that Parton had died and that this was a memoriam for her. In reality, she had won a Lifetime Achievement Award and wasn’t present at the show. While it’s great that Parton won (she deserves it), it took up a bunch of screen time that only confused the home viewers. Stick to focusing on people who are actually in the building, so as not to throw people off and take up valuable screen time.

Retire The Neil Portnow Segment
They only give out a handful of prizes across the show’s three-and-a-half hours, but it can carve out 10 minutes so the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the body that hands out the Grammys) can talk about their charity projects? Let Portnow cut a video package that can live on the official Grammy Awards website and let the show be about the artists and the music.

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Justin Bieber May Have Lost At The Grammys, But He’ll Be Back: The MTV News Quote Of The Day

Posted by MTV News On February - 14 - 2011

“I had no clue what was going to happen; I worked really hard these past few years and you know, I’m not going to lie — I was disappointed. But, you know, I’m gonna come back [next year] and we’ll take a few home.”

-Canadian singing sensation and newly-minted film star Justin Bieber, commenting on his loss in the Best New Artist category at Sunday night’s (February 13) 53rd Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The 16-year-old singer faced stiff competition for Best New Artist from the likes of Drake, Mumford & Sons and Florence and the Machine, but many expected that Bieber would be walking away with the hardware. In the end, he lost out to winner Esperanza Spalding, a bassist who has been making an impact in the jazz world for years and who was a relative unknown among pop fans.

Still, just because he failed to walk out with an award doesn’t mean that the night was a bust. Bieber’s performance (with an assist from Usher and Jayden Smith) was one of the most talked-about of the evening, and the singer himself felt extremely good about the work he put forth on stage. “I got a standing O, which was amazing,” he told MTV News’ Sway backstage after the show had wrapped. “Usher and Jayden did incredible, and I’m really excited. Tonight was an amazing night.”

And because he’s already a pro, Bieber went out of his way to pay his respects to Spalding after the show, and let his fans know that it wasn’t the end of the world. “Bieber fans, don’t get too upset,” he laughed. “Be happy.”

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Jay Sean Teaches Snooki Some Slang On The Grammy Red Carpet

Posted by Kyle Anderson On February - 14 - 2011

Sunday night’s (February 13) 53rd Grammy Awards featured no shortage of stars, from the nominees to the performers to the parents of the nominees and performers (we’re looking at you, Drake’s mom and the Smith family). Even stars who weren’t directly involved in the show were there to help celebrate, including Cyndi Lauper (who got an awful lot of screen time thanks to her always-reliable reaction shots) and Nicole Kidman (who accompanied husband Keith Urban and sang and danced along to most everything on stage).

Both international R&B sensation Jay Sean and “Jersey Shore” star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi were in attendance as well. Snooki was busy hosting the MTV News live stream “Snooki & Sway: Live From the Grammys,” which Jay Sean was there to build buzz for his upcoming album Freeze Time.

When the two came together on the red carpet, they bonded over slang. Snooki has done plenty to introduce new words into the lexicon, and Jay Sean was more than happy to explain a British word to her.

“I just wanted to say that I really, really love your accent,” Snooki told Sean in the midst of his red carpet interview. “Can you say, ‘Yo Snooki, let’s smush’?”

Sean was game, though he wanted to take it a step further. “Instead of smush, I’ll tell you what we say,” he told the television star. “Let’s snog.”

Snooki had a bit of trouble with the vowel, but in the end, it made for a great step forward in international relations (especially following Snooki’s British accent). “I want to bring the British lingo over here, man,” Jay Sean told Sway. “We’ve got so many words you guys don’t use.”

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