Johnson vs. Johnson: A Grammy Debate



Brian’s Take on the Grammys

Let’s be honest: The Grammys are lame. Not because award shows are lame, but because rewarding has-beens is lame. To start, I haven’t watched the Grammys since high school, and I won’t be tuning in to watch this year’s show either.

As a kid, I saw footage of Michael Jackson with handful of Grammys and U2 winning Album of the Year for The Joshua Tree, and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I guess it is still really cool if you think about it.

But does anyone give any validity to the Grammys nowadays?

Who really wants to see Santana win eight awards for an album he literally just played guitar on? Clive Davis — that’s it.

And I love most of Bruce Springsteen’s early catalog and U2’s, but both artists could put out albums of Loverboy covers and they would be nominated.

So, instead of predicting who will win these categories, since I have no idea how these people come up with this shit, I’ll just pick what I feel is the best of the categories.
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Brent Johnson’s Take on the Grammys

About 10 years ago, the Grammys were my favorite night of the year. Credible rock bands (Radiohead, the Wallflowers) took top awards. Interesting, slightly under-the-radar records (the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack) claimed Album of the Year. And the telecasts were prone to strangeness, like Old Dirty Bastard crashing an acceptance speech by Shawn Colvin — well before Kanye did it — and a guy with the words “Soy Bomb” painted on his chest upstaging Bob Dylan.

But now? The Recording Academy loves to honor nothing but uber-pop-stars nastolgic rock stars who will drive up ratings.

Springsteen? U2? Neil Young? Yep, as long as they record something, they’ll be nominated.

Plus, the show only shows a handful of awards, and instead, showing 600 live performances, sometimes of songs not even nominated. It’s a spectacle — not a pure celebration of the year in music, like it used to be.

But this year? I’m actually excited. The nominations are eclectic. The artists are fresh.

(NOTE: My brother doesn’t get the difference between Record and Song of the Year. Which is fair. They’re kind of ambiguous. But let me explain: Record of the Year is the top recording of the year — the best-produced, most memorable single. Song of the Year, meanwhile, is the best constructed song — awarded to the songwriters who created it.)

Brent
Should Win: Gaga — “Pa-pa-pa-poker Face” is original, magnetic and fun — the most memorable and striking of all the nominees. And this would also be a chance for the Academy to honor the top entertainer of 2009.
Will Win: Kings — Voters have tended to lean toward rock songs the past few years in the category — Coldplay, Green Day. And Kings produced by far the biggest rock song of the year — even if I find it quite grating. “Sex On Fire” is a much better track.

Brian
This is an easy one for me. I want to sleep with Lady Gaga, not because she’s super hot, but because she plays a mean synthesizer …and she has a great ass. That combination cranks my dial. But “Poker Face” is the best song on the list, even though it got annoying after a while. Nothing else on the list really comes close. “Halo” isn’t a bad song, “Use Somebody” is fine, and the other two don’t count as real songs.

Brent
Should Win: Swift — A clever song from a young but very good songwriter. Melodic, snappy and smart.
Will Win: Swift — This will be the Academy’s chance to honor an up-and-coming star in a major category — and the song is poppy and filled with enough wordplay to garner enough attention.

Brian
I still don’t understand the difference between this and record of the year. My brother tried to explain it to me. But I’ll give it to “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga for the same reasons above.

Brent
Should Win: DMB — An oft-under-appreciated band who hasn’t put out a sterling record since 1998. Big Whiskey was actually going to be DMB’s last chance with me — if it wasn’t good, I was giving up on them. But it has strong songs and a bursting blare of energy.
Will Win: DMB — They also have a tear-jerking story that will win them some votes: This album is the last to feature sax player LeRoi Moore, who died in an ATV accident before recording was completed.

Brian
Once again, I have to say that Lady Gaga is the most talented person in popular music right now. But The Fame is very top-heavy with singles and the album tracks don’t do a lot for me. Dave Matthews Band actually put out a very solid album in Big Whiskey And The GrooGrux King, so I’d pick DMB.

Brent
Should Win:The Ting Tings- A cute British duo with catchy songs, sparse instrumentation and cheeky accents and attitude.
Will Win: Keri Hilson — Being the only artist here from the uber-popular R&B genre — and the only female solo singer in the mix — should lift her to the win.

Brian
Once again. I don’t understand Grammys’ logic. The Silversun Pickups and MGMT are not new bands. The best of the actual new artists is The Ting Tings, so I’ll hand them there Grammy — even though I don’t actually present the awards … for those of you who didn’t get that.

Brent
Should Win: Perry — I like her songs. I like her attitude. Sue me.
Will Win: Swift — Something tells me this is the country starlet’s year to beat out divas like Beyonce. Taylor is no longer just country — she’s a full-on pop sensation.

Brian Sure, I’ll give this one to Beyonce for “Halo.” There’s no real competition.

Brent
Should Win: No one. This category is sad. Two R&B songs I’ve never heard. The annoying Mr. Mraz. A cover of a Motown tune by a washed up ’90s R&B star. And Stevie Wonder? This is where the Grammys miss the mark.
Will Win: Maxwell — He’s edgy enough, right?

Brian
The only songs I’ve heard here are Seal’s cover of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” and that Jason Mraz song. And I’m not giving it to that Jason Mraz song.

Brent
Should win: The Black Eyed Peas –Their infectious track has a great synth riff. That’s cool.
Will Win: Peas — This — and the next category (pop album) — is where the Academy will honor a group that has quickly hit mega-stardom.

Brian
MGMT might be steamin’ at me, so I’ll give my nod to them. “Kids” is a solid track. By the way, did that Bon Jovi song really get nominated for an award?

Brent
Should Win: Bruce — Another weak category that highlights the Academy’s weakest habit: Nominating old-time rockers no matter what they release. But Bruce’s song is the best of the bunch — even if it’s kind of paint-by-numbers Springsteen.
Will Win: Bruce — Both the Academy and Rolling Stone can’t get enough of the Boss. (I’m just glad they didn’t nominate the album of the same name in the Album of the Year category. Rolling Stone gave it 5 stars. I give it 2.)

Brian
Prince’s performance of “Dreamer” on Jay Leno was badass. So, I’ll give it to the Purple One. He gave his guitar to some dude in the crowd, even though it was a custom-made Daphne Blue Fender Stratocaster. By the way, notice how “Working On A Dream” by Springsteen was nominated. I don’t think he even tries while writing songs anymore.

Brent
Should Win: Green Day — Theirs is a melodic, affecting, anthemic song.
Will Win: Kings — Too big a hit not to win.

Brent
Should Win: DMB — A record I listened to over and over in my car stereo — solid, solid, solid.
Will Win: DMB — It may be tough to beat U2 here, but DMB was nominated in the Album of the Year category, which should give them the edge.

Brian
Once again, I’ll go with DMB, even though both U2 and Green Day put out strong albums.

Brent
Should Win: Byrne & Eno I give the experimental duo a slight nod over Yeah Yeah Yeahs, whose record is filled with catchy synth-pop. But Brian Eno — the ex-keyboardist of my favorite band, Roxy Music — is one of the most interesting, creative musicians in history.
Will Win: Phoenix –They’ve become indie-to-mainstream darlings — even landing a spot on Saturday Night Live. This is where the Academy will try to show its alt-rock street cred.

Brian
Although the Yeah Yeah Yeahs dabbled with disco, which is pretty sweet, David Byrne & Brian Eno put out another good album with Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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