Hey guys, did you hear? The 2013 Grammy Award nominees have been named! Try to contain your excitement as legends like Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Adele, Katy Perry, LMFAO, Kelly Clarkson, Skrillex, Chris Brown, Kanye Westttytttttttttsuydfgiudsfhukkljijlzijljizzpp////////////////////////////////
Ah, sorry about that, I passed out on my keyboard due to a mixture of disappointment and anger. (In case anyone is wondering, the only medically recognized cure for those things is alcohol. I’m here for you guys, and I AM a doctor.) In any event, the Grammys present a unique opportunity for people to be told what music is the best by a group of strangers. What could possibly be better?!
(Note: Before we continue, it should be noted that sometimes, in spite of widespread idiocy from the American public, the Grammy award voters actually do get it right. In 2012, they voted the Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” for Album of the Year. There aren’t enough words in any of Earth’s languages to describe how right that choice was compared to its competition – and honestly, there aren’t many albums of the last decade that would have had a chance anyway, that’s how amazing this album was. Needless to say, people on Twitter reacted calmly and rationally, as always.)
In any case, my goal isn’t to rip into the Grammys. I mean, I could, but it’d be like making fun of astrology or the Tea Party – really, just not worth the time. No, my whole point today is to walk you through my personal favorite award: Best New Artist. It’s kind of like the music industry’s version of Rookie of the Year – sure, you put out a great album and gained plenty of notoriety over the year, and this could be the start of a pretty amazing career. This year, we’ve got five nominees I’m only marginally familiar with: Alabama Shakes, Frank Ocean, Hunter Hayes, fun., and The Lumineers. Maybe you’ve heard of them, and maybe you like them – one way or another, one will take home the award, and their career will likely benefit because of it. But…probably not.
Don’t believe me? I’m gonna walk you through some of my favorite years in Best New Artist history. Keep this in mind while you’re watching the 2013 Grammys! Or, you know, keep it in mind while you do something better with your time, aka basically anything:
1963: Though the Grammys officially began in 1960, with “Mack the Knife” and “Beyond the Sea” singer Bobby Darin taking home the first award, 1963 is the first year where we get some intrigue. The winner? Robert Goulet. You know, the one that Will Ferrell made fun of from time to time.
Robert Goulet beat out The Four Seasons (who have a Broadway play now) and Peter, Paul and Mary. This probably doesn’t mean much to people now, but even by modern standards this is a pretty close race in terms of future success and notoriety. Also, most hilariously of all, Allan Sherman was nominated – the guy who wrote “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh.” Yep. The Grammys were pretty awesome back in the day.
1965: In the most ridiculous year of all time, a small-time indie band from the UK known as “The Beatles” takes home the Best New Artist honors over legendary runners-up Petula Clark, Astrud Gilberto, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Morgana King. I don’t even really like The Beatles, but this is the biggest layup choice in Grammy history by a HUGE margin. This would be like picking between Nelson Mandela and Joseph Stalin for a Nobel Peace Prize.
1969: Our first real upset! A Puerto Rican artist named Jose Feliciano – best known for the song “Feliz Navidad” – upsets Cream. Not really a big deal, though…I mean, all Cream REALLY had going for it was Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker. As far as I’m concerned, this is the first real pity vote in Grammy history, what with Feliciano being blind and all. Still: CREAM. Come on now! Also, next time you hear “Feliz Navidad” on the radio, find the nearest Puerto Rican person and punch them in the face. They’ll understand.
1970: We don’t have to wait long before another monumental year in Grammy history. The winner this year? Crosby, Stills & Nash. (I DON’T CARE WHAT THE COMMITTEE SAYS, THEY WERE NOTHING WITHOUT YOUNG!) This is a very justifiable choice, as CS&N have music that is still played ad nauseum today, but one look at the runners up makes this year amazing: the band Chicago, who might or might not have had some equally ubiquitous hits, and, oh, you know, MOTHERFUCKING LED ZEPPELIN.
Let’s make sure you process this fully: Led Zeppelin, arguably the greatest single band of all time (I mean, really, the discussion is only between them and The Beatles, right?) LOST THE AWARD FOR BEST NEW ARTIST. To Crosby, Stills & Nash. I know it’s just one year, and I know it’s not meant to be a predictor of future success, but MOTHERFUCKING STILL.
Phew…gotta chill out here. Let’s move on:
1977: We have to wait a while before we get another pretty funny year, but 1977 brings us one of the funnier things to happen: Starland Vocal band – a band that sucks, according to Homer Simpson – beats out Boston for Best New Artist. Starland’s biggest hit was probably “Afternoon Delight,” which isn’t nothing, but Boston blows that song out of the water with “More than a Feeling” alone. This shouldn’t have even been CLOSE.
1990: Surprisingly, the 80s were marred by a series of insanely forgettable artists, none of whom hold any real stature these days (at least in terms of the Best New Artist award nominees). It takes us until 1990 before we get something fairly hilarious: Milli Vanilli “wins” the award, beating out a series of mediocre artists, but is ultimately stripped of the award due to their lip synching ways. No word on whether or not they had stunt doubles accept the award on their behalf.
1996: In the most 90s vote ever, Hootie & the Blowfish (fronted by current country music star Darius Rucker, which is…still just confusing to me) beats out – wait for it! – Brandy, Alanis Morissette, Joan Osborne and Shania Twain for the honors. This is 1996. I was ten years old and ignorant about music. Turns out that was a good thing this year.
2004: The years between 1996 and now give us a few pretty funny moments – most notably 2001, where Sisqo of “Thong Song” fame was even NOMINATED for the award – but 2004 is hilarious. Your runners up: 50 Cent, Fountains of Wayne, Heather Headley and Sean Paul. With 50 Cent losing, you’d think someone notable must have won, right? That’s correct!….assuming you think EVANESCENCE was more notable. A whiny, one-hit emo band beat out a whiny-but-still-notable rapper for the honors in 2004. Somewhere, Bobby Darin weeps at what the award he won has become.
20arghhhhhhh: I’m pretty tired of belaboring this point, so I’m just going to list all of the nominees from 2005-2012, with the winners listed in bold. You tell ME whether or not you think one is any more notable than another. Ready? Go: Maroon 5, Los Lonely Boys, Joss Stone, Kanye West, Gretchen Wilson, Ciara, Fall Out Boy, John Legend, Keane, Sugarland, James Blunt, Carrie Underwood, Chris Brown, Imogen Heap, Corinne Bailey Rae, Feist, Amy Winehouse, Ledisi, Paramore, Taylor Swift, Adele, Duffy, Jonas Brothers, Lady Antebellum, Jazmine Sullivan, Keri Hilson, MGMT, Silversun Pickups, The Ting Tings, Zac Brown Band, Drake, Esperanza Spalding, Justin Bieber, Mumford & Sons, Florence + The Machine, The Band Perry, Nicki Minaj, Bon Iver, J. Cole, Skrillex.
Ugh…reading through it again, that might as well be a list of nominees for “Band Most Likely to Make You Commit Suicide” award. I can’t believe this is what modern music has come to. I mean, clearly not EVERY famous band is immediately tabbed as legendary from the outset, but does anyone believe Justin Bieber will be as culturally relevant in 40 years as Led Zeppelin? That Los Lonely Boys were closer to a win than Cream? Ugh. I’m too sober for this. Time to put on some classical music and forget the Grammys even exist.