By now everyone's seen the big news about the Grammy nods: Kanye gets a bunch, Amy Winehouse gets almost as many, and Bruce gets denied in the Album of the Year category. Since the Grammy nominees have about as much to do with good music as, I dunno, the contestants on America's Next Top Model have to do with human beauty, it doesn't really pay to fret about who's been unjustly denied a nomination. What's more interesting is finding evidence there are some serious weed smokers in the nominating committees, allowing both compelling and completely baffling nods to slip through.
First up, Best Short Form Video may be the strangest combination of artists in the whole list, with the late Johnny Cash competing with iPod shiller Feist, French disco-dancers Justice, pop-soul duo Gnarls Barkley, and pop-rock combo Mute Math. Remember that Mute Math video, "Typical," I put it in a "Neato Viddys" a few months back. It's backwards and nutty!
Best Remix (Non-Classical) is always an amusing category, at least if you try to imagine stodgy old Grammy voters putting a 12" on the turntable and dancing around the sitting room. Italian dance producer Benny Benassi gets a nod for his dull Public Enemy remix, as does Eric Prydz for his slightly more tolerable take on Pink Floyd (both of these featuring artists Grammy voters might recognize). However, Carl Craig's remix of Junior Boys' "Like a Child" is a bit of a surprise here. I found a homemade video of doofy snapshots on YouTube that features the whole song, so you can give it a listen:
Its oddly atonal take on the original doesn't even get a bass drum until late in the 4th minute; were Grammy voters just reading Pitchfork for ideas?
Best Surround Sound Album is also a pretty funny category: talk about an opportunity to get out the weed and head into your 73-speaker listening room. Along with a few symphonies and The Beatles, Oklahoman art-instigators The Flaming Lips have landed in this category with the surround-sound mix of At War With the Mystics, their 2006 album that featured "The W.A.N.D.," a Dungen-like piece inspiring riff-tastic psychedelia. You can't get the full surround-sound experience on YouTube, but it's still fun to watch:
Otherwise, even most of the nominations I'm kind of pleased by are "repeat" nods for previously-nominated artists (see the Chems for Best Dance Recording, Beck for Solo Rock Vocal), a syndrome which has its penultimate expression in the Album of the Year entry for Herbie Hancock, whose entire audience now appears to be Grammy voters. Even the Best Alternative Music Album, typically a bastion of credibility, is kind of underwhelming: Bjork's Volta doesn't deserve to be there at all, and everybody likes Lily Allen, but a Grammy?
Finally, it's bittersweet to see UGK in the Rap Duo or Group category, just days after the untimely death of member Pimp C. Let's check out the video for "International Player's Anthem" again, it's so great.
The winners are announced on February 10th, 2008.