Grammys 2013: Winners and Losers

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The world’s biggest night for music occurred Sunday, Feb. 10. Despite the new, more conservative dress code, the 2013 Grammy Awards still managed to have a plethora of surprises and NSFW moments. Let’s take a look at the night’s winners and losers:

Winners:

The Black Keys

Grammy performance collaborations are usually cringe-inducing (see: last year when the Foo Fighters performed with Deadmau5). However, when the powers that be get it right, truly entertaining music can ensue. The Black Keys and their brand of raw, garage-blues pop rock meshed splendidly with the Cajun blues of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Dr. John. The set was loose, loud and fun, which is just what you want when the Black Keys are performing “Lonely Boy.” Also, Dr. John was dressed like an Ewok shaman, so that was cool.

Rock

While the music press constantly writes the obituary of rock, two of the biggest contemporary rock acts, the Keys and Jack White, both put forth terrific performances. Jack White’s set of “Love Interruption” and “Freedom at 21” encompassed what we love about rock: virtuosity and an awesome guitar.

 R&B

The Grammys provided a platform for R&B past and present to converge. Young auteurs Frank Ocean and Miguel both put forth great sets. Miguel, critically overshadowed by Ocean for much of the year, got to show off his tremendous voice in performing “Adorn,” despite having to share the stage with professional rap deadweight Wiz Khalifa. Justin Timberlake, the genre’s prodigal son, put a huge surge into his comeback, showing why he is one of the best live artists on the planet. Even Prince got to present an award. R&B is certainly alive and well with all this talent, old and new.

 Kanye West

He avoided embarrassment by not attending. Moral victory for Kanye.

 Frank Ocean

Whether through cryptic Tumblr posts or his poetic album Channel ORANGE, Frank Ocean became a critical darling in 2012. The Grammys were meant to be his official launch into superstardom, with a scheduled performance and a chance to win Album of the Year. Ocean chose to sing “Forrest Gump” and gave an intriguing but imperfect performance, endearingly shaky. Unfortunately, Ocean went on to lose Album of the Year to Mumford and Sons, but at least he can still play the “enigmatic genius” card. He is certainly an enigmatic genius that everyone should keep an eye on for years to come.

 

Losers:

Rap

Rap just doesn’t seem like it’s suited for the Grammys. As the most expansive, diverse and niche-driven genre of music today, it’s impossible to give one award for all of rap. Still, the NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) did the best they could, giving Drake Rap Album of the Year for the solid Take Care. Hip-hop legend Nas probably should have won for Life is Good, but it was not a terrible choice given how hard it is to choose between such different albums. The most universally acclaimed rap album in recent memory, Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city, was actually released in September but won’t be eligible until the 2014 Grammys.

National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences

The NARAS once again squandered the opportunity to show they are in touch with the rapidly changing music environment. It is hard to give broad awards in an artistic medium that is becoming increasingly voluminous and fragmented, but the Academy still showed a refusal to take the opportunity to recognize fresh material. Mumford and Sons is a solid band, but their style is nothing new. Not that there’s anything bad about that music, but 2012 had many fresh and exciting artists, Frank Ocean chief among them. Ocean owned the year, and deserved acknowledgement for doing so.

Taylor Swift

She’s just kind of getting annoying.

Chris Brown 

Chris Brown has been losing in the court of public opinion for a while now. Brown got in a fight with Frank Ocean two weeks ago, cutting Ocean’s finger so Ocean had to play piano one-handed (which he did expertly). He then went on to lose to Ocean in Best Urban Contemporary Album, and with the emergence of Ocean and Miguel, should not be expecting many awards any time soon.




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