For the second year in a row, the Grammy Awards announced their nominations during a special primetime concert, held at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre L.A. Live and broadcast live on CBS. In between performances by the Black Eyed Peas, Maxwell, Sugarland, host LL Cool J and Nick Jonas’ new band, the Administration, presenters read off the nominees in all major categories, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist. Beyoncé led all nominees with 10 nods, followed by Taylor Swift with eight nominations. The Black Eyed Peas, Kanye West and Maxwell each received six. (View photos from the Grammy nominations concert.) Below are the nominees in some of the top categories. For a complete list of nominees, visit GRAMMY.com. And keep checking Metromix.com for predictions, poll and previews of the 52nd annual Grammy Awards, taking place Sunday, Jan. 31 in Los Angeles and broadcasting live on CBS.
Album Of The Year:
I Am…Sasha Fierce (Beyoncé)
The E.N.D. (the Black Eyed Peas)
The Fame (Lady Gaga)
Big Whiskey And The Groogrux King (Dave Matthews Band)
Fearless (Taylor Swift)
Record Of The Year:
“I Gotta Feeling” (the Black Eyed Peas)
“Use Somebody” (Kings Of Leon)
“Poker Face” (Lady Gaga)
“You Belong With Me” (Taylor Swift)
Song Of The Year:
“Poker Face,” Lady Gaga & RedOne, songwriters (Lady Gaga)
“Pretty Wings,” Hod David & Musze, songwriters (Maxwell)
“Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It),” Thaddis Harrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Terius Nash & Christopher Stewart, songwriters (Beyoncé)
“Use Somebody, “Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill & Nathan Followill, songwriters (Kings Of Leon)
“You Belong With Me,” Liz Rose & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift)
Best New Artist:
Zac Brown Band
The Ting Tings
Best Rock Album:
Black Ice (AC/DC)
Live From Madison Square Garden (Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood)
21st Century Breakdown (Green Day)
Big Whiskey And The Groogrux King (Dave Matthews Band)
No Line On The Horizon (U2)
Best Rap Album:
Universal Mind Control (Common)
R.O.O.T.S. (Flo Rida)
The Ecstatic (Mos Def)
The Renaissance (Q-Tip)
Best Pop Performance by a Duo Or Group with Vocals:
“I Gotta Feeling” (the Black Eyed Peas)
“We Weren’t Born To Follow” (Bon Jovi)
“Never Say Never” (the Fray)
“Sara Smile” (Daryl Hall and John Oates)
The Album of the Year category hasn’t been totally respectable in a long time–favoring sales and mainstream recognition over quality–but usually a solid act like Radiohead,Dixie Chicks,White Stripes,OutKast,Bob Dylan will slip in there to class up the joint. This year? Say it ain’t so, Grammy. When the nominees were revealed last night during a primetime concert in L.A., we learned that album of the year nominees include Beyonce, Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Dave Matthews Band and Taylor Swift. No, that is not the list of top 5 artist on your young cousins’ iPod. Those are the nominees for Album of the Year. In other silliness, not-new-anymore artists like MGMT and Silversun Pickups were nominated for Best New Artist, though I was glad to see Maxwell’s writers pick up a nod for Song of the Year for the gorgeous “Pretty Wings.” Biggest observations during a stroll through the other categories: The Pop Vocal Album category is scary (Black Eyed Peas, Colbie Caillat and The Fray, such brilliance!) while Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance should include the phrase “over 50 years old” when nominating Prince, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young. All legends, of course, but still. Nice lineup for Best Rock Song of U2, Green Day, Kings of Leon, Pearl Jam and Springsteen. And French pop act Phoenix continues its rise with a Best Alternative Album nod for “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.”
Bringing together the classic songwriting of Stevie Wonder with the 80s pop sensibilities of Cyndi Lauper, North London based singer songwriter Zarif creates her own brand of quirky retro-tinged soul. After featuring on hip hop production duo The Nextmen’s critically acclaimed album “This Was Supposed To Be The Future” including the single “Something Got You”, Zarif had a busy 2008 touring with the Nextmen, playing countless festivals such as Glastonbury and Bestival, and supporting Taio Cruz on his UK tour. She even caught the attention of the Grammy award winning John Legend, who asked her to duet with him at this year’s Tommy Hilfiger Sessions.
Her debut album is due this spring, produced by Tommy D (Corinne Bailey Rae, Kanye West), Blair Makichan (Lily Allen) and Fraser T Smith (Kano) and includes the infectious “Box Of Secrets”, recently featured on the Sky TV advert.
THE COCKPIT, LEEDS LEEDS
SNEAKY PETES, EDINBURGH EDINBURGH
KOROVA, LIVERPOOL LIVERPOOL
BRISTOL, START THE BUS BRISTOL
BIRMINGHAM, 444CLUB @ THE RAINBOW BIRMINGHAM
YOYO, Notting Hill Arts Club LONDON
Pritchattsbury Festival, Birmingham Birmingham
BEACHBREAK LIVE FESTIVAL, CORNWALL – NEW MUSIC STAGE Cornwall
BEACHBREAK LIVE FESTIVAL, CORNWALL – MAIN STAGE Cornwall
GNARLS BARKLEY have revealed that they would like to make an iconic song with Oasis. Singer Cee-Lo said he is a huge fan of Noel Gallagher and he loved the band’s recent album Dig Out Your Soul. He said: “I’ve been checking out the new Oasis album and it’s hot. “When I was in London I got to hang out with Noel and we had a big laugh. I’d like to do something iconic with them.”
The Gnarls Barkley collaboration didn’t bring producer Danger Mouse to the top of the British charts for the first time, but it did mark his debut as the pilot of a hit record. Mouse, born Brian Burton, first gained the ears of discriminating listeners when he concocted The Grey Album, a bootleg that mashed the vocals from The Black Album by Jay-Z with music samples courtesy of The White Album by EMI flagship the Beatles. Although the label posted a cease-and-desist order, one of their employees, Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz, was one of the impressed, and he hired Burton to create the beats for the second Gorillaz album, Demon Days. Just one year later, Danger Mouse was back in the charts with another collaboration project, Gnarls Barkley, with singer Cee-Lo Green (a solo artist and former member of Atlanta’s Goodie Mob). The pair had met in Atlanta in the late ’90s, and began recording together around the time of a 2003 DM record titled Ghetto Pop Life. A few recordings were passed around and played by many associated with the pair, and eventually one of the leaked tracks, “Crazy,” became a hot property for the download market. It became the first single vaulted to the top of the British charts by digital distribution, and the resulting album, St. Elsewhere, peaked at number one on the album charts. A follow-up was not long in coming; The Odd Couple dropped in early 2008.
British singer Natasha Bedingfield has gotten married in Malibu. People Magazine reports the pop songstress wed California businessman Matthew Robinson in a 30-minute outdoor ceremony overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Saturday. About 150 guests watched Bedingfield walk down the aisle in a Vera Wang dress beside the chateau at the Church Estates Vineyards. Bedingfield’s albums include “Unwritten,” “N.B.” and “Pocketful of Sunshine.”
Natasha took the US by storm last year with the first British chart topping hit by a female in almost twenty years. Vanity Fair singled her out as the spearhead of a new Britpop invasion; she became one of the faces of Gap (alongside Mia Farrow and Common); she was invited by her hero Prince to jam with him at a private party; Bono enlisted her for his (RED) campaign; and her song Unwritten proved to be the most played song on mainstream American radio in 2006.
She blasted her way up the British charts in 2004 with her typically outspoken take on the lifestyles of independent young women. So her return to action this year may come as something of a surprise…
“I want to make music that matches who I am. My first album was about independence and opportunism. I’m still very independent and I find it hard to let go of that freedom, but I’m in a different place now. Natasha Bedingfield’s sophomore album N.B. is very much reflective of this ‘different place’ that she is in now, proving that affairs of the heart, although difficult, make for excellent song-writing material. Each track on the album explores a varying stage of the ‘relationship’ story, and the issues, experiences, and processes that come with these stages: from the lonely place of never feeling like you will fit with anyone (Soulmate), through the flirting, dancing stage where you feel you might (How Do You Do?), to the moment at which the game playing ends and open honesty prevails (Say It Again). Never one to mouth empty platitudes or re-hash well-worn clichés, Natasha’s gift for creating pop music that does not sacrifice intelligence on the altar of universal appeal prevails throughout.
Recorded in Los Angeles, Natasha Bedingfield has co-written and co-produced N.B., working with a stellar team of talent including Mike Elizondo of Eminem/Dre/50 Cent fame, Adam Levine (Maroon 5), Greg Kurstin (Beck, Lily Allen), previous collaborators Steve Kipner, Andrew Frampton, Wayne Wilkins, Danielle Brisebois and Wayne Rodrigues and long time Madonna collaborator Pat Leonard.
The first cut to be taken from N.B. is forthcoming single I Wanna Have Your Babies, due to be accompanied by a colourful and entertaining video from Dave Meyers (Pink, Missy Elliot, Outkast). Lyrically I Wanna have Your Babies touches on a female’s fight to reign in their natural disposition to ‘rush into things’ in an effort to find that elusive ‘one’, that potential father to their children. Musically it is distinctly ‘Natasha Bedingfield’ – the voice to melt radios, the beats that drop either side of the Atlantic, the arrangements that are undeniably quirky, but still, somehow, work.
Girl Talk knows he won’t necessarily get your money, but anything you could spare would be greatly appreciated. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Greg Gillis (AKA Girl Talk) has an impressive record collection, surely the envy of audiophiles and compulsive hoarders the world over. Just listen to the first minute of Play Your Part (Pt. 1) from his latest album, Feed The Animals. You don’t make a song that samples Roy Orbison, Twisted Sister, Outkast, Temple Of The Dog and Pete Townshend without a vast wealth of vinyls and CDs. Skimming the top of Rolling Stone’s Hot List just won’t do.
I envision Gillis’s Pittsburgh apartment with records spilling out of every shelf, nook and cranny, in various states of organization and categorization reminiscent of Rob Gordon’s hovel in the film High Fidelity (or, of Rob ‘Fleming’, if you’re one of those staunch literary elitists who never believe a screen adaptation could surpass the book… well, screw you, Jack Black takes his snobbish musical nazi character to new heights, and Cusack’s plays a pretty convincing self-loather… while we’re on the subject, the ending in the film version Fight Club was better too, so there). Where were we? We’re talking about the buying practices influencing the creation of mash-up masterpieces from Girl Talk, music that’s almost as fun to listen to and play ‘spot the sample’ as it is to generate or build-up a party.
“I love going to the record store, because I buy a lot of mainstream music, Top 40 stuff,” he says, validating my theory that Greg is, at the centre of it all, a pop fan that just wants to hear things in a different way. “But I also get my a lot of stuff at the local independent stores, there’s one close to me called ‘Paul’s’, that’s where I get my more underground things.”
“Whenever I’m on tour,” he adds, “I’m always picking up new music, even at Walmart or Best Buy or something. Always stopping in on tour, picking up whatever I can. I don’t really collect digital music; I only have a few mp3’s on my computer. Any chance I get to walk into a CD store, I have a hard time walking out empty handed.”
2008 may well go down in musical history as the year that music makers, promoters, vendors and companies at large subtly began to admit that they no longer have any idea about how to make money from music. Institutions closed, record companies folded and big bands began taking their livelihood into their own hands, cutting out the middleman and selling their product straight to the listeners. Radiohead’s ‘pay what you feel’ system for In Rainbows was more of an experiment than a runaway success, (ok, it was late 2007… but work with me here) while Trent Reznor’s free downloadble ‘album’ was effectively 27 minutes of ambient noise, a thinly-veiled promotion for the next album and tour.
It’s all well and good for these two acts to rally against the corporate machine of music after a decade of support from their labels, but applying the same honour system to release Girl Talk’s Feed The Animals (fans could download the entire album for free of his record label’s website as long as they gave a reason, but they could also pay US$5 for a FLAC download or US$20 for a physical copy) took guts, balls, and whatever else people who make brave decisions possess. I’m sure Greg isn’t going hungry tonight, but he’s never made a chart-topping money-raker like OK Computer or Downward Spiral to fall back on if it all fell to shit. Are you mad, sir?
“The initial idea was from the label, Illegal Art, and when they threw it out to me I thought it was great,” he says. “I am all about being upfront with the people who buy my music and come to shows; it just seemed to acknowledge reality.”
“I know as soon it gets online, whether I’m selling it for $10 or zero dollars, people can get it for free, so why not acknowledge that?” he poses. “We said ‘ok, we know you can get it for free, but, if you want throw some money at us, that’s fantastic. That’s what music’s becoming anyway, even releasing a CD in 2008 is asking for a donation. You know that anyone with a computer can get it for free, so why not basically say what it is, and maybe have people respect you for that?”
When you see Girl Talk live coaxing the audience to join him onstage – because, when you get down to it, watching one skinny computer kid bounce around a laptop is not as much fun as it sounds – having 50 years of popular music distilled down to 30 second chunks has an effect that circumvents the cerebral and goes straight for the body.
But listening to it at home in isolation, through headphones or car speakers, picking out the sources of each snippet is just as entertaining. Musical trainspotting is the phrase an associate applied to it, which is as eloquent as he normally gets without dropping a profanity in there. Well Greg, which one works best for you? The venue or the verandah? The club or the couch? The party or the party that no-one else attends?
“It’s funny, I’ve heard that a lot, but I never really think of it like that,” he says with a chuckle. “I completely understand that now, but when I put it together, I think the influence of moving so quickly was from the electronic music I was listening to, like Squarepusher where it’s always moving but it’s cohesive.
“I’ve heard stuff like drinking games revolving around spotting samples and things like that, so that makes sense now,” he laughs. “I think there are so many different angles you can take with sampling, you can use it as an instrument. An example is the difference between my work and The Avalanches, they’re doing something amazing, I’m a big fan of their work…There’s not that many people focusing on it, so when you see the success that they’ve had, I get really excited.”
You read correctly, he even knows The Avalanches, home-grown electronic maestros who’ve been working on the follow-up to Since I Left You for eight years. I hope they’re not still looking for an album title, because Chinese Democracy has been taken. Either way, Girl Talk is a party in the head, and in the booty.
Girl Talk will bring the party to the Melbourne leg of The Laneway Festival, taking place around the Caledonian lane/Lonsdale St precinct of the city on Sunday February 1 and hits The Prince Bandroom for a sideshow on Thursday February 5. Of course, however, it’s sold out. In your face. So, you better go see him at Laneway. Feed The Animals is out now through Illegal Art/Inertia.