The Best Ways to Win an Album of the Year at the Grammys

The Grammys are a funny thing.  They present awards for a range of different categories, from Best Recording Package to Best Music Video to Record of the Year.  However, if music is supposed to be art, then how exactly do the Grammys decided on who has the best art?  Isn’t art just an expression of oneself?  What criteria does the Grammy selection committee use to determine who’s art is best?

Fortunately, I’ve done years of research, watching each neverending Grammy award show after the next.  My friends go out and party during the weekends.  I suffer for my cause.  I watch the Grammys.

Yet, there is a bright side.  After all of this research, I have concocted a list of the five best ways to win an Album of the Year, the most prestigious Grammy award.  In so doing, it goes without reason that this list truly is the criteria to judge all performers on the worthiness of their art.

Without further adieu, here is the list:

1. Be Old

With age comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes Grammys.  From Robert Plant’s Grammy in 2009 to Herbie Hancock’s in 2008 to  Steely Dan’s in 2001, it is plain to see that if you’re about to kick the bucket, the Grammys would like to congratulate you for living.

Your chances to win Album of the Year improve astronomically if you actually once were deserving of this honor.  For instance, Bob Dylan won it in 1998 for Time Out of Mind (a truly great album), but the man never won one for any of his string of rule-breaking 60s masterpieces (Blonde on Blonde, Highway 61 Revisited, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, etc.).  It was almost as if the Grammys gave him the one in 1998 to basically say “Sorry about that whole refusing-to-give-you-an-award thing way back when.  You were a bit too controversial in those days.  Now that you’re older and accepted, we love you…and retroactively love all your brilliant past work.”

2. Be Popular

This explains why the Foo Fighters always get nominated (2008, 2012).  It also explains the Black Eyed Peas nomination in 2010.  (Actually, nothing explains that.)  It’s the reason Alanis Morissette won for Jagged Little Pill in 1996.  Did anyone actually think that was the best album that year?  Yes.  The Grammys did.  Her art was best.

3. Be Someone Other than Radiohead

Radiohead is many things to many people.  They’ve won widespread acclaim.  Pitchfork readers want to make love to them.  They are popular.  They are indie.  They are crazy businessmen.  However, there’s one thing they are not.  Grammy winners.

Time (1998) and time (2001) and time (2009) again, they have been nominated.  Yet time (1998) and time (2001) and time (2009) again, they have lost.  OK Computer and Kid A are considered by most to be groundbreaking works in the industry and stone cold masterpieces, yet they still lost.  Astoundingly, in 2009 the band even showed up and played a killer performance of “15 Step” from In Rainbows (below), and still lost.

After doing a bit of digging, I realized why they lost.  Winners from those three years, in order, are Bob Dylan, Steely Dan, and Robert Plant (with Alison Krauss).  The average age of those winners is around 500, while the average age of Thom Yorke and the Yorkettes is about 40.  Despite what they say, music isn’t a young man’s game.  It’s an old man’s game for an old man that once was great as a young man.

4. Be Scheduled to Perform on the Grammys

When was the last time you saw a Grammy winner that didn’t actually perform on the show?  Never, right.  It’s like the whole thing is staged.  Anyway, everyone knows that artists who have TV friendly good looks make the best art.   How else can you explain how Whitney Houston’s soundtrack for The Bodyguard beat R.E.M.’s classic Automatic for the People in 1994?  Bald white guys never make the best art.

5. Be “Americana”

I may not know much, but I do know that America is obsessed about America.  Ford trucks, Bud Light, slavery, etc.  We are a proud nation.  Celebrating our roots is part of our culture.  The Grammy selection committee endorses this celebration wholeheartedly.  In music, celebrating our roots is called playing “Americana” or “folk” music.  It tends to involve a middle-aged white guy with a beard or some sort of old-fashioned facial hair.  This is why I expect Mumford & Sons to win this year.

Mumford and Sons in concert - London

A bunch of white guys with facial hair playing acoustic guitars and other old-timey instruments? Give them the trophy already.

All Americans know that American music is the best music.  It goes without saying that it’s the best art.

There you have it.  Check out the Grammys and let me have it if I’m wrong (which I won’t be).

From Here to Eternity: The Big Fish

“From Here to Eternity” is a four part mini-series examining what to make of the future of music. The series begins with a glimpse into the crystal ball for the future of  major bands, then onto smaller/indie bands. From there, the series  moves on to two radically changing industries: concert ticket distribution and music sales.

“The Big Fish”

In this section, I’d like to read the tea leaves and describe the future for some of our favorite major rock acts. Be warned, it isn’t just roses from here on out.

The Rolling Stones – The band will continue having anniversary concerts for their 55th year together, their 60th, and then while preparing for their massive We Never Say Die tour in 2022, Keith Richards will die. At his funeral, Mick Jagger will perform a mournful version of “Bitch”.  Confused faces will abound.

U2 – In 2014, five years after the mild-selling U2 album No Line on the Horizon, Bono will announce that  U2 is ready to re-re-apply for job of best band in the world. With that, their new album No Time for the Future But Now will be released. It will be another guitar love affair by the Edge, with classic Bono wailing, and several mentions of the words “love”, “fire”, “spirit”, “time”, and other major sentiments that people can feel attached to. It will sell millions of copies with producer Danger Mouse calling it “the dopest thing created buy a bunch of white guys ever”. U2 will continue to piss off the Pitchfork music website with their shameless display of all flash and no substance. Bono will once again show that the younger Bono of around the 3 minute mark of this clip is dead and gone.

Radiohead – After years of creating cultural upheaval and consistently being called the world’s greatest band or the future of music or the savior of our times, Radiohead created the relaxed and non-world beating The King of Limbs. As astute readers of blogs, critical reviews, and YouTube comments, Yorke and co. will soon decide it’s  time to “get weird” again. So in 2015, they will release the album AOUIWEKLJE to the delight of fans everywhere. Before diving into the album, people will be greeted with the enigma of the title. Fans will give long-winded essays on it’s meaning, from how the letters looked together at certain angles with the sun to the way the sequence of letters sounds in cat noises, with no response from within the Radiohead camp.

Finally, in 2025, Yorke will get drunk in an interview and will be asked about the album title, to which he will say “It was just a big laugh. I covered Jonny’s eyes and he just started typing random letters. We went with it.” The album itself will consist mostly of key arrangements to only sound palatable to those who worked hard enough at it to get that palate. One of their most challenging and awe-inspiring works yet.

Bob Dylan – Bob will keep croaking along. He’ll never stop croaking. He’ll be dead and still croaking.

Beck – After the abysmal failure that was Song Reader, Beck will try his hand at directing movies. His first movie, “Under a Bourbon Sun”, will be about a bottle of bourbon that got tired of living in a bar, decided to crawl out to see the world, got too hot in the desert sun, lost all its alcohol to evaporation, and eventually died. It will not be a success.

Dead Artists – After the deaths of many major artists (Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, etc.), Warner Bros. will win the rights to their music and creates the “Hologram” series in a similar vein to the amazing-and-not-at-all-pure-evil Tupac Shakur Coachella concert.

The “Hologram” series will be surefire hit, with kids from Alabama to Japan dancing along to a hologrammed Michael Jackson “singing” “Billie Jean”. Several artists will try to complain about royalties and ethics, but they will all be dead.

So it goes.