What Rocks Most?
(For a complete list of 53rd GRAMMY Award nominees, click here.)
In 2011 the term rock and roll enters its seventh decade. Even back in its formative years, rock music was as varied as Elvis' "That's All Right," Bill Haley And His Comets' "Rock Around The Clock" and Little Richards' "Tutti Frutti." What did they all have in common? A certain swagger, a mystique, a bit of aggression, and the ability to get you moving. Fast forward to now, and the nominees in the Rock Field for the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards have all grown up on rock and roll. Who interpreted it best this year?
The Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance nominees include some of rock's most legendary stars — and one (relatively) new blood. Eric Clapton's bluesy "Run Back To Your Side" and Neil Young's psychedelic "Angry World" find both in peak form. Young blood John Mayer's cover of the blues classic "Crossroads," Paul McCartney's live recording of "Helter Skelter" and Robert Plant's cover of Low's "Silver Rider" round out the nominees. Check out my coverage from last year's MusiCares Person of the Year tribute to Neil Young.
The Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals nominees include a wide variety of newer acts. Arcade Fire's "Ready To Start" crosses over into alternative territory; Jeff Beck and Joss Stone's rendition of "I Put A Spell On You" brings a bit of mystery to the table; the Black Keys' "Tighten Up" is bluesy indie rock; and Kings Of Leon's "Radioactive" touches on psychedelic territory. It's Muse's "Resistance" that completes the category with its rock opera qualities, impressive given that there are three people in the band compared to the 100 or so in Arcade Fire.
The Best Hard Rock Performance nominees include some of my favorite artists...as I am the Hard Rock Chick. The Prince of Darkness Ozzy Osbourne's "Let Me Hear You Scream" is not my favorite Ozzy effort, but it still rocks, and Stone Temple Pilots' "Between The Lines" may not be prime Pilots, but a solid effort. Them Crooked Vultures marks the second nomination for a former Zeppelin member (John Paul Jones), but while "New Fang" is a great hard rock track, I would have to say that Alice In Chain's "A Looking In View" and Soundgarden's "Black Rain" raise the bar. Picking between these two would be like picking a favorite kid. I wish the voters luck.
Who says the GRAMMYs aren't metal? This year's nominees cover the best of the best — my only complaint is there are many similarities to last year's list. If Iron Maiden wins, it will be their first GRAMMY. My pick would be Lamb Of God's "In Your Words." The musicianship on that track is stellar. Korn's "Let The Guilt Go," Megadeth's "Sudden Death" and Slayer's "World Painted Blood" round out the category. If there were six nominees there would have been room for a track from Deftones' Diamond Eyes.
The nominees for Best Rock Album cover quite a bit of territory, as they should. Jeff Beck's Emotion & Commotion, Muse's The Resistance, Pearl Jam's Backspacer, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers' Mojo, and Neil Young's Le Noise, request a wide range of styles and generations. And as an example of these artists' commitment to their art, the Daniel Lanois-produced Le Noise finds Neil Young embracing new directions.
Tune in to the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. For updates and breaking news, please visit The Recording Academy's social networks on Twitter and Facebook.