Grammys’ gaffes are many, but some they got right

[7 December 2007]

By Michael Hamersly

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

Herbie Hancock? The Grammy Awards nominations, announced Thursday morning, continue a 50-year tradition of hits and misses by the Recording Academy. While Kanye West, Vince Gill and Amy Winehouse deserve nods for Album of the Year, choosing Herbie Hancock’s tribute to Joni Mitchell over Bruce Springsteen’s “Magic” is an embarrassing gaffe.

OK, maybe it’s not quite as embarrassing as Christopher Cross sweeping the show in 1981, but it’s close. “Magic,” The Boss’ most consistent, hit-worthy work since 1984’s “Born In the U.S.A.,” settles for a Best Rock Album nod, plus Best Rock Song and Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance for “Radio Nowhere.” (He also was nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for “Once Upon a Time in the West,” a track from the tribute CD “We All Love Ennio Morricone.”)

It’s no wonder Grammy awards are often ridiculed by “The Simpsons” as meaningless trash, and that Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong flipped the bird at the camera while accepting an award for “American Idiot” in 2005. Maybe Chris Daughtry - who was cheated out of a Best New Artist nom by Feist, Ledisi, Paramore, Taylor Swift and the deserving Winehouse - should do the same at this year’s show, Feb. 10 at Los Angeles’ Staples Center.

Still, the Grammy remains the music industry’s most prestigious honor, even though last year’s telecast was (ironically) slaughtered in the ratings by “American Idol,” 32 million viewers to 17 million. This year’s big winners are West - whose album “Graduation” sold nearly a million copies in its first week - with a leading eight nominations; Winehouse with six; and the Foo Fighters, Jay-Z, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake and T-Pain, each with five nods.

Akon, Dierks Bentley, Daughtry, Feist, Tim McGraw, John Newton, Ne-Yo, Rihanna, and Springsteen received four apiece.

Record of the Year (think: single) candidates largely made sense, with ubiquitous hits by Beyonce “(Irreplaceable)” and Rihanna “(Umbrella)” leading the way, with Timberlake’s “What Goes Around .../Comes Around ...” and Winehouse’s “Rehab” also strong contenders. But why would the Foo Fighters’ indistinct “The Pretender” be chosen over West’s infectious hit “Stronger?”

Song of the Year (think: songwriter) comes down to Rihanna’s “Umbrella” vs. Winehouse’s “Rehab.” Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Like A Star” - which she sang at LAST year’s Grammys - Plain White T’s’ “Hey There Delilah” and the annoying and whiny “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood have zero chance of winning.

The hottest song of the moment almost didn’t get invited to the party. “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” by Soulja Boy Tell’Em got one measly nod, for Best Rap Song. The Academy could at least have created a special category, Silliest Dance Craze, to reflect a nation obsessed with mastering Soulja Boy’s awkward routine.

Thursday’s nominations gave some much-needed good news to West and Winehouse, who have endured a rough year. Winehouse’s erratic behavior and drug and alcohol problems have made her tabloid fodder, while West’s mother died last month after complications from plastic surgery. Both should be well rewarded Feb. 10.

And both should be thankful that neither Alison Krauss nor Stevie Wonder are competing with them. Krauss - whose duet with Robert Plant, “Gone Gone Gone (Don Moved On)” got a nod for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals - holds the record for most awards for a female solo artist with 20, while Wonder is tops for males with 22.

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