Saturday, February 9, 2013

Least Favorite Songs And My Own Personal Grammys

                With all of the hoopla that the Grammys provides about deciding the best of music, I thought it’d be interesting to take a trip down my own memory and deliberate on what was the WORST of all music I’ve ever heard. As I stated in my previous post, it seems a bit silly to me to declare what is the best or worst of music in any given year, so these are strictly my opinion. When I created this group of atrociousness, I had to make some guidelines. Poor quality of music in my eyes could not be the only factor. Otherwise I would just pick out a random death metal album and pick five songs from it. In order to make my five worst songs of all time, there had to something that reached me on a significant emotional level. Something that just objected to everything I think is right and good in this world. Because of that, some songs that land in this list are not terrible musically. In fact, you may enjoy them. Hear me out though, and understand why each of these five songs is atrocious. Following the list, I’ll pick the Grammy winners (and new nominations) according to my grading scale.

5.) Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 – Bob Dylan
This is the only song that makes it on the list almost entirely because of the music quality. I have no reservations; I vehemently dislike Dylan’s music. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is to tell someone that I hate Bob Dylan’s music. He/she’s reaction will tell me how narrow-minded that person is. The most frequent response I receive is “I can’t take your opinion on music seriously if you don’t like/understand Bob Dylan.” That is one of the most ridiculous proclamations I hear. Just because I don’t like one musician, all my view on music are invalid? Nonsense. My stance on Dylan is that yeah, he was a hell of a songwriter, but his musical talent was awful. This song is a perfect demonstration of that. It sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me. You can listen to a short preview here on Amazon. Just because Dylan was a brilliant writer does NOT mean he was a good musician. Think about it, if I was somehow gifted in the art of writing successful music, I still would not perform it due to my lack of musical talent (awful voice, cannot play instruments). I feel the same way about Dylan; brilliant writer, but he should have let other people sing his lyrical gems.

4.) The Bad Touch – Bloodhound Gang
Ugh, This song could not have been released at a worse time for me. I was just entering adolescence when The Bad Touch became a radio sensation, and it depicted images that I shouldn’t have quite yet been exposed to. Had this song been released in my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, etc…, I would not hold it in such poor favor, but being popular during my formative years with such vulgarity has forever scarred me emotionally. I will never forgive The Bad Touch for making me feel immensely uncomfortable in my transition from child to young adult. The song and video can been accessed via this link.

3.) Redneck Yacht Club – Craig Morgan
There are a LOT of current country songs that could vie to make this list, but Redneck Yacht Club holds a special place of disdain in my heart. As I wrote in an earlier post, I fully believe that Tim McGraw ushered in the death of traditional country music. Well, Redneck Yacht Club pounded the final nail in the coffin. There is nothing more anti-country music than a yacht club, yet that is what this track elevates. It stands for everything that true country music stands against. And yes, I’ve heard the counterpoint, “but it’s not about real yachts!” plenty of times already. The concept is still the same. Can you imagine a country artist making this song 30 years ago? I think not. For this reason, Redneck Yacht Club lands itself at number three on my most hated songs of all time. If you want to torture yourself, the music video can be viewed here

 2.) Kim – Eminem
My friend and I sometimes debate on what is the better Eminem album, The Marshall Mathers LP or The Eminem Show. I will always pick the latter because the former has the song Kim on its track list. This is one of the most vulgar and hateful songs that I have ever had the misfortune of listening to. It honestly makes me never want to listen to the album. I really can’t speak anymore on this song because it disturbs me so much. If you want to hear it, AND I STRONGLY SUGGEST NOT LISTENING TO IT, I am providing a link here.

1.)    Single Ladies – Beyoncé Knowles
I’ll preface this paragraph by saying that I generally enjoy Beyoncé. I believe that she is actually quite talented and has handled/marketed herself very well for years as opposed to other female singers (think Britney Spears). However, nothing makes me bristle like her song Single Ladies. Maybe it’s because I’m a man, but having to witness countless young women flock to a dance floor over and over again in a trance to this song, like it somehow is an anthem disgusts me. I don’t mean to berate the act of proposing marriage to a woman, but for some reason, having women proclaim that men are fools if they do not propose or “put a ring on it,” is preposterous to me. I have an inborn vendetta against engagement rings in first place (every kiss begins with Kay, seriously?), but this song somehow communicates to me that men are stupid for not proposing to a woman that they’re dating, even when the divorce rate in America is over 50%. This song to me is less about women’s empowerment and more about women’s obsessions with glitzy engagement rings. If you wish to subject yourself to this song, here is the music video.

                Now that we’ve concluded that exhibition in awfulness, let’s get to what I think the Grammys should reflect. These are all my personal favorites, so the selections here have their limits (not hearing a song/album, disliking certain genres). I’m also throwing out Grammy rules and picking songs/albums/artists explicitly for the year 2012 (the Grammy window for this year’s awards is October 2011-September 2012). Furthermore I’m creating a couple new/different categories: There is only song of the year. Not song and record as the Academy deems. Album of the year stands, Best New Artist stands, but there is also another major category I think is relevant; Artist of the Year.

Song of the Year:
Thinkin Bout You – Frank Ocean
Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst – Kendrick Lamar
Good Kid – Kendrick Lamar
Survival – Muse
Panic Station – Muse
Mercy – G.O.O.D Music
King Wizard – Kid Cudi
Super Rich Kids – Frank Ocean
Erase Me – Ben Folds Five
Sixteen – Rick Ross

It’s a tie! If it were a song by itself, Sing About Me by Kendrick Lamar would easily win this category. It simply has the best beat and the most compelling (and true) story of all of the nominees. However, halfway through, it changes its format in a way that greatly takes away from the beginning five and a half minutes. That being said, King Wizard and Good Kid have to tie in bringing home song of the year. King Wizard is entirely produced by Kid Cudi, preluding and album he has produced entirely by himself and that he claims will be the best ever and no one can touch. In his song he lets us know that he still can rhyme and has added production to his arsenal. Good Kid captures exactly what makes Kendrick Lamar’s album so great; featuring lyrics that illustrate a real situation, a hook that draws you in, and a beat that makes you want to nod your head. There simply cannot be a single victor between the two of them. Sixteen by Rick Ross garners a mention in that it’s over eight minutes long and is outstanding for its entire runtime. Its success is cemented by Andre3000 spitting nearly a five minute verse. For those that cannot listen to a song that runs more than four minutes, I implore you to listen to Sixteen, it will be worth it. A few other notes, both songs by Frank Ocean and Survival by Muse are worthy, but I think all three of those songs will fall out of favor once they are listened to extensively. This is a common phenomenon, you can “kill” a song by over-listening, and those three are prime candidates for that. Lastly, it may surprise you that Erase Me by the Ben Folds Five was my runner-up in this category. I readily admit that I have a soft spot for Folds, but I believe that this song can stand up with the best of them. What was the difference between Erase Me, King Wizard, and Good Kid? King Wizard and Good Kid both have an emotional base that Erase Me just does not. Kid Cudi and Kendrick Lamar made an excellent track with feeling while Ben Folds just made an excellent song. In any case, I STRONGLY encourage you to YouTube all of the songs listed and give them a shot. Perhaps your favorite is different, but you will be sampling good music.

Album of the Year:
good kid, m.A.A.d city – Kendrick Lamar
channel ORANGE – Frank Ocean
Red – Taylor Swift
The 2nd Law­ – Muse
Unapologetic – Rihanna

I’m not including El Camino by the Black Keys here because it was released late 2011. Even though I have not listened to either, Rihanna and Swifts’ albums both make the nominees here because of their popularity. I’m not one to completely deny an artist’s impact, and when you can sell millions of records in the fashion that Rihanna and Swift can, you need to be considered for album of the year. Unfortunately for them, the best album in 2012 was Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE. If you assume I’m making this choice based on my dislike of Taylor, you’re wrong. Even though I dislike her music, I respect Taylor Swift. However, she doesn’t have more than one iconic song on her Red album; the only one I have heard of is We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. When considering good kid, m.A.A.d city it’s important to remember that a few excellent songs doesn’t always make an album outstanding. When listening to Kendrick’s album, there will always be that handful of tracks that I will skip. Frank Ocean’s album is solid through and through; there are no musical lulls in it, and it’s an album that I can listen to all the way through without having an urge to skip a song. Ocean’s consistency, mixed with a hit on more than few tracks, win him 2012’s album of the year. I encourage you to at least sample it via whatever method you can.

Best New Artist:

Kendrick Lamar
Frank Ocean

This really is only a two-horse race, and Kendrick wins. You can argue that the group Fun should be in here all you want, but honestly, what have they produced other than the song We Are Young? Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean both released albums that were incredible through and through. Yes, I understand that Kendrick debuted in 2011, but good kid, m.A.A.d city was his breakout debut. Kendrick has reinvigorated rap with a new voice capable of carrying the mantle to the next generation. Frank Ocean is simply continuing a line of R&B crooners that are extraordinarily talented and can make good music.

Artist of the Year:

Taylor Swift
Kendrick Lamar
Frank Ocean
Mumford & Sons
Carly Rae Jepsen

             As much as this pains me, I have to award artist of the year to Taylor Swift. When awarding the best artist, you have to not only consider music quality, but general popularity and impact. Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, and Mumford & Sons have the musical quality to make them perennial contenders for this award, but they have yet to make the impact of music’s top stars. Carly Rae Jepsen, Psy, and Rihanna, are all names that people recognize, but have flaws in what they’ve produced this year. Only Taylor Swift, with her thralls of fans, has managed to produce music at a high level while remaining culturally significant. Because of this, she has rightfully earned the title of 2012 artist of the year.

That concludes my version of this year’s Grammy awards. Feel free to disagree and contemplated any or all of my selections. The point here is not to yell and name-call, but to really think what was the highest quality and successful music of the year. Are your nominees/winners different? It’s up to you to figure it out before the Grammys tell you that you’re wrong…

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