Are you feeling something special in the air? It’s that most magical, wonderful time of the year — Awards Season: when the rich and famous take some time away from shopping for gifts to pick up gift baskets backstage and hand each other honors onstage.
December is when movie critics tell audience who’s been naughty and who’s been nice in the film industry, rolling out their awards all months long. The Golden Globe nominees are announced Dec. 15.
But the nominations started rolling out Wednesday night with music, when contenders for the 2010 Grammy Awards were announced. My initial reaction — the trophies seem more than ever a reward for record sales, rather than artistry. Perhaps in an age of diminishing profits, the record industry felt it necessary to toss its annual hosannas toward artists who can still peddle product, such as Beyonce (who led with 10 nominations), Taylor Swift and the Black Eyed Peas.
Take for example, the case of perennial favorites U2, who were nominated in three rock categories but none of the main categories for its latest album, “No Line on the Horizon.” Its two predecessors received an array of top nominations. The difference? “Horizon” was a commercial disappointment, despite receiving strong reviews on par with “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” and “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.” Bruce Springsteen and Green Day — two other artists whose lesser efforts outshine the nominees in the top categories — were similarly recognized in the rock genre.
Similarly, Bob Dylan and Lucinda Williams — two of our greatest songwriters — are competing in the Americana category (is that new this year? In the past they were included in the contemporary folk category), along with Willie Nelson, Wilco and Levon Helm. The alternative album category often has some of the most interesting artists. This year, we get Death Cab for Cutie and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, among others.
Who was left out? Antony and the Johnsons and their ethereal masterpiece, “The Crying Light,” for one. Lily Allen and her wit-filled sophomore album, “It’s Not Me, It’s You,” for another. I’ll offer a look at some of the year’s best albums in a couple of weeks for your shopping pleasure.
In the meantime, for a general idea of what to avoid, here are the nominations in the four General Field categories:
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
For a full list of nominations, see www.grammy.com.