Song of the Year and Record of the Year appear to look like the same category, yet they’re not. While the “Song” award is given to those who wrote the single that catapulted the artist into the spotlight, the “Record” is given to those who produced the song (i.e., the producer & sound engineers). But since both focus on the singles, I thought it would be fun to talk about them together!
Song of the Year is always a tough choice for me…well, tougher this year for sure. I normally can locate my favorite by the number of times that particular track has played on my iTunes. But this year, it’s difficult to pick a clear winner; each and every artist nominated has brought their A-game to the table in 2011. Choosing a winner almost feels like which of your children do you love the most.
For Adele, her big hit “Rolling in the Deep” has topped just about every chart and played every time I turned on the radio. She’s broken all stereotypes with her style, attitude, and image; the role of strong female performer became her theme in 2011.
Then again, you also have Mumford & Sons competing against her with their biggest hit, “The Cave.” Coming from across the pond, these boys are bringing back a folk/bluegrass-style of music to the mix; something we haven’t heard in a long time amidst the haze of hip-hop & club music anthems. Bon Iver adds his indie vibe to the fold with a haunting melody about redemption, “Holocene.”
On the other side of the music spectrum, you have Bruno Mars with “Grenade” & Kanye (& Co.) with “All of the Lights.” Mars has brought the soulful male singer-songwriter more into the spotlight, while Kanye has kept up with just doing his thing and raising the bar in the hip-hop industry.
Song of the Year is more of a popularity contest than anything. If you’ve heard the song enough times to need a hiatus from their music altogether, it’s almost a guarantee that they’re taking home that coveted gramophone.
Jenn’s Pick: Adele’s “Rollin’ In the Deep.” That song has made 2011 in more ways that we can even understand; she's earned it!
Who will most likely win: Bruno Mars “Grenade.” Everyone loves a cutie that can pen an angsty love song and sing it almost effortlessly.
The Wild-card: Mumford & Sons “The Cave.” The music scene has been making some huge changes within the past year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these boys take home the Grammy Gold.
Record of the Year, while featuring the singles nominated, really focus on the quality of the recording and those who help make the song sound pleasing to our ears. And this particular culmination of artists will certainly make my selection process a little difficult!
Just a disclaimer to this category, when it comes to the production/engineering end of music…it’s more like unchartered territory! I probably wouldn’t know who The Smeezingtons (minus Bruno Mars) or Marcus Dravs (Mumford & Sons) was if they passed me on the street. I’m a writer, not a sound engineer or a music producer. Fortunately, I do know (and love) music and the quality of what I listen to are important to me, especially when I suggest music to all of you. (I’m also quick on learning about the competitors’ strengths & weaknesses in their industry, even if I am not as learned on the subject.)
Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” has such a distinguishable sound, one that can be attributed to Paul Epworth, who has earned his credits working with U.K. acts. (Think Florence + the Machine and Kate Nash.) Then again, Bon Iver’s “Holocene” also brings a different sound to the table, especially with lead singer Justin Vernon being responsible for the producing & engineering on the album.
Bruno Mars went with his production team that he runs with Philip Lawrence & Ari Levine, The Smeezingtons; Mumford & Sons had their folk/bluegrass sound ‘rocked’ out a little by Marcus Dravs, also known for his work with Coldplay on their most recent album, Mylo Xyloto. And last but not least, we have Katy Perry for her work with Swedish production team Stargate (Mikkel S. Eriksen and Tor Erik Hermansen), who earned a 2008 Grammy nomination for Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable."
So who has the best production team? Is it based on experience or how the industry feels about the music itself? Or maybe it's more about the quality...we'll see.
Jenn’s Pick: Mumford & Sons “The Cave.” Markus Dravs (the producer) worked with last year’s Album of the Year winner, Arcade Fire. He’s proven that when it comes down to the wire, he knows how to make a band sound Grammy-worthy.
Who will most likely win: Bruno Mars “Grenade.” The Smeezingtons are known for their work with Cee Lo Green on “F**k You” and B.o.B’s “Nothin’ on You”; this production team has been a strong one, as their work has now earned them a third Record of the Year nomination.
The Wild-card: Adele “Rolling in the Deep.” Paul Epworth has worked with a lot of talented artists (in and out of the mainstream) and is also just as deserving to be recognized for this work. (Not only has Epworth worked with Adele and the above mentioned artists; Cee Lo Green, Bloc Party, & Foster The People are just a few on his list of clients.)
***We still have one more category to go! (The big one: Album of the Year.) Stay tuned!***