Grammy Insights

Every music artists dream is to win a Grammy; it is one of the highest accolades in the music industry. The nominees for the 2017 Grammy Awards were recently announced. However, this academy of electors seems to have made some interesting nomination decisions this year and I’m here to point a few of them out. Get ready for some cynicism.

How is Chance the Rapper nominated for best new artist?

I saw Chance the Rapper in 2015 at an SDSU sponsored concert.  He gained recognition three years ago with his mixtape “Acid Rap”. Three years of recognition doesn’t really seem like much of a “new” artist to me. He often performs at college campuses and offers up all of his music for free online download. While this helps to avoid the streaming issues that can are often associated with artists and payment, it leaves question as to how Chance survives in a competitive market. Additionally, and with all biases aside, that performance that I saw was awful. The song “Cocoa Butter Kisses” really creeped me out.

A better nomination in this category is The Chainsmokers. Although I am not primarily a pop/dance/electronic music listener, there is no doubt that The Chainsmokers have had a very successful year. They have had multiple hits including my personal favorite “Closer” and continue to bring new things to the table in terms of collaborations and performances.

How did Blink-182’s California get nominated for Best Rock Album?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Blink-182. However, I prefer pre- Matt Skiba Blink, as do most sane people. California was a good album, but not a great one, especially when compared to past Blink albums.

A better nomination in this category is Weezer’s self-titled album. My favorite song of the album is “Thank God for Girls”. This album is Weezer’s tenth studio album. Whether or not Weezer actually receives the little golden trophy, they sure are fabulously prolific.

The Song of The Year

This is perhaps one of the most important categories of the whole awards ceremony. It is left until the end so that you have to stay tuned the entire time for fear of missing it. This year the nominees are pretty standard 2016 hits: “Formation” by Beyoncé, “Love Yourself” by Justin Bieber, “Hello” by Adele, “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” by Mike Posner, and “7 Years” by Lukas Graham. The nominees in this category were relatively well selected and all five songs have equal capability of winning, but I have a favorite, of course.

2016 brought about the Lemonade bug and while I truly appreciated seeing Beyoncé’s extra sassy side, I’m going to have to go with “7 Years” by Lukas Graham as my Song of the Year choice. Like many Top 40 hits, “7 Years” was a bit over played on the radio, but otherwise was a rather well written song. Perhaps the most award-winning part of this song is that it tells a story, which can be quite difficult in popular music. This story of a man throughout different stages of his life is relatable to everyone in some way, even if it’s just a little one. My favorite aspect of music, specifically lyrics, is that it can really touch people and “7 Years” excels in that way.

A Year In Concert Review (Or More Like Half A Year)

2016 is winding down and it’s been quite the year to say the least. Unfortunately, I was MIA from the concert scene for the first half of the year due to insufficient funds. However, the second half of the year was enough to fulfill all of my concert needs.

August- Flogging Molly

Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theater at SDSU

This concert was an early birthday present from my brother and it was incredible. The open air theater is not my favorite venue because if you have cheap seats, it’s difficult to see the stage. However, the dancing middle aged adults and great Irish music made the literal height of the seats manageable. I always welcome an excuse to celebrate my Irish heritage, other than wearing green and eating copious amounts of potatoes.

 

October- Yellowcard

House of Blues

Even if you don’t know me, a quick click on any one of my social media accounts will tell you that I am OBSESSED with the band Yellowcard. So, I was obviously biased going into this concert. I loved it, aside from their new music which is sub-par at best. This show was advertised as their last show in San Diego ever, but they have since added another San Diego show in March. Although I am a die-hard fan, I was really off put by what seems like a ploy for more money.

 

November- Watsky

SOMA

I’d never been to SOMA before this show, but there’s nothing really exciting to say about the venue. It’s got a warehouse kind of vibe, which would definitely be cool at a punk kind of show, but this was a white rapper kind of show. The phrase “white rapper” gets a negative connotation typically and rightfully so (cough, cough G-Eazy). George Watsky changed my opinion on this as his rap really leans into the poetry aspect of rhythm and poetry (aka rap) and he is accompanied by an actual band. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this show, I highly recommend checking out Watsky.

 

November- Iration

Del Mar Fairgrounds

Iration seems to be the perfect musical sound for the San Diego area, cool and calm. Did I already say cool? That needs to be stated multiple times. This concert happened immediately following the horse races at the Del Mar Racetracks, which is important to note because that brings a cast of interesting characters to the show. This includes high class San Diego race goers wearing fancy hats and smoking jackets as well as the hordes of college students pretending to be them. Then there were people like me, dressed in dark colors, solely there for the music. Anyways, this was my favorite concert of the year because I really felt the music. It was one of those unexplainable music moments; I will always be able to look back on that day and remember exactly how I felt listening to my favorite song, “Falling”. My holiday wish to all of you is that you get to experience one of these unforgettable moments, whether it be at a concert or at home with your family this holiday season.

 

Politically Driven Radio

There is no doubt that we are currently in the midst of a Presidential race that our children will ask us about and that will be written into history books. It’s an interesting time in our country to say the least. I’m not one to put my two cents in about political matters online, but many musical artists use their music as a platform to do so. This week’s mini playlist is what I like to call Politically Driven Radio. Here are a few songs driven by politics or some sort of political issue that may just get you thinking

1.God Save The Queen- The Sex Pistols

sex pistols

According to Stephen Thomas Erlewine of allmusic.com, the BBC banned this song because of its anti-royalty language. Although the Queen doesn’t actually run England (I’m laughing at you if you thought she did.), she is still a notable and respected figure. This song was released in 1977, when rock and roll was still relatively new, making the added political element extra scandalous. With a name like The Sex Pistols, there’s bound to be controversy, even if they only lasted a couple of years.

2. Two Weeks From Twenty- Yellowcard

yellowcard

This song touches on more recent issues concerning the United States involvement in foreign war. Perhaps the most provocative line of the song is, “There’s still no shame from the man to blame”. Released in 2006, during the George W. Bush presidency, we are only left to assume who the man to blame is intended to be.

3. Hero of War- Rise Against

rise againstAnother account of the United States involvement in foreign wars, “Hero of War” tells the story of a young military member, presumably fighting in foreign conflict around the time of the 2008 album release. The graphic detail of this song can make it tough to listen to, but it may get you thinking about some issues that have never crossed through your brain before.

4. Buffalo Soldier- Bob Marley & The Wailers

bob

One unfortunate part of our country’s history that many don’t like to talk about or remember, slavery, is touched on in many forms of art. Although slavery has been abolished, racism is still an ever present political and social issue in America. Bob Marley tells this tale of the slave trade through music, singing   “Stolen from Africa, brought to America” “Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival”

5. April 29, 1992 (Miami)- Sublime

watts

The image above is of the Watts towers in Los Angeles, an important area in the 1992 riots. You may or may not have been alive in 1992. Even so, you’ve probably heard about the Los Angeles riots that occurred after the police brutality instilled upon Rodney King (If this doesn’t ring a bell, google it). This song gives an account of riots that occurred all over the United States as an outcry against racially motivated police brutality. Has much changed surrounding this issue in the last 24 years? I’ll let you be the judge.

 

Listen to and follow the playlist here! 

For more information on voting and a non-partisan view on the candidates take a look at the KPBS Voter Guide.

 

Classic Rock for Dummies

Need a beginning lesson in classic rock and roll? Look no further.

Just as classic books such as Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice are important to the history of literature and therefore shoved down innocent fifteen year olds throats, there are several artists that are essential to the history of rock and roll and should be shoved down your throat. Before we get to the playlist, here are a few *trigger warnings* for those who may consider themselves enthusiasts of rock:

  • I am anti- Beatles. I don’t really care how much you like Yellow Submarine, I’d prefer to be above ground. There is no denying that the Beatles definitely made an impact on music history, but in my blunt opinion, they suck.
  • The fact that you sang all the words to “Don’t Stop Believing” at a frat party does not make Journey a good rock band.

There are several other artists that could be included in a more extensive playlist (If your curious check out The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Blue Oyster Cult etc.). This playlist was made assuming that the listener has little to no knowledge of classic rock and does not have hours and hours at their disposal for listening.

  1. Back In Black- AC/DC

I’m 99.99999% sure that you have heard this song in some way, shape, or form over the course of your lifetime. AC/DC is the definition of sex, drugs, and good ‘ol rock ‘n roll. They are definitely a great artist to dive right into when beginning to listen to classic rock.

  1. Tom Sawyer- Rush

Rush is that nerdy guy from your high school that has no friends, but eventually becomes your boss. Their innovative sounds were considered weird at first, but then they skyrocketed into rock stardom.

  1. Surrender- Cheap Trick

Surrender is another song that you’ve probably heard before, but may not have known the artist. Remember that early 2000’s Eddie Murphey movie, Daddy Day Care? Surrender was actually played “live” in the movie by Cheap Trick. Cheap Trick has several other rock classics including “I Want You to Want Me” and, in my very important opinion, is one of the most underrated classic rock bands.

  1. Show Me The Way- Peter Frampton

I’ve inserted a photo of the one and only Peter Frampton as the title image, to show you what a 1970’s sex god looked like. Just a little bit different than Zac Efron or Ryan Gosling. No matter what your taste in romantic partner, Peter Frampton is no doubt a rock god. His use of talk box, which is defined by Wikipedia as a “unit that allows musicians to modify the sound of a musical instrument by shaping the frequency content of the sound and to apply speech sounds (in the same way as singing) onto the sounds of the instrument”, is incredibly satisfying.

  1. Life In The Fast Lane- Eagles

Eagles are an American classic if there ever was one. The recent passing of Glen Frey has brought the Eagles old tracks up a bit more. This particular song choice is a good listen if you are feeling rebellious.

  1. Panama- Van Halen

Van Halen underwent lots of changes during their run as a rock band; still they remain a staple to this list.

  1. Achilles Last Stand- Led Zeppelin

One of the longest Led Zeppelin songs (just over 10 minutes), “Achilles Last Stand” includes the one critical element of a truly perfect rock and roll track, an infinitely long guitar sequence.

  1. Mary Jane’s Last Dance- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

While many will credit Free Fallin’ as Tom Petty’s greatest song, it’s me, so I’ve got to veer off from the typical choice a little bit. That’s where Mary Jane’s Last Dance comes in. This song inspired me to learn how to play harmonica because of the sick (excuse my out dated so cal terminology) use of harmonica. Other than violin, harmonica is my favorite supplemental rock instrument.

  1. Purple Haze- Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix is absolutely one of the most gifted guitarists that ever lived. I gave you a beginner track, but if you catch feelings for Jimi check out his rendition of the star spangled banner live from Woodstock.

  1. More Than a Feeling- Boston

This is by far one of the most well-known classic American rock songs of all time and is most definitely Boston’s most popular track. I have more than a feeling about Boston, if you know what I mean.

 

Whether or not you agree with my choices, there’s no doubt that if you are a rock and roll beginner, these are some pretty solid training wheels.

Follow me on Spotify @kelseydonahue14 to check out this playlist here: https://open.spotify.com/user/kelseydonahue14/playlist/2U3eHujXAQuHUQFHbglnFG

I’m live Mondays from 10-11pm on KCR with The Road Less Traveled!