Sunday, February 12, 2017

Tonight's Grammy Awards

It is like my Super Bowl of music ... as sometimes my team is playing and often-times not.

So just for fun, before the players hit the field, here are my picks and predictions for a few of the biggest categories.

Picks are those that I think should win the coveted Grammy. Predictions are who I think will win.

Album Of The Year:
Pick -- 25 — Adele
Prediction -- Lemonade — BeyoncĂ©

Record Of The Year:
Pick -- "Hello" — Adele
Prediction -- "7 Years" — Lukas Graham

Song Of The Year:
Pick -- "Hello" — Adele Adkins & Greg Kurstin, songwriters (Adele)
Prediction -- "Love Yourself" — Justin Bieber, Benjamin Levin & Ed Sheeran, songwriters (Justin Bieber)

Best New Artist:
Pick -- The Chainsmokers
Prediction -- The Chainsmokers

Best Pop Vocal Album:
Pick -- This Is Acting — Sia
Prediction -- 25 — Adele

Best Pop Solo Performance:
Pick -- "Piece By Piece (Idol Version)" — Kelly Clarkson
Prediction -- "Hold Up" — Beyonce

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance:
Pick -- "Stressed Out" — Twenty One Pilots
Prediction -- "Closer" — The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album:

Pick -- Fallen Angels — Bob Dylan
Prediction -- Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway — Barbra Streisand

Best Rock Performance:
Pick -- "Joe (Live From Austin City Limits)" — Alabama Shakes
Prediction -- "Blackstar" — David Bowie

Best Rock Song:
Pick -- "Burn the Witch" —Radiohead, songwriters (Radiohead)
Prediction -- "Blackstar" — David Bowie, songwriter (David Bowie)

Best Alternative Music Album:
Pick -- A Moon Shaped Pool — Radiohead
Prediction -- Blackstar — David Bowie

Staying away from the country because I'd just be guessing. Have thoughts on the Christian categories but doubt they'll be on the recorded broadcast. So, get some popcorn popping later and settle in to see if we can outsmart the music industry. Love to know your thoughts on these categories as well. Who are your favs and where do you see it differently than I do?

Thursday, February 09, 2017

What Caught My Ear - 17.4 and 17.5

On the eve of another new music release day, I find myself catching up for the last two weeks.

“Music is the mediator between the life of the senses and the life of the spirit.” Beethoven (1770-1827) The search for new music is never-ending because of this connection to the senses, to the spirit, to the soul.

What really caught my ear for 17.4 (Jan 27 releases):

I find no better expression of that this year so far than Ellie Holcomb's "Red Sea Road". Not only is Ellie's voice beautiful, but the vulnerability from which this sophomore release was written finds a place to connect with each of us on this journey of life. Ellie has a great blog with recent posts that explain how her songs came into being. A big influence behind this project was the pain of learning that her father, CCM-famed Brown Bannister, was diagnosed with cancer. Just this week she wrote "the past two years for our community have been heartbreaking. Red Sea Road is one of those songs that I had to write because I needed to sing what was true. I remember sitting down with my dear friends and co-writers, Christa Wells and Nicole Witt. I cried my way through catching them up on the year, and the tears were for the pain and the struggle and the loss we were walking through with several dear friends, but they were also for the way I kept being surprised by God’s faithfulness to draw near to our breaking hearts and make a way for us to carry on, even when the grief and the pain felt unbearable."

This one deserves listening and re-listening. There is beauty in her voice and so much comfort, inspiration and encouragement in the songs and lyrics.

Moving on, you'll recall I was looking forward to the Japandroids release "Near to the Wild Heart of Life". It did catch my ears, but wasn't as much as I was expecting. I'd agree more with the review from Uncut than some of the others I've read. "An expansive record which fizzes with a desire to play around with the possibilities of the studio rather than the stage, shifting the parameters of their music beyond the fast and frantic." The title track may be my favorite as I still love the opening lyrics:

"The future's under fire
The past is gaining ground
A continuous cold war between
My home and my hometown"

Fun release but don't think I'll find myself listening to it as much as some other of this year's releases so far.

What really caught my ear for 17.5 (Feb 3 releases):

This week was all about inspiration and the spiritual connection. Kari Jobe's "The Garden" is bound to be around for years to come with new songs that will touch the soul and spirit and you will probably hear a few of on Sunday mornings. The duets with her husband Cody Carnes are beautiful and no doubt will get Christian radio airplay. CCM's website predicts it will garner some Dove Awards.

Listen to Kari, and then the simple and stirring interpretations that Reba brings to some classic hymns on the 2-disc release ‘Sing It Now: Songs of Faith and Hope’ and you've got a heart-stirring pair.

A reviewer on Sounds of Nashville writes -- "Whether it be the “Faith” or the “Hope” disc, each of these cuts resonate with hope and peace. Life has a way of knocking us down the ladder a few times, and I don’t know whether she could have approached the lyrical content the same way, say twenty years ago. The fact that the legendary songstress has lived through life, and survived some of the hardest knocks one can go through shows the timeless power of these songs."

So pick an inspirational release from the last two weeks - there's several to choose from - and soothe your soul.

In the meantime, any picks for the Grammy's?