Paying attention to the Grammys is hard. There are so many categories, and so much room for overlap, that the whole thing seems pretty low stakes. If you don’t win for Best Pop Vocal Album, you could always win for Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals. If you give out 109 awards, it becomes hard to care about any of them.
I did the caring for you. I scoured the 109 categories for winners that’d be of interest to this area. And, after combing through the nominees for Best Hawaiian Music Album and Best Banda Album, I found a couple.
The big award of the night was also one of the biggest surprises. Montreal-based band Arcade Fire took home the award for Album of the Year for its most recent effort, The Suburbs. Now, there’s no local connection here. The band members live in Canada, and rumor has it that the inspiration for the album was the suburbs of Houston. But, c’mon, who’s more suburban than we are? I love it when anything that has to do with the suburbs gets called out for awards—take that, hip cities like Portland!—and more so when the work in question doesn’t portray the ‘burbs as being soulless, lifeless, or adulterous. In other words: congratulations, Arcade Fire!
The Arcade Fire win is especially surprising, seeing the big names the band was up against: Lady Antebellum, Eminem, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga. Don’t weep for them, though. With so many categories, the Grammys are engineered so that almost everybody else on that list got some sort of trophy (sorry, Katy Perry). Grammys may as well be those “Participant” ribbons they give out in Little League to the losing teams. Lady Gaga received statues for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (“Bad Romance”), Best Short Form Music Video (“Bad Romance”), and Best Pop Vocal Album (The Fame Monster). We’d congratulate her if she was from Yonkers—the hometown that’s been widely reported in such reputable places like Maxim—but since she’s said that being from Yonkers is the worst rumor she’s ever heard about herself, we don’t really care.
Speaking of Yonkers, an album by the name of Yonkers NY was nominated for one of my favorite Grammy categories: Best Recording Package. Unfortunately, it was beaten out by The Black Keys. But, seriously, how cool is it that you can get an award for good packaging? (At least for now—we’ll see what’s up with this category in a few years.) Yonkers NY is the work of Chip Taylor, “a veteran songwriter whose songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Peggy Lee, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, the Hollies and, of course, the Troggs (who waxed his first big hit, “Wild Thing”),” it says in press notes. “Yonkers NY stands out for its depiction of a fairly normal childhood spent with loving parents and two older brothers who only tormented young Jamie, as Chip was known back then, in the ways older brothers always do.” That sounds nice—another positive portrayal of the suburbs!
And I know you’re all dying to know who won other untelevisied awards, like the one for Best Classical Crossover Album. Sadly, it didn’t go to Northern Westchester’s Jessye Norman for her Roots – My Life, My Song. Instead, it went to the confusingly named Tin, Christopher: Calling All Dawns. Better luck next year, Jessye Norman!
I leave you with my favorite performance of the night. There’s no local connection, but I’m posting it anyway, because, well, Muppets.
What was your favorite Grammy performance? Did I miss a local somewhere around the Best Norteño Album categories? Let me know in the comments.