Best Dance Recording
Avicii – “Levels” (Interscope)
Calvin Harris ft Ne-Yo – “Let’s Go” (Ultra Music)
Skrillex ft Sirah – “Bangarang” (Big Beat/Atlantic)
Swedish House Mafia ft John Martin – “Don’t You Worry Child” (Astralwerks)
Al Walser – “I Can’t Live Without You” (Cut the Bull)
I am going to steal a quote from Chicago producer/DJ Dani Deahl – “we’ve been Rick-Rolled.” Al Walser? His nomination for Best Dance Recording is so wrong that it is offensive. Mind you, I am a big fan of europop and even loved Fun Factory back in the 90s (the band that Al Walser was part of). “I Can’t Live Without You” is one of the worst songs I have ever heard and has no place in this category, much less receiving a Grammy nomination. Its inclusion is inappropriate? and I challenge you to find any DJ or EDM lover who supported this record in any way this year. Heck, I wonder if anyone had even heard of this record before it got the nomination. Al Walser runs Cut The Bull entertainment, a company similar to Ark Music Factory (which was behind Rebecca Black’s “Friday”).? Spin Magazine showcased his site, which accepts money for artist consultations. Speaking to people in the industry confirmed my suspicion that he is quite well-connected (and probably a member of the nominating committee.) It’s incredible that the Grammy committee would nominate such an inappropriate record and it is a slap in the face to every fan of electronic dance music.
With that out of the way, the other nominations make sense- with “Levels” being the most obvious choice as it was the record of the year played by every DJ all year long and Flo Rida used the same vocal sample to insure that there was no escaping it. A nomination for Calvin Harris was guaranteed, the only question was for which song, and “Let’s Go” was probably chosen since “Feel So Close” was released in August 2011 (outside the eligibility period of October 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012). “Bangarang” is a remarkably fresh-sounding dubstep record by Grammy favorite Skrillex, and “Don’t You Worry Child” is one the most uplifting stadium house records of the year.
Shut out for a second year in a row, Afrojack’s song with Shermanology “Can’t Stop Me” is just one of the songs robbed of a nomination by the disgraceful inclusion of Al Walser. How fun would it have been for Scissor Sisters to get a nomination for the left-field “Let’s Have a Kiki?” Or Azealia Banks for the Lazy Jay-sampling “212”? On the pop tip, Kylie Minogue’s “Timebomb” and Kerli’s “Zero Gravity” would have both been great fits. Also, a nomination for the big dubstep crossover of the year – Alex Clare “Too Close” would have been a solid choice.
While just about any other song released this year deserved this nomination more than “I Can’t Live Without You,” a few others that stand out are Zedd ft Matthew Koma “Spectrum,” David Guetta ft Sia “Titanium,” deadmau5 ft Chris James “Veldt,” Cazzette “Beam Me Up,” Nervo “You’re Gonna Love Again,” and Porter Robinson “Language.”
Best Dance / Electronica Album
Steve Aoki – Wonderland (Ultra / Dim Mak)
The Chemical Brothers – Don’t Think (Astralwerks)
deadmau5 – > Album Title Goes Here < (Mau5trap/Ultra)
Kaskade – Fire & Ice (Ultra)
Skrillex – Bangarang (Bigbeat/Atlantic)
Not a bad lineup for this category, and it will probably come down as a competition between deadmau5 and Skrillex. Released in November 2011, Kaskade’s album spawned so many great singles (“Eyes,” “Room for Happiness,” “Turn It Down,” “Lick It,” and “Lessons in Love”) that it seemed like the soundtrack for 2012. Steve Aoki’s album is a solid electro set which was helped by his larger-than-life touring persona. The headscratcher here is the Chemical Brothers’ nomination for Don’t Think, an amazing CD/DVD package of their live tour. Its nomination is reminiscent of Daft Punk nomination in 2009 for their Alive CD (made popular because of Kanye West’s use of their track as inspiration for “Stronger”). Since the songs were rerecorded live and there are a few new tracks (“Don’t Think” and “Superflash”), I guess it does qualify based on the established criteria, but nominating a greatest hits package seems like a waste of a spot when the incredibly strong Smash CD by Martin Solveig definitely deserved it more – a commercial and critical success. Depending on which release date you go by, Nero’s Welcome Reality could have qualified and would have been a great selection – though two dubstep albums in the category might have split the voting pool too much. I wonder if CDs released on Armada, a dutch label with US distribution, are eligible because Markus Schulz’ Scream and Emma Hewitt’s Burn the Sky Down are both exceptional albums released this year. Though it wasn’t a massive commercial success, Paul van Dyk’s Evolution would have been another good choice.
Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical
deadmau5 ft Chris James – “The Veldt” (Tommy Trash Remix)
Ivan Gough & Feenixpawl Featuring Georgi Kay- “In My Mind” (Axwell Remix)
Moby – “Lie Down in Darkness” (Photek)
Nero – “Promises” (Skrillex & Nero Remix)
M83 – “Midnight City” (Eric Prydz Remix)
This category is always a hard one to call, but chatting with some friends of mine a few weeks ago, I predicted two of the five. The Axwell mix of “In My Mind” and the Eric Prydz mix of “Midnight City” were both definitive remixes of 2012, both in clubs and advertising. Photek continues to get Grammy love, being nominated for a second year in a row, though I can’t say that I heard that much buzz about that Moby track this year. Tommy Trash’s mix of “The Veldt” is a good mix of an epic song – which deserved a best dance recording nomination more than a best remixed recording. Same goes for “Promises,” which should have helped Nero get a best album nomination and has a questionable release date depending on if you look at Beatport (August 2011) or Amazon (October 2012). I was surprised that Calvin Harris’ mix of Florence and the Machine “Spectrum” didn’t get a nod (though he is definitely a shoo-in for album nomination next year). As the only official remix of “Somebody that I Used to Know,” I was sure that Tiesto would get a nomination also.
All the purists will probably attack me for this, but The Alias remix of Kelly Clarkson “Stronger” is probably the best commercial Hi-NRG remix of the year. For an edgier commercial mix, Cazzette’s take on David Guetta “Titanium” would have been a great fit also. R3hab had an amazing year, and several of his remixes were worth a nomination – Karmin “Brokenhearted,” Adrian Lux “Fire,” and Adam Lambert “Never Close Our Eyes.” Another overlooked remixer is Seamus Haji, whose remixes of The Gossip, Usher, and Elton John were some of the biggest highlights of the past year.
Closing Point – Am I the only one who noticed an alarming absence of Dutch talent this year? Neither the trance/progressive (Armin van Buuren, Hardwell, Tiesto, Dash Berlin) nor the Dirty Dutch (R3hab, Afrojack, Chuckie) received any nominations in any of the EDM categories.
Image Courtesy of www.Grammy.com