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Best Alternative Music Album
Bet on it:
Arcade Fire, "The Suburbs"
Gorillaz, "Plastic Beach"
Vampire Weekend, "Contra"
LCD Soundsystem, "This Is Happening"
The Black Keys, "Brothers"
Florence + The Machine, "Lungs"
Lowdown: This year's description says alternative music is a "non-traditional form that exist (at least initially) outside of the mainstream music consciousness. Its avant-garde approach may utilize new technology or new production techniques and contain elements of rock, pop, R&B, dance, folk, or even classical musical styles."
Whatever. It's still a alternative rock game. As much as I'd like to put Janelle Monae or Hot Chip in here, it's still going to go to a rocker, and likely a male-fronted one at that: Wilco, Coldplay, Radiohead, Beck and the White Stripes have further defined this category recently. I'm thinking Arcade Fire, since they missed it in 2006 and 2008 -- and even if having a No. 1 album in America is still defined as "outside of the mainstream" (we're looking at you, too, Vampire Weekend).
-- Katie Hasty