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LOS ANGELES - Unlike last year when it was clear that Adele would sweep the Grammys, deservedly so, this year's race was much harder to call. Even so, as the night unfurled, it seems clear that some calls were a little off base. Here are five categories where the Grammy voters picked a worthy candidate, but not the best one. There were no major gaffes this year, but there was certainly room for improvement.
Best new artist: No disrespect for the other nominees in this category, but this was always going to come down to Frank Ocean and fun. While it’s no travesty that fun. won like the year the Starland Vocal Band took the trophy in the ‘70s, If “Channel Orange” is any indication, Ocean is the artist in the category that will make the most significant contributions to popular music.
Best solo pop performance: I love Adele fiercely, but it always rubs me the wrong way when an artist wins for a live recording. It feels like a cheat. The Grammys should create a “best live album” category and make live recordings ineligible in all other categories. Kelly Clarkson certainly was happy with her best pop vocal album Grammy, but she was robbed here.
Best pop vocal album: Speaking of, Kelly Clarkson has turned into an artist whom the Grammy voters root for and want to support, but “Stronger” isn’t a consistently strong album. Both Florence + The Machine’s “Ceremonials” and fun.’s “Some Nights” worked better when listened to from start to finish. The award should have gone to one of them.
Best country song: “Blown Away,” written by Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear,” is one of the best songs on Carrie Underwood’s album of the same name. It’s a story song along the lines of Martina McBride’s “Independence Day,” although not quite as resonant. However, the winner in this category should have been “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” performed by Eli Young Band, and written by Will Hoge and Eric Paslay. It’s about following your heart because you have no choice. “Blown Away” has the big production and bluster, but “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” has, uh, heart.
Best rap song: Just like with fun.’s best new artist win, it’s a bit hard to argue with the selection of “Ni**as in Paris", performed by Jay-Z and Kanye West, but it felt like Nas’s year and “Daughters” was certainly a worthy entry. Plus, he wrote it for his daughter. How nice would it have been to win a Grammy for such a sweet song? Maybe the words “sweet” and “rap” are just too incongruous. There are so many songs in rap that are misogynistic, would it have killed the Grammys to reward one that uplifts women and sounds great doing it?