Saturday, April 25, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Alternative album Grammy rewards relevance

decicco column sig

By
From page B1 | February 08, 2013 |

The Grammy Awards make themselves an easier target for ridicule than Lance Armstrong.

The jokes just write themselves. Like this: The Grammys are so over, they’re going to reanimate as zombies on “The Walking Dead.”

However, there is one Grammy category that seems to get it relatively right on an annual basis: best alternative music album.

Though not without its flaws, the honor is typically bestowed on artists who are making an impact now.

In the past 20 years, winners of the awards’ top prize, album of the year, can largely be lumped into one of two categories: Dated or revived stars getting overdue recognition, such as Herbie Hancock, Santana and Tony Bennett, or female pop or country vocalists, such as Taylor Swift, Dixie Chicks and Celine Dion.

The victors of best alternative album feel more fresh, challenging and relevant. Recent winners include New Wave-inspired pop rock musicians Phoenix, neo-soul hip-hoppers Gnarls Barkley and blues/garage rockers The Black Keys, who were recently announced as a headliner for Napa’s inaugural Bottle Rock Musical Festival in May.

While perhaps more culturally relevant, the winner’s podium for alternative album is overwhelmingly white and male.

The only nonwhites to earn the honor are Cee-Lo Green and Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton of Gnarls Barkley in 2007.

The award’s lone female recipient is Sinead O’Connor, who took the inaugural prize in 1991 for “I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got.” In fact, the nominations of Fiona Apple and Björk this year mark the first time a female solo artist has been up for the prize since 2008, when Lily Allen and, again, Björk were in the running.

Also in contention this year are Gotye, M83 and Tom Waits.

If you noticed Björk’s name a lot back there, that’s no accident. The alternative album category certainly has its favorites.

Every major Radiohead release since 1997’s “OK Computer” has either won or been in the running, including lead singer Thom Yorke’s 2007 solo album and Radiohead’s “Airbag/How Am I Driving?” EP, which I never thought I’d mention in print almost 15 years after it was released.

Nearly every album by Arcade Fire, Beck, The White Stripes, Death Cab for Cutie, Björk or Yeah Yeah Yeahs has received a nod in that time period, too.

Additionally, the category needs a rebranding. Alternative doesn’t mean much in 2013. The term brings to mind Counting Crows, The Wallflowers, Smashing Pumpkins and other ’90s rock staples.

The Grammy site says it’s for albums that are “nontraditional” and exist “outside of the mainstream music consciousness.”

Translated: We can throw whatever we want in this category.

And they have – 1995 pitted winner Green Day against Tori Amos, Crash Test Dummies, Sarah McLachlan and Nine Inch Nails. So power punk, baroque pop, pop rock, piano rock and industrial were all in one place.

That’s why this is a good category for the Grammy Awards. Instead of picking the easy favorite, the alternative album is usually a bit more challenging.

In 2005, when the Grammys went with the sentimental choice and paid tribute to then-recently deceased legend Ray Charles with album of the year for his pitiful career-ending duets collection, “Genius Loves Company,” Wilco earned the alternative album honor with one of the trailblazing Chicago group’s finest efforts in “A Ghost is Born.”

This year, the Grammy for album of the year won’t go to an aging star or a female pop vocalist. The five nominees are all male and under 40, but that’s been the exception, not the rule.

While the alternative album category is not all-encompassing enough to represent music in totality – it needs a new name, its winners are almost always white men and it routinely nominates the same artists – it still gets it right where it counts and that’s relevancy.

Ultimately, music is so diverse and personal that the Grammys are never going to pick an album-of-the-year winner that satisfies everyone.

But they can stop treating their top award like a baton in a relay race and start rewarding artists who are making meaningful music now instead of giving them an album of the year statue at the end of their careers.

In that sense, alternative album of the year is among the awards ceremony’s strongest categories.

To read more of Nick DeCicco’s blogs, visit http://dailyrepublic.typepad.com/forthoseabouttorock. Follow him on Twitter @ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Together to remember children lost to violence

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Transportation leaders point to need for funding changes

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 9 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Church offers free Southern Gospel concert

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Summer Spare the Air season set to start

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
‘Cinderella’ carries on despite theater flood

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

3 letters to Vacaville may cost $100,000 to answer

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Suisun City police log: April 23, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: April 23, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Food often a conduit to something more

By Murray Bass | From Page: B10

 
.

US / World

San Francisco Catholics deeply divided over archbishop

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Colleges starting to offer brewing courses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Hate crime charges for homeless beating suspect

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Supreme Court ruling keeps sex offender registration in place

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

SFPD to pay for settlement of wrongful termination suit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
16 students injured when school stage collapses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Thousands march to mark anniversary of Armenian massacres

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Man ordered to stand trial for kidnap, rape charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Nuclear launch officers charged in drug case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Rubio looking to gain support in Iowa

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Hep C, HIV cases spike throughout Indiana

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 3 Comments

 
Obama uses hospital funds to help push for Medicaid expansion

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Hawaii raises smoking age to 21

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Police: Gray should have received medical treatment

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

US completing review of hostage policy following drone strikes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Italy police arrest nine terror suspects in sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Yemen rebels ordered to pull back

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Opinion

 
Chaos in the primaries

By Thomas Sowell | From Page: A8, 5 Comments

Joy of baseball back in my life

By Deon Price | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History: April 25, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 25, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: April 25, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Daughters’ ex is determined to turn their children against her

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

.

Entertainment

Seriously silly, Monty Python reunites for a weekend tribute

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

.

Sports

SCC baseball team wins to claim share of BVC title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1, 2 Comments

 
Ynoa, Butler send Rockies to 6-4 win over Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Vikings fall to Jaguars 4-3 in 8 innings

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1

 
After working OT in NBA playoffs, Curry, Rose can earn rest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Scott Dixon is chasing IndyCar wins leaders, not spotlight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ducking the spotlight, some stars decide to skip NFL draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Garber: MLS plan in 6 months to expand beyond 24 teams

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Dortmund, American Pharoah vie for favorite in 141st Derby

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Harden, Howard lead Rockets to 130-128 win, 3-0 lead on Mavs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Olympic sailing events may be moved from Rio’s polluted bay

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Canadian Henderson shoots tournament record for LPGA lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Bowyer and Stewart looking for good runs at Richmond

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Oregon wins distance medley relay at Penn Relays

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Goodell: LA projects viable for bringing back team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Former Buckeyes teammates Cook, Sindelar top Legends of Golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Swafford, Weekley atop Zurich Classic leaderboard

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Logano wins pole at Richmond, his third of the season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Usain Bolt: Gay’s reduced doping ban sends wrong message

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Signups for Saturday, April 25, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B3

.

Business

Winners and losers of the demise of the big Comcast deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
What could McDonald’s do to fix its business?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6, 3 Comments | Gallery

Durable goods orders up, but business investment falls again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Harley recalls nearly 46,000 motorcycles

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Comcast abandons Time Warner Cable bid after gov’t pushback

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
Cheaper fuel has airlines soaring to record profits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Wynn Resorts shareholders: Elaine Wynn won’t return to board

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Ford recalls 390,000 cars to fix door latches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
.

Home Seller 4/25/2015

Ask a Designer: decorating with spring pastels

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR1 | Gallery

Real estate transactions for April 25, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage slips to 3.65 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3