Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Predictions for the 2012 Grammy Nominations

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The 2012 Grammy nominations will be officially announced tonight. Keeping in mind that the eligibility period is from October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011, here are my predictions for the four major awards:

Adele can plan on hearing her name announced a few times.

  • Adele 21. This is as close to a shoo-in for a nomination (and win) as it gets this year. It was the dominant seller of the year and is exactly the critically-acclaimed mainstream kind of stuff the Grammy voters love. Other mainstream pop which hold possibilities include Bruno Mars’ Doo Wops & Hooligans, Beyonce’s 4, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, and Rihanna’s Loud.
  • Tony Bennett Duets II. Of course, they also love old-timers. This is the most likely shot (although he already won for his Unplugged album), although I’m surprised I haven’t seen more predictions touting Elton John & Leon Russell’s The Union or Glen Campbell’s Ghost on the Canvas. There’s also Grammy favorite Paul Simon with So Beautiful or So What.
  • Taylor Swift Speak Now. Her last album, Fearless, took home the Album of the Year two years ago, but she’s likely to get a nod here to satisfy the country slot. Alison Krauss’ Paper Airplane, Jason Aldean’s My Kinda Party, or Lady Antebellum’s Own the Night are also possibilities.
  • Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The Grammys like to nominate him for the big prize; they just don’t give it to him. The other most likely rap contender would be Nicki Minaj with Pink Friday.
  • Bon Iver Bon Iver. This one fits the “who the hell is that?” cache which Grammy likes. It is a critically acclaimed album by a respected indie artist. Other albums which fall into the indie, rock, or alternative arena and could take this slot include Radiohead The King of Limbs, Foo Fighters Wasting Light, PJ Harvey Let England Shake, or Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues.

RECORD OF THE YEAR: (goes to the performers)
  • Adele “Rolling in the Deep”
  • Tony Bennett with Amy Winehouse “Body and Soul”
  • Bruno Mars “Grenade”
  • Katy Perry “Firework”
  • Foster the People “Pumped Up Kicks”

Can sentiment for old-timer Tony Bennett (former Album of the Year winner) and died-too-young star Amy Winehouse (former Record/Song of the Year winner) – derail Adele’s hopes for winning the big three awards?

Once again, Adele is a shoo-in for a nomination here and probably the win. However, Tony Bennett’s recording with Amy Winehouse not only has old-timer clout, but a Grammy favorite who died this year. Mars and Perry make this category heavy on pop, leaving Foster the People to represent the more rock or indie crowd (even if it was a #3 pop hit). There doesn’t seem to be anything particularly edgy which keeps coming up, but here are some other songs that deserve mention: Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson “Don’t You Wanna Stay”, Kanye West “All of the Lights”, Maroon 5 with Christina Aguilera “Moves Like Jagger”, Taylor Swift “Back to December”, LMFAO “Party Rock Anthem”, Coldplay “Paradise”, Nicki Minaj “Super Bass”, and Foo Fighters “Walk”.

SONG OF THE YEAR: (goes to the songwriters)
  • “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele and Paul Epworth
  • “Grenade” – Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Brody Brown, Claude Kelly, Andrew Wyatt (performed by Bruno Mars)
  • “Firework” – Katy Perry, Mikkel S. Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Sandy Wilhelm, Ester Dean (performed by Katy Perry)
  • “The Cave” – Mark Mumford (performed by Mumford & Sons)
  • “I Was Here” – Diane Warren (performed by Beyonce)

Could Bruno Mars land three nominations in the big categories?

This category generally comes pretty close to duplicating the Record of the Year nominations. However, I’m inserting Mumford & Sons’ “The Cave” in the mix because it will be a nod to the folkie sound which has taken off in the last couple years – and which they have a lot to do with. Then I’m giving the fifth slot to “I Was Here”. Diane Warren is one of the most celebrated songwriters around and Beyonce adds big-name clout. For other possibilities, see the other Record of the Year runner-ups.

  • Nicki Minaj
  • Bon Iver
  • The Band Perry
  • Foster the People

Could little known indie-folk rock singer/songwriter Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) best rapper Nicki Minaj, who seemingly is everywhere, in the Best New Artist category?

Finally a category Adele can’t win (since she already took home this prize a couple years ago). The consensus here seems to be for Nicki Minaj, but there’s also a lot of love out there in the prediction world for Bon Iver. I find that odd since his debut album was released independently in 2007, but the Grammys have strange rules about what constitutes a “new” artist, so he might well get a nod and even a win on the back of his sophomore album. The Band Perry fill in the country-pop crossover group slot for Lady Antebellum. Foster the People again fit the alternative/rock slot here, but voters may be scared of them being a one-hit wonder and not take them too seriously. LMFAO fits the bill here for a huge pop group, but their “Party Rock Anthem” isn’t likely to get them much critical clout. Other names which have come up as possibilities here include rapper Wiz Khalifa, Latin-pop group Il Volo, rapper Tyler the Creator, Ellie Goulding, and Jessie J. Thompson Square and The Civil Wars have also been mentioned, but they would be in direct competition with The Band Perry. I just don’t see more than one slot here going to a country act.

Do Foster the People have legitimate shots at winning any of the big awards or are they just potential slot-fillers?

It’s just a waiting game now to see how many kinks the actual Grammy nominations throw into my picks.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Top 25 Electronica Albums of All Time

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This is Dave’s Music Database’s take on the top electronica albums of all time. This list is the result of an aggregate of 16 other best-of lists focused on electronica albums. Links will take you to more detailed pages about the album at Note: 19 of these albums also make the DMDB’s list of the top 1000 albums of all time.

Massive Attack Blue Lines

1. Massive Attack…Blue Lines (1991)
2. Portishead…Dummy (1994)
3. DJ Shadow…Endtroducing… (1996)
4. The Orb…Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (1991)
5. Tricky…Maxinquaye (1995)

Portishead Dummy

6. Leftfield…Leftism (1995)
7. Moby…Play (1999)
8. Underworld…Dubnobasswithmyheadman (1993)
9. Daft Punk…Homework (1997)
10. The Prodigy…The Fat of the Land (1997)

DJ Shadow Endtroducing…

11. The Chemical Brothers…Dig Your Own Hole (1997)
12. Orbital…Orbital 2 (aka “The Brown Album”) (1993)
13. Primal Scream…Screamadelica (1991)
14. Global Communication…76:14 (1997)
15. Fatboy Slim…You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby (1998)

The Orb Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld

16. Aphex Twin…Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (1992)
17. Happy Mondays…Pills ‘N’ Thrills and Bellyaches (1990)
18. Air…Moon Safari (1998)
19. The Prodigy…Music for the Jilted Generation (1994)
20. Massive Attack…Mezzanine (1998)

Tricky Maxinquaye

21. The Chemical Brothers…Exit Planet Dust (1995)
22. Kraftwerk…Computer World (1981)
23. The KLF…Chill Out (1990)
24. Depeche Mode…Violator (1990)
25. New Order…Technique (1989)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Making a List and Checking It Twice

Originally published in my "Aural Fixation" column on on Nov. 23, 2011. See original post here.

image from

Ah, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Shoppers rush home with their treasures and people are making their lists and checking them twice. While these lines might evoke visions of sugar plums dancing in your head, they make a particularly joyful noise in the ears of music geeks.

In the world of music fanaticism, the last month of the year is a time for 1) gathering the overlooked goodies of the last eleven months and 2) ranking, rating, and reviewing said releases ad infinitum in year-end best-of lists. For such aficionados, December is all about summing up the sounds of the year gone by. While Santa loads his sleigh with goodies, editors of every music mag known to mankind pack year-end magazine issues with plenty of treats. List junkies can expect their own fix for such addictions right here at PopMatters as guide you in their own trip down 2011 Memory Lane.

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My particular insatiable urge for consuming and crafting lists has caused me to pollute the ‘net with a website, blog, and a Facebook page all devoted to music lists. All right, kiddos, settle in with your hot cocoa and egg nog and I’ll tell you a little story.

It began in September 1982. My local Top 40 radio station did a Labor Day weekend countdown of the biggest hits of the summer. I was inspired to scrawl my own list of favorites. I’m not convinced confession is entirely good for the soul – it certainly won’t boost my credibility – but I’ll admit that “soft rock” populated my list at that time. While my peers were spiking their hair to look like their latest MTV favorites, I spent the early part of my rebellious teen years headbanging to Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Olivia Newton-John, and Air Supply.

The trifecta of head-banging heroes...not exactly.

My initial “Super 70” list (that’s how many lines a sheet of notebook paper sported, front and back) ballooned into a weekly endeavor maintained over a dozen years. While my charts would never interest anyone else, they documented my musical journey from adolescence through young adulthood. Before I exited high school, my tastes gravitated to the arena rock of Styx, Journey, and Foreigner. College afforded me chances to dig into classic rock stalwarts like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Rush as well as alternative fare like Squeeze and the Violent Femmes.

Then my tastes went more toward arena rock.

Some view institutes of higher learning as the place to educate one’s self on how best to get laid, get drunk, or get high. Some freaks out there consider it a place to get an education. For me, the university was the place to get more music. More than once, I hauled an armload of borrowed tapes from someone’s dorm room just minutes after meeting them.

However, music magazines and lists opened my ears to sounds beyond what blared from my mere dorm mates’ speakers. I made weekly excursions to the library to pore over Billboard magazine, the American king of charts. I regularly dove into issues of Rolling Stone, Q, New Musical Express, Spin, Blender, Melody Maker, and other tunefully-themed rags. As anyone knows who’s ever perused these publications, they regularly practice one-upmanship in trying to trump each other with the latest biggest and best-of-all time lists of anything noise-related. 

Lists, however, are a polarizing thing. With the exception of Justin Bieber, there may not be anything in the music community which simultaneously disgusts and delights so many. Detractors whine about what is included or excluded. Elitists argue that lists devalue artistic accomplishments via subjective rankings.

The love-hate relationship fans have with lists is readily apparent with even a minimum of online browsing. Find a list on the Internet about, say, the best guitarists of all time. Scroll down to the comments section and you can bet it will be littered with insightful observations such as “This list sucks” or “How the hell is so-and-so only ranked #58?”

List bashers fail to recognize three things:1) a list is one person’s opinion (or a group consensus of multiple opinions collected under the banner of a specific publication); 2) there is a 100 percent guarantee that the list in question will not match the list basher’s personal tastes, and’ 3) IT’S A LIST. Relax.

Now, to be clear, I am not suggesting refraining from voicing contrary opinions. Far from it. Some of those who’ve lobbed the harshest criticism at my lists have earned my greatest respect. Why? Because they were informed opinions which challenged me to either justify my point of view or rethink it. Healthy debate is a good thing. Venting ferociously about the moronic quality of the list maker is as productive as flipping the bird at someone who cuts you off in traffic.

As for those who roll their eyes at the value of lists, I argue that lists offer musical history snapshots for those willing to do the homework. One of the earliest lists to reel me in was a book – The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (1989). The author, rock critic Dave Marsh, plugged obvious classics like like Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, and Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”. However, he also turned me on to unknown gems like Little Willie John’s “Need Your Love So Bad”, Clarence Carter’s “At the Dark End of the Street”, and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five’s “The Message”.

Would I have discovered classics like this without lists?

This was the real point. Seeking out and falling in love with that song at #68 which the reader had never heard becomes the justification for a list’s existence.

Lists operate on the same plane as compilation albums. Album purists bash such collections as misrepresentations of an artists’ work, but anthologies are often a casual fan’s first dip of the toe into the artist’s greater pool of work, prompting the listener to dive deeper.

I didn’t learn about the Velvet Underground, Joy Division, Gram Parsons, Television, Love, the New York Dolls, or Big Star because friends spun them at parties. I learned about them because music critics hyped them in best-of lists. When the names cropped up enough, I felt obligated to check them out.

So this holiday season, as you sing your ancient yuletide carols and curl up with your iPod in front of the chestnuts roasting on the open fire, try embracing the holiday spirit. At least remember Mom’s advice: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Remember the Bearded Guy in Red is watching and knows if you’ve been good or bad. If you’d rather have the Black Keys’ new album in your stocking than a lump of black coal, then be good for goodness’ sake.

By the way, if the holiday spirit has left you with an urge to shower me with gifts, there’s no need to buy anything for me but you can head over to or and pick up No One Needs 21 Versions of Purple Haze or The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era 1954-1999 for that music fanatic on your shopping list.

I’d also light up like a Christmas tree if you hit my blog a couple hundred times and left comments. Make sure to check out the index of Best-of Lists on the blog.

These last two shameless plugs are brought to you by… well, me. Happy holidays.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bob Seger: A Retrospective, 1968-2011

Bob Seger

A Retrospective: 1968-2011


Rock singer/songwriter born Robert Clark Seger on 5/6/1945 in Detroit, Michigan. Has sold more than 51 million records worldwide. Songs have been covered by Brooks & Dunn, Cher, Waylon Jennings, Keb’ Mo’, Kid Rock, Barry Manilow, Martina McBride, Metallica, Bette Midler, The Pointer Sisters, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner, Conway Twitty, and Dottie West. His 1994 Greatest Hits album has been a continuous presence on either the Billboard Top 200 Albums or Catalog Albums charts since its release and was named the #1 Catalog Album of the Decade (2000-2010).

On the Web:



Under each album snapshot, songs featured on the anthologies are noted. If the song charted, the date of the song’s release or first chart appearance and its chart peaks are noted in parentheses. Click for codes to charts.

Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man (aka “The Bob Seger System”) (1968):

  • Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man (9/68, 17 US, 22 CB, 10 GR, 16 HR, 7 CL, 18 CN, 13 DF U

Beautiful Loser (1975):

  • Beautiful Loser (5/24/75, 7 CL, 9 DF) G2, U *
  • Katmandu (8/8/75, 43 US, 45 CB, 34 GR, 48 HR, 7 CL, 57 CN, 20 DF) G2, U
  • Travelin’ Man (7 CL, 14 DF) U *

* The versions of “Beautiful Loser” and “Travelin’ Man” on Ultimate Hits are actually live versions from the Live Bullet album.

Live Bullet (live, 1976):

  • Turn the Page (live) (11/77, 1 CL, 1 DF) G1, U

Night Moves (1976):

  • Night Moves (12/4/76, 4 US, 6 CB, 7 GR, 5 HR, 4 RR, 1 CL, 45 UK, 5 CN, 25 AU, 4 DF) G1, U
  • Mainstreet (4/23/77, 24 US, 19 CB, 18 GR, 32 HR, 23 RR, 5 CL, 1 CN, 11 DF) G1, U
  • Rock and Roll Never Forgets (7/9/77, 41 US, 50 CB, 57 HR, 5 CL, 13 DF) G2, U
  • The Fire Down Below (6 CL, 25 DF) G2, U
  • Sunspot Baby (13 CL, 28 DF) G2

Click for DMDB album page.

Stranger in Town (1978):

  • Still the Same (5/12/78, 4 US, 4 CB, 1 GR, 5 HR, 2 RR, 27 AC, 2 CL, 4 CN, 23 AU, 9 DF) G1, U
  • Hollywood Nights (8/12/78, 12 US, 13 CB, 10 GR, 15 HR, 10 RR, 3 CL, 42 UK, 12 CN, 52 AU, 13 DF) G1, U
  • We’ve Got Tonight (10/28/78, 13 US, 11 CB, 12 GR, 11 HR, 9 RR, 29 AC, 5 CL, 22 UK, 9 CN, 31 AU, 8 DF) G1, U
  • Old Time Rock and Roll (4/7/79, 28 US, 34 CB, 33 GR, 40 HR, 1 CL, 31 CN, 3 AU, 1 DF) G1, U

Click for DMDB album page.

Against the Wind (1980):

  • Fire Lake (2/22/80, 6 US, 6 CB, 2 GR, 5 HR, 31 AC, 2 CL, 3 CN, 13 DF) G2, U
  • Against the Wind (4/25/80, 5 US, 8 CB, 3 GR, 9 HR, 3 RR, 8 AC, 3 CL, 6 CN, 92 AU, 4 DF) G1, U
  • You’ll Accomp’ny Me (7/25/80, 14 US, 20 CB, 13 GR, 19 HR, 8 RR, 17 AC, 6 CL, 8 CN, 9 DF) G1, U
  • Her Strut (4 CL, 13 DF) G2, U

Click for DMDB album page.

Nine Tonight (live, 1981):

  • Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You (live) (9/11/81, 5 US, 8 CB, 4 GR, 7 HR, 5 RR, 2 AR, 11 CN, 15 DF) G2, U

The Distance (1982):

  • Shame on the Moon (12/17/82, 2 US, 5 CB, 1 GR, 1 RR, 1 AC, 8 CN, 11 DF) G2, U
  • Roll Me Away (1/15/83, 27 US, 28 CB, 18 GR, 19 RR, 13 AR, 13 DF) G1, U

Like a Rock (1986):

  • Like a Rock (4/19/86, 12 US, 15 CB, 18 GR, 17 RR, 21 AC, 1 AR, 33 CN, 74 AU, 7 DF) G1, U

The Fire Inside (1991):

  • The Fire Inside (9/21/91, 45 AC, 35 CN, 37 DF) G1
  • New Coat of Paint G2

Greatest Hits

Bob Seger

Released: October 25, 1994

Recorded: 1976-1994

Peak: 8 US, 6 UK, 5 CN, 5 AU, 8 DF

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 0.1 UK, 12.1 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic rock


4.155 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

Tracks: (1) Roll Me Away (2) Night Moves (3) Turn the Page (live) (4) You’ll Accompn’y Me (5) Hollywood Nights (6) Still the Same (7) Old Time Rock and Roll (8) We’ve Got Tonite (9) Against the Wind (10) Mainstreet (11) The Fire Inside (12) Like a Rock (13) C’est La Vie (14) In Your Time

Total Running Time: 61:54

Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • C’est La Vie (29 DF) G1
  • In Your Time (25 CN) G1

It’s a Mystery (1995):

  • Manhattan G2

Greatest Hits 2

Bob Seger

Released: November 4, 2003

Recorded: 1975-2003

Peak: 23 US

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Genre: classic rock


3.032 out of 5.00 (average of 6 ratings)

Tracks: (1) Understanding (2) The Fire Down Below (3) Her Strut (4) Beautiful Loser (5) Sunspot Baby (6) Katmandu (7) Shame on the Moon (8) Fire Lake (9) Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You (live) (10) Shakedown (11) Manhattan (12) New Coat of Paint (13) Chances Are (14) Rock and Roll Never Forgets (15) Satisfied (16) Tomorrow

Total Running Time: 67:09

Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • Understanding (from Teachers soundtrack) (10/13/84, 17 US, 20 CB, 19 GR, 20 RR, 7 AC, 5 AR, 38 CN, 18 DF) G2
  • Shakedown (from Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack) (5/22/87, 1 US, 1 CB, 2 GR, 1 RR, 1 AR, 88 UK, 1 CN, 12 DF) G2, U
  • Chances Are (with Martina McBride from Hope Floats soundtrack) (6/27/98, 23 AC, 40 CN, 36 DF) G2
  • Satisfied G2
  • Tomorrow G2

Face the Promise (2006):

  • Wait for Me (7/22/06, 16 AC, 52 CW) U

Ultimate Hits: Rock and Roll Never Forgets

Bob Seger

Released: November 21, 2011

Recorded: 1968-2011

Peak: 19 US, -- UK, -- CN, 5 AU

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Genre: classic rock


3.435 out of 5.00 (average of 7 ratings)

Tracks, Disc 1: (1) Old Time Rock and Roll (2) Hollywood Nights (3) Night Moves (4) Mainstreet (5) Roll Me Away (6) Turn the Page (live) (7) Her Strut (8) Still the Same (9) You’ll Accomp’ny Me (10) We’ve Got Tonight (11) Like a Rock (12) Fire Lake (13) Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You (live)

Tracks, Disc 2: (1) Rock and Roll Never Forgets (2) Against the Wind (3) Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man (4) The Fire Down Below (5) Travelin’ Man (live) (6) Beautiful Loser (live) (7) Shakedown (8) Shame on the Moon (9) Katmandu (10) The Little Drummer Boy (11) Wait for Me (12) Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey (Going Back to Birmingham) (13) Downtown Train

Total Running Time: 108:06

Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • The Little Drummer Boy (from the various artists’ compilation A Very Special Christmas) (11/14/87, 17 DF) U
  • Downtown Train (2/28/11, 17 AC, 34 DF) U
  • Hey Hey Hey Hey (Going Back to Birmingham) (9/29/11, --) U

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First posted 2/11/2023; last updated 2/12/2023.