Tonight, at 10 p.m. ET, CBS will broadcast the GRAMMY nomination special. The past year has been a great one for legendary artists putting out albums that hold up to their legacies. Here, we predict which ones will get nods in the big categories.
The Beach Boys – That’s Why God Made The Radio
People love a happy ending, and that’s what they got — almost — with the Beach Boys‘ reunion album and tour. Brian Wilson returned to the band and they put out an album that was critically hailed, sold well, had a catchy hit single (the title track), and ended with a three song suite (“From There To Back Again”/”Pacific Coast Highway”/”Summer’s Gone”) that read like a wave goodbye from the group. Of course, Mike Love kind of trampled on everyone’s happy vibes by announcing, via press release, that he was effectively reverting the Beach Boys back to their pre-reunion, Brian Wilson-less lineup.
BONUS POINTS: A vote for the album is kind of a vote against Mike Love, and right now he’s music’s biggest villain. Also, The Beach Boys have never won a GRAMMY! The Academy may feel that it’s “payback” time.
Bob Dylan – Tempest
When some legendary artists are nominated for big-category GRAMMYS, it seems like it’s making up for years neglect from the Academy, or like an ad hoc lifetime achievement award. Not so with 10-time winner Bob Dylan: his albums still command respect, and he’s done well at the Grammys in the past 15 years. 2006’s Modern Times took home two awards (Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album, and Best Solo Rock Performance for “Someday Baby”); 2001’s Love And Theft won Best Contemporary Folk Album, and 1997’s Time Out Of Mind won him three GRAMMYS, including Album Of The Year.
MINUS POINTS: The album hasn’t gotten as much attention as some of his other recent albums.
Bonnie Raitt – Slipstream
Everyone loves 9-time winner Bonnie Raitt, and the GRAMMYs actually helped her with her mid-career comeback. Her 1989 album, Nick Of Time was released after she had been dropped by Warner Brothers. She signed with Capitol, and hooked up with up-and-coming producer Don Was for this album, which won three GRAMMYs, including Album Of The Year, and then went on to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart. 1991’s Luck Of The Draw won her three more gramophones. She’s never put out a bad album since. Her latest album, Slipstream, is classy and has a great cover of the late Gerry Rafferty’s “Right Down The Line.”
BONUS POINTS: The album has two covers from Bob Dylan’s three-time-GRAMMY-winning Time Out Of Mind: “Million Miles” and “Standing In The Doorway.” There’s a good portion of music fans who say they like Dylan’s songs, but not his singing. Bonnie sings both songs beautifully.
Paul McCartney – Kisses On The Bottom
Legendary artists putting out covers often equal easy listening and big sales. Fans get to buy a new record from their favorite artist without having to really concentrate on listening to new songs (although 15-time winner Paul McCartney did write a few new songs here, including “My Valentine,” which he performed at last year’s GRAMMYs). Albums of pop standards are even easier to like: who can argue with The Great American Songbook?
MINUS POINTS: The Academy is often criticized for being out of touch with young listeners, and giving this album any awards in the big categories (Album/Song/Record Of The Year) would make them look reeeeeaally out of touch. But look for it to get Best Traditional Pop nod.
Dr. John – Locked Down
This is the kind of album that the GRAMMYs can really get behind: 5-time winner Dr. John worked with producer Dan Auerbach on this album. Auerbach is the singer/guitarist/songwriter of the Black Keys, a band likely to get a lot of nominations of their own for their latest album, El Camino. It got great reviews and brought a beloved American artist (who doesn’t generally enjoy great record sales) to a new, hip, audience.
BONUS POINTS: The good doctor is on a roll in recent years: his 2008 album City That Care Forgot won for Best Contemporary Blues Album, and he was finally inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2011. Also: the GRAMMYs love to pair old and new artists, so it’ll be a no-brainer to hook up Dr. John with The Black Keys.
Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
Like a lot of supporters of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Bruce Springsteen (who stumped heavily for the President in ’08 and this year) must have felt some pangs of disappointment at the aftermath of the financial crisis. In fact, in Wrecking Ball‘s opening song, “We Take Care Of Our Own,” Springsteen sings “The road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone.” Disenchantment and disappointment are tougher to capture in song than love or hate, but Bruce pulled it off with this record, which doesn’t crumble under the weight of overly political lyrics. Whatever side of the political fence you’re on, you can probably get behind “We Take Care Of Our Own,” “Easy Money” and “American Land.”
MINUS POINTS: Three songs on this album have been in Bruce’s setlist for years, and that may count against New Jersey’s favorite son. “Land Of Hope And Dreams” was debuted on his 1999-2000 reunion tour (a live version is included on 2001’s Live In New York City ), “American Land” has been a staple since his 2006 “Seeger Sessions” tour (hear it on 2007’s Live In Dublin) and the title track was written on his last tour, inspired by the fact that he was playing the final concerts at New Jersey’s Giants Stadium before it went under the wrecking ball.
BONUS POINTS: Although Bruce has 20 GRAMMYs on his shelf, only one is in the major categories (Album/Song/Record Of The Year): 1994’s “Streets Of Philadelphia” won Song Of The Year. Also, Bruce will be the recipient of the GRAMMY MusiCares Person Of The Year at a ceremony two nights before the GRAMMYs.
— Brian Ives, CBS Local