Saturday, February 12, 2011

Need You Now?

Lady A (As They Say)
(A little pre-Grammy gabbing)

For some people, Lady Antebellum must represent all that they hate about modern country music: their material is slickly produced mainstream pop with very little to suggest that it has anything at all to do with Nashville. For others, they will represent all that is good about modern country: glossy professionalism by performers who can sing, and who retain an aw-shucks humility about their rocket-ride to fame. What I want to know about anything that sounds this sparkly perfect is how it holds up in real life, when they have to reproduce the songs in front of real audiences, either on a giant stage or crammed onto stools at a radio station. Say what you will about them, they can deliver.

Webisode February 9, 2011

I write this because tomorrow Lady Antebellum’s album Need You Now is up for six Grammys, and who knows—they might actually cause an upset and win something. Then you will want to know who the heck they are. I also write this because the album is pretty good. Is it the best album of the year in any genre? Probably not, no. Is it even the best country album of the year? No. But, assuming some huge sellers missed Grammy eligibility, it is one of the most commercial, and Grammy likes nothing more than appealing to the masses. Or failing that, glomming on to one band to the exclusion of everything else.

Album of the Year
Record of the Year
Song of the Year
Country Song of the Year
Country Album of the Year
Country Performance by a Duo or Group

Thank goodness they don't refer to the category as “Country and Western” as some of my British friends infuriatingly do. There ain’t nothing Western about it; that division happened a long time ago. I don’t think it was still Country and Western when Ray Charles sang about it. And how come Bluegrass gets its own category? I have a theory: it’s to allow them to give Allison Krauss as many gongs as possible before the minerals used to make them run out and we have to start plundering other planets for something else to make our medals with. Not that she doesn’t deserve them all, of course. Well, her and Vince Gill.

The single “Need You Now” won’t win. Cee-Lo’s got that covered with “Fuck You.” But the album has great songs on it: “Our Kind of Love” is catchy pop; “American Honey” is a nice bit of Americana and great to sing loud in your car with the windows down. “Hello World” is a grand-production complete with orchestra, a bit like a Celine Dion vehicle. “Perfect Day” is strictly for your 13 year-old girls. “When You Got A Good Thing” has glorious chord progressions, and is, I think, the best song on the record.

53rd Grammys CBS, 8PM EST
Follow The Inky Jukebox live on Twitter at!/InkyJukebox

This year’s awards recognize records released between October 1, 2009 and August 31, 2010.

The Inky Jukebox picks: 

Best Female Country Vocal Performance: Miranda Lambert "The House That Built Me"
Best Male Country Vocal Performance: Jamey Johnson "Macon"
Best Country Performance By A Duo or Group With Vocals: Zac Brown Band "Free"
Best Country Collaboration With Vocals: Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert and Jamey Johnson "Bad Angel"
Best Country Song: George Strait "The Breath You Take"
Best Country Album: Jamey Johnson The Guitar Song (But they are all good)

Next year, look for Taylor Swift’s Speak Now for Album of the Year.

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