By Lawrence Jackson and Shanté Merida
Everyone knows the Grammy’s Album Of The Year category is the holy grail of all nominations. It usually comes down to long-shots, unscripted moments and loads of shade. But either element looks possible this year, with five albums of all-news songs.
The nominated albums by Taylor Swift and the Weeknd both rely on Max Martin’s production, Alabama Shakes is a one-off featuring everything incredible and Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly is a cultural masterpiece. It’s gonna be a coin toss to determine this award, where any artists can come out on top. Here’s our thoughts on who should get it the gold.
Shanté: Hey Lawrence!
So it’s me and you for the Album of the Year debate.
Here are the nominees:
Alabama Shakes' Sound & Color.
Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly.
Chris Stapleton's Traveller.
Taylor Swift's 1989.
The Weeknd's Beauty Behind The Madness.
This is an easy pick for me, definitely going with Kendrick. TPAB was and forever will be a timestamp of a masterpiece. (Yes it’s that serious, lol). What about you?
Lawrence: Hola Shante!
This category is always a tough one in my eyes because you're always torn between the album you yourself want to win, the album you think is actually going to win and the album you can't ever really count out.
The album I would like to see win is Abel's Beauty Behind The Madness, the album I actually think is going to win is Kendrick's To Pimp A Butterfly and the album I can't count out is, of course, Queen Taylor Swift's 1989'
I wouldn't at all be surprised if Alabama Shakes pulled off a surprise W either, but would absolutely be willing to bet all of my savings that it absolutely will not be Traveller. Sorry, Chris!
How do you feel about all that?
Shanté: Sheesh, you took the words right out of mouth!
Absolutely, it’s almost like a push-and-pull between your heart and your mind.
For me, my heart is championing Alabama Shakes. Brittany Howard is a BEAST! It’s been a long, long (over-due) time since we’ve heard a female blues-rock singer like her. Everything about her is phenomenal. Her grace, vocal reach, fuck-it attitude and her passion to deliver music to move people. Literally an album I mass-texted all my friends and music-heads to add to their playlist, pronto.
On the other hand, Kendrick Lamar’s TPAB is reflective of my mind. It’s powerful, soul-gripping and revolutionary. An album that not only the state of music, but our culture and generation NEED. I still find myself picking out quotes and gems to live by. I really feel like artist are the new activists, and Kendrick is the prime example. So other than the fact this album was a solid project (and he was snubbed before) I really hope he walks away with the crown ...or gold.
And honestly, Taylor is an artist that I would rather be friends with than listen to her music. Sorry! I just can’t seem to fall into her groove. I mean, she snags me every now and then, but not enough for a complete album run through. She definitely deserves to walk with a Grammy—or two—but not sold on album of the year.
As for Abel, I’m more of a House of Balloons / Thursday fan. I definitely respect his growth and his talent, but again, wouldn’t put Beauty Behind The Madness over TPAB or Sound & Color. Don’t be mad at me lol!
Lawrence: You ain't never lied Shanté.
I would not at all be mad at all to see Alabama Shakes win and definitely think they could grab an "underdog" W. Brittany Howard is certifiably a beast with the vocals and I actually think out of all the nominees that Sound & Color is the most diverse project of them all sonically. It's the type of album you could play for your mom without getting lectured about "our generation’s music" and you could also play for your friends without being labeled a weirdo. Don't sleep on the Shakes.
Obviously next up is K. Dot's To Pimp A Butterfly, which definitely moved the culture forward and was without a doubt revolutionary. As soon as I heard my man George Clinton on the intro track “Wesley's Theory,” I was sold. Unfortunately, as much as I love the standout quotes and amazingly powerful visuals that accompanied the project ... musically I don't feel myself constantly being pulled back to the project. I do, however, completely agree with you about artists being the new activists and Kendrick absolutely lead the way with TPAB. For that alone and for the culture, he does indeed deserve this win.
Last, but certainly not least, I want to vouch for my man Abel Tesfaye, also known as The Weeknd. He has had a MASSIVE year and "growth." It might actually sound crazy, but as a fan I really was nervous for Abel's sound to be completely compromised at one point. "They tried to make me a pop star and they made a monster," from Future absolutely applies here except The Weeknd did turn out to be a mega pop star after all. Coming from someone who personally considers House Of Balloons to be my favorite Weeknd project by far, Beauty Behind The Madness is a very complete project from top to bottom and is a total and complete upgrade from 2013's Kissland.
Abel has finally found the perfect formula for him to very much be both commercial pop but also grimy and gritty, with his flow very much intact. Add that to the fact that he passed Ms. Swift to become Billboard's top Hot 100 artist of 2015 and "The Hills" and "Can't Feel My Face" being chart toppers with "Earned It" peaking at #3 and I smell a Grammy ...
Shanté: Hmmm, we shall see… (*prayer hands for K. Dot)...