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GREIN ON GRAMMYS: ROCK & ALTERNATIVE

We asked our Grammy Whisperer to do some of his trademark whispering in various genre fields. He kicked things off with Pop. Today, he looks at Rock and Alternative.


Nominations in the rock field are reviewed by a committee of Grammy insiders that makes the final choices. This isn't the same committee as the one that reviews the nominations in the "Big Four" categories, though it functions the same. The members look at the 20 recordings that received the most votes and pick the five they think are most worthy.

Nominations in the alternative field, by contrast, are based strictly on the vote of rank-and-file members.

Best Rock Album

The likely nominees are Paul McCartney's Egypt Station, U2's Songs of Experience, Death Cab for Cutie's Thank You for Today, Ghost's Prequelle and Greta Van Fleet's From the Fires.

McCartney's album was his first since 1982 to reach #1. He has never been nominated in this category, though he has been nominated twice for Best Pop Vocal Album and once for Best Alternative Music Album (for Liverpool Sound Collage). He also won once for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album (for Kisses on the Bottom).

U2 has been nominated five times in this category. One more nom and they'll tie Foo Fighters for the most noms in this category by a group. U2's album also reached #1.

Death Cab's previous album, Kintsugi, was nominated for Best Rock Album. In addition, four earlier releases by the band were nominated for Best Alternative Music Album.

Ghost won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance three years ago.

Greta Van Fleet's entry is an eight-song EP that was released in advance of the band's first studio album (which will be eligible next year).

The next five in terms of likeliness to be nominated are The Decemberists' I'll Be Your Girl, Fall Out Boy's MANIA, Halestorm's Vicious, Five Finger Death Punch's And Justice for None and Lord Huron's Vide Noir.  Fall Out Boy's album made #1. These other albums made the Top 10.

Dave Matthews Band's Come Tomorrow is also in the mix. The band has been nominated three times in this category, most recently 20 years ago. Other eligible albums by acts that have been nominated in this category in the past include James Bay's Electric Light, Black Sabbath's The End, Daughtry's Cage to Rattle, Evanescence's Synthesis, Kid Rock's Sweet Southern Sugar, Linkin Park's One More Light Live, Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters' Carry Fire and Weezer's Pacific Daydream.

Other eligible albums that made the Top 10 include Breaking Benjamin's Ember, Godsmack's When Legends Rise, Judas Priest's Firepower, Marilyn Manson's Heaven Upside Down, A Perfect Circle's Eat the Elephant and Shinedown's Attention Attention.

Best Rock Performance

Imagine Dragons appears to be headed for its second win in this category with "Natural." The band won five years ago with "Radioactive." That would make them the first two-time winners in the category's eight year history.

In addition to "Natural," the likely nominees are Mumford & Sons' "Guiding Light," Panic! at the Disco's "Say Amen (Saturday Night)," Twenty One Pilots' "Jumpsuit" and Greta Van Fleet's "Highway Tune."

Mumford & Sons are two-time nominees in the category. Twenty One Pilots have been nominated once in the category.

The next five in terms of likeliness to be nominated are Foo Fighters' "The Sky Is a Neighborhood," Portugal. The Man's "Live in the Moment," Alice Merton's "Lash Out," Jack White's "Over and Over and Over" and Arctic Monkeys' "Four Out of Five."

If Foo Fighters and/or White are nominated, they'll tie Alabama Shakes for the most noms (four) in the category's eight-year history. Foo Fighters may be at a disadvantage because "The Sky Is a Neighborhood" is from a 2017 album that was passed over for a Best Rock Album nom a year ago.

Merton is vying to become the third female solo artist to be nominated in this category, following Elle King, who was nominated three years ago with "Ex's and Oh's," and Beyoncé, who was nominated two years ago with "Don't Hurt Yourself" (featuring Jack White).

Other eligible tracks by acts that have been nominated in this category in the past include Ryan Adams' "Baby I Love You," the late Chris Cornell's "When Bad Does Good," Disturbed's "Are You Ready," Nothing More's "Just Say When (Version 2.0)" and Wolf Alice's "Sad Boy."

Other eligible tracks that made the Top 10 on the rock chart include Bad Wolves' "Zombie," Breaking Benjamin's "Red Cold River," Godsmack's "Bulletproof" and Shinedown's "Devil."

Also possible: Kids See Ghosts featuring Ty Dolla Sign's "Freeee (Ghost Town Pt. 2), alt-J's "Deadcrush," Death Cab for Cutie's "Gold Rush," The Decemberists' "Severed," Ghost's "Rats," Kid Rock's "Snatching It Back," The Killers' "Run for Cover," Linkin Park's "Crawling (One More Light Live)," Dave Matthews Band's "Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin)," Paul McCartney's "Come on to Me," Muse's "Something Human," Nine Inch Nails' "God Break Down the Door," St. Vincent's "Masseduction," U2s "American Soul," Theory of a Deadman's "Straight Jacket," Two Feet's "I Feel Like I'm Drowning" and Moon Taxi's "Two High."

Best Alternative Music Album

The likely nominees are St. Vincent's Masseduction, Björk's Utopia, Beck's Colors, Jack White's Boarding House Reach and David Byrne's American Utopia.

St. Vincent's last album, St. Vincent, won in this category four years ago, which made her the first female solo artist to win in this category in 24 years. If she wins again, she'll be the first female solo artist to win twice in this category.

Björk's last seven albums have been nominated in this category. One more nom and she'll tie Radiohead for the most noms in the history of the category. (Oddly, she has yet to win, while Radiohead has won three times in this category.)

If both St. Vincent and Björk are nominated, this will be the first time in six years that two female solo artists have appeared in the finals. Björk doubled up in 2012 with Fiona Apple.

Beck has received six noms in this category. His last album, Morning Phase, won for Best Rock Album, but he was moved back to alternative with this album. Seven of his last eight studio albums have been nominated for one of these two genre album awards.

The White Stripes won three times in this category. White has also been nominated here once as a solo artist (and once in the rock album category).

Byrne was nominated in this category nine years ago for a collabo with Brian Eno. Voters have a history of rewarding veteran rock innovators in this category. David Bowie won here for his final album, Blackstar.

The next five in terms of likeliness to be nominated are Arctic Monkeys' Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino, Father John Misty's God's Favorite Customer, Gorillaz's The Now Now, alt-J's Reduxer and Nine Inch Nails' Bad Witch.

Arctic Monkeys have one prior nom in this category. Father John Misty and Gorillaz were both nominated in this category last year. alt-J was nominated in this category with its last album. NIN are three-time nominees in this category.

Other eligible albums by past nominees in this category include Neko Case's Hell-On, Lily Allen's No Shame and Moby's Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt.

Also in the mix: Courtney Barnett's Tell Me How You Really Feel, King Krule's The Ooz, Soccer Mommy's Clean and Car Seat Headrest's Twin Fantasy.

Best Metal Performance

The likely nominees are Anthrax's "Antisocial (Live)," August Burns Red's "King of Sorrow," Judas Priest's "Lightning Strike," Megadeth's "These Boots" and Slipknot's "Psychosocial (Live)."

Judas Priest, Megadeth and Slipknot are past winners in this category. Anthrax has received six Grammy noms, but has yet to win. August Burns Red has been nominated in this category in two of the last three years.

Anthrax's entry is a live version of a song they first recorded in 1988. Slipknot's entry is a live version of a song they first recorded in 2008; their studio version was nominated in this category. Megadeth's entry is a cover of Nancy Sinatra's immortal "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," which was a double Grammy nominee 52 years ago.

The next three in terms of likeliness to be nominated are Ministry's "Twilight Zone," Stone Sour's "Burn One Turn One" and Bad Wolves' "Better the Devil." Ministry is a six-time nominee in this category. Stone Sour has amassed three noms in this category.

Note: Doing these things always reminds me how competitive these categories are. The least crowded of these four categories, Best Metal Performance, has 71 entries. The most crowded, Best Rock Performance, has a whopping 364 entries. If an artist somehow emerges from this flood of entries to be nominated, they really have already won.

 

FOR FURTHER READING

Grein on Grammys: Album of the Year

Grein on Grammys: Record of the Year

Grein on Grammys: Song of the Year

Grein on Grammys: Best New Artist

Grein on Grammys: Pop

Grein on Grammys: Country

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