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Old 01-03-2002, 09:26 PM   #1
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U2 and Grammy article in LA TImes

Past Grammy winner U2 scores high
What to expect in tomorrow's nominations
Robert Hilburn
Special To The Star


HOLLYWOOD We can all relax going into tomorrow's announcement of this year's Grammy nominations, right?

After the furor surrounding the nomination of X-rated rapper Eminem for best album in the 2000 balloting, this round in the annual competition should be a relatively calm affair.

Bob Dylan and U2 appear to be cinches to be among the five picks in this category, and although U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind seems safe, Dylan's Love And Theft could be problematic, despite the overwhelming critical acclaim. The unconventional opus is harder to get a handle on than 1997's more cohesive Time Out Of Mind, which earned Dylan a best album trophy.

The only thing the National Academy of Arts and Sciences should consider is the quality of the record. But that measurement has eluded the voters before. Here's what to expect tomorrow in three of the most high-profile of the 99 Grammy categories, an exhausting system touching on everything from pop and rock to classical and jazz to bluegrass and polka.

BEST ALBUM

The only thing that Grammy voters favour more than mainstream best sellers is past winners, and U2 scores high in both categories.

The thoughtful and inspiring All That You Can't Leave Behind has sold a few million copies, and the band has won an armload of Grammys over the years, including best album in 1988 for The Joshua Tree and best record for "Beautiful Day" earlier this year. That track, from All That You Can't Leave Behind, was eligible in the best record category because it was released before the Sept. 30, 2000, cutoff date. The album was released after the deadline, which makes it and other U2 singles from the album eligible in the current voting.

Dylan, the most respected songwriter of the modern pop era, has long been a thorn in the Grammys' side. For years, academy voters were ridiculed as being out of touch because of their tendency to honour conservative bestsellers rather than the bold, independent new forces reshaping pop music. There is no greater evidence than the academy's failure to honor Dylan's legendary 1960s albums, which helped establish rock 'n' roll as an art form.

The Grammy brain trust changed the nomination process in 1995 to help upgrade the standards used to select entries in the key categories. The new system, in which a screening committee, rather than the full Grammy membership, selects the final nominees, has done a commendable job of recognizing creative new forces. Adventurous artists such as Beck, the Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead have been nominated in the best album category.

But a failure to nominate Love And Theft could hurt the credibility of the committee, and it also would raise suspicions that the Time Out Of Mind nomination wasn't so much a recognition of a great work as it was an opportunity to make up for years of ignoring Dylan.

Another likely Best Album nominee is the O Brother, Where Art Thou? movie soundtrack, a feel-good salute to roots music that has been named album of the year by the U.S. Country Music Association. (Like the U2 album, the soundtrack came out in 2000, but after the Sept. 30 deadline for last year's eligibility list.)

Alicia Keys, the 20-year-old r 'n' b sensation whose "Fallin'" was one of the year's most widely played singles, seemed like a certainty in this category, but a backlash has been developing in recent months among people who feel her debut album, Songs An A Minor, doesn't justify all the media acclaim and big sales figures.

Keys' moving performance of Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Together" on the Sept. 21 telethon should have erased any doubts about her talent, but remaining questions could leave the door open for another impressive r 'n' b arrival, India.Arie.

The latter's Acoustic Soul was a solid work, highlighted by "Video," which recalls the confident grace of Lauryn Hill.

Because the committee tends to strive for a balance of genres in its best album choices, it's helpful to look at specific pop areas when searching for other potential nominees.

If Dylan doesn't make the cut, the second rock slot could go to Radiohead's Amnesiac. The respected, artful British rock band's last two albums were both nominated in this category.

Jazz artists rarely get nominated for best album, but Canadian singer Diana Krall has won a best album nomination and The Look Of Love could return her to the finals.

Rap is not the first place you look for nominees in this category either, but OutKast's Stankonia is a dynamic work and therefore a strong contender.

This would be a bold and welcome choice, as rap continues to be undervalued as an art form.

In the mainstream pop-rock world, the Dave Matthews Band seems to be a favourite among Grammy voters, although the production on Everyday caused a feverish debate among the band's fans.

Elton John's Songs From The West Coast is the veteran artist's strongest album in decades, and he might be considered overdue for major Grammy recognition.

He should also be on Grammy voters' minds because of his duet with Eminem during the last Grammy ceremony.

The downside is that the album wasn't a hit.

In the end, go with U2, O Brother and OutKast, leaving Dylan, Keys, India.Arie and everyone else battling for the remaining two spots.

BEST RECORD

U2 is the odds-on favourite, unless its two eligible recordings the anxious "Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of" and the soaring "Walk On" end up cancelling each other out in the voting.

Keys and India.Arie also have strong selling points in their respective hit singles "Fallin'," a soul-pop tale of romantic turmoil, and "Video," a statement of self-worth. If OutKast picks up a best album nomination, its momentum could lead to a nomination here for either of its two entries, the explosive "B.O.B.," and the more refined "Ms. Jackson."

In an otherwise weak field, Dido's "Thank You" could snare a nomination. Five For Fighting's "Superman" and Enya's "Only Time" are two works the pop world turned to for comfort in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, and each could benefit in the voting from the sentiment.

: U2, Keys, India.Arie and then a roll of the dice to see which of the year's hit singles caught the committee's ear. Along with those cited above, the possibilities stretch from the Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Mya and Pink rendition of "Lady Marmalade" to Staind's "It's Been Awhile" to Canadian Nelly Furtado's "I'm Like A Bird."

BEST NEW ARTIST

You can put Keys and India.Arie on the final ballot now. The question is, who will challenge them? The other nominees might include Ryan Adams, Coldplay, Furtado and fellow Canuck Rufus Wainwright. Those hopefuls will battle David Gray, Five For Fighting, Pink, Lifehouse and rock-rap upstarts Linkin Park for ballot slots.

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES



*Let's all cross our fingers for our boys tomorrow!*
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Old 01-03-2002, 09:29 PM   #2
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ah....nevermind...long story.

[This message has been edited by The_Sweetest_Thing (edited 01-03-2002).]
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Old 01-03-2002, 09:30 PM   #3
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hehe, actually I remember posting this article yesterday on a grammy thread.

It's hopeful news for our boys!

*crosses fingers*
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