Legends Old and New: The Grammys' Year of Pop

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Robert Plant

Nominations:

  • Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance ("Shine It All Around")
  • Best Hard Rock Performance ("Tin Pan Valley")

Death Cab For Cutie

Nominations:

  • Best Alternative Music Album (Plans)

John Legend

Nominations:

  • Song Of The Year ("Ordinary People")
  • Best New Artist
  • Best Male R&B Vocal Performance ("Ordinary People"),
  • Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals ("So High") Best R&B Album (Get Lifted),
  • Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance ("Stay With You")
  • Best R&B Song ("Ordinary People")
  • Best Rap/Sung Collaboration ("They Say"- Common feat. Kanye West & John Legend)

February 8 brought a new crop of Grammy winners, as musicians from John Legend to Robert Plant vied for the annual awards. Indie or metal; rap or soul: The contenders for this year's awards represent a wide swath of American music.

For a closer look at the nominations, we speak with David Browne, critic for Entertainment Weekly.

Browne has his favorites, from "Feel Good, Inc." by the Gorillaz to Kanye West's "Gold Digga."

While he remains leery of predicting winners in such a broad and diverse field, Browne says he feels an interesting" night coming on. "I'm not sure we're going to be seeing a sweep, like we've seen in the past," Browne says, but "I think they will spread the awards around."

As for the state of rock, Browne says it's "increasingly marginal" in the Grammy formula. That characterization is backed by the increasingly fractured Grammy nomination categories, in which "I guess to be 'Rock', really 'Rock'… you have to be over 55." As proof, Browne cites Best Solo Rock Vocal: Eric Clapton, Robert Plant, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen — and the younger Robert Young, of Matchbox 20.

As he breaks down the field of contenders, Browne also clears up an issue that is often confusing to casual fans: what's the difference between Song of the Year and Record of the Year, anyway?

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