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Grammy countdown: Can Phoenix best the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Depeche Mode?

Phoenix_christine_cotter_! Pop & Hiss will be handicapping the major Grammy categories leading up to the Jan. 31 telecast. Read our picks, and vote for your own, below.

The category: Best alternative album.

The field at a glance: The best alternative album field has, in recent years, featured some of the more adventurous picks from Grammy voters. In 2009, the title went to Radiohead's "In Rainbows"; in 2008, the field was arguably more varied than the general album of the year showcase category.

With releases from Björk, the Shins, the Arcade Fire, Lily Allen and the White Stripes represented at the 2008 awards, the best alternative album category lacked only hip-hop in providing a snapshot of the year in music. In a year when Herbie Hancock's "River: The Joni Letters" took top honors, there were far more risk-taking offerings over in best alternative album.

Some of that holds true this year. Phoenix's "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" melds ambient, electronic and pop sounds, bringing added textures to its already warm pop and disco tendencies. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "It's Blitz!" turned the guitar into an atmospheric tool, and the band moved between club-ready ecstasy and late-night vulnerability. David Byrne and Brian Eno's "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today" was a winning pairing of two music legends, with folksy, just slightly off-kilter melodic orchestrations.

In rounding out the category this year, voters got a little lazy. Death Cab for Cutie EP "The Open Door" doesn't make much sense, as it's a five-track effort that complements rather than expands on the work of 2008 full-length "Narrow Stairs." Likewise, Depeche Mode's "Sounds of the Universe" pleased longtime fans, and was Depeche Mode being rather good at playing Depeche Mode.

And the Grammy goes to: Pop & Hiss is going to bet on Phoenix. The album, the act's fourth, was a breakthrough for Phoenix, and single "1901" has become a budding hit, thanks largely to the ubiquitous car commercial that the song scores. The album is still on the charts -- at No. 88 currently -- and has sold 277,000 copies to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The sales are solid, and the band has been in front of voters, going back to a high-profile placement on "Saturday Night Live" in early 2009.

Depeche Mode has the name recognition, and "Sounds of the Universe" is a competent effort, but in a category that has recently awarded Radiohead, the White Stripes, Gnarls Barkley and Wilco, Grammy voters will likely go with the younger, on-the-rise act.There's a chance that Phoenix and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs could split the vote, but Phoenix has been a much-buzzed-about act for much of 2009.

-- Todd Martens

Photo: Phoenix. Credit: Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times


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Comments () | Archives (11)

The album -- A BILLION BUCKS -- should be "Best Album Ever Recorded" because of these lyrics!

I earned the Getty Oil Company shareholders A Billion Bucks
On the Reserve acquisition; the way they treat me -- it really sucks!
As the Getty inheritors bask in glee;
All I asked for was that they look after me.
A billion dollars they earned on Reserve
My fee I surely deserve.
It turns out J.P. Getty may have been a Nazi;
His family even goes back to Germany.
With Hitler, Goring & Goebbels he did stand;
While trying to undermine the American land!
For paintings & artifacts he did receive
With his oil he was able to deceive?
Hoover & the FBI & Roosevelt they knew
That J.P. Getty & espionage he drew!
Many a young lad and Jew did die
As planes dropped bombs from the sky.
For years while Getty sat in Berlin
He may have committed many a sin.
The ashes and smoke from the chimneys it rose
While old man Getty sat cozy; he chose.
With artwork held tightly under his arm
Still dripping in blood -- as the real owner met harm.
Into the ovens & on meat-hooks, bullets between the eyes
Listen very carefully you can still hear their cries!
While the Gettys sit in England; at their estate at Wormsley
And Gordon sings in San Francisco
With his 727 in tow.
The Getty museum sits atop Malibu
While the corpses of World War 2 scream -- J.P. Getty -- We know you!

I'm a huge Depeche fan but to be honest I hated the new album. There was maybe one song I liked. I still hope they win, though. They are so amazing live!!

Depeche Mode It is the best live band

They are the winners

hope Depeche mode wins...they deserve this recognition after 30 years and over 100 million sold albums, the only band who made it througth the 80's and still going strong

Showing some immense love for Depeche Mode! They are one of my all time favourite bands and are surely amongst the most innovative and creative musical acts in the world today. They have been severely underrated and underappreciated all throughout their career, despite having an extremely devoted fanbase - give them what they deserve, finally!

If the Grammys want to honor a lifetime career then it will go to Depeche Mode. If the Grammys want to honor excellence in the achievement of recording arts & sciences (as it should) then the Grammy should go to the Yeahs, Yeahs, Yeahs and I for one prefer that the YYYs deserve the honor.

Depeche Mode!!! Electro/alt/art brilliance!!


DEPECHE MODE !!!!!!!!!!!!! THEY DESERVE TO BE THE WINNERS...the others...who are they ? :)))

DEPECHE MODE is the best!!, I love the recent album Sounds of the Universe and i find one of the best album of their career. It's innovative and avant-garde

DEPECHE MODE should win

Depeche Mode totally deserve to win this award. Sounds of the Universe is an incredible album. Their best in years! Go DM!!!


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