Grammy Countdown: Is this Dave Matthews' year?
The field at a glance: A pair of recent Grammy winners will compete for this year's best rock album title. U2 and Green Day have each won this category in recent years. Green Day for its first attempt at the rock opera with "American Idiot," and U2 for its prior two efforts, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" and "All That You Can't Leave Behind."
Prior to the announcement of the nominations, it would have been easy to guess that best rock album would largely be a bout between U2 and Green Day. Green Day's "21st Century Breakdown" is another ambitious effort from the group, once again filling out its punk rock with Broadway-ready flourishes. U2's "No Line on the Horizon" wasn't the runaway sales success of its prior efforts -- although at more than 1 million copies sold to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan, it wasn't exactly a retail bomb, either -- and the band won high marks for its 360 Tour.
Yet neither rock release was chosen to represent the genre in the overall best album field. Instead, that honor went to Dave Matthews Band's "Big Whiskey And the GrooGrux King," a release that received generally favorable reviews for maintaining a rather direct rock 'n' roll drive. But don't count out AC/DC's "Black Ice." While a late 2008 release, it was one of that year's bestselling rock efforts, and AC/DC is overdue for Grammy recognition. Though it doesn't do anything different, it showed AC/DC hasn't lost any of its energy.
A live release from Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood rounds out the field. It's here on brand recognition only, and while Grammy voters have a tendency to go with the elder statesman, it shouldn't be considered a serious contender.
And the Grammy goes to: Dave Matthews Band. After getting the album of the year nod, DMB won't go home empty handed, but they're definitely not going home with album of the year, either. It should be noted, however, that this is a somewhat tough field to call. U2 are Grammy favorites, but their lack of major nominations illustrates that voters aren't feeling the U2 love in 2010. Green Day's "Breakdown" is well-liked, but after turning heads with "American Idiot," re-tapping the rock opera well didn't seem as exciting the second time around. So we're going with DMB.
And who deserves it? That would be U2, whose "No Line" showed off the band's adventurous side.
-- Todd Martens