Grammy preview: L.A. bands in the running
Local acts Foster the People, the Belle Brigade, Tyler the Creator, Far East Movement and Fitz & the Tantrums vie for Grammy glory.
While it’s never a bad year for music in a city the size of Los Angeles, 2011 was a particularly notable one, at least when it came to fresh voices garnering attention at a national level. In fact, between just Foster the People and Odd Future’s Tyler the Creator, Los Angeles boasted one of the year’s biggest success stories as well as one of its most controversial.
Dig deeper, and the city had a little of everything that generally appeals to Grammy voters, including a pair of critically beloved pop traditionalists, a dash of vintage soul and an act that spawned multiple Top 10 singles. Nominations will be announced Wednesday.
• Foster the People. This swift and slick electro-pop trio had a massive hit with “Pumped Up Kicks,” a single that has sold more than 3.3 million downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album, “Torches,” released on Sony-affiliated StarTime International, has performed more modestly, but after 26 weeks of release is still in the Top 40. Yet if MGMT and the Ting-Tings could score noms, Foster the People should be considered a favorite.
• The Belle Brigade. The brother and sister songwriting duo of Barbara and Ethan Gruska mix and match styles as they harmonize through various decades of folksy pop. More of an underdog here, but the pair’s self-titled debut for Warner Bros.' Reprise Records was a hit with the KCRW-FM (89.9) set.
• Tyler the Creator. Controversy-courting rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All is not on the new artist ballot for the 2012 Grammy Awards, but the group’s outspoken leader Tyler the Creator is, having issued full-length “Goblin” via XL Recordings. His darkly disturbed sound and subject matter have already earned Tyler the best new artist trophy at the MTV Video Music Awards.
• Far East Movement. The Koreatown-based, pop-hip-hop act cracked the Top 25 in late 2010 with the Cherrytree/Interscope album “Free Wired,” which boasted No. 1 single “Like a G6.” The act comfortably moved between the rap, dance and rock worlds, and toured with Grammy-friendly acts including Lady Gaga and Robyn, while working with Snoop Dogg and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder.
• Fitz & the Tantrums. The soul-revivalists recorded for Silver Lake’s Dangerbird Records, which placed rock group Silversun Pickups in Grammy contention here just two years ago. The feel-good, Motown-inspired wedding-party grooves of Fitz & the Tantrums may seem a less likely Grammy competitor, but don’t ever discount voters love for vintage R&B (see Amy Winehouse, Adele, John Legend, etc.).
-- Todd Martens
Image: Mark Foster of Foster the People. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times