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Grammys 2011: Arcade Fire, Katy Perry and the album of the year field

December 1, 2010 |  7:41 pm

Quick reactions to some of the major Grammy categories. Pop & Hiss continues to provide analysis throughout the night, as well as in the days and weeks leading up to the Feb. 13 ceremony at the Staples Center.

The nominees:

"The Suburbs," Arcade Fire
"Recovery," Eminem
"Need You Now," Lady Antebellum
"The Fame Monster," Lady Gaga
"Teenage Dream," Katy Perry

The highlight: The Arcade Fire's nomination is a major win for independent labels and Merge Records in particular. Grammys do not typically dip their toes into independent waters, and the Arcade Fire, though having a No. 1 album, are still an adventurous pick. Remember, this is the same award show that has recently favored the likes of Dave Matthews and the Foo Fighters when it comes to rock 'n' roll. A complex concept album about the effects of being raised in an urban sprawl, "The Suburbs" is an album that takes its time, letting its grand orchestrations unfold with patience. 

The bad: Lady Antebellum's perfectly coiffed adult contemporary takes little risks, Eminem's "Recovery," though one of the artist's more analytical works, is not on par with hip-hop albums from the likes of Big Boi, the Roots or Jay-Z, and Lady Gaga's "The Fame Monster," though an improvement on her album "The Fame," was billed as an EP and a new album is around the corner. Outside of the Arcade Fire, however, Lady Gaga is the field's most risk-taking artist.

The downright horrible: Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" has no business here, as it's a pandering concoction of ditsy lyrics, childish sexual innuendos and overly-glossy production that reeks of session musician hackery. Though she's cute-as-a-button in a banana costume, Perry is more Hugh Hefner fantasy than artist. 

Robbed? There are 108 Grammy categories, and one can make a list of twice as many albums more deserving of this honor than at least three of these candidates. The field completely overlooked anything in R&B, missing an opportunity to recognize Sade's "Soldier of Love." Also, if voters wanted a pop artist, they should have gone with Rihanna's "Rated R."

-- Todd Martens


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Photo: Arcade Fire's Win Butler. Credit: Robert Gauthier