Picking the Winners at the 2022 Grammy Awards

It is that time of year again, one that brings with it its usual grousing and celebrations. Awards season is underway with the Oscars this last Sunday (did something happen that was noteworthy?), and it will continue with the Grammy Awards this week. The crème of the music world will arrive in Las Vegas (it was supposed to be held in Los Angeles back in February, but COVID guidelines at that time forced its move) on Sunday night, looking to celebrate the best in their industry (and hopefully not smacking the shit out of each other).

I always look forward to the Grammys, so I do not want to hear a lot of bitching about “rich, successful people patting each other on the back.” OF COURSE, it is rich, successful people patting each other on the back. These people work incredibly hard on their craft, not to mention the songwriters, producers, engineers, and other industry people who put together these musical creations for our entertainment. Why else do you think they give out MVP awards in professional sports? It is their way of honoring the best – and that is what the Grammys do.

Because my knowledge of the industry is in the rock field, I am going to concentrate on those categories first. At the end, I am going to offer my prediction for the four major awards – Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist. SPOILER ALERT!! It is going to be the same person, because…

Wait, I am getting ahead of myself. Here are my predictions for the major rock and metal awards for the Grammys 2022.

Best Rock Performance

“Shot in the Dark,” AC/DC
“Know You Better (Live from Capitol Studio A),” Black Pumas
“Nothing Compares 2 U,” Chris Cornell
“Ohms,” Deftones
“Making a Fire,” Foo Fighters

SHOULD WIN: “Ohms,” Deftones
WILL WIN: “Shot in the Dark,” AC/DC

With the passing of drummer Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters VERY recently, there is going to be a strong call for the group to be feted in some manner. Likewise, the posthumous release of cover songs by Cornell, the former singer for Soundgarden and Audioslave who committed suicide in 2017, is sure to draw some support. “Ohms,” however, was a magnum opus from Deftones and it should win…but it won’t.

That honor is going to go to AC/DC, who has been around now for 50 years and have only once taken home the trophy (for a rather subpar “War Machine” in 2009 for Best Hard Rock Performance). “Shot in the Dark” was an outstanding comeback for the group and it gives the voters in the Recording Academy an opportunity to say “Hey, we’re hip with the hard rock!” I’ll leave out my healthy does of sarcasm on this one!

Best Rock Song

“All My Favorite Songs,” Rivers Cuomo, Ashley Gorley, Ben Johnson and Ilsey Juber, songwriters (Weezer)
“The Bandit,” Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill and Nathan Followill, songwriters (Kings of Leon)
“Distance,” Wolfgang Van Halen, songwriter (Mammoth WVH)
“Find My Way,” Paul McCartney, songwriter (Paul McCartney)
“Waiting on a War,” Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Rami Jaffee, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear, songwriters (Foo Fighters)

SHOULD WIN: “Distance”
WILL WIN: “Find My Way”

“Waiting on a War” wasn’t even the best song on Foo Fighters’ “Medicine at Midnight,” so we cannot consider it here. Weezer and Kings of Leon are not going to get the award. It should go to Wolfgang Van Halen for the outstanding ode to his father, the late guitar wizard Eddie Van Halen, from Mammoth WVH’s debut record. It was a masterful piece of work that should be recognized (even though I think “Don’t Back Down” was a better song).

The rule with the Recording Academy is “if you can honor a Beatle, you do it.” And that’s why McCartney will win this award. It was not because it was a great song, it was not because “McCartney III” was a great album. It is simply because McCartney is, well, McCartney. I would love to be proven wrong, however.

Best Rock Album

“Power Up,” AC/DC
“Capitol Cuts – Live from Studio A,” Black Pumas
“No One Sings Like You Anymore Vol. 1,” Chris Cornell
“Medicine at Midnight,” Foo Fighters
“McCartney III,” Paul McCartney

SHOULD WIN: “Power Up”
WILL WIN: “McCartney III”

See above. While I personally believe that “Power Up” was the best record AC/DC has released in some time (arguably since “The Razor’s Edge”), this is where Foo Fighters would be best considered. “Medicine at Midnight” was a complete record, front to back, and this might be where they will slip in.

Unfortunately, McCartney is there too…

Best Metal Performance

“Genesis,” Deftones
“The Alien,” Dream Theater
“Amazonia,” Gojira
“Pushing the Tides,” Mastodon
“The Triumph of King Freak (A Crypt of Preservation and Superstition),” Rob Zombie

SHOULD WIN: “Amazonia”
WILL WIN: “Genesis”

The category is Best METAL Performance and, as such, the only qualifier in these five songs would be Gojira. Gojira was nominated twice in 2017 for Best Metal Performance and Best Metal Album (not awarded any more), and they are more than deserving of recognition for their work. I would like to see Dream Theater or Mastodon get some respect, too, but they may be too much on the peripheral of some voters for consideration.

This one will probably be a makeup call for Deftones not winning in the Best Rock Performance category. Although I have always considered Deftones more on the alternative edge, Grammy voters are not known for their knowledge of musical genre (remember, these voters once “honored” Jethro Tull over Metallica for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance). Thus, this is the place where Deftones will probably be receiving their award.

Now, as to the Big Four…

Last year, it was a bit of a surprise. For the first time in 40 years, the Big Four awards – Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist – were all taken home by the same artist, Billie Eilish. The last time that it occurred was in 1981, when Christopher Cross walked away with a truckload of Grammys for his song “Sailing,” and proceeded to be crushed by the MTV steamroller when it debuted in August of that year.

We’re not going to have to wait as long this time for it to happen. Olivia Rodrigo and “Driver’s License” was a MONSTER through the year, and the album it came from, “Sour,” provided a plethora of top hits. You might be able to question Rodrigo on her propensity for “borrowing” sounds from other artists (Taylor Swift, Hayley Williams of Paramore and Courtney Love of Hole is just a small list), but she has been able to concoct a debut CD that blew up the charts.

If you want to look beyond Rodrigo, there are two choices that are very apparent. The collaboration of Lady Gaga and the legendary Tony Bennett on their CD “Love for Sale” would be good candidates in the Record and Album categories as a sentimental “lifetime achievement” statement for Bennett. Meanwhile, Lil’ Nas X might make a run at a trio of awards (Record, Album, and Song of the Year) with “Montero.”

Unfortunately, a couple of the big favorites pre-Grammys are going to be overlooked. Jon Batiste and H.E.R. both received numerous nominations (eleven for Batiste, eight for H.E.R.), but I do not believe that either will crack through in the Big Four categories (they aren’t eligible for Best New Artist). This is unfortunate as both Batiste and H.E.R. have demonstrated their virtuosity as musicians and should be recognized for their outstanding work.

Set your DVR now if you do not plan on watching the 2022 Grammy Awards live – it is Sunday night at 8PM (EDT), airing on CBS. Musical performances lined up include Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak), Batiste, Eilish, H.E.R., Lil’ Nas X, Rodrigo, Chris Stapleton, John Legend, and Carrie Underwood (Foo Fighters were scheduled to be on the bill, but the death of Hawkins – which will have a “tribute segment” during the ceremonies, according to producers – has caused the band to withdraw). It should be a helluva show!

Renegades Radio Podcast – The Best of 2019!

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Hard to believe that another 12 months has rushed by and we find ourselves at the end of the year! The Renegades Radio Podcast is taking a look back at the year in music, from the women who dominated the charts to the MASSIVE hit song that was on everyone’s lips to the collaborations that made us sit up and take notice. And yes, rock & roll is still alive, even in a far flung location!

The Renengades Radio Podcast is also going to look at some of the news that broke during the year, including the biggest story of the year, the exposure of just how devastating the 2008 Universal Studios fire was to the music industry. It will be an entertaining hour, so join us!

@billieeilish @arianagrande @pink @iamhalsey @avamax @teddysphotos @lilnasx @ladygaga @bradleycooper0fficial @camila_cabello @shawnmendes @jennydianelewis @iammarkronson @mileycyrus @sherylcrow @chrisstapleton @thehighwomen @marenmorris @brandicarlile @amandapearlshires @nataliehemby @paparoach @hellyeahofficial @slipknot @thehuofficial

Renegades Radio Podcast – Best Music of the 2010s (According to Spotify)

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What difference does ten years make? We’re approaching the end of another decade, so it is time to look back over recent history and see what was some of the best music. Spotify took the time to poll its members and the Renegades Radio Podcast is playing some of the songs that came from that list while seeing where these artists started a mere ten years ago…and where they find themselves today!

Whether it is rock, pop, rap, alternative or country, the 2010s provided some excellent music, regardless of your own personal preferences! Take an hour to enjoy the best sounds of the 2010s on this episode of the Renegades Radio Podcast!

@ladygaga @siamusic @robynkonichiwa @iammarkronson @eminem @badgalriri @ddlovato @iiswhoiis @mirandalambert @zacbrownband @spaceykacey @shinedown @bringmethehorizon @volbeat @halestormrocks @officiallzzyhale @thejoestorm @brunomars

Renegades Radio Podcast – The 2019 Grammy Awards!

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IT’S GRAMMY TIME!

On this episode of the Renegades Radio Podcast, we’re taking a look at the 2019 Grammy Awards. In particular, we’re taking a look at the four major awards: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist. Who will be the big winner? And who do you think should win? Get your Grammy preparations on by listening to all the nominees on the Renegades Radio Podcast!

Elton John & Bernie Taupin Tribute CDs “Revamp” & “Restoration” Evoke Different Responses

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Earlier this year, the legendary pianist, vocalist and performer Elton John announced that, after 50 years on the road as a musician, he would be retiring. There’s plenty of reason to believe John when he says this – he’s never even mentioned the idea of quitting prior to 2018 and seems quite happy performing (his residency in Las Vegas was one of the hottest seats in town). The announcement of his retirement disappointed many of his longtime fans and made interest in his concert tour for the remainder of 2018 more special that simply being able to see the virtuoso.

Along with his farewell tour, John has also been feted with not one but two new CDs from artists paying tribute to the songwriting of John and his studio partner, Bernie Taupin. This isn’t the first time that the duo has gotten this treatment; back in 1991, they were the subject of a tribute album called Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John & Bernie Taupin (the title of the CD reflected the fact that John and Taupin often worked separately on songs, with John coming up with the music and Taupin writing the lyrics in…two rooms). The record featured artists as diverse as The Who, Kate Bush, Oleta Adams, The Beach Boys, Wilson Phillips and Bruce Hornsby (his version of “Madman Across the Water” is nearly as good as the original) and their take on some of the classic music from John & Taupin.

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With John calling an end to his touring days, it seems natural for another trip down memory lane and instead of one CD, fans get two. There’s a reason for this:  one CD, called Revamp, is filled with the top artists from the pop world and their renditions of popular John/Taupin tunes, and the other CD, called Restoration, features the best in current country music taking their shots at saluting John/Taupin. Surprisingly, it is the country side that wins out the “reimaging” (why not just “tribute”) battle between the two CDs.

Revamp kicks off with a snippet of John performing “Bennie and the Jets” before segueing into rapper Logic and P!nk joining forces for a rap/pop version of the tune. The twosome takes the classic song and make it their own, entertaining the listener and offering hopes that the remainder of the CD will be as adventurous. Unfortunately, that doesn’t come to be as pretty much every other song on the disc holds close to the original renditions.

Coldplay’s “We All Fall in Love Sometimes” falls flat, never even coming close to inspiring the listener, but Alessia Cara attempts to redeem that performance with a well-done version of “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues.” Ed Sheeran turns “Candle in the Wind (2018)” into a folksy tune and Florence + the Machine hold serve with “Tiny Dancer.” Mumford & Sons (“Someone Saved My Life Tonight”) shows up for a so-so rendition before the top two performances take the CD.

Mary J. Blige demonstrates some very powerful vocals in tearing into “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” and really does make the song hers. By far the top song on the album is the collaboration between rapper Q-Tip and Demi Lovato, who take the classic tune John performed with Kiki Dee, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” and stand it on its head. Where the original tune was a piece of pop pablum, Q and Lovato turn it into a reggae/R&B mixed effort that comes off fabulously. Their approach wouldn’t have worked on any other song from the John/Taupin catalog, so it was outstanding that the right performers and song were matched up. Although Miley Cyrus (“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”) and Lady Gaga (“Your Song”) cover their respective tunes admirably, the Killers (“Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters”), Sam Smith (“Daniel”) and Queens of the Stone Age (“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” possibly the worst effort on the CD), come up short on their work.

Revamp is devoid of the artists taking their chances at recreating John/Taupin classics. For the most part, they stuck to the material and, while enjoyable, I’d rather see them stretch a bit and attempt something new. This doesn’t make Revamp bad, it’s just it pales in comparison to its companion disc.

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Surprisingly, it is the country artists that take part in the tribute on Restoration that take the most chances in their interpretations of John & Taupin’s songs. From the start of the CD, with Little Big Town delivering a daring rendition of “Rocket Man,” the country artists seem to be more comfortable with deviating from the originals. The country artists also delve deeper into the John/Taupin catalog than the pop artists did.

Although there is a repeated song – Maren Morris’ OK version of “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” – and a repeated artist – Miley Cyrus shows up again to give a so-so performance of “The Bitch is Back” – the other artists take some chances with some deep cuts from the John/Taupin catalog. The Brothers Osborne deliver a stunning rocking version of “Take Me to the Pilot” and country legend Willie Nelson contributes a well-done version of “Border Song,” but other artists stretch their legs.

This isn’t to say they all hit the mark. Don Henley and Vince Gill give up an uninspired version of “Sacrifice” and Lee Ann Womack’s start slow/finish strong version of “Honky Cat” are a bit of a disappointment, but they are more than made up in such choices as Miranda Lambert (“My Father’s Gun”), Chris Stapleton (“I Want Love”) and Kacey Musgraves (“Roy Rogers”). Two duets bear special mention because of their uniqueness, the Rhonda Vincent/Dolly Parton collaboration on “Please” and Roseanne Cash and Emmylou Harris’ stirring rendition of “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore.”

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For its sheer daring and stylistic changes, Restoration comes out as the better CD than Revamp. It could have been for the fact that the pop singers weren’t as well versed in Elton John’s music or that they didn’t feel comfortable taking such songs and making them their “style.” It really seemed that the country artists understood John and Taupin’s works much better, displayed in the chances they took in song choices and the way they were performed. While you can’t go wrong with either one (nor the original Two Rooms…in fact, ownership of all three is well worth having in the catalog), it is clear to see that one is better than the other.