3 Things the Grammys Got Right

Kendrick Lamar performs at the 58th annual Grammy Awards on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Kendrick Lamar performs at the 58th annual Grammy Awards on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Let’s be honest: of the four major award shows – the Emmy’s (TV), Grammys (Music), Oscars (Movies), and Tony’s (Theatre) – the Grammys is probably the worst and least representative of what is truly the best in its field. We’ve covered that plenty over the last five years but if anyone knows me, I like to focus on the positive. I’m a glass half-full type. That proved especially difficult with maddening snubs for Best Song, New Artist, and Album of the Year and just an overall boring broadcast. But I’ll do my best. So here are the three things the 2016 Grammy’s got right.

Hamilton gets its moment in the spotlight

Hamilton has been the biggest musical smash since Book of Mormon, and it rightfully crossed over from the Tony’s into the Grammy’s for a live performance and incredible rapped acceptance speech from creator and star Lin Manuel Miranda. It was a big wakeup from the first 1.5 hours of the awards show that was nothing but snoozy adult-contemporary singing.

Genre awards were largely correct

Whether it was Alabama Shakes winning Best Alternative album, Kendrick winning Best Rap Album, Chris Stapleton winning Best Country Album, or D’Angelo winning best R&B album, several great songs and albums actually won awards. In terms of sub-categories, this is probably the highest hit-rate a Grammy night has had in the last 10 years.

Kendrick getting awards two years after getting snubbed out for Macklemore

Two years after getting snubbed  for all the rap awards to white-rapper Macklemore, the Grammys do what the Grammys do best: make up for a previous wrong. Not completely, but at least in part. This has been done time and time again, and it usually happens with rock bands 30-40 years after their heyday, but fortunately, the Grammys actually got it right with Kendrick Lamar sweeping the rap categories. They certainly screwed up Album of the Year going with Taylor Swift over Kendrick, but that’s not a huge surprise (Speakerboxx/The Love Below by Outkast was the only time a rapper has won Best Album of the Year, and half of that album isn’t really hip hop at all).

Kendrick also delivered easily the best performance of the night, starting by pointing to the injustice towards Blacks in our prison system with “Blacker the Berry”, than going crazy with a huge bonfire and tribal dancers with the Grammy-award winning song “Alright”, and finally debuting a new song where Kendrick raps better and faster than anyone else. It was one of the few thrilling performances in a largely drowsy night.

3 Things the Grammys Got Right

The Top 10 Songs of 2015….so far

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best songs of 2015

2015 has been a solid year in music so far as we examined last week with our list of best albums up to this point.  This week, we take a look at some of the best tracks 2015 has had to offer.  I think we have a very nice diverse list, although many of the songs have some sort of electronic element, but that’s just been the trend in the music industry the past few years.  Enjoy the list, and please let us know your favorite tracks from 2015.

10.  Viet Cong – “Silhouettes”

We all like post-punk with some teeth, and Viet Cong is currently hearkening back to some of our favorite artists of the early 80’s.  “Silhouettes” is a great example of what Viet Cong has burst onto the scene with, not just settling into the genre, but expanding on it.
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The Top 10 Songs of 2015….so far

The 10 Best Summer Albums

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Beach Boys Summer Fun

Editor’s Note: This list was originally published in 2012, but works for any hot day, regardless of year.

So here we are, deep into this relentlessly hot and sticky summer of 2012, and hopefully you are enjoying it as much as we are. It’s the time of the year for swimming pools and popsicles, baseball and biking, and sweating your ass off not matter what, no matter where. Thus we bring you our favorite albums to accompany such occasions. What makes a summer album you ask? In our opinion it is somewhat upbeat, but not overly so. Something that you can groove too whether you’re too hot to do so or not. Since I was a young lad, Austin was only knee high to a grasshopper, and Wes was just a Pooh-cub scrounging for honey, there have always been these certain songs, artist, and albums that have always left their impression on our young summers. So we decided to list out some of our favorites. Making a particularly strong appearance are some favorites from the nineties. We aren’t really sure why, but I suppose some nineties artist just really know how to set the tone for a particular summer mood. Please feel free to tell us what does it for you …
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The 10 Best Summer Albums

The 10 Best Bonnaroo Performances of 2015

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Another summer, another June, another great festival of music, arts, and debauchery. As always, Bonnaroo proves to be one of my favorite weekends of the year, as well as a one of my favorite music festivals in the country. And what to do now? Compile a list of course. Of course, when compiling this list, problems arise. Mainly because I was the only member of LxL to attend Roo this year, and as one man, I cannot make it to every show. No matter how badly I would like to have seen Tears for Fears, scheduling conflicts are real conflicts. So the following is a list of my favorites acts out of all the ones in which I was able to attend. Let me know if any of you saw something better:

10. Billy Joel
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Forever an entertainer. No matter how old this man gets, and no matter how much he looks like Pat Johnson (our friend’s dad), he will forever have that spark of a 23-year-old boy from the Bronx. Having a song like “Piano Man” for +80,000 people to scream back to you has to be one helluva feeling too.
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The 10 Best Bonnaroo Performances of 2015

LxListening: Sprinting to the Summer

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sprint

This year, we’ve talked plenty about this year’s three best releases (at least in my mind): Courtney Barnett’s lively Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit, Kendrick Lamar’s magnum opus To Pimp a Butterfly, and Sufjan Stevens’ delicate memoir Carrie & Lowell. However, we haven’t written nearly enough of all the other solid-to-great releases that have sprouted up the last few months. This by all means is panning out to be a better music year than last, thanks to surprising sophomore efforts (Alabama Shakes, Torres, Purity Ring) and some welcome returns (Sleater-Kinney, Blur, Sufjan Stevens). Here are some of my favorite songs of the past few months.
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LxListening: Sprinting to the Summer

LxL’s Best Albums of 2012

Top 20 Best Albums of 2012 including El-P, Jack White, and Fiona Apple

2012 turned out to be a pretty great year in music.  I think all three of us would agree the offerings in 2012 were deep in really good albums, without many albums rising to the level of true greatness.  That being said, I think I would rather have a pool of 60-80 really good albums come out in a year than 9-10 great albums.  Around here, we like variety, and we certainly got it this year.  There was a surprisingly surge of good hip-hop released in the second half of the year (Killer Mike, Nas, Meek Mill).  There was the long-awaited return of all-timer female singer songwriter types (Fiona Apple, Cat Power, Regina Spektor).  And there were also several much-anticipated sophomore wide releases (Sleigh Bells, Tame Impala, Beach House, Twin Shadow).  All in all, there may not have been a lot of perfect albums this year, but it was still a great year in music.  Enjoy the top 20.
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LxL’s Best Albums of 2012

LxL’s Best Songs of 2012

Songs and Artists of 2012

Well, after a short Holiday hiatus, we are back! And our end of year coverage continues with the most difficult list to assemble: our favorite songs of 2012. Why is a songs list so difficult to construct you say? Because there is so friggin’ many of them, it’s very hard to reach a consensus. For example we may absolutely love two songs on an album fairly equally, like First Aid Kit’s “Lions Roar” and “EmmyLou”, but we might split our vote causing neither to make the list. But even with the challenging aspects of making this list, it was a blast to make and look back at all the songs that colored our year. Here are our favorites:

20. AlunaGeorge – “Your Drums, Your Love”


New London electronic duo AlunaGeorge, consisting of singer Aluna Francis and producer George Reid (naturally), hit the electronic field by storm in 2012 with an EP and hopes of a full-length to come in the upcoming year. “Your Drums, Your Love” wrings of the slick, wry, and pretty production that Lilly Allen brings to the table, but with an added dimension of electronic touches and an unshakable chime of voices repeating “your drums” to take it over the top.
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LxL’s Best Songs of 2012