In this week’s Voice I wrote about Skrillex, the emo-dude-gone-dubstep-auteur who’s spawned a bunch of funny-Photoshop blogs and garnered five Grammy nominations. One of the categories he’s nominated in is one of the Big Four—Best New Artist, which seems to have shaken off its “one-way ticket to obscurity” stigma (recent winners include Maroon 5 and probably Woman Of This Year Adele). But does he have any chance at all of winning this genre-spanning category on Sunday night, and introducing those American viewers who aren’t familiar with the EDM circuit to his aesthetic? In the first of a series of oddsmaking posts on SOTC over the next few days, we handicap his odds against The Band Perry, Bon Iver, J. Cole, and Nicki Minaj.
The Band Perry
WHO: Country sibling act best known for the sorta-morbid song about being content with one’s lot “If I Die Young.”
PROS: Youth; sweetness; “If I Die Young” is extremely catchy in a Nashville-lite way and will probably live on in Walgreens for eternity.
CONS: Zero nominations outside this category—not even in the country categories. But that might be a sign that they’re actually a crossover act!
FIRST RECORD ACTUALLY RELEASED IN: 2010
KANYE WEST CO-SIGN: No.
WHO: Up-from-the-cabin indie-prog rock act led by Justin Vernon, who really likes reverb, deep thoughts, etc.
PROS: Vernon’s an artist, man.
CONS: He’s such an artist that he’s not really “into” the Grammys, which might turn off voters. Or it might make them think that he’s just that devoted to his craft!
FIRST RECORD ACTUALLY RELEASED IN: 2008
KANYE WEST CO-SIGN: Oh yes.
WHO: Jay-Z-cosigned MC.
PROS: Good backstory, decent songs.
CONS: The version of Beyoncé’s “Party” up for a Grammy is the one with André 3000, who J. Cole hip-checked out of the picture for the single release. And this category is historically a very tough one for solo male hip-hop artists to crack.
FIRST RECORD ACTUALLY RELEASED IN: 2008 (mixtape); 2011 (album)
KANYE WEST CO-SIGN: Yes. (appeared on G.O.O.D. Fridays release “Looking For Trouble”; gave back by sampling “The New Workout Plan” on “Work Out”)
WHO: Syllable-twisting, hyperkinetic rapper-slash-fashion icon.
PROS: She’s exciting, she’s fun, she’s selling lots of records. Plus “Super Bass” was one of the best singles of 2011.
CONS: “Super Bass” snubbed in Record and Song of the Year; she retaliated by mispronouncing “Bon Iver” on the nomination show. An excellent move, but will it alienate voters?
FIRST RECORD ACTUALLY RELEASED IN: 2007 (mixtape); 2010 (album)
KANYE WEST CO-SIGN: Yes. (“Monster”; cameo at Nassau Coliseum gig last summer)
WHO: Rock and roller turned DJ-slash-meme.
PROS: High name recognition; successful navigation of the business side of things in a treachorous time; co-signs from the likes of Korn and the Doors.
CONS: Older voters might be a bit turned off by his music’s squalls and squeaks. Plus this quote is in his bio: “For years, the artists needed the record labels. I don’t feel that way at all.” Of course, he follows that up by saying that he’s happy to have signed with Deadmau5’s Atlantic imprint, so who knows.
FIRST RECORD ACTUALLY RELEASED IN: 2010 (EP)
KANYE WEST CO-SIGN: Not on record, but surely Twitter counts.
FINAL PREDICTION: It’s anybody’s guess, really. But I’m hoping that Skrillex wins, because the online reaction from people completely confused by him will be much more fun to watch than last year’s confusion.