At any rate, in addition to today's review of Talking Heads' Naked, I'm also treating you guys to this, my first top ten list since last January. Today we'll be looking at the ten most undeserving winners of the Grammy for Album of the Year. We all know that the Grammys are essentially stupid and meaningless, but some years they're ultra-stupid and meaningless, and I'm here to make fun of them. In fact, they're actually ultra-stupid and meaningless quite often -- it was rather difficult to narrow it down to ten. But thankfully I did, so now I present to you...the Top 10 Most Baffling Album of the Year Winners!
Fearless by Taylor Swift (won in 2010)
This is one of the cases where the competition really wasn't very stiff -- as far as other nominees go, Swifty only had a bunch of mindless pop to deal with. Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, and Beyoncé certainly weren't making anything far better than what Taylor put out. And as far as great un-nominated albums go, I can only name Merriweather Post Pavilion, Revolution, and Embryonic as actual classics that I would've preferred to have won. So, the only real reason I'm putting this on the list at all is simple -- Taylor Swift won a Grammy for Album of the Year. And, in my opinion, this...shouldn't have happened. Is anyone really going to remember Fearless fifty years from now? Would anyone seriously call this a classic album??
Two Against Nature by Steely Dan (won in 2001)
I'm afraid that Two Against Nature will forever go down in history as nothing more than "the album that beat Kid A". While I'm sure that Radiohead's masterpiece is far greater than Steely Dan's minor work, from what I've heard, Two Against Nature is actually a semi-decent album. The album also won against Eminem's seminal Marshall Mathers LP, which is, yeah, a bit baffling.
A Man and His Music by Frank Sinatra (won in 1967)
Far from being an essential work of Sinatra's, A Man and His Music is nothing more than a compilation of re-recorded hits strung together by narration about his life. And this, ladies and gents, was chosen by the Academy over such masterworks as Pet Sounds and Blonde on Blonde.
MTV Unplugged by Tony Bennett (won in 1995)
...do I really need to comment here? A live album by Tony Bennett (released in 1994, no less) with the word "MTV" in the title was granted AOTY instead of classics like Parklife, Weezer, Dookie, The Downward Spiral, Crooked Rain Crooked Rain, or, heck, even The Division Bell! Uh...what?
September of My Years by Frank Sinatra (won in 1966)
Admittedly, September of My Years is a great album, one of Sinatra's finest. However, it's hard for me to believe that it's more deserving of the award than Rubber Soul, Highway 61 Revisited, The Beach Boys Today!, Bringing It All Back Home, or A Love Supreme. Why is this hard for me to believe? Simple -- because it isn't!
Unforgettable... with Love by Natalie Cole (won in 1992)
A middling R&B album recorded by a girl famous for nothing other than being Nat King Cole's daughter is better than Nevermind, Loveless, Ten, The Low End Theory, Out of Time, and Spiderland, apparently.
Blood, Sweat, & Tears by Blood, Sweat, & Tears (won in 1970)
Blood, Sweat, and Tears were a boring, yet decent, jazz-rock group, and while their sophomore album was quite good indeed, it's not quite an all-time classic...although the Academy seems to disagree. They voted it Album of the Year in a year which also featured Tommy, Led Zeppelin, Let It Bleed, In the Court of the Crimson King, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, and another little album known as Abbey Road. Are you trying to tell me that Blood, Sweat, and Tears is better than all of that?!
By the Time I Get to Phoenix by Glen Campbell (won in 1969)
No offense to Glen Campbell -- he's a fine country singer -- but this forgettable album (his seventh) has no right to be called Album of the Year. How about Magical Mystery Tour instead? Or maybe Beggars Banquet? The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society? Simon and Garfunkel's seminal Bookends? And if it's a country album you want, then why not spring for Johnny Cash's brilliant live album At Folsom Prison? Baffling, I tell you, baffling!
Christopher Cross by Christopher Cross (won in 1981)
Oh yeah, Christopher Cross! I love that guy! Yeah, he's...he's great.........okay, no one tends to remember soft-rock icon Christopher Cross (whom I will now affectionately refer to as Chris-Cross), but at the time his debut was incredibly well-received. Of course, now-a-days everyone would rather listen to The Wall, or Remain in Light, or London Calling, or Back in Black, or Sandinista!, or Closer, or Zenyatta Mondatta, or Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), but hey! Who doesn't love a little early-80s soft-rock from our good buddy Chris-Cross, eh? EH?
52nd Street by Billy Joel (won in 1980)
Oh, come on, you knew it had to be Billy Joel! 52nd Street actually isn't a terrible album, but come on...it's Billy Joel. He could've released The White Album or something, and you still wouldn't have liked it, just because...it's Billy Joel! But things get even worse when you realize what else was released this year. Geez, 1979 was an excellent year for music -- Fear of Music, Unknown Pleasures, Rust Never Sleeps, Breakfast in America, Metal Box, Tusk, Damn the Torpedoes, Entertainment!, Reggatta de Blanc, Highway to Hell, Off the Wall...and according to the Academy, NONE of these match up to the artistic genius that is the one and only Billy Joel. None of them! THE BILLY JOEL CONQUERS ALL. DON'T EVEN TRY AND CROSS THE JOEL, YOU'LL FAIL. ALL HAIL THE JOEL. HAIL.
So there you have it, my top 10. There are plenty of honorable mentions as well -- Mumford and Sons' victory last year nearly made my list -- but these are the most egregious examples of terrible voting.
What are *your* picks for the worst-ever winners of Album of the Year? Tell me in the comments!