The tragedy of September 11th had a enormous impact on the entire entertainment industry. The 2002 Grammy Awards were no exception, as the nominees reflected the musical preferences afterwards. Same applies to the "Grammy Nominees 2002" album, the nominees, in general, convey a somber, traditional and very safe musical stylings. Thus the album doesn't reach the same diverse levels as previous installments:
(1) India.Arie. "Video" B+. What a refreshing breeze to see someone who's not afraid to be themself. As a single this is very important, meaningful and unique. Interesting lyrics and a defined purpose make this a very entertaining listen.
(2) Alicia Keys "Fallin'" A. Alicia has the uncanny ability to take worn out material and give a fresh new sound. "Fallin'" is a perfect example; her piano skills match with her heartfelt lyrics to create a deeply effective song.
(3) OutKast "Ms. Jackson" A. Not only does this have OutKast' trademarked cool, finky, hip style, but it a positive idea as well. The clever lyrics make you think that this person is truly sorry. Filled with meaning and dimension, this one of OutKast' best.
(4) Train "Drops Of Jupiter" A-. I'm not even sure what this song is about, and plainly don't care. The subject, whatever it may be, is beautifully expressed with strong images and creative lyrics. The song is catchy and intriging at all times.
(5) U2 "Walk On" C+. "All That You Can't Leave Behind" is a great album with three great singles. This is not one of them. The song has meaning and a good purpose, but it gets SO dragged out that it looses everything it achived. There is something here, but it gets lost along the way.
(6) Bob Dylan "Honest With Me" C. There was a time when Bob Dylan represented cutting edge music. But these days he just seems old and outdated. He thinks his style is still unique and different, when in truth its not bad music, but just average.
(7) The Soggy Bottom Boys "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow" B-. This may possibly be the most perplaxing hit in years. The song would have been in the 1930s, the production feels unfinished and the elements never really come together. Yet it still has some charm and is very catchy. I guess it works as a period piece.
(8) Nelly Furtado "I'm Like A Bird" A-. No other person in the music industry has a voice quite like Nelly Furtado's. Her relaxed tone gives this song a touching and beautiful feel to it. There aren't many lyrics, but the few alot of depth and impact to inspire true emotion.
(9) David Gray "Babylon" B+. Why he chose this title is absolutely mind boggling. The rest is a rather touching and very slick male pop vocal performance. The writing may seem a little strange, but is still very effective in the end.*
(10) Craig David "Fill Me In" A. It took some time for Craig David to hit "the States", but it was well worth the wait. The material goes much deeper than expected and cetain sections have an strange dimension to them. This is a fast paced, cool pop song that remains in your head well after.
(11) Michael Jackson "You Rock My World" B. It may not be in the same league as MJ's classics, but it's definetly worth a listen. The track is catchy and highly enjoyable, but doesn't go as far as it could. Still you can't quibble too much with a song this happy and energenic.
(12) Elton John "I Want Love" B. A well made traditional pop peformance, but nothing more. It's listenable, but feels like the same stuff we've heard many times before. Atleast Elton still knows how to pull off a song.
(13) Brian McKnight "Still" B. No idea why it's nominated for a Pop Grammy, when it's clearly R&B. Doesn't really matter though, because the song is still very well done and somewhat effective. The only problem is that it seems like most of his other works and not that original.
(14) James Taylor "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" D-. An utterly terrible song, definetly one to keep off the Greatest Hits. For long stretches he's barely even singing and when he does its sleep inducing and set to weak music. This is a song James Taylor should be ashamed for making.
(15) Backstreet Boys "Shape Of My Heart" A. A very effective ballad with brilliant word choice. The lyrics are heartfelt, personal and carry much depth to them. The boys are known to make excellent ballads, but even this is exceptional for them.
(16) Five For Fighting "Superman (It's Not Easy)" A-. The group knows that they can accomplish alot just by laying back. Their method creates a powerful ballad that gets under the listener's skin. It may have a title suggesting superhoreos, but anyone can relate to this song.
(17) R.E.M. "Imitation Of Life" B. In the end this is a solid pop/rock track that just doesn't go much deeper. It sounds terrific and well crafted, but comes across as second rate work for a group like R.E.M.
Bottom Line: ***. The album has some great songs on it, but alot of songs that just aren't that memorable. "Ms. Jackson" and "Fill Me In" are the only songs that really have edge to be different. It's a good album, but not a great one. Reflecting current events is important, but awards last forever.
*NOTE: This recording of "Babylon" is a live performance, that is why you hear applause at the begining and end.