The 66th annual GRAMMY awards are this Sunday, February 4. It might be the most important day of the year for music fans like us. From the red carpet to the performances, the four of us will be glued to our TVs all night. In honor, we decided to highlight some of our favorite nominees! (If our picks don’t win we won’t want to talk about this article for a while.) As always, our Intern Picks of the Week features the highly eclectic music of Madeleine, Emily, Brooke, and Benni!
Madeleine’s Pick for Best Folk Album: Joni Mitchell at Newport (Live) – Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell’s artistry is pivotal and iconic, and her undeniable influence has spanned generations of songwriters. I remember hearing Mitchell’s masterful album Blue for the first time as a fourteen-year-old and being forever changed. Then, I’d only dreamed of writing music, but Mitchell’s sharp lyricism and airy, elastic vocal delivery urged me to follow the call. Mitchell’s songs hold the test of time, remaining just as vital and authentic as when they were first released.
During the 2022 Newport Folk Festival, Mitchell had her first full-length public performance since suffering from a brain aneurysm in 2015. Left unable to speak, walk, and play guitar, Mitchell has worked over the past few years to regain these skills, even reteaching herself how to play guitar in her signature style. When the revered musician took the stage in 2022, she was utterly captivating. Mitchell sang beloved songs from her repertoire while playing guitar and stunning the audience with low, sultry vocals. Mitchell was joined onstage by a crowd of beloved musicians, spearheaded by Brandi Carlile. Her set was a jubilant expression of artistry and a striking reminder of the uniting power of music.
The live recording of this performance is up for Best Folk Album at the 2024 Grammy Awards, and I think that a win for Mitchell would be incredibly deserving. Excitingly, Mitchell is also set to make her Grammy performance debut on Sunday night. It’s hard to believe that she has yet to grace the Grammy stage, but the thought of watching her perform during music’s biggest night has been highly anticipated by devoted Mitchell fans like myself.
Emily’s Pick for Best Rock Performance : “Sculpture of Anything Goes” – Arctic Monkeys
The Arctic Monkeys have been in my heavy rotation since the 2014 Tumblr days. I don’t know what it is exactly, but there is something so addictive about Alex Turner’s voice. That, matched with the intricate lyricism that paints their songs, creates a discography as eclectic as can be. Many have divisive opinions on the sonic direction of the band, but their growth and comfortability absolutely shine on this track and album as a whole. Listening to their albums back-to-back just proves how versatile and dynamic they are as a band. “Sculptures of Anything Goes” just proves this point. It is a beautifully produced song- it’s dark and gritty in all the right ways. It might not be the stereotypical choice for rock performance, but seeing them live at Ascend Amphitheater on their last tour definitely made me biased to them as winners.
I always have been (and most likely will always be) a huge Arctic Monkeys fan. The music they make is timeless and constantly scratches my brain in all the right ways. I am very proud to be the alternative intern this semester because I will constantly bring up bands that have fundamentally changed how I listen to and consume music. I’m not sorry in advance!
Brooke’s Pick for Best Alternative Music Performance: “Body Paint” – Arctic Monkeys
I’m going to double down on Arctic Monkeys with Emily, and make my pick “Body Paint” for Best Alternative Music Performance.This band as been my #1 artist for as long as I’ve had Spotify and really they can do no wrong for me. Controversially, Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino is my favorite album so The Car felt like the perfect evolution for them. Away from what’s expected and more towards a sound that is going to get them booked at the first ever lounge on the moon. “Body Paint,” a slower song about having caught your partner in an affair, was my favorite single released last year so I was especially excited to hear it live. And as this category is for live performance, let me be a little more specific.
I landed myself in the front row of the Arctic Monkeys concert in Nashville last year. So I felt particularly up close and personal for this show. The energy in the crowd was alive and well after the band played hit after hit. They concluded their set with “Body Paint,” featuring an almost five minute extended outro. This showcased mesmerizing guitar solos alternating between frontman Alex Turner and lead guitarist Jamie Cook, along with Matt Helder’s signature drum solo. Turner’s voice crooned throughout, ‘Still a trace,‘ repeating desperately as the song came to a close. The performance elevated the song to a new level, proving that they’ve still got that rock’n’roll in them. But the band is clearly passionate about where their new music has taken them, even if they only played 2 songs off of The Car. The 30-second clip my friend managed to capture on her iPhone just doesn’t do justice to the incredible performance; here’s hoping for another live album soon.
Benni’s Pick for Best R&B Album: Jaguar II – Victoria Monét
With seven Grammy nominations in various categories, 2023 was an amazing year for Victoria Monét. A dedicated and passionate artist, Monét has been consistently releasing music since 2015. Jaguar II is a testament to her patience and perseverance as a creator, and an exciting display of the continued progression in both her talent and style. Monét sings with more confidence than ever, commanding energetic hits like “On My Mama” while soothing listeners with more subdued tracks like “Alright”. My favorite track from the project was “How Does It Make You Feel”, a beautiful blend of full-orchestra instrumentation, ethereal harmonies, and vulnerable lyrics about empowerment through love. Being the second album in her Jaguar series, this project is the culmination of Monét’s iconic music and persona, capturing the tenacity, mystique, authenticity, and unflinching raw talent that makes up who she is as a creative.