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(DV) Billet: Signs of Life in the Grammys







Signs of Life in the Grammys:
Dixie Chicks Up for Album of the Year  

by Alexander Billet
December 11, 2006

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The Grammy nominations were announced on Friday. Beyond most news outlets' amazement with Mary J Blige gathering eight nods (did they see the Billboards?) there actually seems to be a trend worth noting in this year's show. There are of course plenty of the recording industry's flavor du jour there (James Blunt, John Mayer, Carrie Underwood and of course, Christina), but up against them are a handful of artists who represent a great deal of hope for those of us disheartened by the state of music. 

Just a few highlights:

The Dixie Chicks, after being predictably snubbed at the Country Music Awards, are up for album of the year, record (single) of the year, and song of the year. Three years after trashing Bush, that the Chicks stuck to their guns and can still maintain popularity, despite being shunned by almost every country music outlet, is a testament to how many people want to hear someone speak out against the war. 
In that same vein, the legendary Neil Young's "Living With War" is up for rock album of the year. Once again, an album that obviously said some things that a lot of industry reps didn't want to hear. It would be hard for the industry to ignore a staple like Young, but that he was nominated at all says something potent. 
On the hip hop front, it is noticeable that two artists consciously bucking the mainstream materialism of most rap are nominated: The Roots, arguably the leaders in "alternative hip-hop," are nominated for their album "Game Theory," and dark horse Lupe Fiasco's debut is also up for best album.

This year's show might be worth watching for one major reason: it might start actually rewarding music that says something about the way we live our lives.

Alexander Billet is a music writer living in Washington DC.  He is working on a book titled The Kids are Shouting Loud: The Politics and Music of the Clash.  He also runs the blog Rebel Frequencies. He can be reached at: alexbillet@hotmail.com.

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