Compared to 2011, rock is ruling the musical landscape. Just two years ago the Foo Fighters were up against Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Rihanna, who all lost handily to Adele, sweeping what seemed like every category but Reggae. In 2010 things were even worse for rock. Competing for Album of the Year was a list of pop music’s all-stars including Beyonce, The Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gagy, Taylor Swift and somehow sneaking on the the list was the Dave Matthews Band.
This year’s artists battling for Album of the Year include The Black Keys’ El Camino, Fun.’s Some Nights, Mumford & Sons’ Babel, and Jack White’s Blunderbuss standing up for rock, while a lone singer-songwriter dukes it out against a ring full of scrappy rock stars.
Who is this ivory tickling singer who dares take on the mighty wrath of rock? The piano-man is one Mr. Frank Ocean with his critically-worshiped Channel Orange album.
If it appears Frank Ocean has come out of nowhere, that would be only partly true. The Long Beach, CA born and New Orleans raised Ocean moved back to Los Angeles after his Louisiana recording studio was submerged during 2005′s Katrina. After moving to L.A., he quickly found a footing within the industry, ghost-writing songs for likes of Justin Bieber, John Legend, and Brandy. After a stint in Odd Future, Ocean record two solo albums, the first of which, Nostalgia, Ultra, was released last year as a free download which contained samples of Coldplay, MGMT and The Eagles. For his second release, Channel Orange, he teamed with DefJam Records and musicians like Pharrell, Om’mas Keith, John Mayer, and André 3000 of Outkast. The moment the album was released, critics began fawning over it.
With rock holding four out of five artists in the category does this mean the mainstream will once again embrace guitars? We’ll know if and when Frank Ocean smacks us upside the head with his GRAMMY.
– Jay Tilles, CBS Local