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“Artist Profile: Selena Gomez… also Alternative Grammys”

Someday, per my theory, people will no longer have names. We will be designated by our functions. And if this were the case today, Selena Gomez might just go by “Unquestionable Pop Queen,” and get away with it pretty nicely, too. She even looks like the queen of some exotic country.

I’m writing this in the wake of the unexplainably Gomez-free Grammy award bestowments… and yes, like everybody else I’d like to take a swing at Taylor Swift, seeing as “Bad Blood” rips off the Iggy Azalea “Fancy” melody pretty egregiously, and Swift seems to generally capitalize on a schizophrenic genus of genre niches without really mastering any of them (country, hip-hop, pop).
Gomez is all rhythmic, melodic pop. When she splashed onto the scene in 2013 with “Come and Get it,” we were admittedly in the middle of a sort of catchiness boom on radio, replete with Maroon 5’s “hard-going” alpha-male “One More Night,” and Ellie Goulding’s fragile and trippy “Lights” installment. Gomez fit right in among these and didn’t miss a beat — and now she’s coming darker and more layered on “Same Old Love,” one of those numbers that seems intrinsically familiar even if you’ve never heard it before, a disillusioned, no-holds-barred look at romance turned sour. The whole thing just screams songwriting integrity and identity, something I don’t get with the chameleonic Swift.
Truly, it might have been the dark tinge, the compunction before what for others should have been a joyous occasion — a lasting relationship — that cost Gomez an award, and truly the song is very sexual. If you ask me, this adds to its appeal, simply because nobody has ever done this actual thing before, whereas Taylor Swift seems master of miscellaneous and obvious statements. So that’s my take on things, and in general, it was a lot of lightweight, see-through, poncho like divas cleaning up, when sometimes you need an Arctic parka to get you through the night.
In darkness of this, here’s my Alternative Grammys:
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Album of the Year: Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
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And in other breaking news, Donald Trump is an a**hole.
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Pop performance of the year: Selena Gomez – “Same Old Love”
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This is a song I’d hear on a regular basis on both the hip-hop station and the pop one here in town, and let me tell you, it was pasting both those babies together at the seams. It’s the type of infectious power that’s a bit scary even, but most parts hypnotic, a diva in complete control of the humanity befalling her, like a serpent that only melds itself back together after you attempt to amputate it.
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Dance Track of the Year: Aron Chupa – “I’m an Albatraoz”
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This is one of those tunes where it took me about five six listens to really dig into it, but it’s helped by the six/eight time signature, and god damn, it’s just plain WEIRD, a quality you don’t get too often in mainstream club music these days. Incredible production by what seems to be the singer’s husband, Aron Ekberg, gets those woofers thumping on an almost unprecedented level, and as with the case of Gomez, the topicality is darker, like “Bad Blood” without the apology (or the ripoff bridge, for that matter).
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Music Movie of the Year: Love & Mercy
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Isn’t it nice? Far from it. Love & Mercy is a disturbing roller coaster ride through the life of the young Brian Wilson, played by Paul Dano (earning him a Golden Globe for Best Supporting) and the middle-aged one materialized as John Cusack, whose effect on the film is commendably adherent, and not too laced with actor quirks. The mission statement at large it seems was never lost. As any Beach Boys fan would tell you, Love & Mercy’s ability to incorporate and potentiate the music would be the ticket to its overall cinematic effectiveness, and in this director Bill Pohlad does a fine job. While constantly unleashing the personal calamity that seemed to be inherently Wilson’s, from issues with his father trying to steer him back to mindless surfer music and selling his songs, to similar artistic frustrations within the group, to the tyrannical and psychopathic caregiver (who was eventually fired in real life), Love & Mercy pillars musical moments such as “God Only Knows,” “Sloop John B” and the later single “Good Vibrations” as relevant to the plot but still artistically valid, granting the film certain documentary attributes, dramatic though it is. The title comes from a lyrics on Brian Wilson’s 2004 comeback album, Smile.
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