The 51st Annual Grammy Awards may be taking place tonight -- with the likes of Lil Wayne, Coldplay, Sara Bareilles, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Ne-Yo, and Radiohead all raking in multiple nominations -- but we here at ShowbizMonkeys.com look at music a little differently. And by differently we mean a lot of rock and singer-songwriters.
And so, we've decided to put together our own list of the best albums of 2008. They may not match up with the Grammys (sorry, no Lil Wayne love here), but we stand by our choices.
Okay, so we're not too different from the Grammys with our #1 pick, as Coldplay had the second-most nominations, including "Album of the Year", "Record of the Year", and "Best Rock Album". But sometimes agreeing with the so-called establishment just makes sense. These guys changed things up with their 4th full-length release, and most of the time it worked really well.
Again, we're not too far off from the Grammys here, as Kings of Leon nabbed nominations for "Best Rock Album", "Best Rock Song", and "Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals" (longest category name ever!). After achieving success throughout Europe with their previous releases, Only by the Night was the first album to really take North America by storm -- and if you found yourself singing along to "Sex on Fire" on the radio throughout 2008, you'll know why they're #2 on our list.
So now is where we differ a bit from the Grammys, as our list starts to show the fact that ShowbizMonkeys.com is based in Canada. Quirky, odd, beautiful, poetic -- these words can often be used to describe Hawskley's music (or sometimes the man himself), and in 2008 he released two albums that would certainly qualify for those adjectives. Between the Beautifuls was the best of the two, and was nominated for a Juno Award (Canada's equivalent of the Grammys) for "Best Adult Alternative Album".
Okay, so Jason Mraz also received Grammy love -- but really, this is not a bad thing. His latest album produced the infectious single "I'm Yours", nominated for "Song of the Year" and "Best Male Pop Vocal Performance". The album as a whole -- which traverses through reggae, pop, folk, and jazz sounds -- might have been a tad over-produced, but the songs are solid through-and-through, and Jason Mraz has proven that he's one of the best young songwriters in the business today.
While the Grammys may have no love for The Kooks, we sure do. This album, their second release, is simultaneously playful and insightful, and we love it for its dance-y alt rock feel and its ability to make us feel like we're driving up the Pacific Coast Highway with the top down and the wind in our hair. We wanted to recommend a particular track for you to download, but we couldn't pick just one. In short, you should get your hands on the whole album; you won't regret it.
(Additional reporting by Ariana Heppner.)
Paul Little is the founder and Managing Editor of ShowbizMonkeys.com. When not interviewing his favourite musicians and comedians, he can also be found at The Purple Room in Winnipeg, where he is Artistic Director. (@comedygeek)
Boy, The Kooks, eh? That's the best description of a Kooks album I've ever read. Amazing.