2016 Granny Awards
For years, the Grammy’s have been the worst of the EGOT Awards (a combination of the Emmy’s, Grammy’s, Oscar’s, and Tony’s). They have always had an affection for the music industry’s darlings and most popular artists, instead of the critically more well received musicians. From Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy being cheated out of a Album of the Year nomination in 2012, to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly losing to Taylor Swift’s 1989, the awards have had a history of going against most critics’ views. Many people believe this is because the Grammy’s have turned into a large popularity contest, but if this was true Drake would have more than three wins to his name, when he has been nominated a total of 35 times. The more likely reason for this, is the Grammy’s have been run the wrong way by the wrong people for far too long. Something needs to be changed. Thus, the Granny Awards were born over a Facebook Messenger board between two friends who have no authority of giving their musical opinion (one is an socially awkward engineer, while the other is Mickey Mouse’s BFF). The goal was to create an awards ceremony which highlighted the best and worst music of that year, and for some reason we believed we were the two idiots to do it. The past two years have been done over the infamous message board, with all of the awards seemingly being lost in the mail (apparently Kid Cudi did receive the 2015 Worst Album of the Year Award for Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven, but refuses to knowledge it). The 2014 awards were such a big dud they are rarely mentioned to us, while the 2015 awards were uneventful and the two of us agreed on almost everything possible (including the aforementioned Kid Cudi album). We decided to make this year’s Granny’s the biggest ever. The guest list was set, the invitations were sent out, and no RSVPs were received. It was setup to be a dazzling award ceremony, but as always, failed tremendously. So sit back, relax, crack open a new bottle of Henny, and enjoy the 2016 Granny Awards.
Best Overall Songs
10. Travis Scott feat. Kid Cudi, Through the Late Night
This was the song which marked for me that Kid Cudi may possibly be back. Also, in this song Travis does a perfect Kanye impression by letting Cudi completely take the song over and make it his own, with Travis only adding his own rendition of Day & Night first verse in the middle of this song.
9. Drake, Feel No Ways
Easily the best song off of this album, it is Drake at his best. With stereotypical OVO production (this great video explains in detail why the beat works so well), he spills to us how a relationship won’t work. It’s everything I love about Drake in one song. This was a highly underrated song from this album, which got overshadowed by One Dance, Pop Style, and Too Good.
8. Bruno Mars, 24K Magic
When this song dropped, I probably listened to it 10+ times. It was that good. However, like a lot of singles, the rest of the album was a total let down compared to this song. It perfectly encapsulates Bruno as an artist and person. It’s full of swagger and charisma, all the while making you wish you were with Bruno in Vegas.
7. Kanye West, Waves
Thank you Chance for the delaying the album. It was well worth the wait.
6. Childish Gambino, Me and Your Mama
This is how you start a fucking album. It perfectly sets up what to expect stylistically from the rest of the album. However, Gambino does start the album with the best song, so the rest of the album is somewhat downhill from there.
5. The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk, I Feel It Coming
The better of the two songs The Weeknd and Daft did together, this is the perfect end to the album. Perfectly emulating Michael Jackson with his own signature flair, Abel and Daft Punk are able to craft an incredibly smooth song.
4. Mac Miller feat. Anderson.Paak, Dang!
The lead single off of Mac Millers new album The Divine Feminine, Dang! takes a similar route many hip-hop songs have recently been taking by going back to some of the genre’s funk roots. With the addition of live horns and drums, Anderson .Paak’s fits perfectly with Mac’s imagery and voice.
3. Frank Ocean, Self-Control
There are a lot of great songs off Blonde, but for me this was the best. It’s bare and simple, with very little instrumentation through out, until the end where Frank’s voice is transformed into an entire choir of Frank Oceans.
2. Kanye West, Ultralight Beam
I’ll admit, I wasn’t crazy the first time I heard this song when Kanye performed it on SNL. But once I heard it on the album I was sold. This is such a simple song, with a choir being the only instrument for most of the song. Yet it works. In Kanye’s infinite wisdom when it comes to features, he brings on Chance the Rapper to finish the song, which he uses to steal the song. We should just call this a Chance song featuring Kanye.
- Kanye West, Famous
This song gets #1 solely off of one line. Thanks Taylor.
Best Pop Albums
I’m only going to list my top 2, because after these everything else was just bad. 2016 was the year Pop music somehow found a way to become even worse, and continue to be one of the worst genres around. I can’t wait until 2017 when we get a new Chainsmokers album!
2. The 1975, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It
A touch under an hour and a quarter, the title isn’t the only thing that is too long. In fact this album might be too long even for an acronym (it would be 16 letters long). Besides these faults, the album is still a joy to listen to, with the group pulling from multiple styles and genres to create a well-rounded album.
- Ariana Grande, Dangerous Woman
I had a friend ask me today who was my favorite female pop singer. For a second I actually couldn’t think of anyone, until I remember this album. Ariana may only be 5 feet tall, but her voice is giant. And she knows how to use it. While I’ve never been a huge fan of Max Martin, he and Grande work together perfectly to make a great pop album.
Best Rock/Alternative Albums
5. Angel Olsen, My Woman
With My Woman, Angel Olsen combines multiple genres together in a well produced and written rock/pop album. It’s unique enough that it separates itself from most other rock albums, while also being able to create a general positive vibe.
4. Glass Animals, How To Be A Human Being
I was incredibly excited for this album, especially after how good Glass Animals last project, Zaba, was. Yet, this fails to live up to the expectations set up by the previous album. While full of Glass Animals’ characteristically unique sounds, it lacks the substance of the previous album. The lead singles Life Itself and Youth brought me hope the album may be great, but instead the band resorts to doing what they know best and not progressing their sound. In the end, this is just another good rock album.
3. Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool
This year was highlighted by many of the best rock albums coming from the old guard, which is especially true when it comes to Radiohead’s new album. This is a good album, which showcases Radiohead’s continuing ability to craft different sounds and songs. All in all a solid project from one of music’s most consistently good bands.
2. David Bowie, Blackstar
2016 was highlighted by numerous tragic celebrity deaths, none of which were less expected than David Bowie. It is oddly and creepily fitting that the year opened up with an entire album exploring death. Many comparisons have already been drawn to how it was Bowie preparing for death, but there is something to be said that it also may have helped us prepare for what was to come in 2016.
- Bon Iver, 22, A Million
Bon Iver has always had this mystical feeling associated with their music. Much of this comes from their instrumentation, but a lot is thanks to Justin Vernon’s vocals. This is especially apparent on 22, A Million, with the addition of even more electronics and Kanye-esque beats. It’s haunting and beautiful all at the same time, which is something you expect from Bon Iver. All in all, it is a typical Bon Iver album, minus the heavily Aphex Twin influenced song names.
Best Electronic Albums
5. Justice, Woman
Justice never strays too far from their French House roots, yet continue to push House music and electronic music in general in a new direction. The lead single Randy is an excellent example of how to make great electronic music while sounding like you are using actual instruments. As always, Justice puts most other electronic artists to shame.
4. AlunaGeorge, I Remember
This might be the biggest surprise for me this year. I was not expecting to like this album nearly as much as I did. AlunaGeorge channel their inner Major Lazer in this album. However, they are able to pull off something Major Lazer haven’t ever been able to do, which is to consistently make good music through an entire album. There are a lot of great tracks on this album. Nothing that will blow you away, but simply good electronic-pop songs.
3. Clams Casino, 32 Levels
Getting his start early on by producing for Lil B, Clams Casino has grown into being one of the more underrated hip-hop producers around. With 32 Levels he showcases his ability not only as a hip-hop producer, but also an electronic artist. With many features from famous rappers such as Lil B and A$AP Rocky, Clams is able to effectively blend hip-hop with electronic.
Also, I had no idea Clams Casino was a food dish with clams. It sounds like something from Spongebob.
2. Zhu, GENERATIONWHY
This album was the soundtrack to my summer. A perfect album to listen to while driving around at night with the windows down. Zhu crafts an album that highlights some of the best parts of electronic and EDM, while adding his own stylistic flavors to the mix. The use of actual guitars, saxophones, and trumpets pushes his music into a previously unexplored area, and shows why Zhu is one of the last great remaining modern DJs.
- Kaytranada, 99.9%
I didn’t know about this album until very recently, which is a poor job on my part. I’d had heard great things about this album, but I didn’t expect it to be this good. Similar to Flying Lotus, Kaytranada blends hip-hop styled beats with electronic music seamlessly. Just like the Zhu album at #2, 99.9% is able to combine live instrumentation with computer produced beats, which makes for a complex and beautiful mixture of sound. Many of these songs could slip into a Anderson.Paak or Kendrick album with ease. In fact, Anderson’s feature on Glowed Up might be on my shortlist for feature of the year. The two works perfectly in tangent. Overall, an incredibly well put together project, which might not have a weak spot on its song list.
Best R&B Albums
5. NxWorries, Yes Lawd!
Yes Lawd! continues Anderson .Paak’s success with whatever he touches. With every song but one being written by Paak and producer Knxwledge, this album flows nicely and never misses a beat. There isn’t a bad song, which is impressive for it having 19 tracks. It perfectly blends together Anderson .Paak’s smoky voice and Knxwledge’s smooth production. Paak seems to be able to do no wrong right now, which leads me to the next album.
4. Anderson.Paak, Malibu
With Malibu, Anderson .Paak brings a refreshing new sound to R&B and music in general. Its complex, dynamic, and real. You can tell Paak has spent a while trying to craft this sound to the level of detail it has. Even more importantly, it is already bleeding into other artist’s music (see Mac Miller’s song Dang!, which features Paak). At times it is its own blend of hip-hop and R&B, where it reaches its peak on Am I Wrong with the ScHoolboy Q feature. Other times it is just raw and unforgiving R&B.
I still don’t know why on the album cover Anderson is playing the piano in his boxers in the ocean. I feel like it would be super wet and uncomfortable.
3. Childish Gambino, “Awaken My Love!”
When I heard the lead single Your Mama and Me, I was excited. This was a totally different Gambino, especially when compared to Because of the Internet (which I was never much of a fan of). It surprised me, yet it made sense that Glover would eventually move towards a more R&B sound. For some reason it just seems natural for him. This style of music fits him much better in my opinion. I hope he continues to make music more like this.
2. Beyonce, Lemonade
There has to be a “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” pun somewhere in this album. In fact, that might just be the whole point of this album. You have to make the best of what you get, especially when you are a black woman in today's society. This is a powerful album, with some very powerful production. Beyonce might have some of the biggest balls in the industry when it comes to taking production risks. On Don’t Hurt Yourself, not only does she write a song with Jack White, they fucking sample Led Zeppelin. That takes some guts (eat your heart out Puff Daddy). Through this entire album Queen Bey pushes the boundaries of R&B and pop both lyrically and sonically. That alone is an impressive feat, not to mention it actually sounds good.
Also, guys did you hear that Beyonce and Jay Z are having twins! Holy fucking shit! I’m sure it will be all over the internet pretty soon.
- Frank Ocean, Blonde
Four god damn fucking years Frank. That’s how long we’ve been waiting for this album. But my god did you come through. After Channel Orange I thought it would be hard to follow up with a good album. Not only did Ocean follow through with a great album, but he even managed to change his sound. The introduction of more live instruments and stripped down beats is a refreshing change of pace (this seems to be a new popular trend in hip-hop and R&B). There has always been something incredibly unique and rare about Ocean’s ability to encapsulate how it feels to be in love or to be heartbroken and lonely. His music can feel so light and free, yet have so much weight behind it, like one of those cloud things from Super Mario. This is especially true on Blonde when compared to the heavy electronic influenced Channel Orange. He continues to amaze me with how simple he makes it all seem. Four fucking years. It was worth every one of them.
If you want a better worded explanation of Frank as an artist watch this.
Best Hip-Hop/Rap Albums
5. Travis Scott, The Birds In the Trap Sing McKnight
When it comes to Travis Scott projects I have three conditions the album must meet for me to consider it to be great. Let’s see how this album grades out.
- Does it bang in the whip? Check. My Prius’s suspension is having trouble supporting this much banging. Also, any greenhouse gases saved by driving a Toyota Prius have been negated by the fire this album has started in my car.
- Does it sound like Kanye and Kid Cudi had a kid who was born under a haze of weed smoke and addicted to lean? Check. There is an actual song with Cudi on the album, where Scott uses a Cudi verse from Day and Night (yes, you all probably already knew that).
- Is the “It’s Lit!” to auto tuned vocals ratio at least come to close to one? I have no fucking clue on this one. There are too many to count. But it is lit as Travis would say. So, I guess check.
So overall, this album is great. It meets all three of my Travis Scott requirements. To be honest though, I’m pretty sure all of his albums have met these requirements. So I guess Travis Scott is just plain good. Also, are we sure Nav didn’t kill Bieber and make Purpose? Conspiracy theorists discuss in the comments below.
4. Mac Miller, The Divine Feminine
For years Mac Miller has just been another white rapper, with his frat-style beats and lyrics. But for his past few albums, he has slowly changed his sound, to the point where he now has to be taken seriously. For me The Divine Feminine cements Miller’s place in the upper echelon of great current generation rappers. For a while he has strayed from his early lyrics about drugs and sex, and has become more introspective. With this album, he not only discusses himself, but tackles a topic that is rarely treated with respect in hip-hop songs: women. In this album, Mac eloquently evaluates how he views women and relationships. It’s a unique album, with its production heavily influenced by the previously discussed Anderson . Paak sound. This album proves he is continuing to evolve his music sonically and lyrically.
3. A Tribe Called Quest, We’ve Got It From Here … Thank You 4 Your Service
A Tribe Called Quest returns in style. I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear they were making a new album, even with the unfortunate death of Phife Dawg. They perfetctly blend old style hip hop with new hip hop, which is the entire point of the album. Its all about them passing the baton over to the next generation of J Cole, Kendrick, Joey Bada$$, and the like. While most rappers now discuss their day-to-day dealings with women, drugs, and money, ATCQ brings back their signature down-to-earth style. They are even able to make Busta Rhymes sound good (another great contender for feature of the year). Their iconic humor and clever word skills have gone no where in the 18 year hiatus since their last album.
RIP Phife Dawg, you will be sorely missed.
2. Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book
It’s been a while since I’ve been to church, and even longer since I’ve had a religious experience (I don’t even know if I’ve had one. Does listening to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy for the first time count as one? Anyway, I digress). But I imagine this album will probably be the closest I’ll ever be to having a relationship with God. It’s beautiful, thoughtful, and all together just plain happy. Very few rappers have a similar view on life as Chance (or at least they never express it the way he does). Not many albums in the past few years have simply been about being happy and appreciating things in life. On top of that, Chance simply knows what works with his unique style and voice. All of this is highlighted in this terrific album. I just want to meet Kanye West, so I know I’m never going to fail (different album I know, it’s coming up).
- Kanye West, The Life of Pablo
“I miss the old Kanye”
In all honesty this is one of Kanye’s worst releases to date, but it shows even at his worst, Kanye is able to make a great album. At this point in his career and discography, he could drop a 5 hour long mixtape where he rants over Martin Shkreli produced beats about how much he loves Donald Trump, and I would still eat it up. In The Life of Pablo, Kanye has reached level 9000 Kanye. There is simply nothing stopping him, and its absolutely glorious. The greatest weakness of this album is it is not consistent. There are too many duds. Even when he hits with a song, you are sometimes left cringing and simply asking yourself “Why Ye?”. But that is the power of Kanye. Only he could pull off an album so ridiculous and self-involved. For a while I’ve believed you could view Kanye’s albums as him going through the 5 Stages of Grief, starting at 808s and Heartbreak. Each album since shows signs of him progressing through these stages after his mother’s untimely death, and it all accumulates into this project. It’s him beginning to reach acceptance, the final stage of grief. It’s marked with Ye simply not caring about what you think about him, and his belief that life is just sometimes futile. The triplicity of which “Pablo” Kanye actually is demonstrates his belief he is an artist, a saint, and a sinner all at the same time. He is still trying to work it out and accepting who he is. It is a ridiculous ride inside the mind of a complicated man, and sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. This is what makes this album so great, yet flawed at the same time.
Also, remind me to never go near Kanye when he is wearing a white T-Shirt. Thanks.
The Donald Trump Award
This award goes to the whitest album of the year. 2016 was marked as the return of the white man, so we thought it fit that the white man got his own award (/s). If Tomi Lahren dropped a mixtape, she would be the odds on favorite to win this award (I’m aware she is a white woman and not a white man, but she does have a man’s first name. So checkmate Tomi). Now that I think about it, I really want her to drop a diss track at Trevor Noah. I bet Glenn Beck could make a banging beat for her. That shit would bounce in my Prius.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made
This won’t be the last time I discuss this album here, so wait a little bit for my full thoughts on it (spoiler: I hate this album). Anyway, this album just seems like something I could imagine Donald bumping in the Oval Office. I bet it makes him feel like he is making a difference in the world by just listening to it. To be fair to Macklemore thought, I’d much rather listen to him talk for an hour than the orange Cheeto who is our nation’s president.
The Donkey Award (Worst Album of the Year)
Now we come to the worst part of the Awards. The complete duds. The shit you listen to, and then go throw up. The garbage that is comparable to a Hollywood blockbuster. The god damn shit even your dog wouldn’t eat. The part we call the Donkey Awards. The biggest jackasses of an album that you can barely look at them. The worst of the worst. Okay, I’m done with all of the comparisons. I hope you can make it through without having to pop a few Dramamine (fuck it, pop a few Xannies while your at it). Good luck to you all. (It’s not actually that bad).
5. Charlie Puth, Nine Track Mind
One of the most critically panned albums in recent memory, Puth repeats the same periodic pop formula that many artists before him have used. I’ve never thought Puth was that great of a singer. According to his Wikipedia page, he apparently has perfect pitch, but even that can’t save him. This album is full of boring pop tracks, which make the entire project feel like a collection of singles. The main singles were played to death on the radio and in TV advertisements, especially the Meghan Trainor duet Marvin Gaye which makes me question my sanity. The only salvageable track is Puth’s duet We Don’t Talk Anymore with Selena Gomez, which is only saved thanks to Gomez’s vocals. I’m just thankful See You Again from Furious 7 isn’t on here. That song got beaten to death real quick. Overall, I’d rather listen to 10 hours of Charlie Bit My Finger than listen to this one more time. Also, can we talk about the fact it’s called Nine Track Mind and there are 12 songs on the album? C’mon Charlie.
4. Death Grips, Bottomless Pit
I know I’m going to get a lot of flak from some people for this one. I understand. I’ve never been a fan of Death Grips, mainly because I don’t understand the attraction. Lyrically they may be good, but sonically they’ve always been annoying to me, almost like nails against a chalkboard. If you like Death Grips and this album, great for you.
3. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made
Oh boy, Macklemore. I hope the mess you’re referring to in the title is the actual album itself, because it is just an absolute unruly mess. The album starts with Light Tunnels, where he discusses his experience at his first Grammy’s (ironic how this is the Granny’s), and what it was like to win Best Rap Album. For some reason Macklemore thinks we keep wanting to hear more about his win over Kendrick Lamar at the Grammy’s. We don’t. You don’t have to keep trying to show you think he deserved it more than you. Don’t worry Macky (can I call you that Ben?), we all know you didn’t deserve that award over KDot. The sad thing is I didn’t even mind The Heist, I actually quite liked it. The rest of the album is not much better. It’s almost 55 minutes of Macklemore standing on a soapbox trying to prove to us he cares about other issues. He thinks for some reason we actually care that he cares. But the truth is no one does. This all coalesces into the gigantic shit show that is White Privilege II, where Macky talks for over 8 minutes about the Black Lives Matter movement and his white privilege. While his heart may be in the right place, he tries too hard to be earnest and poetic, and comes off as fake. That’s the album’s biggest flaw; he thinks we care, and we don’t because we don’t believe him. All the while, the only constant of this album is Ryan Lewis’s fantastic production. I feel bad that Ryan has to have his name associated with this album.
2. Kygo, Cloud Nine
WHY ON GOD’S FUCKING GREEN EARTH DID KYGO THINK WE WANTED AN ALBUM. I just wish tropical house would go away. This was a sub-genre of EDM and electronic we didn’t need, and this album proves that. We needed this album, like we needed a 5th Pirates movie. His music has always been as basic as most white girls, with simple chord progressions and counter melodies. Go away Kygo, your 15 minutes are up.
- Corey Feldman, Angelic 2 The Core
2015 brought us two of the worst albums I’ve ever heard; Miley Cyrus’s Miley and Her Dead Petz and Kid Cudi’s Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven. Both awful and at times, painful to listen to. I’m sure by now the CIA uses both as a torture method. I honestly thought it would be impossible to get worse than either of those albums. Both shared the common characteristic of the artist believing they were creating something unique and meaningful, while they were actually just making steaming piles of garbage. However, I could have never been so fucking wrong.
Angelic 2 The Core is a masterpiece of a disaster. It is like watching a train run into a box of kittens (it also happens to sound like that). The cover art alone perfectly prepares you for how bad of a disaster this project is. Once you look past that, the fact Feldman looks like a Dollar Store Skrillex, and the hour and a half run time, I still can’t even begin to describe what the hell is going on. It is almost as if he is trying to emulate every genre and music group he likes, yet does it awfully. In fact at times it feels like Feldman is just ripping off popular electronic and pop songs. There are so many genres mashed into one in this album that I don’t even know if it classifies as pop (I don’t hate pop that much). This album constantly had me either laughing, cringing, or wishing I was doing anything but listening to it (I would have taken CIA torture over listening to this). Is this album supposed to be a concept album? I don’t know what is going on the entire time. There are the constant skits which persists through the entire thing. Why and what they are trying to do, I just don’t know. Why does Corey have angels? I seriously want someone to write a doctoral thesis on how bad this album is. I need this album explained to me. I might have to go on a soul searching trip to the Himalayas to help myself get over listening to this album.
I don’t know why Corey Feldman decided to make this album. I honestly didn’t think it would be possible to make albums worse than Cudi’s and Cyrus’s, but Feldman proved me wrong. So fucking wrong. This album reminds me of those awful January movies production companies put out because they know they are awful, yet the whole time the movie fails to even realize how bad it actually is. It takes itself too seriously, just like Cudi and Cyrus before him. Only Feldman just adds even more layers of ridiculous cringe to his album. If anyone tells you they are going to go listen to this album, warn them they may never find their way back.
And remember angels, don’t forget to be sexy! Oh god…
Best Overall Albums
Finally. We’ve reached the end of this awful “award” show. I hope this has been better than the Grammy’s. For most of the upcoming albums, I’ve already written things about these albums. For new ones, I’ve included a short paragraph of my views (where is Drake?).
10. Justin Hurwitz, La La Land Soundtrack
I know what you’re thinking. Shut up. I can like this shit. If you haven’t seen this movie, go see it.
Now that they’ve made a Hamilton Mixtape, can I request a La La Land rap album? I’m a simple man, I just want Gucci rapping about his dreams of making it big in Hollywood.
9. Ka, Honor Killed the Samurai
Another surprise album for me (there have been a lot of these this year), this album perfectly reflects classic East Coast/New York style rap. All the while, Ka crafts an interesting and engaging story.
8. Travis Scott, Birds In the Trap Sing McKnight
7. Beyonce, Lemonade
6. Mac Miller, The Divine Feminine
5. Kaytranada, 99.9%
4. A Tribe Called Quest, We’ve Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
3. Chance the Rapper, Coloring Book
2. Kanye West, The Life of Pablo
- Frank Ocean, Blonde
There it is. That concludes this years Granny Awards. Tune in next year to see even worse picks.
What do you think the over-under is the Grammy’s forget to put someone in their In Memoriam this year?