“Jubilee” is a masterpiece that should’ve won a Grammy
The 64th Recording Academy Grammy Awards got a lot right – including Jon Batiste’s “We Are” Album Of The Year win – but as usual, a few artists in particular were passed over. Hot takes include: anyone else should’ve won Best New Artist over ex-Disney channel star Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish should have won something for “Happier Than Ever” and Japanese Breakfast was snubbed beyond belief.
Diving right into the Best Alternative Music Album drama: the winner, St. Vincent’s “Daddy’s Home,” is an emotional overshare packaged in boring songs that feel scattered and unmoving – how on earth did it win a Grammy? Even Pitchfork read the album to filth at times – describing the cheap ploy to modernize the album to current day themes and struggles with references to the police. A particularly poignant misstep in “Daddy’s Home” is the use of “conventions of Black music to reckon with his sins,” (Pitchfork) as she often discusses her father’s white-collar incarceration for a 43-million dollar stock manipulation. A highlight was the dreamy Mellotron on “The Laughing Man,” yet the instrumentation on this album is rather questionable – even the sitar can’t save this one. Not to mention the arguable “hit” on this album is not compelling whatsoever – “The Melting of the Sun” is bland and inoffensive psychedelia, but really not Grammy-worthy. While “Daddy’s Home” could be optimistically read as Annie Clark’s shapeshifting style, the flipside is that it could just be a miss; soaked in faux-white girl soul, repackaged as an homage to the 1970s and narrowly saved by Jack Antonoff’s production, unsurprisingly the winner of Producer Of The Year.
What should have won the Best Alternative Music Album, however, is the wondrous “Jubilee” by Japanese Breakfast. Japanese Breakfast, or Michelle Zauner is an all-around, wickedly-talented artist, releasing her New York Times bestselling book “Crying in H-Mart,” last year, and her third full-length album in 2022. A departure from previous works, “Jubilee” manages to be fun, blissful and bright while being pensive and observant. “Jubilee” gives us everything: an ‘80s-inspired hit “Be Sweet” to jump around to, the sultry and powerful “Posing in Bondage” and beautifully crafted songs like “Paprika” and “Sit.” This album has immense range, shifting from modern electronic pop in “Slide Tackle” to epic guitar endings in “Posing For Cars,” yet each song fits into the complex “Jubilee” collection. Dripping in glorious string parts, “Jubilee” is a rare no-skip album that you’ll appreciate more and more, becoming obsessed with a new song from it each week.
The loss of Japanese Breakfast’s should-have-been Grammy was devastating, but many worthy artists were able to secure well-earned praise. Silk Sonic, Anderson Paak and Bruno Mars’ project, experienced a Grammy sweep, winning Record Of The Year, Best R&B Performance, Best R&B Song and the coveted Song Of The Year. No less, they showed up in magnificent outfits, channeling the ‘70s to the fullest with ruffles, wigs and velvet suits. Other highlights include the radiant duo of Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett winning Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for “Love For Sale,” along with Chris Stapleton’s Best Country Album win and Foo Fighters’ multiple-Grammy triumph for their most recent album, “Medicine at Midnight,” following the untimely death of long-time drummer, Taylor Hawkins.
Serving as one of the most entertaining congregations of music royalty each year, The Grammys, no matter the outcome, are always a good time. This year, the list of music to check out is long – Arlo Parks’ “Collapsed in Sunbeams,” the new ABBA album ( I still haven’t worked up the courage to listen to it) and digging deeper into H.E.R’s performances and discography. But if you have time to listen to one Grammy takeaway album, dive deep into Japanese Breakfast’s “Jubilee,” you will not regret it.