Five things to look for at the Grammy Awards - Reverb

Five things to look for at the Grammy Awards

The Grammys are a celebration of music and commerce, sure. But the producers have also focused on making a must-see event out of the broadcast in the past few years — manufacturing “Grammy moments” that are both inspired and obnoxious.

This year will be no different, with wide-reaching collaborations that might make sense (a reunited Beach Boys with Maroon 5 and Foster the People) and others that will have a hard time getting off the ground (Foo Fighters with Chris Brown, Deadmau5, Lil Wayne and David Guetta).

But as we look forward to tonight’s telecast of the 54th annual Grammy Awards — at 7 p.m. on CBS4 — let’s acknowledge the changing of the tide. Sure, pop diva Adele might be the belle of the ball tonight, but she’s old news, having won the Best New Artist Grammy (and others) in 2009.

What about the stars of tomorrow? The names you might not be familiar with? The Grammy performances we’ll be talking about on Monday morning?

Five predictions for Sunday’s ceremony:

1. Bon Iver is the new Arcade Fire. It was indie rock’s most infamous moment, and perhaps it was the young subgenre’s strangest moment, too. The Arcade Fire had just won the 2011 Album of the Year Grammy for its CD “The Suburbs,” and mass confusion took over. Sure, the Canadian band was big enough to headline a sold-out Coachella Festival and play a nearly sold-out 1stBank Center show in Broomfield, but mainstream, Grammy-loving America was baffled at the win. And they let it be known on social media — screen-grabs of which were collected and mocked by indie elitists for months.

Here’s another new name up for the night’s biggest awards: Bon Iver. A longtime indie favorite, the Midwestern group is a contender for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album. Like the Arcade Fire, Bon Iver is a well-established band, having charted well at Billboard and played all the major festivals. Heck, frontman Justin Vernon played a big role on Kanye West’s modern masterpiece “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” but most Grammy viewers will still draw a blank when the band is announced.

2. Skrillex is the new David Guetta. Guetta is the French DJ-producer behind some of the biggest pop hits of the last five years, including the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” and his own “Sexy Bitch,” which featured Akon. Skrillex is a former hardcore kid named Sonny Moore (formerly the frontman of From First to Last) who dropped the guitar for a set of turntables and became one of the biggest names in electronic music.

Skrillex is best loved in the dubstep crowd, and his dirty, grinding beats propelled him to a Best New Artist Grammy nod — becoming the first electronic artists to ever receive that nomination — and four others. Like Guetta, Skrillex is already celebrated for his collaborations with other artists, and the DJ-producer’s work is equally ubiquitous, on commercials for Xbox and GoPro.

3. The Band Perry is the new Lady Antebellum. “If I die young, bury me in satin. Lay me down on a bed of roses.” There, is the song in your head now? The Band Perry, nominated for Best New Artist, is one of the hottest names in country music, capitalizing on pop-savvy songwriting and two-guy, one-girl harmonies.

Sound familiar? Another pop-savvy country act with the same two-guy, one-girl construction gained fame on the airwaves with a similar mid-tempo ballad hit called “Need You Now.” And now just look at Lady Antebellum — now profiled on heyreverb.com. The band is headlining arenas across the country, including the Pepsi Center on Wednesday. Is it laying the groundwork for the Band Perry? But of course.

4. The Beach Boys are the new Sly and the Family Stone. No, the Beach Boys are hardly a new act. But they could be the Sly and the Family Stone of this year’s Grammys.

Let’s go back to 2006, when the Grammys assembled a potent, A-list tribute to the reclusive funk legend Sly Stone. After a lengthy musical intro from the likes of Steven Tyler, John Legend, Maroon 5 and will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, Stone appeared in a shimmering trench coat and towering platinum mohawk — hiding behind a large keyboard and keeping his head (and vocals) down low. He left the stage abruptly after a few verses, leaving behind him a seriously confused gaggle of rock stars riffing off a nonexistent singer.

It was a spectacle, and while the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson have been performing separately for the past few decades, the Grammy set — a similar tribute to their music — is their first gig together in more than 20 years. It doesn’t help that Wilson still isn’t all that comfortable in front of an audience.

5. The Civil Wars are the new Mumford & Sons. Do you remember the first time you heard Mumford & Sons? “The Cave” and its undeniable melody. “Little Lion Man” and its fiercely addictive emotion? “White Blank Page” and its boiling, if tender, wonderment?

The Civil Wars — nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album — are a similar introductory listening experience. Take in the stark bulldozer of a ballad “Poison & Wine” and the sweeping, easy-on-the-ears folk rager “Barton Hollow.” This folksy duo accomplishes a lot with very little, and like Mumford, they grow on you very quickly with harmony-packed songs that take up residence in your head.

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Ricardo Baca is the founder and executive editor of Reverb, the co-founder of The UMS and an award-winning critic and journalist at The Denver Post.