The Grammy Awards 2016

Every year in recent times during Awards Week, I’ve tried to go through the list of Grammy winners comprehensively, and come up with some of the highlights. If only it weren’t such a bloody long list…

Best Dance Recording is always an eccentric list, particularly with the US opinion on what counts as dance (although the BRITs always seemed to want to fill the nomination list with Jamiroquai back in the days when the category existed). This year’s nominees included Above & Beyond with Zoë Johnston, with We’re All We Need, and The Chemical Brothers featuring Q-Tip with Go, but of course the winner had to be Justin Bieber, accompanied by Skrillex and Diplo, whoever they might be.

Best Dance/Electronic Album also showed some promise, but Skrillex and Diplo carried that one away too. Unsuccessful nominees included Caribou‘s Our Love, and The Chemical BrothersBorn in the Echoes.

I’ve never really understood what “alternative music” is supposed to be, but Björk must have been a strong contender with Vulnicura in the Best Alternative Music Album category. Ultimately, she lost out to Alabama Shakes.

Best New Age Album probably showed some promise, but I’d never heard of any of them. Congratulations to Paul Avgerinos for the win. Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Gilberto Gil lost out to Angelique Kidjo in the patronisingly named Best World Music Album category, while David Bowie‘s Sue (Or in a Season of Crime) managed a belated win in the somewhat inexplicable Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals category.

In the completely bizarrely named Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical (because those classical remixes are such a big deal now), Dave Audé won for his reworking of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars‘s Uptown Funk. And finally, in the eighty-third category, Best Music Film, Roger Waters‘s concert recording The Wall lost out to Amy, the documentary about Amy Winehouse. Probably justified, although The Wall live was a pretty impressive spectacle.

There’s a whole lot more, and there are probably other things of interest to you, if you can make it through the ridiculous number of awards, which I’m sure doesn’t devalue them in the slightest. You can view the results in full here.

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Pet Shop Boys – Love is a Bourgeois Construct

Love is a Bourgeois Construct was probably the most obvious of all the singles from Pet Shop Boys‘ most recent album Electric. It’s got all the classic PSB elements – a classical chord change, an enormous synth line, and a lyric that gently pokes fun at an area of modern society.

As is often the case though, with modern radio’s requirement for a four-minute pop song, they seem to have struggled slightly with editing it down, resulting in a couple of different edits, although unlike the Thursday single they only released one this time. However much you might disagree with the editing decisions, you can still immediately recognise it as a great song and a worthy single to represent Electric.

Uncharacteristically, where Pet Shop Boys seem to have let themselves down this time is on the b-sides, both of which are instantly forgettable. Entschuldigung! comes first, and is particularly poor, although it’s difficult to explain exactly why. Anyway, at this point you’re left wondering how they were able to make Electric so exceptional while this is so pedestrian. Get it Online is better, but it still feels as though they weren’t really trying with these bonus tracks.

Closing off the EP package, The Penelopes turn up with their radio mix of the title track. There isn’t actually a huge amount to distinguish this from the original mix – there are a few tweaked elements here and there, and in particular the bass is different – but it’s every bit as good.

The full version of the same mix heads up the surprisingly good remix package. In its more spacious seven-minute form, The Penelopes remix is great – generally faithful to the original, but with added content and tweaked sections here and there.

Despite clocking in at exactly the same length, the Claptone remix turns the original into something much broader and more expansive, which is mainly achieved by leaving the majority of the lyrics out. It seems as though it’s going to go on forever, and is entirely great in its own way as well.

Then Little Boots turns up to put her stamp (if you’ll pardon the pun) on the song. If she ever gets around to collaborating with Pet Shop Boys, you have to hope it ends up sounding something like this. She has introduced some enormous 80s synth sounds and brought the backing vocals to the fore, making it sound both different and great.

Which does unfortunately mean that you could be forgiven for approaching Dave Audé‘s Big Dirty Dub with high expectations. Even with average expectations, they would be dashed – this is an abominable piece of trashy Europop, which redeems itself only slightly a couple of minutes in when the main chord sequence turns up.

It’s not often that you would find me arguing the merits of an instrumental remix, but Claptone‘s second outing on this remix package is sorely needed to take your mind off the abomination that you’ve just been subjected to. So closing out this single is an instrumental version of a remix that we’ve already heard.

But if you cast your mind back to just how great the original is, and how good the first few remixes were, there’s a lot to see in this, and it’s actually genuinely slightly disappointing that the planned Electric remix album never happened.

You can find the EP and remix packages of Love is a Bourgeois Construct at all major retailers.