Saturday Selects: The Grammy nominations

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Photo Credit: Popdust

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write the first Saturday of each month in which I talk about something completely unrelated to books and writing and all that fun stuff. Click here to see past topics. Today we get to talk about some music.

I’ll be honest. I watch the Grammys every year. Last year I was tweeting along with millions of others as Daft Punk stole the show. But every year when the nominations are announced I’m really only interested in a few categories. All the country categories. The pop ones because those are songs, singers, and albums that just about everyone knows. Usually. And I also look at the rap categories. Why? Because country music is my life. Okay…maybe not. But I love and listen to it every single day. I look at the pop categories just to see if the usual players are nominated. And I look at the rap categories to see if Eminem is nominated. I’ve been a fan of his from his late 90s days. So now that you know all of that, here’s what I think of this year’s nominations.

Best Country Solo Performance

The category is full of stars. Miranda. Carrie. Keith. Eric Church. And Hunter Hayes. I am of the opinion that Carrie Underwood should be nominated and win every year because there really is no one with her voice in country music. And very few in any other genre. But for this particular category I would be very surprised if Keith Urban or Hunter Hayes took home the trophy. Any of the other three would be justified in my eyes.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

Miranda. Carrie. Keith. And Eric Church are all nominated again in this category. But so is Little Big Town for their song “Day Drinking.” This song has been played on country radio for seemingly the entire year. I’d have to go back and look at the actual release date, but it’s been played for a long time. I’m not going to make any prediction for this category cause it’s an open one.

Best Country Song

I believe this is a songwriting award. Miranda and Eric Church nominated again. Yes, they actually co-wrote their hit songs. The issue I have with this category is “American Kids” by Kenny Chesney is nominated. Not only do I not like the performance, but I also don’t think it’s deserving of a songwriting nomination. I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m a music critic, but this and “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” are huge surprises to even be nominated in this category. At least to me. I hope Miranda wins just so she can go home to Blake with a million Grammys while he’s still waiting on his first.

Best Country Album

Eric Church, Dierks Bentley, and Miranda Lambert have to be the favorites in this category. But really, the favorite is Miranda. She already won this award just a few weeks ago at the CMA Awards and I’m confident that she’ll be taking home the Grammy. For those of you who don’t know, she dominates awards shows. Seriously. It’s ridiculous how often she wins. But her wins are definitely well deserved.

That’s all for the country categories. Eminem is nominated for Best Rap Album, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, and Best Rap Performance. Pretty nice day at the office. And the pop categories didn’t offer any surprises to me. The only thing I will say is that John Legend MUST WIN for Best Pop Solo Performance for his song “All of Me.” He must. Great, great song. And I can’t imagine any artist coming close to performing it as well as he does.

That’s all I have for today. Hopefully I didn’t bore you too much. Click here to check out the full list of nominees.

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Saturday Selects: The beauty of country music

ImagePhoto Credit: News Generation

For all you newcomers, and there are A LOT of you, Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write the first Saturday of each month in which I discuss something other than books. This will be my fourth in the series.

I have to be honest with you guys. I sat here at my computer with my blogging playlist playing away and I couldn’t come up with anything I thought was worthy of a post. I’m talking over an hour I did this. I even smacked my head against the armrest of my chair once or twice. But I ultimately decided on country music because, duh it’s amazing, and also because Blake Shelton is tweeting EVERYONE right now. It’s one in the morning here. So let’s get into it.

Before I begin, I’d first like to let you know that I am OBSESSED with country music. I’m not exaggerating one bit. Let me tell you how I first got into the genre because I don’t think I’ve mentioned it on here before. And if I have, well I still like the story. So let’s rewind back to the end of 2009. I was in the midst of my senior year of high school. And I met this girl. I won’t tell you anything about her except that she loved country music. Maybe not as much as I do now, but she listened to it far more than anything else. Anyway, my birthday comes at the end of the year and us both being in high school, well a real birthday present was all but out of the question. So she gave me a nice handwritten letter. A pack of gum. A candy cane (for Christmas). A picture of her with her snowman, it had snowed in Houston for the first time in years! AND a list of country songs for me to download and listen to. Let me tell you, this is still the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten. All of those seemingly meaningless things. I STILL have the list she gave me, the picture, and the letter. Don’t ask me why because you can likely assume the correct answer to your own question. It took me a few weeks, but I finally downloaded the songs, it was 18 in total, and put them on a CD and played them in my car. Over and over and over again. That’s how I fell in love with the genre, by listening to a few random country songs on repeat.

I haven’t spoken to you in years, Desirae, but I thank you for introducing me to country music.

Now let’s talk about what makes the genre so great. First, and I know you’ve probably heard this before, EVERY song tells a story. Every single one. I’ve heard songs about suicide and breakups and abuse and partying and having children and everything in the middle. Tell me, have you heard a pop song recently that talks about children? I haven’t. But I also don’t listen to the genre too often. Or what about losing someone close to you? I’m sure there are songs out there in other genres, but you ALWAYS get great stories by way of country music. Always.

I mean, it simply does not get any better than a country love song. It doesn’t. Pop “ballads” are rarely ballads. But I’m not only talking pop, though. Hip-hop, um no. R&B, huh? Rock, does it even exist? I’m not here saying that other genres don’t produce some good music, I’m saying there’s far more to a song than how much radio airplay and downloads it gets. I’m actually a fan of Bruno Mars.

Lastly, one of the major knocks on country music today is that it’s gone so far into the direction of pop. Shut up. Right now, without utilizing the internet, can you tell me just five country singers you consider to be pop country? Just five. Of course I can, but can you? Leaving out Taylor Swift. If you can’t then you’ve just made my point for me. Country music has simply evolved. It doesn’t sound the same as it did 10, 15, or 20 years ago. But if it’s gone pop, then how has George Strait managed to stay relevant over the course of three decades? Or Reba? Or any of the other artists who have been around since long before some of the newcomers were even born. So don’t tell me country music has gone pop, because it hasn’t.

Some of my favorite artists include Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, and George Strait.

If you’d like to read the others in the series, here they are:

Saturday Selects: Blogging amidst your social media

Saturday Selects: Tattoos becoming “mainstream?”

Saturday Selects: Farewell to an all-time great

Listen While you…Write?

Photo Credit: Fuel Your Writing

I remember thinking of writing this post sometime ago. But then it got lost in the shuffle of other blog posts that I thought were more relevant. But now I’ve gone ahead and changed my mind. I’ve even given it the coveted Monday spot! Supposedly Mondays are the most active days on blogging sites, though my top five days in terms of views have all come on days that are not Monday. Eh. Doesn’t matter.

Anyway, you’re likely still scratching your head trying to figure out what exactly I intend to discuss in this post. The title doesn’t really tell you all you need to know. Fear not, the topic to be discussed is what you listen to as you write. I was reminded of this question when it was asked of me by another blogger who nominated me for a Liebster Award. My initial response and longest post ever can be found here.

Okay. Time for the good stuff. My answer is actually a two-part answer. First, I don’t listen to anything while I’m working on my second novel. The sounds of my house are annoying enough that I have no intention of adding to the mix with sounds of ANYTHING. Second, I always listen to music as I write my blog posts. I typically write them the night before they’re set to go online. For instance, this is Monday’s post being written at 12:45 Sunday night. What music you ask? Well if you’ve glanced at my About Me page then you know that I LOVE country music. Seriously. I don’t care that people say all they sing about are back roads, blue jeans, beer, and trucks. It’s about a thousand times better than pop music. Probably more, actually. I’m always downloading new songs. I listen to my most recent country downloads as I work on my blog posts. It’s currently 11 songs. Rascal Flatts, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Thomas Rhett, and Brett Eldredge are all represented in this batch. I honestly don’t know why there’s a difference between writing a blog post and writing a new chapter. But there is.

So there you have it, I’m either listening to the click-clacking of my fingers on the keys of my laptop while writing a new chapter or I’m jamming to some country music while writing a blog post. I want to know what YOU listen to as you write. Let’s compare, shall we?

Also, I’m going to start keeping you guys apprised of my progress to read 50 books in a single calendar year. I just finished my fifth book of the year. London Bridges (Alex Cross #10) by James Patterson.