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Grammy 2015 Winner Predictions

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Grammy 2015 Winner Predictions
Grammy 2015 Winner Predictions

All this week we’re predicting the winners in the so-called Big Four categories at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, airing this Sunday night on CBS. We kick things off with our picks in some of the smaller genre categories:

Best Rock Album: NARAS loves to reward long-overdue veterans, particularly in categories like Best Rock Album, where past winners include the Rolling Stones (who took home the inaugural trophy back in 1995), U2 (who’ve won twice, and are nominated again this year), and Led Zeppelin (whose live album Celebration Day triumphed over Black Sabbath, David Bowie, and Neil Young last year). It might seem foolish to bet against U2, but the Irish icons only have a 50% success rate in this category, and Songs of Innocence was notable mostly for its controversial rollout—which, unlike Beyoncé, was met with a cool reception. The Black Keys won here two years ago, and while the academy is fond of repeat winners (just ask Foo Fighters, who possess a whopping 20 percent of all of the metal handed out in this category), it will be hard to resist rewarding Beck’s Morning Phase, the Album of the Year-nominated sequel to his beloved 2002 album Sea Change. And yes, he’s a “veteran.” Feel old? Sal Cinquemani

Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions Original Score

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Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Original Score
Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Original Score

This year’s crop of Original Score nominees hits all the markers that we’ve come to expect. And though none of the entries are fundamentally undeserving, their collective safeness succinctly outlines the dull uniformity for which the Academy is routinely and rightly criticized. Off the bat, we can rule out perennial nominees John Williams (The Book Thief) and Thomas Newman (Saving Mr. Banks). Each of their scores boasts impressive technical chops and lavish orchestration, but the films themselves are on the far fringe of the awards circuit and lack novelty to stand out. Joining them, though perhaps with slightly better odds, is Alexandre Desplat, whose musical tendencies and Oscar track record of late are beginning to resemble a post-Schindler’s List Williams, which would otherwise be a compliment outside the context of Williams’s two-decade-long victory drought. The simple thematic elegance Desplat brings to Philomena may leave an impression with some voters, but when we consider that the composer has done similar work for recent, higher profiles films like The King’s Speech, and hasn’t won, there’s no reason to expect his winless streak to end this year.

Watch Slant‘s 25 Best Music Videos of 2013

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Watch Slant’s 25 Best Music Videos of 2013
Watch Slant’s 25 Best Music Videos of 2013

For a medium that’s supposed to have become irrelevant years ago, the music video was surprisingly central to the way we thought about music in 2013—for better and for worse. This was the year that clips for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” spawned 1,000 think pieces, the year that we ran around our cities trying to find a place to watch Kanye West project his face onto the side of a building. It was the year that artists from Arcade Fire to Bob Dylan continued to push the boundaries of what a music video can be, and it ended with the surprise, Internet-breaking release of Beyoncé’s self-titled “visual album,” which included a whopping 17 videos. If it’s all not quite enough to declare a new golden age, it’s certainly cause to be eager for what lies ahead.

Listen to Slant‘s 25 Best Singles of 2013

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Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2013

Andrew Whitton/High Rise PR

Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2013

Last year’s biggest hits heralded the return of good times unto perpetuity, eternal youth and the enduring pleasure of receiving your first phone call from the set of washboard abs next door. Perhaps taking a cue from Britney Spears’s prescriptive “Till the World Ends,” maybe just drunk on borrowed time, 2013’s biggest singles took the pleasure principle to reckless new, solipsistic heights. It was the sort of year when the real-life counterpart to Mike Seaver could slick his thick hair up and let the devil horns sprout, betting the farm that nothing unlocks a good girl faster than “agreeing” with her with a wink in your eye that lets you both know you’re lying. Still, the year’s best tracks invariably stared down the lies of the moment and opted instead for sincerity and honesty. And the truth often hurts. This embittered sincerity gave listeners a whole new set of hashtags to test out in the hope that, next year, everybody will be dancing and be doin’ it right.

House Playlist Arcade Fire, M.I.A., & Cut Copy

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House Playlist: Arcade Fire, M.I.A., & Cut Copy
House Playlist: Arcade Fire, M.I.A., & Cut Copy

Arcade Fire, “Afterlife”: With the release of their highly anticipated new album, Reflektor, a week away, Arcade Fire has unveiled “Afterlife,” a six-minute meditation on the titular topic. Watch the official lyric video, which employs scenes from Marcel Camus’s 1959 film Black Orpheus, below:

 

Arcade Fire Unveils Single & Video for “Reflektor”

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Arcade Fire Unveils Single & Video for “Reflektor”
Arcade Fire Unveils Single & Video for “Reflektor”

Arcade Fire has been more than a little bit coy about their new album, Reflektor, which drops October 29th on Merge Records. The band first began dropping hints about the project on their new Instagram account last month, suggesting something was imminent, using images to spell out “9pm 9/9,” the intended release date of the first single from their follow-up to 2010’s Grammy Award-winning The Suburbs. A couple of teaser trailers and an interview with Dutch photographer/filmmaker Anton Corbijn later, the Canadian indie rockers have finally released the single (and accompanying video). Also titled “Reflektor,” the song, co-produced by James Murphy, is nearly eight minutes long and features David Bowie on backing vocals and some sparkly electronic flourishes, while the video is quintessential Corbijn, shot in inky black and white and employing spectacular use of a disco-ball glass.