THE CREME DE LA CREME

THESE ARTISTIC STATEMENTS DEFINED THE YEAR IN MUSIC

 

Album of the Year

El Camino
The Black Keys

Producers: The Black Keys, Danger Mouse
Engineers/Mixers: Tchad Blake, Tom Elmhirst, Kennie Takahashi
Mastering Engineer: Brian Lucey
Label: Nonesuch

Blues-rock duo the Black Keys embarked on its first North American arena headlining tour on the strength of its seventh studio album (and fourth for Nonesuch), El Camino. Recorded in Nashville and produced by Danger Mouse and the Black Keys (guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney), the 11-song set debuted on the Billboard 200 in December 2011, spawning Alternative chart No. 1 singles "Lonely Boy" and "Gold on the Ceiling." In 2010, the group nabbed its first Grammy wins for best alternative music album ( Brothers) and best rock performance by a duo or group with vocals ("Tighten Up"). This time around, the Black Keys will also vie for record of the year and best rock album, as well as best rock performance and best rock song (both for "Lonely Boy").

 

Album of the Year

Some Nights
fun.

FEATURED ARTIST: Janelle Monáe
Producers: Jeff Bhasker, Emile Haynie, Jake One, Tommy D
Engineers/Mixers: Jeff Bhasker, Pete Bischoff, Jeff Chestek, Andrew Dawson, Emile Haynie, Manny Marroquin, Sonny Pinnar, Stuart White
Mastering Engineer: Chris Gehringer
Label: Fueled by Ramen

Fueled by its inescapable breakout hit "We Are Young" (featuring Janelle Monáe), fun.'s second album, Some Nights, debuted and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200. The album, which pairs alt-rock elements with a pop sensibility, has sold 811,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Producer Jeff Bhasker instantly agreed to work with the group after hearing a hotel-room crooning of "We Are Young" by fun. frontman Nate Ruess. "I'm really excited that people like 'We Are Young' so much because the rest of the album is based off 'We Are Young,'" the producer told Billboard earlier this year. "That was the template. Every song is that special."

 

Album of the Year

Babel
Mumford & Sons

Producer: Markus Dravs
Engineers/Mixers: Robin Baynton, Ruadhri Cushnan
Mastering Engineer: Bob Ludwig
Label: Glassnote

Mumford & Sons surprised the music industry in October when their sophomore release, Babel, earned the biggest debut of any album this year in the United States. (It was later trumped by Taylor Swift's Red, making it the second-highest sales debut of 2012.) Babel sold 600,000 in its first week and became the London folk-rock quartet's first No. 1 on the Billboard 200. It was also the first chart-topper for Mumford & Sons' label, Glassnote. In addition to stateside touring, part of the multipronged strategy for Babel included keeping the band connected to radio. Mumford & Sons scored four top 10 singles on the Alternative chart and its single "I Will Wait" -- nominated for best rock performance and best rock song -- reached No. 1 on the Hot Rock Songs tally. The group also made its Grammy telecast debut in 2011 jamming alongside Bob Dylan and the Avett Brothers.

 

Album of the Year

Channel Orange
Frank Ocean

FEATURED ARTISTS: André 3000, John Mayer, Earl Sweatshirt
Producers: Om'Mas Keith, Malay, Frank Ocean, Pharrell
Engineers/Mixers: Calvin Bailif, Andrew Coleman, Jeff Ellis, Doug Fenske, Om'Mas Keith, Malay, Frank Ocean, Philip Scott, Mark "Spike" Stent, Pat Thrall, Marcos Tovar, Vic Wainstein
Mastering Engineer: Vlado Meller
Label: Def Jam

In the days leading up to the July release of his acclaimed debut album, Channel Orange, R&B singer Frank Ocean set the Internet ablaze by announcing on his Tumblr that he once fell in love with another man. The media frenzy surrounding the post helped stoke curiosity about Ocean and secure Channel Orange a No. 2 debut on the Billboard 200. In another controversial move, Ocean exclusively released the set early to iTunes following a moving performance of "Bad Religion" on NBC's "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." Ocean's six Grammy nominations this year include best new artist, record of the year ("Thinkin Bout You") and best urban contemporary album.

 

Album of the Year

Blunderbuss
Jack White

Producer: Jack White
Engineers/Mixers: Vance Powell, Jack White
Mastering Engineer: Bob Ludwig
Label: Third Man/Columbia Records

Through the years, Jack White has performed in such noteworthy rock bands as the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather. But it wasn't until his critically acclaimed solo debut, Blunderbuss, that White scored his first No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The set sold 138,000 copies in its first week in May. With a vintage sound that incorporates elements of nearly every project he's worked on, White supported Blunderbuss by playing music festivals and theaters worldwide, bringing along two different backing bands: one all-male and the other all-female. Blunderbuss also received nods for best rock album and best rock song ("Freedom at 21"). No stranger to the Grammys, White has won six and been nominated 18 times during his career.

 

 

 

 

Grammys

 

Photo Credits (from top): danny clinch; lindsey byrnes; rebecca miller; nabil elderkin; jo mccaughey

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