For perhaps the first time since it began honouring the genre back in 1998, the Grammys have produced a list of dance music nominations that even a specialist awards show could be proud of. Indeed, following the debacle of the last two years, in which bro-step one-trick-pony Skrillex walked away with all four grammophones, the voting panel finally appear to have gotten their act together, recognising a whole host of artists outside of their usually narrow field of vision for the 2014 ceremony.
The Best Dance Recording, a category which has previously been awarded to novelty one-hit wonders Baha Men, R&B/pop acts Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Janet Jackson and EDM-flirting superstars Rihanna and Lady Gaga, contains a line-up which genuinely reflects the club scene over the last twelve months.
Indeed, ignore Armin Van Buuren’s hands-in-the-air cheesefest, “This Is What It Feels Like,” and the nominees are quite impressive, whether it’s Duke Dumont’s glorious classic house pastiche, “Need U (100%),” Zedd’s surprisingly emotive collaboration with Foxes, “Clarity,” Kaskade’s first ever lead vocal track, “Atmosphere” or “Sweet Nothing,” one of the few recent tracks from the ubiquitous Calvin Harris which justifies his richest-DJ-in-the-world status.
With the exception of the latter’s 18 Months, the Best Dance/Electronica Album nominations are just as encouraging. Disclosure’s UK chart-topper Settle, an inspired attempt to re-create the garage scene of the early 00s from two brothers who weren’t even in their teens at the time, Kaskade’s Atmosphere, by far the most eclectic and mature EDM record to emerge this year, and Pretty Lights’ A Color Map Of The Sun, a two-hour collection of chopped-and-screwed psych-funk jams, are all arguably the standout releases from their respective subgenres.
And while Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories was obviously a no-brainer selection, its inclusion in the Album Of The Year category and the Record of the Year nod for lead single, “Get Lucky,” not to mention recognition for James Blake in the Best New Artist field, also shows that the Grammys in general are becoming more open to the world of electronica.
Throw in the absence of obvious candidates David Guetta and Avicii and a strong Best Remixed Recording (Non Classical) line-up including Cedric Gervais’ radical reworking of Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness,” and at long last, dance music at the Grammy Awards looks like it’s being judged by people who actually understand dance music.