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Grammy Nominations: The Sound of Music

Aired January 7, 2003 - 10:41   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: More now on the nominees for the 45th Annual Grammy Awards. Joining us now to talk about some of the top picks of the year is Emil Wilbekin. He's editor-in-chief of "Vibe" magazine.
Hey, Emil. How are doing? Good to see you again. Happy New Year.


HARRIS: Hey, doing well. Let's see what you think about this list. Let's talk, first of all, about the list of those who came out this morning for record of the year. I believe we have the names here, "A Thousand Miles," Vanessa Carlton, "Without Me," Eminem, "Don't Know Why," Norah Jones, "Dilemma," Nelly, featuring Nelly (sic) Rowland, and "How You Remind Me," by Nickelback.

What do you make of this collection? what does this say about the committee's choices, their choice-making in this instance?

WILBEKIN: Well, I think the committee really listened to the people this year. I mean, Vanessa Carlton is kind of a surprise, but that song was really amazing. Eminem was a favorite this year. Nelly was a favorite this year. And the Nelly story was really interesting, because that song with Kelly Rowland was really just on the album, and radio actually started playing it and forced the record label to release it as a single. So I think we're having now the committee is actually listening to people and what they want to hear, versus it being a landslide in either direction.

HARRIS: Well, with that in mind, let's move on to the next selection then, album of the year. The list there, "Home," by The Dixie Chicks, big favorite in this newsroom, I got to tell you that one, "The Eminem Show," Eminem, "Come Away With Me," "Nellyville," "The Rising," Bruce Springsteen.

I got to think there's got to be a bit of politics at play here.

WILBEKIN: Well, there's a lot of politics, but if you look at that list, those are also the biggest sellers of the year. Eminem was huge this year with "The Eminem Show," and with "Eight Mile." Bruce Springsteen did really well, especially after 9/11. Dixie Chicks (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for country music.

So you're kind of getting this mix of the people who do the very best, but then you also have Norah Jones, which is really great, because she was kind of a sleeper, great jazz singer, and it's nice to see someone young preserving the art of jazz.

HARRIS: I have to say, we were watch watching the Eminem video. His videos are at least funny, I'll say that much for him. And it seems as though last year he was pretty much ruled out because his message wand his music was so violent and dark, and in the minds of many, evil. But this year, maybe the committee, I don't know were they thinking of making up for the decision to keep him out last year? But then they put him in the same category with Bruce Springsteen, coming in here with "The Rising," which was in tribute to the city of New York. How do you see them playing against each other?

WILBEKIN: That will be really tough. Eminem did really well two years ago when he won those Grammys. But Bruce Springsteen is an American mainstay. He really uplifted people after 9/11. So that will be a tough race. It's really going to be between those two, I believe.

HARRIS: As a matter of fact, look at this, "The Rising" right now, and that's in the category of the song of the year. I want to read through those just so that we get them. It also includes "Complicated" by Avril Lavigne and The Matrix, and "Don't Know Why," by Jesse Harris, "A Thousand Miles," Vanessa Carlton, once again, "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?" by Alan Jackson.

Let's look now at the best new artist category. Let's move on to that one. There, we have got some names, and I really want to ask you what you think about the decision making in this particular case. Ashanti, Michelle Branch, Norah Branch, Avril Lavigne, John Mayer. What is it that really makes the big difference here, do you think? Is it a matter of sales? Is it a matter of why may be more cutting edge, who may have something more original, or who has the most potential in the future? What do you think?

WILBEKIN: Well, this list is really interesting, because Michelle Branch, Avril Lavigne and Ashanti all really broke through this year with record sales. Michelle Branch had that great song with Santana, as well as her own great song. Avril Lavigne just came out of nowhere from Canada, and really took the world by storm, and Ashanti really married hip-hop and pop by using samples from Biggie, and her songwriting is really amazing.

So it looks like the teens are winning. Teen fans are really voting this year for the new artist. And i think it's between those three, that's where the race is.

HARRIS: I got to tell you, it's preteens, too. My little 9- year-old daughter has a thing for about two of these people on this list.

Do you have a favorite before we get out of here?

WILBEKIN: I love Ashanti. We put her on our cover before the album dropped, because we I knew it was going to be that good, so I'll put my money on Ashanti.

HARRIS: OK, we'll see if you're right. Back then, maybe we'll talk about it after it's all over.

WILBEKIN: Absolutely.

HARRIS: Good deal. Bill Wilbekin, thanks much. Have a good one. We'll see you in a bit.


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