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 411mania » Music » Columns

The 411 Music Top Five 1.29.14: Top Five Record of the Year Winners
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 01.29.2014


Criteria: The Grammy Awards were held on Sunday, and being as it's one of music's biggest nights of the year we in the Music Zone have turned our attention to the Award Show. One of the chief awards is for Record of the Year, an award that has been given out since 1959 to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to sales or chart position." This week we're looking at a finite list in the top five winners of that particular award.

Note: This was compiled before Sunday and as such, Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" was not eligible.


5. Coldplay - "Clocks"

I don't know if it's cool to like Coldplay or not, but Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head are both outstanding albums and "Clocks" is the masterpiece of the latter. Inspired by Muse, who obviously weren't quite as big at the time, the record nearly never made it onto the album due to timing, but after a reworking it made the cut and won Record of the Year in 2004 against stiff competition from Eminem's "Lose Yourself", Outkast's "Hey Ya", Beyonce's "Crazy in Love" and Black Eyed Peas' "Where is the Love," a stellar field to say the least.

4. Adele - "Rolling in the Deep"

I got over the Adele craze pretty quickly and I'm genuinely not a fan of hers, but I respect her talent and I have to give her and this song the credit they deserve. "Rolling in the Deep" was the winner in 2012, beating the likes of Bon Iver and Mumford and Sons, worthy contenders. Truth be told all of the nominations that year could've just been Adele songs and I don't think there's too many people that would argue that. As it goes, Adele's original is probably my third favourite version of the song I've heard, so the video I'm positing is the amazing live Linkin Park cover, just because.

3. Simon and Garfunkel - "Bridge Over Troubled Water"/"Mrs. Robinson"

I'm lumping these together purely because I don't want to fill up two spots with the same artist and there was no way I could pick just one. Paul Simon is the only three-time winner of the Record of the Year gong (the third being his solo track "Graceland") and with good reasons. Both of these tracks, winners in 1971 and 1969 respectively, are iconic songs that have stood the test of time as is evident by the fact that I wasn't even born upon their release, and yet I have such a fondness for them. Two more iconic songs kept Simon and Garfunkel off the top spot though.

2. Michael Jackson - "Beat It"

"Beat It" happens to be one of my least-favourite of Michael Jackson's most well-kown singles, and it is still an absolutely incredible song. Upon research my responses to this week's Top 5 I was genuinely surprised to see that Jackson only won the gong on one occasion, no "Thriller," no "Billie Jean" or "Bad." But "Beat It" made the cut and deservedly so, beating out the Police's "Every Breath You Take" in 1984. Personally I'd be partial to Police but either was a worthy winner.

1. The Eagles - "Hotel California"

When a read through the list of past winners I had to eliminate a lot of classic, iconic songs from the list to be able to make up a Top 5, but I soon as I saw this track, I knew it would not only be on the list, but that it would be number one. I was surprised to see this had won the Grammy's Record of the Year considering it doesn't have the commercial appeal of its typical winners (just look at some of 2014's awful contenders - "Blurred Lines" anyone?). "Hotel California," however, is one of the all-time great songs by a stellar band in The Eagles. It's one of those songs that draws you in every single time you hear it and you could just never tire of it. It's majestic song-writing and worthy of all the praise it's ever received.


Honorable Mention: Bobby Darin - "Mack the Knife," U2 - "Beautiful Day," Tina Turner - "What's Love Got to Do with It," Amy Winehouse - "Rehab," Roberta Flack - "Killing Me Softly with His Song"

5. Michael Jackson - "Beat It"

How strong of a list is this when "Beat It" is all the way down at #5? One of Michael Jackson's key hits, this one helped launch him to new heights and beat out some strong contenders in 1982 to take home the Record of the Year award. The song was a lightning rod for the blending of rock and pop together and was deeply influential in that vein. Thriller was already a big hit before "Beat It" became huge, but this made it a massive one and stands as one of the most iconic songs of the 1980s.

4. Phil Collins - "Another Day in Paradise"

"Another Day in Paradise," ironically, isn't my favorite of Phil Collins' songs. But it is the one that won Record of the Year and even if it doesn't rank in my top 5 for him, it's still an amazing piece of pop music. Getting socially conscious in pop music is a tricky thing. Pop music doesn't lend itself to subtlety well and a lot of times you end up with something along the lines of "Born This Way" or "Same Love," which are important messages socially but are not great pieces of music. With "Another Day in Paradise" Collins puts his pre-eminent writing skills to use in a way that makes the song resonant without being in your face. It's a song that manages the task of being important and great musically.

3. Simon & Garfunkel - "Mrs. Robinson"

One of the iconic songs of the era, bar none. Simon and Garfunkel are of course one of the great musical duos of all time and this one is pretty much their crowning acheivement. The song is of course from The Graduate and almost wasn't; that movie's director Mike Nichols had approached them to write music for the film and made a deal for them to write three songs. With only one song done, Simon said he had an idea for a song about "the past" that named Mrs. Roosevelt. Nichols heard it and said, "It's now about Mrs. Robinson, not Mrs. Roosevelt." The rest is pop music history. This is one that deserves any and all accolades it has received since its recording; the Grammy Awards certainly got this one right.

2. Whitney Houston - "I Will Always Love You"

Cheesy? A little. Not Whitney's? True. But you cannot deny the sheer and utter power of Houston's rendition of this Dolly Parton song. Whitney recorded this song for The Bodyguard and further cemented her place among the greatest voices in the history of popular music. This was the song most often referenced when Houston died in 2012 and for good reason; not only was it thematically appropriate, it was her single greatest recording. That year was a particularly strong one, with "Love You" beating out "A Whole New World" from Aladdin, Billy Joel's "The River of Dreams," Sting's "If I Ever Lose My Faith in You" and "Harvest Moon" by Neil Young. I can't think of a greater honor than to say the right song won.

1. Eric Clapton - "Tears in Heaven"

One of my favorite rock ballads of all-time took home the Record of the Year award in 1993, thankfully saving us from having to consider "Achey Breaky Heart" a record of the year. Clapton's song is one of the most emotive, touching and depressing songs I can think of. It was of course written about the death of his young son Conor's death in 1991 and was (again; I swear I didn't just pick out movie songs) from a movie; in this case it was the drug drama Rush. Clapton is one of the all-time greats and this is probably his greatest work. Only "Layla" comes close.

As always, the last thoughts come from you, the reader. We're merely unpaid monkeys with typewriters and Wikipedia. Here's what you need to do: List your Top Five for this week's topic on the comment section using the following format:

5. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
4. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
3. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
2. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
1. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it


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