Kudos to the Academy. They've pretty much nailed it when it comes to the Grammy nominees in what's arguably the most-important dance-related category Sunday night: Best Dance Recording. In 2011, the U.S. EDM market saw an explosion the likes of which hadn't seen since the punk rock revolution back in the '90s, and those given the nod are a testament to its abounding success.
A category once graced by Madonna, Britney and Gaga is now overrun by the Prince of Dubstep, a monstrous mouse, a turntable whiz and his NYC cohort, three rock stars of house, a Frenchman with a Swedish prodigy and a girl who originally showed us love in the '90s. Each one of the nominees was not only at the helm for producing a killer track, but was at the forefront of a movement that is changing the tastes of the American mainstream and truly defining cool culture.
In further recognition of EDM's explosion, the Grammys have lined up an all-star crew for a dance-music performance Sunday night in a tent outside Staples Center. Chris Brown, the Foo Fighters and Lil Wayne will join EDM superstars deadmau5 and David Guetta for a genre-busting performance that will highlight dance/electronica music. This marks the first Grammy performance to shed light on the increasingly popular genre, which has recently seeped into every form of music.
For anyone still getting their feet wet in the scene, fear not: We've broken down the Best Dance Recording noms, put together a little prediction of who will probably win, based on how these things have gone in the past, and who should win — as in, what might best be accepted and respected by the EDM masses. It could very well be a pivotal year for the Grammys — if they get it right.
Best Dance Recording Nominees
deadmau5 and Greta Svabo Bech, "Raise Your Weapon": deadmau5 went dubstep with this little experiment, and it earned him high marks. The angelic vocals of Bech, juxtaposed with signature ruff and rugged dubstep riffs, this track catapulted itself into a monster. deamau5 again showcased his versatility while (for the most part) maintaining that signature deadmau5 sound, but was it original enough for what we usually expect from this seemingly unconquerable musical madman?
Duck Sauce, "Barbra Streisand": In 2009, iconic NYC house-music icon Armand Van Helden paired up with Canadian spin master A-Trak in a collaborative effort named after the most popular of all condiments in pan-Asian cuisine. Since then, they've become one of the most popular dance acts around, in large part due to this crossover smash that pays homage to one of America's most beloved entertainers. The tune is decked out with a spirited house groove and a vocal hook that everyone knows the words to. You'd have to have lived on the moon to not have heard this one, and have no soul to do anything but love it.
David Guetta and Avicii, "Sunshine": True EDM fans can't complain on this one. It's progressive house at its finest. EDM loyalists all the world over were ecstatic to see Guetta distancing himself from the Peas and picking up on Avicii, who is simply one of the most insanely talented producers out there. Try listening to this tune and not smiling ear to ear. It combines Avicii's signature piano riffs and progressive charm with Guetta's thunderous big room house and ability to produce bangers at a moment's notice. The production value of "Sunshine" is precise, clean and harmonious. If the Academy is properly tuned in, this thumper has a good chance of coming out the victor.
Robyn, "Call Your Girlfriend": Taking nothing away, this is a killer tune by one of the key players in the dance-music crossover. However, it was Kaskade's remix (un-nominated) that truly resonated with the EDM masses. Regardless, the original was a monster in the mainstream, and the killer cut off the third installment of Body Talk has absolutely taken Robyn to new heights and solidified her place as one of the all-time dance-music greats.
Skrillex, "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites": This track was Dubstep 101 to anyone who'd never heard the genre. Call it "brostep" if you will, but you can't deny that it expanded the sonic pallet of anyone who dared to listen to it. Some would say EDM noobs as a whole probably think the track defines the movement as a whole, which is less than accurate. Never the less, Skrillex and "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" is a very fitting example of what helped push dance music into the spotlight in 2011. Don't be surprised to see Skrillex walking away with the golden gramophone.
Swedish House Mafia, "Save the World": The year 2011 was perhaps an incubation period for the rock stars of house. Having released just a pair of tracks in the calendar year, the Swedes went a little more pop on this than they had in the past, but nevertheless, still gave their loyal following what they wanted with a killer hook and an impossible-not-to-sing-along vocal provided by fellow Swede John Martin. If videos were involved in the selection, this would certainly take the prize. Heroic puppies and house music? A match made in heaven.
Who Should Win
David Guetta and Avicii, "Sunshine"
Who Probably Will Win
Skrillex, "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites"
Chaos! Profanity! Wardrobe malfunctions! Don't miss our Grammy red-carpet live stream this Sunday, February 12, for a full three hours of mayhem, starting at 5 p.m. ET on MTV.com. And the fun doesn't end Sunday: MTV News has you covered for all the Grammy red-carpet fashion, Grammy winners and Grammy news until the hangover wears off!