Five Sample-Using Songs That Deserve Grammys Now
Photo by Marco Torres
Recently the Grammy Awards announced changes to the annual music awards' criteria and categories, the most notable being now permitting songs that utilize samples in the songwriting categories, specifically Song of the Year. This is huge news for many electronic artists and rappers, obviously.
But why wasn't this always the case? It seems like the often stodgy judges behind the Grammys have unfairly excluded a lot of amazing works of art from winning awards just because they featured samples or interpolations. Here are some of the best songs which should have won that couldn't before this rule change.
5. Portishead, "Glory Box" Twenty years on and this song has transcended genre, time and place. It still sounds just as fresh and relevant today, and is one of the greatest slow-burners of all time thanks to Beth Gibbons' sultry voice and Adrian Utley's guitar playing.
However, it's built off of a sample from Isaac Hayes that would have disqualified it from winning Song of the Year, even if the Grammys had been forward-looking enough in 1995 to nominate Portishead over the eventual winner, Bruce Springsteen.
4. Nas, "NY State of Mind" In my opinion, this may be the greatest hip-hop song ever written. It certainly exploded on the scene, along with the rest of Illmatic, in 1994, and revolutionized the genre as a whole. There's a reason we've given Nas a pass on so many middling records over the years: he earned it with this one.
Can you even imagine what the 1995 Song of the Year category would have looked like with "NY State of Mind" paired up against "Glory Box?" I'd have a hard time voting on that one. But, again, Springsteen, ladies and gentlemen.
3. Jay Z, "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" You could almost swap out any song off The Blueprint here, just like with Nas and Illmatic. The Blueprint's impact has been felt in every bit of hip hop since 2001. It put Kanye West on the map, reintroduced soul sampling, and made people reevaluate Jay Z as a serious artist, rather than a pop rapper.
But the sampling also made it impossible for any song off the album to land a Grammy, including this one with its fantastic Jackson 5 interpolation. Alicia Keys won that year for "Fallin'," and I'll give her that it's a great song, but The Blueprint was one of the greatest albums of all time. Of all time.
List continues on the next page.
2. The Avalanches, "Since I Left You" The Avalanches made an art out of sampling with their 2000 album Since I Left You, which has continued to inspire electronic artists since. But those samples also unfortunately left it ineligible for recognition by the Grammys.
"Since I Left You," the record's amazing title track, could have won Song of the Year. Instead, it was nabbed by U2's nauseating "Beautiful Day."
1. Wu-Tang Clan, "Can It Be All So Simple" Wu-Tang is practically a cult, and their influence on popular music is inestimable. RZA alone as a producer has made about a million songs that could've, should've, would've won Song of the Year, so it's hard to even pick one for this list.
But this was the emotional high point of their 1993 debut, and it remains one of their stone-cold classics. Once again, it was ineligible for recognition, so Song of the Year went to Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle. To be fair, I'm sure still some people in 2014 still listen to Peabo Bryson. I just haven't met them.
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.