Total the ages of the three Hanson brothers and LeAnn Rimes and you get that of Bob Dylan--56.
But Dylan and Hanson could well be on common ground Tuesday when the Grammy nominations are announced by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, with both acts expected to receive their first-ever bids for album of the year.
FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Sunday January 11, 1998 Home Edition Calendar Page 68 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction
CORRECTION: Fiona Apple's "Tidal," listed in last week's Pop Eye as a potential best album Grammy nominee, was in fact not eligible. The album was released before the opening of the 1997 eligibility period.
That's just one of the bits of intrigue to emerge in Pop Eye's inaugural Grammy Tip Sheet, a look at what to watch for in the three most significant categories--album, record and new artist--drawn from the insights of a panel of veteran Grammy nomination insiders.
For Hanson, the nod would come on the Tulsa teen group's first try, "Middle of Nowhere," which with its infectious pop joy and colorful production (in part by L.A.'s hot Dust Brothers) has earned both massive popularity and a measure of critical acclaim.
For Dylan, though, a nomination for his "Time Out of Mind" album would end a 36-year wait. While he was one of the performers on the 1972 best album winner, "The Concert for Bangla Desh," none of his own groundbreaking work--including such seminal sets as 1966's "Blonde on Blonde" and 1975's "Blood on the Tracks"--has even had a nomination in that category.
In fact, Dylan has received only two Grammys in his own right: in 1994 for best traditional folk album ("World Gone Wrong") and in 1979 for best rock male vocal ("Gotta Serve Somebody"). The academy's board of trustees awarded him a lifetime achievement honor in 1991.
"If there was ever a year when I would expect both the climate of the Grammy Awards and the caliber of the work to warrant it, this is it," says Sam Sutherland, senior editor of Microsoft's Music Central online service. "Clearly Dylan is long overdue, and clearly this is easily his best work in more than 20 years."
But the fate of the Dylan and Hanson albums is just one of the questions that will be answered Tuesday during the New York press conference announcing the nominations for the 40th annual Grammy Award ceremonies, which will be held Feb. 25 in New York.
Among the others:
* A tribute to the tributes? Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" eulogy for Princess Diana and Puff Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You" honoring slain rapper Notorious B.I.G. were arguably the songs of the year. But neither will be the Grammy song of the year. Since both are rewrites of old songs (John and Bernie Taupin's "Candle in the Wind" and the Police's "Every Breath You Take," respectively), they are ineligible for the songwriters' award. They could, however, be among the contenders in the record of the year category, which is for performance and production.
However, one panelist, a major-label executive who asked not to be identified, feels that honoring "Candle" would be inappropriate.
"It was the event of the year, the tragedy of the year, but not the record of the year," he says.
Another of the year's biggest songs, Will Smith's title track for the movie "Men in Black," is also ineligible for song consideration for the same reason. It heavily uses a sample of jazz-pop artist Patrice Rushen's "Forget Me Not," leaving the song of the year competition wide open. But one old song was eligible in a new version: Fleetwood Mac's "Silver Springs," from the live reunion album "The Dance." The key here is that the song, though originally recorded by the band more than 20 years ago, was released then only as a B-side to a single and was ruled by the academy's eligibility committee not to have made any significant impact in the past.
* A Puffy presence? Being a recycler might hurt Puff Daddy, a.k.a. Sean "Puffy" Combs, in more ways than just the elimination of his biggest hit from song of the year contention. A backlash has built against him in the last few months centering on his use of old records both as a producer and a recording artist. It's a practice that's left many wondering about the extent of his own creative talents.
But he does still enjoy much support.
"He's talented on so many fronts--as an artist and producer, continuing to deliver hits," says Mike Faley, president of the hard-rock record label Metal Blade. "You don't necessarily fault someone for reinventing something. The same critiques could be used for people reinventing and reusing things in rock and pop. Just because it's sampling doesn't make it less valid."
* Dylan vs. Dylan? The idea of Bob Dylan going head to head with his son Jakob, whose band the Wallflowers had one of the year's top-selling albums with "Bringing Down the Horse," seems too juicy to be true. And it is. The Wallflowers' album is ineligible for best album because it came out well before the Oct. 1, 1996, cutoff date for 1997 consideration. The young Dylan, though, could be on hand in the rock vocal race for one of the songs from the album that had an impact in '97, which means two generations could be on stage during the evening.