Important: A Thirtysomething White Guy Has Grammy Opinions

This year, 2015, saw the arrival of a personal milestone that I never expected to see. I am old enough to cheer a Grammy winner. Beck, who’s now spent more years famous than he spent growing up to record his seemingly-one-hit-wonder “Loser,” won the Album of the Year for Morning Phase. Kanye West, being Kanye West, used the many forums available to him to protest that the award had not gone to Beyonce. This was wrong: Beyonce, one of the most beautiful and charismatic singers on the planet, makes generally boring music, all club tricks and gimmicks and vocal galloping.

Beck’s award, West’s protest, and the predictable Grammy for British shit-merchant Sam Smith — this got me thinking who I would have given the Grammys of various years to. It was a fun exercise, forcing me to weigh several factors against each other, to create a universe in which songs tuneful enough for the radio could be swapped in for whatever horrible music got awards for various years. I went back 40 years, roughly to the last year of prog rock’s boom. Annotations to follow.

1974
Album: Genesis, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
Record: King Crimson, “Starless”

1975
Album: Bob Dylan, Blood On The Tracks
Record: Brian Eno, “St. Elmo’s Fire”

1976
Album: Joni Mitchell, Hejira
Record: ABBA, “Dancing Queen”

1977
Album: Art Garfunkel, Watermark
Record: David Bowie, “Heroes”

1978
Album: Devo, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
Record: The Walker Brothers, “Nite Flights”

1979
Album: The Clash, London Calling
Record: 20/20, “Yellow Pills”

1980
Album: Talking Heads, Remain In Light
Record: Suicide, “Dream Baby Dream”

1981
Album: King Crimson, Discipline
Record: Genesis, “No Reply At All”

1982
Album: Marshall Crenshaw, Marshall Crenshaw
Record: X, “The Have Nots”

1983
Album: Brian Eno, Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks
Record: Yes, “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”

1984
Album: The Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime
Record: The Smiths, “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want”

1985
Album: Marillion, Misplaced Childhood
Record: Tom Waits, “Downtown Train”

1986
Album: XTC, Skylarking
Record: Crowded House, “Don’t Dream It’s Over”

1987
Album: Prince, Sign ‘O’ The Times
Record: The Go-Betweens, “Right Here”

1988
Album: Leonard Cohen, I’m Your Man
Record: EPMD, “Strictly Business”

1989
Album: The Pixies, Doolittle
Record: Michael Penn, “No Myth”

1990
Album: Fred Frith, Gravity
Record: They Might Be Giants, “Birdhouse In Your Soul”

1991
Album: A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory
Record: Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”

1992
Album: Adrian Belew, Inner Revolution
Record: Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

1993
Album: The Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
Record: Archers of Loaf, “Web In Front”

1994
Album: Nas, Illmatic
Record: Freedy Johnston, “Bad Reputation”

1995
Album: GZA, Liquid Swords
Record: Ben Folds Five, “Brick”

1996
Album: Steve Earle, I Feel Alright
Record: Sleeper, “What Do I Do Now?

1997
Album: Spiritualized, Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
Record: Sleater-Kinney, “One More Hour”

1998
Album: Belle and Sebastian, The Boy With The Arab Strap
Record: Pulp, “Like a Friend”

1999
Album: The Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs
Record: Guided by Voices, “Teenage FBI”

2000
Album: OutKast, Stankonia
Record: Queens of the Stone Age, “The Lost Art Of Keeping A Secret”

2001
Album: Jay-Z, The Blueprint
Record: Gorillaz, “Clint Eastwood”

2002
Album: The Mountain Goats, Tallahassee
Record: Solomon Burke, “Fast Train”

2003
Album: The New Pornographers, Electric Version
Record: Jay-Z, “99 Problems”

2004
Album: Stars, Set Yourself On Fire
Record: Arcade Fire, “Rebellion (Lies)”

2005
Album: Porcupine Tree, Deadwing
Record: Sigur Rós, “Hoppipolla”

2006
Album: Keene Brothers, Blues and Boogie Shoes
Record: The Gossip, “Standing In The Way Of Control”

2007
Album: The National, Boxer
Record: LCD Soundsystem, “All My Friends”

2008
Album: Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III
Record: Passion Pit, “Sleepyhead”

2009
Album: Mastodon, Crack the Skye
Record: The Lonely Island, “I’m On a Boat”

2010
Album: Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Record: Robyn, “Dancing on My Own”

2011
Album: Mates of States, Mountaintops
Record: Tyler, the Creator, “Yonkers”

2012
Album: Scott Walker, Bisch Bosch
Record: Chairlift, “I Belong In Your Arms”

2013
Album: Tegan and Sarah, Heartthrob
Record: Daft Punk, “Get Lucky”

2014
Album: Beck, Morning Phase
Record: Run the Jewels, “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)”