Three Grammy nominees will DJ on the Strip this weekend. Zedd performs Saturday at Light nightclub. Calvin Harris spends Friday at MGM’s Hakkasan. And Sultan and New Shepard will be at XS in the Wynn Las Vegas on Friday.
This gives us a timely moment to ponder all the Vegas musicians nominated in electronic dance music categories.
Best Dance Recording
■ The nice man known as Kaskade (he’s a resident DJ at XS and Marquee) is nominated for his original song “Atmosphere.” It’s an unusual single for Kaskade, because he sings on it.
Kaskade usually teams up with other singers, be it Skylar Grey or Haley. But he did his own vocals this time, and it turns out Kaskade has a voice like butter. Who knew he could turn that Chicago accent into a soothing thing?
■ Armin van Buuren’s “This Is What It Feels Like” (with Trevor Guthrie on vocals) came with a video shot in the Nevada desert, between Vegas and Los Angeles.
Like all Nevada-desert music videos, it comes with cars, an old gas station, sand, a pretty woman and Ron Jeremy.
The great van Buuren is not on schedule to play in Vegas for many months, but he is usually a top crowd-slayer at Vegas’ summer Electric Daisy Carnival.
■ DJ Zedd’s “Clarity” (featuring voices from Foxes) was indicative of how Zedd has ramped up his pop music output, at the expense of creating fewer purist dance tunes. So there’s not much going on with this soft pop dance song from Zedd.
■ Hakkasan resident DJ Calvin Harris’ “Sweet Nothing” (featuring Florence Welch on vocals) is a good song with a strong following. Harris has also deposited his reputation into a pop music account lately.
■ Adam Dumont and Tommy Forrest’s “Need U (100%)” is also nominated in this category. I never heard this song until it was nominated, which is a good thing. We need Grammy surprises. But the song is just steady, a decent retro echo of 1990s pop-club vibes. The video is cute.
Best Dance/Electronica Album
Kaskade’s “Atmosphere” and Calvin Harris’ “18 Months” are competing against three non-Vegas acts — Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” Settle’s “Disclosure” and Pretty Lights’ “A Color Map of the Sun.”
I suppose I hope Kaskade or Pretty Lights wins. But this was a weak category this year. Maybe the Grammys should add a category for Best Online Set. Such a category would have been more exciting in 2014, considering all the lovely free music musicians upload on Soundcloud.
Best Remixed Recording
Sultan and Ned Shepard are nominated for remixing Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven.” Among their competition is Light nightclub DJ Andy Caldwell’s remix of Delerium’s “Days Turn Into Nights” and Cedric Gervais’ remix of Lana Del Rey’s incredible “Summertime Sadness.” I can’t imagine “Summertime Sadness” losing, but anything can happen.
1. Because I have become one of those insufferable townie boosters, I’m rooting for the Vegas band Imagine Dragons to win Grammy’s Record of the Year for their rock anthem “Radioactive.”
Their competition is Cosmopolitan headliner Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven,” French duo Daft Punk’s disappointingly repetitive “Get Lucky,” newcomer Lorde’s ode to Regina Spektor, “Royals,” and “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, who performed every five seconds in Vegas clubs in 2013.
Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” is also nominated for Best Rock Performance against David Bowie (“The Stars Are Out Tonight”), Alabama Shakes (“Always Alright”), Jack White’s (“I’m Shakin’ ”), Queens of the Stone Age (“My God Is The Sun”) and Led Zeppelin (“Kashmir”). “Kashmir” is back? What the?
2. If Lana Del Rey’s “Paradise” doesn’t win Best Pop Vocal Album? No justice. That album is epic. Her song “Off to the Races” is the most fully realized, perfected story ballad I have heard in years. It is shocking, and nothing is shocking.
For some reason, the Grammy’s did not nominate the other epic album, Kanye’s supercrazy “Yeezus,” nor my favorite album of 2013, Moby’s “Innocents.”
3. Do people still care about the Grammys?
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Page 3A in the main section on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at email@example.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.