Producers and Mix Engineers and Writers Oh My!

grammy award statuetteThe Grammys are right around the corner and the nominations are in.  We all know who the nominations are for Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best New Artist, but how many of you know who the Producer of the Year, Non-Classical or Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical?  These artists are just as important as the famous singers and bands we see plastered all over televisions,  in magazines, and at concerts.  These behind the scenes superheroes sometimes do it all.  They are the project managers of an album coordinating the right sound for the artist, organizing song structure, assisting with the writing process, and mixing and mastering the album that we here once it’s released.  Some producers become the A&R person developing and growing an artists sound or even taking them in a new direction or crossing over genres like Taylor Swift did this year with Max Martin and Shellback.

There are six legendary producers nominated for the 2015 Grammy who include Paul Epworth, John Hill, Jay Joyce, Greg Kurstin, and Max Martin.  Epworth worked with ‘Pendulum’ (FKA Twigs) and ‘Queenie Eye,’ ‘Road,’ and ‘Save Us’ (Paul McCartney) in 2014 and has worked with other prominent artists such as Adele, Coldplay, Lana Del Ray, Foster the People, and Bruno Mars.  In 2012 he won the Grammy for Producer of the Year for his work on Adele’s album ’21.’

John Hill worked on one of my favorite albums this year ‘Strange Desires’ by the Bleachers.  Jack Antonoff, lead singer and songwriter of the Bleachers and the lead guitarist of the band Fun created a true masterpiece with producer John Hill.  The lyrics and the 80s type music is something that really stands out of the bubble gum pop that is predominant in today’s music culture.  On this album alone I think Hill should get the Grammy, but I’m a little bias.  Hill has also worked with artists Eminem ‘Guts Over Fear,’ Shakira ‘Can’t Remember to Forget You,’ and Christina Perri’s ‘Burning Gold.’  In the past he has also worked with Wu Tang, Nas, Kings of Leon, Pink, and Natasha Bedingfield.

Jay Joyce has produced for Cage the Elephant, Sleeper Agent, Eric Church, and Thomas Rhett, while Greg Kurstin produced some of the power artists this year such as Ellie Goulding, Sia’s ‘Chandelier,’ Lana Del Ray, and Lily Allen.  Finally there is superstar producer Max Martin who has produced and wrote some of the catchy number 1s that we have heard all over the radio over the last 2 decades.  In 2014 he produced and assisted in writing with ‘Bang Bang’ with Ariana Grande, Jessie J, and Nicki Minaj, as well as ‘Dark Horse’ and ‘Unconditionally’ (Katy Perry), Problem (Ariana Grande and Iggy Alzala), and ‘Shake It Off’ (Taylor Swift).  Martin also won the 2014 ASCAP Songwriter of the Year Award, so who knows maybe the 2014 Grammy lies in his future.

Who ever wins Album of the Year, Record of the Year, or Best New Artist everyone will know because sales will go through the roof and iTunes will be flooded with a new top song and top album list as winners are announced.  Don’t be afraid to look outside the box and check out what these producers and writers are working on; their work could become your next favorite song.  It’s hard to read liner notes now a days, but google who worked on an album, it might surprise you how many of these producers have a hand in so many different genres of music.  They are the final sound of an album and without there guidance and understanding of sound, there would be no final cut.

My Top 28 Songs of 2014

It is that time of year where everyone looks back on the past year’s successes, failures, and decisions that we were too scared to take.  This past year has been pretty incredible.  I completed my first year in a management position at one of the world class museums in the world, connected again with my Aunt and Uncle and met their daughter that I haven’t seen since she was a baby, flew a plane, learned how to jet ski, watched two of my best friends get married, had another friend bring their son into this world, saw new choreography, and discovered new music to share.

Everyone does top 10, top 20, top 100 when doing lists, but I am a middle child and I do things differently because I like to throw everyone off their game and maybe be a pain in the ass.  So, I am going to give you my top 28 songs of 2014 since this past year is my 28th year of life on this earth bugging my brothers and gracing my parents with the unlimited chatter about nothing.  I am obsessed with pop and alternative genres, but in my mind music has no boundaries and crossover is in every genre.  These lyrics have made me cry, brought me back to old memories, and have brought me hope for the future in my life.  It also doesn’t hurt that most of these songs have a melody that I constantly hummed when I discovered them this past year, and pretty much annoyed my roommate to the point that she had to go find out what the song was that I was singing around the apartment for weeks on end.  So here goes:

28.  Love in the 21st Century – Neon Trees

27.  Smile – R5

26.  If I’m Lucky – State Champs

25.  Accidental Billionaire – The Summer Set

24.  Somebody to You – The Vamps

23.  Another You (Another Way) – Against the Current

22.  16 Years – The Griswolds

21.  Facedown – The 1975

20.  Carousel – Kate Voegele

19.  That’s What Up – Lennon & Maisy

18.  Don’t Count Me Out – The Downtown Fiction

17.  Bang Bang – Jessie J, Ariana Grande, & Nicki Minaj

16.  London Queen – Charli XCX

15.  Moments – Tove Lo

14.  Back to the Shack – Weezer

13.  Shut Up and Dance – Walk the Moon

12.  Feel Right – Mark Ronson & Mystikal

11.  FUNKNROLL – Prince

10.  Geronimo – Sheppard

9.  End Up Here – 5 Seconds of Summer

8.  Hey Kid – Bad Seed Rising

7.  St. Patrick – PVRIS

6.  Photograph – Ed Sheeran

5.  Here’s To The Zeros – Marianas Trench

4.  Ammonia and Bleach – Emily’s Army (aka Swimmers)

3.  Lost Stars – Kiera Knightly (Begin Again)

2.  Style – Taylor Swift (1989)

1.  Rollercoaster – Bleachers

All artists (except for Taylor Swift) can be found on a playlist here.  I included one video because I think this song represents how we should all be in the coming year.  Don’t be afraid to say Geronimo.  So, here’s to the coming year.  Taking leaps to new adventures, defying fear, leaving the familiar, and hoping that you land on your feet instead of your head.  And if you land on your head, you always have the music to soften the blow.  As Walt Disney said, “Laughter is timeless.  Imagination has no age.  And dreams are forever.”