The 56th Grammy Awards have been and gone – Taylor Swift has stopped dancing, Pharrell and Madonna have hung up their respective ridiculous hats, and Blue Ivy is happily sipping from her sippy cup.
Since Sunday night, there’s been the usual response to a big ol’ celeb event across the internet: Taylor can throw good shapes and gives good reaction face, and I think we were all heartened to see Beyonce, hair dripping, looking like she got caught in the rain running for the last bus and missing it; Lorde was brilliant just by way of the fact she scares the literal shit out of everyone; and the moment 33 couples got wed to Same Love has been vined thousands of times.
But one of the most internet-worthy things about the Grammys came from an act that wasn’t even there – Tegan and Sara decided to live blog the whole thing to hilarious effect. Here’s an example of their witty, down-to-earth text exchange, which they tweeted for all to see:
Sure, Tegan and Sara proved they have a great sense of humour with their inventive back-and-forth, but why they weren’t there to see the awards first hand is a total mystery and a pop travesty. Tegan and Sara’s Heartthrob was one of the best pop records of 2013, yet was generally ignored by end-of-year album lists and awards bodies.
The album came out last January, so by fast-moving industry standards it pretty much has barnacles growing on it and carries a colostomy bag, but hello – this was clearly a FUCKING AMAZING album, and more to the point there’s not a bad track on it, which cannot be said for, say, the half-brilliant Random Access Memories which won Best Album of the Year. That Robin Thicke was nominated for Best Pop Album over Tegan and Sara’s effort is an injustice up there with letting someone go ahead of you in a toilet queue and then them taking a massive dump.
From the first single, Closer, which is near-as-dammit a perfect pop song, only bettered when they refilmed the video with pugs, to the lamenting heartbreak of Goodbye, Goodbye, this record has everything.
It’s got ‘oh, oh, ohs’, Frankie Goes to Hollywood synths, Phil Spector drums, scattering MOOG blips, piano intros, witty lyrics – “you put the brakes on / and it drove me wild” – and it’s also a little bit rude: “all I think of lately / is how to get you underneath me”, which is a much more direct approach than “call me maybe?”
Tegan and Sara in 2013 basically did a Madonna when she dressed her boobs up as Gaultier Cornettos, or Dylan when he went electric. They reinvented themselves; and they absolutely smashed it.
Before Heartthrob, most people (myself included) knew Tegan and Sara as the chicks who had Lego hair, who looked like they were holding their backpacks together with safety pins, and then – boom – here they were making music that would slip easily onto the soundtrack of a John Hughes film, or Mean Girls, or just Girls, or on a mobile phone advert which everyone would Google cos they’d want to know what it was.
I was familiar with Walking With a Ghost, Where Did the Good Go, You Wouldn’t Like Me and a million lesbian Tumblrs imagining dodgy incestous scenarios between the two of them, but until Heartthrob dropped I was still pronouncing Sara with a long A. There’s nowt wrong with their previous repertoire, it’s impressive catchy folk-rock, but this album is pop heaven.
I Couldn’t Be Your Be Friend nails that situation where you break up with an ex and both agree to stay buds but pencil a meet in for the 1st of *never*, cos you know you’ll either end up fucking / fighting / both. The Streets did this quite well with We Can Never Be Friends, but T&S do it with a killer hook.
It’s an album that runs the full relationship spectrum, covering self-doubt (“I can’t say that I’m sorry / for loving you and hating myself”), major lusting (“let’s make things physical”) and bitter break-ups (“I don’t feel the need to see your face”). It also includes probably one of the most badass opening lines of 2013 with: “stay / you’ll leave me in the morning anyway.” *shrug*.
So, yeah, we can say Grammy nominee Lorde made a great record, because she did, and that Justin made a great record, but Tegan and Sara made an almost perfect record. The only people who seem to have acknowledged this on their end-of-year lists were Popjustice, Spin and Rolling Stone, and the sole Grammy nomination garnered for anyone to do with Heartthrob was a nod for Rob Cavallo for his work on Love They Say, one of the singles, (Pharrell won the award).
If the Grammys are based purely on quality, which they supposedly are, then I can only say that the judges have their ears on inside out. There is no way Heartthrob does not deserve to be nominated in the Best Pop Album category alongside Taylor Swift’s awesome Red, and why the fuck Closer wasn’t pop song of the year I’ll never know.
Apart from the very early release date, there’s a cynical part of me that thinks maybe this is because in some quarters Tegan and Sara are still dismissed as a niche gay band, or perhaps because they’ve not been fellating any hammers of late they’ve not been deemed clickbait worthy enough to cause enough attention (although it’s true that both Miley and Gaga were also snubbed this year).
Either way, Heartthrob is a great album, and it deserved to be recognised as such. I heart it.