Conventional wisdom has it that the voters participating in the Grammy Awards are often out of touch with current music. Those voters work in various creative and technical areas of the recording industry, nominating the finalists and determining the winner in each category. One theory is that they vote based on name recognition, therefore they may be biased toward artists that have been around longer. A famous example of this is Jethro Tull winning the Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Performance award over Metallica in 1988. The Grammy people took a lot of flack for that one, and promised to get hip.
So, this year Beck was up against Beyonce, Pharrell, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith for Album of the Year. Beck first made a splash in early 1993 with his great single "Loser." Sam Smith was not quite one year old, and Ed Sheeran was barely two!
Or, possibly the Recording Academy voted with the intention of honoring Beck's entire body of work, as they seem to have done with other artists in the past. Beck has been up for Album of the Year twice previously, first in 1997 for Odelay, and then again in 2001 for Midnite Vultures. Those are two fine records, and both would have been deserving of the award in their time. By the way, Celine Dion won in 1997, and Steely Dan got the Best Album honor in 2001. Steely Dan should have won in the '70s instead, but that's another tale!
Another theory making its way around the blogosphere is that the voters who like contemporary R&B or pop singers split their votes between Beyonce and Pharrell, or Beyonce and Smith, or some other combination. And the Grammy goes to...Beck!
Morning Phase is actually an excellent album. Beck (and his team of engineers) produced the record meticulously, with shimmering waves of sound gently surging over the listener. At the end of the song "Waking Light," Beck succeeds beautifully in evoking the warmth and light of the rising sun through sound.
Did Beck deserve the Best Album Grammy? Yes.