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2011 Grammy Vent

Ten years ago was a much simpler time. Worries included upgrading from Windows ’98 and trying to jam our chunky cell phones into our back pockets. There were no Four Loko hospitalizations, Nickelodeon still had quality programming and I probably thought that Christina Aguilera actually deserved Best New Artist. But after outgrowing Nickelodeon and obtaining the legal duty to consume Four Loko, I have come to realize that The Grammys are a total bust.

I once thought listening to Destiny’s Child and Sting meant I was musically cultured (yes, I shudder at that thought) – I was probably content when Celine Dion took home the Grammy for Record of the Year in 1997 or I at least don’t recall any differently. But now, after some liberal corruption at an East-Coast University, music theory at a conservatory, and working for a company somewhat responsible for the popularity of today’s musicians, I can’t look back at 1997 without musically-informed guilt. I hear the faint sounds of Beck’s Odelay and The Fugees’ The Score in the distance – two albums that have had more musical impact than that dreaded Titanic theme song, whose name I detest about just as much as Voldemort’s. Okay, I’m being dramatic, but 1997 was a rough year for music. And as Celine’s acceptance speech remains a mere silhouette in my memory, I can picture Taylor Swift’s like it was yesterday… But I won’t open that door today.

I’ve learned to take award shows and their respective Academies about as seriously as I take Auto-tune. This year’s nominees for best album go to: Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, Eminem’s Recovery, Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now, Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster, and Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream.

Sigh… It’s all politics at this point. Being good only gets you into the race, and rarely at that. Being the best doesn’t matter. Running the best campaign, having the best timing, riding on the best history – with almost no exceptions, these are the grounds for victories.

Expected Nominations:
A band to give indie rock lovers hope- Check
Something to appease Country fans- Check
Pop Artist who generated the most money for the industry- Check
Pop Artist who generated the most money for the industry- Check
Pop Artist who generated the most money for the industry- Check
(Sometimes, if the year permits, one of the last 3 spots will go to an old, Grammy-winning rock n’ roll legend that came out with a new album that year)

Although Need You Now, in some cases, may deserve a win, The Taylor barrier is inhibiting Lady Antebellum from victory. The past 5 years have sprouted two “Country” wins, last year with Swift, and in 2007 with The Dixie Chicks. Similarly, if Arcade Fire won, you could expect my reaction to be a lot like that one You-Tube video where that guy freaks out about Sandra Bullock’s Oscar win. Regrettably, they’re probably just filler, leaving us with Eminem, Gaga and Perry. At this point, I’m going to root for a miracle or for Kanye to be drunk, because otherwise, I really don’t care.

Best New Artist should be interesting. Overall, it is a very eclectic mix. Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence & The Machine, Mumford & Sons, and Esperanza Spalding are each deserving. The Grammys have left this category the only one with any significance: calling attention to good artists and helping them get work.

I think the real merit of an album or artist is to see how they play 20 years from now. Are we still listening to their music? Is Faith by George Michael, winner of the 1989 Album of The Year, on your top 25 most played?  Every once in a while you see something timeless winning like U2 or Elton John. That goes for any award show –music, television, movies, what have you. If Bieber wins, yes, I’ll laugh and blast some Radiohead in his honor. But I trust Mumford & Sons have another Sigh No More in ‘em, at least, I hope so. The same goes for Florence, Jeff Beck, Neil Young, The Black Keys, Broken Bells, John Legend and The National all of whom had outstanding albums this year, and they’re only recognized in their individual genres, if at all.

My advice, after some much needed venting, is to go to NPR’s Streaming “Best Music of 2010“. There aren’t any shinny dresses, but I guarantee it will make you happier than the Grammys.

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9 comments

  • I know you are not a big Lady Gaga fan… And I am not trying to convert you. I just don’t think you are part of her core audience that she is chasing. Just like the Dave Matthews Band is not directly marketing to me. It is the same as you carving out a niche audience with the Nerdist. It almost sounds like your parents when you were a child, “turn that crap off. Back in my day they made good music sonny boy.” HAHA. Anywho, don’t hate on the Gaga. I love her but know she is not for everyone. She just struck a note with a generation that loves her, just as musicians past have done.

  • author

    I don’t like Justin Bieber. He’s very successful – too successful. If I saw him in the street, I’d congratulate him, but it’s one of the reasons I hate the Grammys. And if Arcade Fire wins… I will post my ridiculous reaction on Nerdist.

  • @Laura,

    I’m sure my definitions of ‘best’ and ‘deserving’ are completely different than those used by the Grammys.

    As a Canadian, I think I simply object to the fact that Mr. Bieber is more popular than Arcade Fire, or even Tegan and Sara. As usual, the music that ends up getting popular outside of our borders is terrible.

  • Sure he is – in “Grammy world.” His win wouldn’t be a big surprise….. but to ignore his first album at the Grammy’s would be. Don’t worry – he’s not going to win any awards at Nerdist. Clearly this writer doesn’t like him either. I appreciate being reminded of the Grammy’s distorted world view. Watching that show never makes me happy. Thanks Becca.