Thursday, December 6, 2007

On a lame note...

Grammy nominations were announced today. No one cares.

Somewhere along the line, the Grammys became the Pro Bowl of award shows. It gets hyped but no one watches it. Why is that? As someone who’s obsessed with music, I should be stoked about the Grammys. But I’m not. At all. I watch other award shows (although Oscars, you've been on notice since that Crash win) but the Grammys have pretty much never interested me.

I was thinking that it’s because only top selling acts win and artistry gets no credit. This has some validity, but not entirely. I figured OK Computer is probably the best album of the last ten years and assumed it didn’t even get nominated for a Grammy. Wrong. It won Best Alternative Album and was nominated for Album of the Year. It lost to Bob Dylan. That’s pretty legit, right?

Other Album of the Year winners were surprisingly legit too. Not always my favorite albums, but inarguably good ones: The Joshua Tree in ’89, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in ’99, Speakerboxx/The Love Below in ’04. Yeah, there’s some George Michael and Celine Dion and stuff like that in there too, but usually some good albums were at least nominated those years. This year, Kanye West and Amy Winehouse got the most nominations. Two popular and critically acclaimed artists.

So what’s the deal? Why do we all yawn at the Grammys? My newest theory - which can’t be tested and is therefore binding – is that awards shows go against the very nature of pop music. Rock and pop stars are supposed to defy convention and test the limits, not sit politely in an auditorium and receive trophies. Actors are supposed to covet our praise like little lost puppies; musicians are supposed to have meltdowns on stage, expose each other’s nipple shields and say the president doesn’t care about black people.

Music is probably the most immediate of all art forms, which also means it’s the most fluid - you can create it and perform it very quickly, so it changes with the most frequency. Beethoven is music, and so are The Arctic Monkeys. So are Tony Bennett and Ghost Face Killah. That’s what makes music so awesome, but it also makes it nearly impossible to celebrate with one big, flashy, nationally broadcast awards show that pays reverence to people whose gift is their irreverence.

I don’t know who the members of The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences are, but their awards indicate that they really don’t get what music is all about. It’s about movement and change and discovery and biting the heads off bats.

Something tells me you won’t see any of that at the Staples Center next February.


Red said...

I was thinking the exact same thing when I heard the Grammy noms were announced. "Eh. Who cares"

I think your theory makes perfect sense. I also think people don't care because there is SO MUCH MUSIC produced every year, it's impossible to narrow any category down to just 5 artists.

The weird thing, though, is that the actual show probably should be the most entertaining of all award shows because they show almost as many performances as awards and they make pretty cool performance combos (like Eminem and Elton John that one year), but still no one watches.

It's a mystery...

Liz said...

The sheer volume of music is definitely part of it too. I was going to mention that but this thing was long enough as it is :-)