A Quick Word About the Grammys
Nobody should be shocked that musicianship seems to take a backseat at The Grammys.
I don’t know if it’s getting worse, per se. Like you I’m appalled at most of the performances and nomination lists. I mean, if you thought the five nominees were the best five albums of 2010, you don’t listen to much music…and you probably don’t like music all that much in the first place.
Which is the whole point.
The Grammys isn’t about music and isn’t supposed to be. On paper it’s going to award the “best music,” but in reality it’s a system that’s set up to ensure nominees that will maximize the number of eyes on television sets.
How else do you explain an awards show in 2011 that features Tom Petty amongst its performers?
The Arcade Fire were able to sneak through and be the Grammys token “see, see?! there’s some legitimacy!” award. It’s not as if they’re hurting for attention or recognition, however. That’s not to slam them, either. I loved “The Suburbs” and I’m glad given the other nominees that they won. But the fact remains that it was actually a very popular album with a lot of buzz around it, and it sold very well. This is not an unknown dark horse at 50-1 with a fat jockey on its back beating Secretariat, it just looks that way because they have somebody onstage banging on a bicycle.
Even other acts that people said “now there’s real music” I take issue with. Mumford and Sons are a perfect example. Rarely have I seen a group more overrated and uninspired, but they jam with old-timey instruments so that makes them different. To my ears it’s fratboy bluegrass devoid of passion and soul while desperately trying to carve a niche as indie by throwing the word “fuck” into their first single. Yet you’d think, given the reaction on Twitter, that they had showed up to save the Grammys from Justin Bieber; playing the same exact chords in the a manic rhythm creating a wall of sound that nearly obscures their inability to write a proper song arrangement.
They’re Muse with a banjo. But I digress.
I can’t get outraged about the Grammys, because I haven’t ever held it in any esteem. Anybody who thinks a choice was awful last night wasn’t around when Jethro Tull won the inaugural award for “Best Heavy Metal Album” (if you think you’re confused you should see Jethro Tull’s bewildered acceptance speech).
That said, I am surprised that in the last couple years they’ve gone so far off the rails of what’s even popular. Reading through the performers and nominees, I became convinced that the industry hacks that used to nominate and vote on the awards have been replaced by your grandparents and your 11-year-old nieces and nephews.
But, hey, at least Lady Gaga had that wonderful tribute to Robin Williams’ titular character in “Mork & Mindy.”