The 2011 Grammy Award nominations came out today and boy has this contest jumped the shark. There are so many things wrong with the Grammy’s that it’s hard to know where to start. But for argument’s sake I’ll start with the ridiculous list of nominees for Album of the year:
- 21 – Adele
- Wasting Light – Foo Fighters
- Born This Way – Lady Gaga
- Doo-Wops and Hooligans – Bruno Mars
- Loud – Rihanna
How can you lump these five albums into one category and pick a winner? Based on what? Best R&B album it’d be Rihanna. Best Rock album, Foos. Best pop album, Adele. Popular music has become so cross-genre that these awards don’t make sense. Here are a bunch of additional nominees that make no sense:
Bon Iver for best new artist? Been around since 2007.
The Black Keys for Best Pop Duo/Group? Pop? Really?
Foo Fighters are nominated in Best Rock and Best Hard Rock categories. What’s the difference? Not much if the Academy can’t even decide where they belong.
Coldplay gets nominated for Best Pop and Best Rock song. Huh?
Wilco gets nominated in the Best Rock Album category but not Best Alternative Album or Folk or Americana? What the heck is “Alternative” anyway?
The Civil Wars get nominated for Best Country Duo song for Barton Hallow. Country? Not folk or Americana, or alternative? Oh wait, the Civil Wars did get nominated for Best Folk album as well. Along with Fleet Foxes and Eddie Vedder. You heard me right, Eddie Vedder. What, no ukulele category? WTF?
Why do we have all these Latin music categories? Isn’t there already a Latin Grammy Award ceremony?
The Grammys are a joke. Popular music can no longer be categorized in the old ways, which is why everyone was so upset when Arcade Fire took home the top award last year (not me by the way…The Suburbs was one of the best albums of the year, it was just not in the right category). Something needs to be done. I don’t like to miss the Grammys because we are inevitably treated to some magical “once-in-a-lifetime” performances like when Elton John backed Eminem or last year when Mumford and Sons played with Dylan.
This year I’m hoping for a cool tribute to Amy Winehouse. I’d like to see Nikki Minaj join Foo Fighters and Lady Antebellum for a Winehouse medley!
One thought on “‘Grammys’ Best Days are Behind Them”
Hate to tell you, Len, but this isn’t a new development in pop music, nor in the Grammys. Yes, the spectacle of the Grammys—and awards shows in general, just like the concept of “celebrity” in our culture—has been magnified to the Nth degree. But the all-over-the-map aspect of pop music was actually worse (or better, depending on your perspective—and it’s my belief the diversity is a good and healthy thing) in the 60’s and 70’s than it is now.
Go back and look at the winners from that era, or at any end-of-year “Top 100” song list. I’m a long-standing fan of pop music, with a huge fondness for that era, when I listened to Top 40 radio nonstop. You’ll see a far wider—and in some cases, outright kooky—mix of songs, from every genre imaginable. At the same time, it was more common for artists themselves to dabble in various genres, unafraid of crossing over or alienating their fans.
As for the Grammys, I think we all remember Jethro Tull beating out Metallica in the Hard Rock/Metal category in 1989, and there’ve been numerous other examples of such silliness along the way. They’re trying to be all things to all people (much as the Oscars do), and you just can’t cover all of the music in the world in one three-hour show, especially as new genres emerge. What’s the solution to the Album of the Year situation? To not have one? And I hate to tell you, but as ours becomes more and more of a not-so-white culture, it’s not only right to have numerous Latino categories (and R&B, and…probably Asian categories in the future, etc.), it’s mandatory. There is no one face to popular music any longer (as opposed to the 70’s, when just about anything could become a hit).
The problem, I think, is not the Grammys, but awards shows themselves. When the Oscars are scrambling to draw an audience and every show out there is trying to capture the young viewers who prefer the pacing and edginess (to put it politely) of the MTV awards shows and Nick’s Teen Choice awards, something’s going to get lost along the way. And chief among those things, it seems, are those of us in the older demographics. My three cents…