Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 13:02
The supposed music industry equivalent of the Oscars – the Grammy Awards – are taken each year with a grain of salt. The importance of the award genuinely goes unquestioned, yet fans, critics and artists typically watch the show from the corner of their eyes. The integrity and merit of the Grammys are contested every year. While the Oscars generally select the best films and artists and almost always nominate a satisfying ensemble, the Grammys disappoint consistently.
Personally, I hate the Grammys. I really thought, and wanted, this column to read like a rant, but when I started researching, I found insufficient evidence to justify my discontentment and snobbery.
The Grammy Awards themselves, like the Oscars, are stratified; some awards are worth more than others. Best New Artist, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year are comparable to film awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and the four Best Actor/Actress prizes.
A quick scroll through the winners of these awards in the past actually surprised me. The academy’s choice for their big four awards were almost always at least plausible.Take for example the award for Album of the Year: Adele’s award in 2012 made sense, just like Outkast’s victory in 2004 for “Speakerboxx/The Love Below,” Paul Simon’s “Graceland” in 1987 or Stevie Wonder’s for “Innervisions” in 1974. Only time can judge Adele, but the other three winners’ legacies have been cemented over the years.
Realizing that my problem wasn’t with the winners, I looked to the nominees. This year, 2-Chainz’s debut, “Based on a T.R.U. Story” is nominated for “Rap Album of the Year.” Ratings website Metacritic, which averages critic’s reviews from across the country, have it an aggregate score of 55/100. HipHopDX, a well-respected online publication, called the album, “bare and buffoonish.”
While 2-Chainz was nominated, Ab Soul’s “#controlsystem,” Big K.R.I.T.’s “Live From The Underground” and Killer Mike’s “R.A.P. Music,” all critically acclaimed, were ignored. Nominating 2-Chainz seems like the movie-equivalent of nominating “The Hobbit” over a small, yet fantastic film such as “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Year in and year out, the Grammy nominees reflect popularity and albums sales. In many cases, some of the best artists, songs and albums aren’t even nominated.
The difference between the Oscars and Grammys lies in contrasts between their nominating processes, academies and goals. The Oscars claim to award excellence in cinema, while the Grammys award achievement in the music industry. Oscars award artistic achievement, Grammys award industry success. The nominations and award winners reflect that vision and I think therein lies my gripe with the Grammys.
As a fan, it bothers me that Killer Mike could never win a Grammy; his album was an artistic achievement, but a commercial flop. On the contrary, 2-Chainz released a generic, albeit gold-certified album and got the nod for Rap Album of the Year.
I don’t care about industry success. I don’t care about sales, executives, A&Rs or professional songwriters, engineers or producers. I care about music, lyrics, creativity, content and honesty. The Grammys award none of these qualities and, as such, I don’t care about the Grammys.