Trying To Get To You

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Grammy Awards Bullshit Part 2174

One Monday night in February of 1985 I was watching the Grammy Awards at home. I was up past my bedtime, but I couldn't go to sleep without finding who won the Album of the Year award. It was Born In The U.S.A. versus Purple Rain, with Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down in the mix, along with two other albums I don't remember. I was rooting hard for Bruce, but I told myself that if Prince won, it'd be well deserved - Purple Rain was great and how could I argue if it won? But I knew it'd be either one of those two.

"And the winner is...Lionel Richie for Can't Slow Down!"

I exploded. I threw something at the TV, and started yelling and cursing at the screen, disgusted that Lionel Richie, who in my view was vapid and bland, could beat Springsteen and Prince. Where was the justice? Were these voters stupid or something? (I woke up my Dad with my commotion, who groggily and forcefully inquired as to what the hell was going on.)

That was my introduction to the wisdom of the Grammy Awards.

Today I'm reminded of that night almost 23 years ago, as Springsteen's Magic, easily one of the best albums of the year, was looked over for Album of the Year honors. Instead, we have nods going to Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, Vince Gill, Herbie Hancock and the Foo Fighers. I personally have no issue with the Kanye and Amy nominations; I was expecting those. And I honestly haven't heard the Vince Gill or Herbie Hancock albums. But the Foo Fighters album? Are you kidding me? I like Dave Grohl and all, but if there's been a more harmless body of work in the last 10 plus years, I'd be hard pressed to name it.

Here's the question. Why do I even care? Why is it important to me that a great work be recognized as such? Everyone knows the Grammy Awards are meaningless, right? Remember, this is the awards body that gave Jethro Tull a Best Metal award instead of Metallica in '89. Best New Artist to Milli Vanilli. Etc., etc.

So why do I care? I guess the first reason is because I love Magic and want Bruce to finally win an Album Of The Year award, just like I wanted Marty Scorcese to win a Best Director Oscar and was thrilled when he did. But even more that that, I suppose that I want great work to be recognized as great work. I was happy when Dylan's Time Out Of Mind and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill won the best album Grammy because for a moment, it felt like there was a little justice in the world. I know I'm making more of this than I need to - there are few things more meaningless than the Grammy Awards, but I can't help but feel like this is the bullshit icing on top of a very bad cake.

PS: The Arcade Fire should have gotten a Best Album Nomination too.


Unknown said...

Once again, I agree with everything you're saying (except the Amy Winehouse, I've never been feeling that). Right on the money regarding the Foo Fighters. I can't really think of another band that has put out so much decent, kinda likeable rock that fails to register so completely on any lasting level.

I looked up the 1985 grammy noms (was that the one where Bruce was in the bolo tie looking so uncomfortably out of place?) and they were Bruce, Prince, Cindy Lauper, Tina Turner and Lionel Richie. That's got to be (by far) the best combination of art and commerce the grammys have ever come up with. I didn't even think Lionel was that horrible back then (though he would finish 5th on my list of the nominated albums).

Ben Lazar said...

The '85 Grammys were indeed the one where Bruce was in the bolo tie looking very out of place. He brought his mom as his date.

Unknown said...

Well, he certainly learned to where the bolo much more comfortably a couple years later on the cover of Tunnel. Musta been Julianne's influence.

On an almost completely unrelated note, I feel the need to give a plug to Marah's christmas/holiday show this Saturday at the Bowery. I'm not affiliated with the band at all, and I don't know that you've ever written about them (though I'm sure you're aware of them), but this really is a great show (have you seen them live?) If not, it really is a fantastic show that completely meets the definition of soulful rock music, imho.

Unknown said...

Heh. Winning a Grammy Award is an excellent stepping stone to becoming a lounge lizard in a sleazy nightclub on the Las Vegas Strip.

Anonymous said...

Y'know, the amazing thing about the '85 Grammys is that you could make a case that there was never another year when there were two albums nominated that were as good as Purple Rain and Born in the USA. That matchup is to 80's music what Lakers-Celtics was to 80's basketball. On top of that, the Tina Turner and Cindy Lauper albums that were nominated (the ones with "What's Love Got to Do With It" and "Girl's Just Wanna Have Fun"/"Time After Time", respectively) are probably better than the majority of the albums that have ever won the best album grammy. In short, the Grammy voters had, for once, an 80 percent chance not to completely humiliate themselves, and they still screwed it up. Lionel Richie. Good God.

HippieGirl said...

The Foo Fighters suck! I hate watching those award shows cuz they always vote for the crappy artists. The only REAL reason I watched the 2011 Grammys this year is because Mick Jagger was there. Normally I don't watch this one cuz of all the stinky artists, but this year I just had to watch it, I'm a big Stones fan and I just had to see Mick getting an award