Though my heart lies in filmmaking, I also hold a strong passion for music. People who have lived with me can probably attest to the fact that it is a rare occasion to not hear some type of music coming from my room when I am present. Music is one of the rare arts that can singlehandedly alter one’s mood in a matter of minutes. And for nearly every daily occurrence and emotion, there is a song that can accompany and strengthen your experience. Finally (as documented by several songs themselves) music can act as a time machine, transporting us back to the time we first heard it and all of the things that were going on with us at that time.
That being said, I find it peculiar that the Grammy’s are not that seen as that big of a deal. Maybe they are, and I’m just oblivious to the interest’s of the public, but it seems like there is minimal interest in this award show. This seems strange since, well, everybody likes music.
Maybe it’s just the sheer amount of music to be discovered in the world. A common criticism of the Grammy’s is the impossibility of being capable of having the time to listen every recorded song released over the course of a year. My theory, however, matches the criticism of several musicians who feel the Grammy’s are overwhelmingly biased towards the wishes of the music industry. Eddie Vedder, upon winning a Grammy in 1996 with Pearl Jam, said in his acceptance speech “I don’t know what this means. I don’t think it means anything.” It’s the corporations, man!
In comparison to the Academy Awards, which seem show at least a semblance of celebration of the artistic and creative aspect of the art, the Grammy’s seem to simply hand awards to anyone who has enjoyed hearing their song on the radio eighty-six times a day for the past nine months. For example, this year the nominations for the Best Picture Oscar include a silent black and white film (The Artist), a strikingly non-narrative abstract piece (The Tree of Life), and a fantasy that celebrates the birth of filmmaking (Hugo). The Grammy’s, on the other hand, do not stray even one foot from the mainstream when it comes to their Album of the Year award ( Adele, Foo Fighters, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, and Rihanna).
If the Academy Awards were more like the Grammy’s, it seems like the nominees for Best Picture would include Twighlight, Harry Potter, Transformers, The Hangover 2, and Mission Impossible. The purpose of these films all stemmed from the pursuit of money. When the filmmakers behind the three Best Picture nominees mentioned above sat down to make their films, I doubt any of them said “oh boy, we are going to make so much money off of this.” I mean, Sean Penn wordlessly wandering around an empty desert chasing his childhood figure in search of emotional closure from his younger brother’s death (Tree of Life)? How can the general public POSSIBLY resist that?
Part of the problem lies in the manner in which a lack of industry recognition is treated like a badge of honor, whether it be on a musician or simply a fan. As any hipster will be anxious to demonstrate, telling someone the name of a band and them saying they have never heard of them, is THE BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD because it makes them superior over everybody. “You’ve never heard of Indigo Flavored Orchids?! Hahaha, you really suck.” And, any band that used to be independent of the industry that has their song played on popular radio is immediately ostracized.
My criticism of the Grammy awards is that it seems to reward musicians for the wrong reasons, mainly record sales and overall popularity. Yes, being universally enjoyed is quite a feat, but does Katy Perry really need a trophy just because her simple songs are easy to chew gum along to? Honestly, does her music serve any other purpose? Why reward musicians whose sole purpose is record sales and not artistic creativity? Can’t their platinum records and thousands of screaming fans be enough recognition?
Alas, I can rest assured that the musicians truly caring about creativity could not care less about receiving a trophy. So, I guess we can keep letting all the good looking people dress up and feel good about themselves. But if I have to hear Party Rock Anthem ONE MORE TIME….