45th annual Grammy Awards are coming up this Sunday, something
I'd normally have at least a passing interest in as a
music fan. True, I have never actually come away from
a Grammy broadcast thinking it was worthwhile, but you
can count on a few pleasant surprises, like the token
nominations and awards for Beck and Radiohead.
But this year was marked as the last straw before the
awards were even broadcast. I took one look at the list
of nominees and immediately decided to boycott. I can
even sum up my new loathing of the awards in two points:
1. Avril Lavigne is up for five Grammys.
2. Wilco are up for none.
At this point, you have all the info you need. You may
choose to stop reading (I very nearly stopped writing),
or you may continue and allow me to expand upon my disgust.
It may seem extreme to boycott the Grammys based on those
two points. As horrible as that situation may be, it's
only one of the esteemed National Academy of Recording
Arts and Sciences' many, many terrible decisions. But
I think it's the first that's been so bad and so symbolic
as to make me realize everything I truly hate about these
and foremost, you would want and expect an awards show
to honor quality in it's field. And if they can't judge
artistic merit, the committee can at least represent what
music was popular and important in a given year. This
must be deceptively simple, because the Grammys manage
to fail at both, picking the worst music to nominate,
and giving out awards that seem dated and embarassing
five years down the line, if not the Tuesday after the
Let's highlight that Avril/Wilco deal. Yes, Avril Lavigne
is one of the bigger new pop tarts out there, but that's
not justification for a Grammy. You wouldn't go around
giving awards to, say, the Backstreet Boys or Britney
Spears (both who have received nominations but no awards
thank God for small miracles.) But, as many records
as they may sell, I haven't seen many critics extolling
the virtues of "Sk8r Boi", which somehow got
a nod for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
Avril is up for five awards. Yet Wilco's "Yankee
Hotel Foxtrot", which is, without exaggeration, the
strongest candidate for most loved record of the year
by critics everywhere, is totally snubbed out. While not
a sales juggernaut, it was on the radar, from VH1 and
Rolling Stone down to tons of indie publications. Would
it have killed Sting to lose one of his nominations to
let someone current get a nod?
The Grammys have never been hip to what critics were listening
to (it took several years them to even acknowledge popular
music and award a rock record "Album of the Year"),
but this year is particularly bad. Aside from the token
nomination, critics' favorites are ignored. And forget
music hipsters - the Grammys don't even care enough to
crack open a Rolling Stone that came out before 1982 to
see what music is hitting the scene.
Speaking of outdated artists polluting the nominees sheet
the "Best Male Rock Vocal Performance"
shows this sickness more than anything else. As much as
I love some of these artists, we did not need a category
comprised of David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Peter Gabriel,
Robert Plant, and Bruce Springsteen in 2003. This blatant
inability to get with the times is one of the hardest
things to deal with when it comes to the Grammys.
Then again, the Grammys have never been known for their
great, hip decisions. Jethro Tull's victory over Metallica
for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance is the stuff of legend.
But when you take into consideration some of the past
"Album of the Year" recipients (Tony Bennett
Unplugged in 1994, a Bob Newhart comedy album in the show's
second year, Steely Day two years ago, Toto in 1982),
this year's field consisting of the Dixie Chicks, Eminem,
Nelly, Norah Jones, and Bruce Springsteen almost seems...
no, it still sounds horrible.
There are a million other tangents I could go off on,
but I'd have to revise the article the night after the
show and add in the newest wave of stupidity. I do have
to say, though, that the nomination of Bowling For Soup's
"Girl All The Bad Guys Want", which includes
the line "I wanna be sedated/All I wanted was to
see her naked" deserves a mention, win or not. It's
the first song I've ever downloaded on MP3 and deleted
without finishing at least once.
Let me sum up how the Grammys are going to go for you:
the nominees are particularly weak this year, and the
wrong people will win 95% of the awards. The choices will
be mocked endlessly in coming years, and chances are great
that Avril will win at least one.
Go listen to your favorite albums-of-the-year instead
of watching the Grammys honor people who haven't released
relevant music in decades. You will save yourself a few
hours and maybe cost them a few points in the ratings.
Pangonis is a volunteer staff writer for 2 Walls Webzine.)