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Well yesterday another Grammy award show came and went. I didn't even watch this year. Normally I watch just for the live performances, or at least the few that actually interest me... the awards themselves just don't draw my attention. This year it seems more than a few artists who probably should have been acknowledged, were not, which seemed to upset some people. It didn't really bother me, perhaps because I rarely agree with the nominations, especially those for Album of the Year and some of the bigger categories. This year instead of watching them, I got to thinking about what relevance the Grammys and in fact any music awards actually have in the modern music scene and industry.
I've never really been one for award shows. The massive Hollywood hoopla in no way interests me and the awards themselves, perhaps because I've felt there have been so many bad choices over the years, have become pretty worthless in my mind as well. That kind of recognition just doesn't mean anything in terms of what I'm interested in. When it comes to music, there have been plenty of albums I thought should win over the years, but probably none that were added after they won that Grammy, or were nominated. The nominations or the Grammy wins just doesn't weigh much in my mind. I don't think that whatever "those people" decide is the album of the year, or the best rock album etc, means anything. And how could it? Music is such a subjective genre of art that one person's winner might be another person's garbage.
Apparently I'm not the only one to feel this way as I've read more than a few comments on other sites and it seems the music loving masses think there were more than a few artists left off the bill this year and the awards are a joke in terms of actual musical quality.
There was a time when that wasn't as much the case and the events that transpired at the Grammy Awards were a good indication of how the music scene was progressing. Over the years there have been some great performances (one of a kind performances/collaborations) and many new artists have gained a lot of recognition from Grammy nominations or wins. In the age of the Internet though, independent bands and a music industry that is shifting away from widespread celebrity, that just isn't the case anymore. Add in the facts that there have been a number of poor choices over the years to degrade their respectability, and you have an outdated award that exists more so for ceremony than for actual honor or acknowledgment of musical talent.
Does this mean that eventually the Grammys will be a thing of the past? Or is that even true? Maybe the Grammys are just as cutting edge and about the music as ever?
I don't know about anyone else, but it sure does seem like the time when the Grammys were relevant has long since passed. The Grammys seem slightly behind the times and catering to the mainstream public, as opposed to the true music aficionados and in my opinion it has gotten worse recently. In terms of business, this makes sense (I always wondered how much album sales effect the nominations) as catering to the mainstream will probably sell the most advertising and albums. In terms of giving out awards that are relevant to the scene, represent true musical quality and actually mean something though, they're not cutting it and this is further degrading their reputation in my mind.
Although there is still the remaining prestige that comes with winning one, the music industry is becoming more and more independent and more and more artists are going unrecognized, decreasing that prestige every day. I think steps need to be taken to make better choices in nominations and acknowledge a wider swatch of artists to resurrect the Grammys from remaining just a joke. There have been some steps in the right direction (wasn't there an award for the best band on the internet/myspace? Or was it online voting that only sort of effected the outcome? ... I don't remember), but I don't know if it's going to be enough.
The music industry is changing and recognition in the form of a highly recognized award seems outdated now that the people can easily choose such a wide variety of music through the use of the Internet. I think that Internet voting contests are a far better gage of musical quality (although not always as some horrific artists have gotten tons of votes in the past... horrific to me at least), because the large numbers of voters can provide a better sample of what people are actually listening to. Even that is flawed because of subjectivity though, and so it seems that in terms of music, the best option is to eliminate widespread awards all together and let the people choose who they like, who they want to support and who they want to listen to.
Luckily the Internet again lets people do this with ease meaning hypothetically there might eventually be no more Grammy awards (at least in the form we recognize them today). I don't think that'd going to happen any time soon though as I think tradition and an ignorant recording industry alone would be enough to keep the awards alive. If the artists and the music buying public doesn't think they're worth all that much then they might be forced into eliminating them sooner than they'd like though... assuming they listen to what people are saying.
Personally, I'm already at the point where it's irrelevant in my mind what happens on Grammy night. If there's a good performance or two, then I might watch next year... emphasis on might... and I'll probably change the channel immediately afterwards and probably during the actual awards as well. Maybe I'll be missing out, but I doubt it. I know good music when I hear it, I don't need awards to confirm that in my mind.
I don't mean to downplay or take a shot at the artists that won this year or any years in the past. I'm sure they were thrilled to win and I congratulate them on that win, it just doesn't seem to have any relevance in terms of the actual music though. Also, I certainly don't mean to imply anything negative about people who love the Grammys either, these are just my opinions as always, and to each their own.
In fact, I thought this was a good topic to start a poll about and see what people think. Maybe I'm in the minority here and everyone else there loves the Grammys and thinks I'm crazy thinking they're a thing of the past. Or maybe the people will speak and they really will be a thing of the past sooner than we think... who knows, but take a second to two to vote in the poll (in the sidebar to the right) as I'm curious to see what people out there are thinking.