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The Grammys: Not Everyone's Forte

I feel obligated to start this article with a preface. All music is subjective; everyone’s tastes are different, and I urge you from the bottom of my heart to support your favorite artists. On the same note, don’t be afraid to break out of your box and look for new and upcoming artists. There’s plenty of good stuff out there just waiting to be discovered.

Preface over, I can only describe the Grammy awards as over-commercialised and hard to watch. From rushed, underwhelming performances, continual technical failures, and the same face winning almost every award, there’s not much that can’t be foreseen. A Twitter user wrote this prediction before the show started: “Someone who didn't watch the Grammys can summarize the show: Taylor Swift, Uptown Funk, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift.” After watching the Grammy’s, I found they guessed correctly.

I really enjoyed the tribute performances to the recently passed Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister of Mӧtorhead by The Hollywood Vampires, as well as Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie. Speaking on the latter, many people found it was overly-enthusiastic, rushed and poorly done, especially Duncan Jones, son of David Bowie. I personally didn’t care for her showmanship, or the large ‘PRESENTED BY INTEL™’ plastered everywhere, as it took away the meaning behind the performance, but she had good intentions. She even got a tattoo of one of Bowie’s characters, Aladdin Sane, the day before.

According to CBS, this year’s viewer turnout was the lowest they had since 2009, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this style of award show goes out of style in the near future. Unlike the Oscars, which showcases achievements in movies and those that work on them, the Grammys is just a means of self-promotion for the dying “big-music” industry. In today’s age, also unlike movies, self-producing musicians and fair, independent record labels are abundant, so there’s less of a reason to deal with the large music industry anymore. The downward spiral of the music industry has been going on for a while now, and I think that it’s hanging on by it’s last threads.

At the recent SXSW music festival, Tony Visconti, friend and producer of David Bowie, gave a speech about the same topic, calling himself “The Ghost of Christmas Future.” Visconti said “I think we're living in a time when formulas are being repeated more than they ever were in the past... I didn't want to come out here saying this stuff, swinging two fists in the air. If this was really working, record sales would be going through the roof.”

To finish up with the Grammys specifically,  a listener-elected music award show would be much more entertaining and informative to watch. This is especially apparent for those who follow music news and would love to see less established musicians being spotlighted for a new year. Paraphrasing Eddie Vedder in his infamous acceptance speech of 1996, it really doesn’t mean anything to win a Grammy. In fact many artists and groups including Trent Reznor, Will Smith, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Flying Lotus, The Silversun Pickups, and Kanye West have been historically against the Grammys, some even refusing the award. They feel that the Grammys discriminate against new and upcoming artists and don’t represent all genres of music effectively. Overall, I give the 2016 Grammy Award show a 2/10, and I wish in the future to see a more professional show with fresh faces to represent the music industry.


Jack Ring

April, 2016