This piece originally published in PLU’s student newspaper, The Mast
JEFF DUNN; LASR General Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
As a rule, I don’t watch the Grammys. Never mind that I don’t have cable; even if Comcast wasn’t the devil, I’d still find something better to do with my two and a half hours than watch meaningless awards be handed out to the wrong artists.
What’s amazing is that my disgust at the Grammys doesn’t stem from general disgust of pop music. Believe it or not, there were some great pop and hip-hop albums this year, but for a host of reasons I knew they wouldn’t receive awards on February 12.
Beyonce’s “Lemonade” losing to Adele’s “25” for Album of the Year is by far my biggest peeve with this year’s ceremony. “25” is a vastly inferior album to “Lemonade.” We all know that. Anyone with ears knows that. Even Adele knows that: “What the fuck does Beyonce have to do to win Album of the Year?” she asked in the Grammys press room. Pitchfork gave “Lemonade” an 8.5/10, while “25” got only a 7.3.
“But Jeff! ‘25’ sold better in the United States! Adele sold nearly nine times as many albums than Beyonce this year!” You’re right, conveniently contrary writing device, but the Grammys isn’t a popularity contest.
According to their guidebook, the academy members are required to vote based upon the quality of the work. Their decisions can not to be influenced by sales, chart performance, friendships, regional preferences or company loyalty. Based solely on critical acclaim, “Lemonade” is leaps and bounds ahead of “25.”
Besides Beyonce getting snuffed for what feels like the millionth time, the Grammys voting committee proved their noncompliance with their own guidebook further by awarding Chance the Rapper “Best New Artist.”
Excuse me, new? “Acid Rap” came out in 2013, y’all, I’ve been listening to that album since before I came to college.
I know, I know, you have to sell your album to catch the Grammy, and “Acid Rap” was available for free via Soundcloud. But therein lies my main issue with the Grammys: selling music. If music is art, and art is a true expression of some honest message to share with the world, why should we sully that pure vision by remixing it so it’ll sell well? Frank Ocean abstained from entering “Blonde,” his highly acclaimed 2016 release, in any category at the Grammys. In a blog post on his Tumblr, Ocean wrote (in all caps) he would’ve liked to participate to honor Prince, but decided the best way to do that was to continue being successful without the awards ceremony:
“Winning a TV award doesn’t christen me successful. It took me some time to learn that. I bought all my masters back last year in the prime of my career, that’s successful. ‘Blonde’ sold a million plus without a label, that’s successful […] Use the old gramophone to actually listen bro, I’m one of the best alive. And if you’re up for a discussion about the cultural bias and general nerve damage the show you produce suffers from then I’m all for it.” Try listening to something that definitely won’t win a Grammy. Listen to something released for free. Listen to something that a Facebook friend from your hometown recorded in their basement and released on Soundcloud or Bandcamp. If you’ve gotta listen to pop music, just pirate it. I promise, Adele won’t miss the $10.99 you were gonna pay on iTunes for “25.” Her record company might, though.