The Grammy Awards were held this weekend. I was going to watch for The Police reunion, but I honestly forgot it was on. I’ve talked about the Grammy’s before, they’re a crock and it is no surprise I forgot because they are no longer relevant.
I read an interesting article about the Dixie Chicks winning a ton of Grammy’s including Country Album of the Year despite the fact that Country radio won’t play them anymore (that’s a topic another post). So you might be inclined to think the Grammy’s are just bucking the trend, finding the most worthy bands out there. Right? Wrong. Essentially the Grammy’s recognize popular and safe artists whose record companies lobby for them to win. The Dixie Chicks’ record label knows that they can achieve more by winning a Grammy and generating a ton of press than bothering to upset the radio stations to give them airplay. It’s the “industry’s” awards show, why wouldn’t they give the awards to themselves? Consider this, when was the last time an artist on a smaller label won a major Grammy? Exactly. The Grammy’s find artists who are the perfect mix of a band that is respected musically but also respected commercially. Bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers (not meant to be a knock on them). Still don’t think the Grammy’s have their favorites? Well then how come Jimmy Sturr has won 16 of the 22 Best Polka Album Grammy’s? I’m sure Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra is an awesome polka band, but could they be THAT much better than everyone else (and that much more prolific?) If so they should just stop with the polka category because its obviously not much of a competition.
Did I really just rant about polka?
Here are some ideas I have to fix the Grammy’s:
- Stop splitting the categories between men and women. I think we’re past the point that men and women need to have separate categories. If you still insist on doing this then split everything up. Best female rap album, best male traditional gospel song, best female metal performance etc. Obviously it sounds stupid, so does Best Female Pop Song.
- Narrow down these categories. Seriously do we need SEVEN different awards for the Gospel category? Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album, Best Southern, Country, Or Bluegrass Gospel Album and Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album are all REAL categories. Other real categories include Best Tropical Latin Album, Best Banda Album, Best Native American Music Album, Best Hawaiian Music Album, Best Spoken Word Album For Children, Best Surround Sound Album, Best Chamber Music Performance and my personal favorite, Best Album Notes. It was exhausting just typing those and there are 90 more categories.
- Get rid of the separate awards for collaborations. We all know it’s the cheapest way to win a Grammy, just ask Santana.
- Instead of looking at only mainstream radio and record sales to input into the nominees what about Independent Radio, College Radio, digital downloads and Satellite Radio? It’s time to expand our palette. You’re pretty much guaranteed that the next time U2 or Mariah Carey or Sheryl Crow release an album they’re going to get at least one nomination.
- Let’s get better performances. Watching the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions are all about seeing bands get back together for an occasion, great sets of music and the “super jam” at the end. The Grammy’s should copy this format to a degree. I think they’re on the right track doing things like featuring the Police reunion, but why not have some mixing and matching up there. I can’t imagine that going to the Grammy’s really is that much fun watching acts like Lionel Ritchie perform and watching the Mr. Grammy guy come out and make a speech.
- Start recognizing the things fans care about and not these arcane categories. I was happy to see they added a Best Remixed Recording category, but what about best Remixed Album or even a Best Mashup? I’d also like to see more emphasis put on things that actually push the industry. Awarding Grammy’s to artists who push the envelope for the music video would help bring it back as an art form and not just a marketing medium. Also, there should be rewards for things like live concert DVD’s, music documentaries, stage productions and lighting work. These are the things that the modern music fans care about. We don’t really need 10 classical awards and 7 Latin Awards. That is why you have the Latin Grammy’s and the Classical Grammy’s. Or at least why we should have the Classical Grammy’s.
Let me know what you think. And if you know anyone in the Recording Industry of America let THEM know you think. Either way, just stop watching these award shows to let you know what you should be listening to. All you need is Hops!