- The emptiest show in town
the Grammys actually honor the best in music from this past
year? Don't hold your breath on this one.
Green Day, led by Billie Joe Armstrong, is nominated for record
of the year, album of the year and best rock album. In 1984,
Prince and the Revolution's Purple Rain faced a stiff challenge
for the album-of-the-year Grammy from Bruce Springsteen's
Born in the U.S.A. So which one won? Why, Lionel Richie's
Can't Slow Down, of course. Qué? Well, that was clearly just
a bizarre and disgusting aberration.
instance, in 2001, Radiohead's brilliant Kid A faced off against
Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP and Beck's highly regarded Midnite
Vultures. The winner? That's right, Steely Dan's Two Against
Nature, the flickering specter of their greatness of 20 years
earlier. Yes, indeed, it's time once again for the Grammys
(Feb. 13) - the most ridiculous and dunderheaded of all the
you know that Jimi Hendrix never won one? Or Led Zeppelin?
Any time the Oscars fête an "Out of Africa" or "A Beautiful
Mind," the Academy Awards look at the Grammys and don't feel
quite so out of touch. Anyway, it's not as if anyone who's
paying attention expects the Recording Academy to make any
sense. What real music fan takes Grammy wins as any indication
most daring works almost never win, with the top awards predictably
going to either the flavor of the month or some once-great
artist now long past it. Besides, what's up with this album
of the year - record of the year - song of the year thing?
How many people understand the difference among those three?
Why was Coldplay's "Clocks" last year's record of the year
but Luther Vandross' "Dance with My Father" song of the year?
But at least the sober professionals of the Recording Academy
recognize greatness over time, don't they?
a career that most music fans agree was pretty good, The Beatles
collected a grand total of four trophies. Elvis Presley, who
also didn't suck, totaled three - all for religious albums.
But Celine Dion has five and Whitney Houston has six. So they
are clearly better than The Beatles and Elvis (although the
Beatles did add three more, including two for videos, 26 years
after they broke up).
of famers Elvis Costello and David Bowie each have a total
of one, as does Nirvana. Michael Bolton, meanwhile, has two.
those to never win a Grammy: Chuck Berry, Queen, Little Richard,
Talking Heads and The Who.
awards have not exactly been the bellwether of enduring talent,
as the dependably embarrassing best-new-artist category demonstrates.
Milli Vanilli, anyone? How about Men at Work, Arrested Development
or Paula Cole?
when they get it right, they get it wrong. In 2001, Nashville
outsider Shelby Lynne picked up the new-artist prize for her
arresting I Am Shelby Lynne album. Apparently the six or so
albums she released before that didn't count.
Grammys routinely award sales and career achievement, consistently
ignoring the challenging and cutting-edge (see Bob Dylan's
Time Out of Mind vs. Radiohead's OK Computer in 1998). It
will soon be seen how many sentimental laurels the torpid
Ray Charles duets collection, Genius Loves Company receives.
perhaps Usher's mega-selling Confessions, Alicia Keys' forgettable
The Diary of Alicia Keys, or Green Day's overrated American
Idiot will rule the day. All that seems certain is that the
winner will be all-but-forgotten soon enough. In the meantime,
Rolling Stone, Vibe, your friends and neighbors and any guy
on the street are better bets to recognize quality music than
the emptiest show in town.
Source: Daily Trojan Online, 10 Feb 2005)