Monday, February 11, 2013

Grammyphobe

I'm not one for awards shows. I mean, I have a latent interest in who eventually wins the big awards, such as Best Picture or Best Sitcom or whatever, but I'm certainly not going to sit through four hours of awards show nonsense to find out. The performances usually aren't that good, you have to sit through a lot of awkward and appalling speeches, and three-fourths of the stuff being awarded or performed I have no interest in. None of the major awards shows--Emmys, Grammys, Tonys, or Oscars--hold enough diverse interest for me to really care all that much.

That said, I really, really dislike the Grammys. I don't know why, although I have a pretty good idea. For the Emmys and the Oscars (I know literally nothing about the Tonys, so let's just pretend they don't exist), there is a limited pool of candidates. There's only about a 120 movies released each year that get nationwide releases, plus probably only a few dozen more that get smaller, limited releases (plus the various foreign film/short subject/etc. that no one outside of a few offices in New York and Los Angeles could conceivably have ever heard of). Sure, you probably haven't seen the dreadful critically acclaimed list of Best Picture nominees, but you've probably at least heard of most of them. And chances are you know who all the actors and actresses are. Same goes for television: chances are you are at least familiar with everything and everyone even if you haven't seen them. In either case, while you may not be in a position to know who should win, you can at least relate to a vast majority of what is going on.

Not necessarily so with the Grammys, however. Music is so diverse with such a wide range of artists it is very difficult to follow. If a TV show is a comedy exactly what that entails is usually pretty simple, but what constitutes "Rock" or "R&B" is a pretty wide spectrum of content. Plus both popular music and critically acclaimed music are (generally) niche pockets of popularity--a reasonably small sliver of the population knows the hot new things and an even smaller sliver of the population knows the obscure blues artist that the critics adore. No one had ever heard of, say, Mumford and Sons until they showed up at last year's Grammys. Add to this the obscure categories--I know there is a difference between "Album of the Year" and "Record of the Year," but no one has told me why--and it becomes difficult to care. Contrast this to the Oscars and Emmys where, while there are plenty of technical awards, you at least have a general idea of what it is they are awarding. Not so with "Best R&B Performance," "Best Traditional R&B Performance," "Best R&B Song," and "Best Urban Contemporary Album."

There are too many awards--and yet at the same time these awards have embarrassingly diverse styles as to be impossible to decipher. It's almost as if they are working hard to be meaningless. And while, in toto, they generally get things right, it just seems like the entire enterprise is useless. And, yes, the performances can be great, but there's this thing called YouTube where I don't have to listen to awkwardly read statements as acceptance speeches. I will pass.

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