The media is a tool used to instruct the masses on what to like and what should be popular. The Grammy’s is one of their many enablers. Rather than a celebration of talent, hard work, and musical artistry, the Grammy’s is an ongoing advertisement, disguised in the form of a live, mixed genre concert. It’s the fast food of the music industry, stuffed with over-produced and unfulfilling garbage, packaged in a flashy show of lights and sounds, and consumed by the masses. With the persuasion of the media determining trends and popularity, the fate of the nominees and award winners has already been sealed.
Despite my cynicism, I did tune in Sunday evening, in my most mocking disposition. Surprisingly, I realized that the number of musical performances outweighed the amount of awards given out almost 2 to 1. For a 3 ½ hour show, only a total of ten awards were presented, further proving the exercise of media exploiting power masked by sparkling lights, colorful costumes, and far too often, mediocre talent.
Kelly Clarkson’s powerful tribute to Patty Page and Carole King was a highlight of the evening, and perfect demonstration that flashy production is unnecessary. Clarkson’s music is not a favorite of everyone, but that doesn’t retract from her immense musical gift. She filled the room with her commanding vocals, accompanied only by piano, guitar, and enough lighting to illuminate the small stage surrounding her.
Further facilitating the merry-go-round of influence and control, the Recording Academy only considers music popularized by media persuasion to be worthy of their recognition. Radio declared “We Are Young,” by indie pop band Fun., the song to shove down the throats of the masses in 2012, ensuring it’s win as “Song of the Year.” Does this make the song’s recognition upon its original release in 2011 less worthy? Fun. also claimed the Grammy for “Best New Artist,” but new artist according to whom? The band formed in 2008, while The Lumineers, their competition in the same category, has been making music together since three years prior, in 2005. Why is it the decision of the Recording Academy, media, and pop culture in general, that these artists are now worthy of our acknowledgment?
You can call me a hipster if you want. If that’s the term we’ve coined to define someone with a profound love and connection to music beyond the gold dollar signs stamped flashily across most of it, then I wear the label proudly. I’m not interested in embellishment. Quality music, of ANY genre, stands on its own, without the need for the elaborate extras it’s so often accompanied by. My intimate connection is to the music, and I don’t believe we need to be told by the media, or anyone else, what’s worthy of our ears.