Award nominations neglect worthy rock and alternative musicians
On Dec. 7, a crime against music, particularly rock and alternative, was committed: the Grammy Award nominations were announced.
Unfortunately, over the years, the criteria for being regarded as a talented musician has switched from actual musical talent to how much publicity one artist can obtain from the public.
Sure, the nominations do include some excellent musicians; the legendary Ray Charles, Björk and PJ Harvey all received at least one nomination. However, what's disheartening is the fact that Green Day, who sounds like every other single "mall-punk" band, received more acknowledgment than both Björk and Harvey and only one nod less than Charles.
What makes artists such as Harvey, Björk and Charles more qualified for awards than musicians such as Green Day is that these great artists don't all fall into one genre. Harvey's past works have refaced women's rock with strong lyrics and an even stronger voice. Björk reinvents her sound with each record, and her latest work is a boundlessly creative compilation of a cappella vocals.
Finally, Charles always worked to strengthen his music, making him one of the most influential artists who continues to inspire musicians. He has 12 Grammys he won over his career to show for his effort.
Green Day somehow won a Grammy back in 1994 for their CD "Dookie" and since then have only repeated themselves. On "Dookie," the band sings of angst for the sake of sounding sad and misunderstood in songs like "Basket Case": "Do you have the time / to listen to me whine / About nothing and everything/ All at once." Like a broken record, they repeat themselves on "American Idiot" with lyrics in their title track as follows: "Everything isn't meant to be okay/ Television dreams of tomorrow"; the same superficial rebellion comes through again and again.
It's rather hypocritical for Green Day to complain about big-business corporations, when MTV and just about every other music channel constantly plays their music and helps them receive more fame. Green Day owes their success to the airtime they receive and their anti-George W. Bush image (the CD's title is a reference to him), which is really not so new in the almost completely liberal entertainment industry. Basically, Green Day proves that image alone can get music playtime, support and respect from the general public.
The ridiculous nominations don't end with Green Day. The Killers, whose "Best Rock Song"-nominated track "Somebody Told Me" has such laughably juvenile lyrics as "Well, somebody told me/ You had a boyfriend/ Who looks like a girlfriend/ That I had in February of last year." These sort of lyrics are as muddled as their instrumental track, which sounds like The Strokes, not a compliment.
Apparently, the nominating committee didn't get the memo that dime-a-dozen hipster bands are more suited for mockery rather than praise and went on to nominate The Killers' "Hot Fuss" (aka "Somebody Told Me: The Extended Version") for a "Best Rock Record" award. Like Green Day, The Killers have managed to obtain guest performances on trendy shows such as The OC and so are able to get away with their typical hipster rock sound and find lots of success.
Then there's Modest Mouse. Actually, Modest Mouse was an excellent band, but seeing their worst record to date, "Good News For People Who Love Bad News," receive the nominations that their past albums deserved much more was discouraging. Maybe the committee was swayed by those singing animated sheep in the "Float On" music video, or more likely, they just don't realize that "Good News" lacks the varied tracks and great lyrics Modest Mouse had on their past works. For example, on "Good News"' "Devil's Workday," the lyrics "All the people that you know/ All the people that you know/ All the people that you know, floatin' in the river are logs" are repeated over and over again to the point of extreme annoyance.
Franz Ferdinand is another band nominated in the rock and alternative music categories. While their self-titled debut record is danceable and fun, it isn't Grammy worthy. It's also rather ironic that one of the album's weakest songs, "Take Me Out," is nominated for "Best Rock Song," whereas Franz Ferdinand's other single, "Dark of the Matinée," is way better both for its vocals and composition.
Back in February of 2004, Franz Ferdinand was more enjoyable to listen to because they were a fun, silly band. Then came the MTV effect, and suddenly the public was over-hyping Franz Ferdinand as some sort of rock & roll saviors and not the simplistic but fun band they really are. Simple bands are to be enjoyed with a grain of salt, not a seriousness that gives them prizes right and left.
The real alternative
There are those who would argue that the period between October 2003 through September 2004 (the time span when records must have been released by in order to be considered for a Grammy nomination) simply didn't have noteworthy albums. This isn't the case at all. Many bands released many better works in rock and alternative rock. TV on the Radio's "Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes" is an incredibly well-done fusion of jazz and indie rock, Interpol's "Antics" is a worthy collection of their crafty post-punk style and The Secret Machines' "Now Here Is Nowhere" is a well-executed sort of garage-rock twist on Radiohead's "Kid A."
Not only were great rock musicians snubbed; one other contemporary folk CD that was not nominated comes to mind: the posthumous collection of rare B-sides and studio cuts of Nick Drake's album "Made To Love Magic." Sure, he has one track on the Grammy-nominated "Garden State" soundtrack, yes, the movie was okay, but it is too bad the rest of that album is overrun with bands as bad as The Postal Service, or as they would rather be referred to, "the electro-pop group that has feelings too." Drake deserves to be acknowledged as the superb musician he was, not a fraction of an otherwise bland soundtrack. Additionally, an extended reissue of Jeff Buckley's "Grace" was also not given a single nomination, despite being one of the landmark records of the 1990s.
Music should be represented far better at the Grammy awards than it has been this year. With each award ceremony, more and more undeserving artists walk off the stage with the golden phonograph. The unqualified recipients progressively cause the honor and dignity of the Grammy award to fade. Really, come on, Grammy committee, don't you feel bad enough that you gave Milli Vanilli a Grammy? Don't let that sort of history continue to repeat itself.
Emma Zachurski. Emma has lead a bohemian lifestyle ever since her birth to an eccentric pair of a journalist and an artist. She is now currently a senior and looks forward to another great year with Silver Chips Online! Her spare time is best spent listening to ... More »