Another awards season is upon us: the Golden Globes, the Grammys, the Oscars. Everyone is abuzz about who will win. I say, “Who cares?”
Don’t get me wrong. Masterful achievements of any kind should be recognized. But these “love fests” are so blatantly political and, in the end, commercial that it negates any appeciation for artistic value that may reside in the award.
As a musician, I am particularly offended by the Grammys. They really have nothing to do with the artistic quality and value of the music and everything to do with commercialism.
Blatant examples are rap, hip-hop and the pre-pubescent girl and boy bands, with their unmistakable messages of sexuality, violence and instant gratification. This is nothing but aural pornography. Our youth are constantly being barraged with messages that show no regard for basic moral values, in fact, glorifying the narcissistic attitudes of popular culture. Consider the music videos with their bevies of buxom beauties and bountiful buttocks, dancing wildly and suggestively to the degenerate, inane lyrics. Why don’t they take the logical next step and dance about naked? Think how many records that would sell!
The lowest common denominator in society is all that commercialism aspires to in its insatiable quest for economic success, the criteria on which most “excellence” is based today. Of course excellence is a subjective judgement, but when the pool of experience one uses to base such judgements on is so shallow and polluted, the opinion must be suspect.
Music, by its very nature, is experienced through the sense of hearing. It has been denigrated by commercially motivated artists and producers, indeed, the entire music industry. MTV and its offspring have hastened popular music on its downhill slide. What is the purpose of this puerile propaganda? It sells. When will people realize that their tastes are being manipulated? Never. Not as long as the level of willful ignorance is maintained by those in the industry responsible for putting it on the market. Youth does not have the experience to make intelligent decisions, especially not when they have been force-fed the pablum that passes for “good” music these days. The Grammy Awards reinforce this idea. The videos and live segments presented as music are very disheartening for a musician who has spent their entire life honing their craft (and not gotten filthy rich), solely for the love of music, not infantile titillation.
I am reminded of an experience I had in a blues club tears ago. A guitarist was playing while doing a “bar walk”, playing whilst wandering amongst the adoring throng. At one point, he got upstairs and balanced precariously on the balcony rail, all the while playing some of the most god-awful stuff imaginable. If this had been the circus you could have appreciated his act more. A drunken reveler turned to me and slurred, “Man, that’s the greatest guitarist I ever heard”. I rest my case.