Regardless, the Grammys are this upcoming Sunday, and I bet that you won’t be watching. Here’s why:
1. The confusing eligibility period leaves out deserving artists
The category: “Album of the Year.” The nominees: Arcade Fire, Eminem, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. I’m going to ignore the fact that I disagree with three-fifths of the nominees (I love me some Lady Gaga and Arcade Fire). But why the hell is Gaga nominated for an album (The Fame Monster) that came out in November of 2009? And, more importantly, why is the album that was obviously the favorite of the year — Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy — not included at all? Kanye’s only nomination is for summertime single, “Power” (for “Best Rap Solo Performance”).
The perpetrator? The awards show’s absurd eligibility period. Any album that’s released in October or later does not qualify for the year it actually came out, but instead gets included in the following year’s ceremony. For a category called “Album of the Year,” you’d think the qualifications would be a lot simpler (the Oscars handle January to December just fine). Maybe if the Grammys changed the eligibility period, they could finally keep up with the fast pace in which we consume music. Maybe the top award would even be halfway relevant.
2. New artists aren’t new
While “Best New Artist” nominees Justin Bieber, Drake, Mumford and Sons and Esperanza Spalding all had their debut LPs come out during the eligibility period, Florence and the Machine’s Lungs came out in July 2009. Here, the Grammys have taken their obtuse rules and bent them even further. Florence is no new artist — even if your recent discovery of the singer through the “Eat Pray Love” soundtrack had you thinking otherwise.
3. Album sales beat critics
I get it — people hate critics. Most are elitist music snobs. And I’d agree that the populist tendencies of the Grammys to favor album sales and public appeal over year-end lists is totally admirable. But shit, you’ve got to have some standards! So many great albums are left out, while even more mediocre ones are awarded (the Black Eyed Peas have won six Grammys. Seriously.). Katy Perry, an artist more indebted to her singles than her LPs as a whole, is nominated for the big award, while Big Boi’s brilliant Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty was even left out of the rap category.
Grammy voters seem to go so far out of their way to create an appealingly diverse show that they stray from the whole point of their endeavor: to acknowledge the best music of the year.
So if you want to listen to some over-drawn performances and watch Arcade Fire lose Album of the Year to Eminem, go ahead — watch the Grammys. The spectacle might be entertaining. But then again, you also may have just as much fun admiring whatever monstrosity Lady Gaga shows up in on Perez Hilton. Take your pick.