All of life’s stories have a point of commonality at the start. Everything ultimately begins and ends with the same point, a singularity for which even time and space cedes authority to. Forget the research of the talented men and women at CERN, I know the force that holds the universe together and I’m willing to give it away for free. It’s not money, or power, but instead the opinions of one hip hop artist. Cody Atkinson gently implores you to read on below.
So Kanye West did a thing again, right? Yep, he did the thing that he is perhaps best at...
Releasing a killer album? No...
Dropping a mixtape? Nope...
Marrying a Kardashian? Nada...
Well then? Kanye got some reps at storming the stage at an awards ceremony.
Cheap joke there...In his own way, Kanye provided the most apt critique of the bloated 76 year old corpse of a ceremony, implicitly suggesting that if artists like Beyonce don't win and artists like Beck do, what's the point of the Grammys anyway?
Wait, does anyone still care about the Grammys? Didn't they die in a fiery wreck 12 years ago? Half arsed research shows that they are as watched now as they ever were before, with 25 million people in the US alone watching this year's ceremony. What is unknown, however, is how many people take them seriously these days.
What, you mean that people don't really care who wins “Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package”? It's a shock, right? It's hard to take it seriously when you have Tenacious D winning an award for best Heavy Metal song, which was a cover of a Dio song from 1984. There are about a billion awards that anyone can win, but no-one can name who wins a year after the ceremony.
A billion? I dunno, maybe two billion? No one actually knows how many there are to be honest. There's so many that they form a separate season these days, award season. Award season people, award season.
What's the weather like during award season? Stuffy and pretentious.
So who cares about music awards? Musicians, mostly. It's pretty cool to have people tell you that the thing you've slaved over for months and years is actually, you know, good. Regardless of who it's coming from, it's a phenomenal feeling.
Let's step it back even further. Why does anyone care about awards other than the artists? People love ceremonies. Fuck, the only thing modern day society loves more than formal ceremonies, if that is even possible, is having their opinions either agreed with or disregarded. “HOW DARE YOU GIVE XXXX AN AWARD I WILL CUT YOU!”
Settle down... People love it when their subjective views about things are backed up by other people, especially when those people are experts. Likewise, people also love it when their strongly held views are told by others that they're wrong.
Hence Kanye's reaction...Yep. He got pissed that a shadowy group of “experts” had the temerity to disagree with his heartfeels about Queen Bey. Which is why he then went on about “artistry” and other shit. He's pretty much just like the rest of us: wanting his opinion validated by others.
OK, let's go a bit broader, is there a place for any music awards? Yes and no. Given the sheer amount of music out there these days, those sweeping “everyone is nominated” awards, like the ARIAs and the Grammys become folly. If you try to cover the entire industry (or a significant proportion of it) in one foul swoop, you're bound to piss someone off.
How about the smaller awards, like the Polaris Music Prize or the Australian Music Prize? The smaller niche awards seem to have a narrower focus and are more transparent in nature, but have a goal that is just as fraught. How the hell are you meant to judge, out of the hundreds of albums released, which singular one is worthy of both praise and a big prize?
Even if the goal is a little bit lofty (to find the one best album), the sheer weight of the reward at least provides some worth to the casual observer. Even more important is the fact that these types of awards generally have a clear list of judges, who often state their reasons for their decision. But to be honest, those awards seem more like grants to me. And not to sound cliché, grants seem to be the new awards.
Grants? Yeah, government or private sector grants, financial awards that give artists the freedom to create their own work free of some of the restrictions of a commercial record label arrangement. They are more or less what the bigger awards are not: tangible, transparent and immediately beneficial. If a band wins an AIR Award, they might get a small sales bump. If they get a Government grant, they probably will get $10,000 in their back pocket to record their next album, or tour overseas. If recognising and fostering art is the goal, one method seems inherently more useful and worth celebrating than the other.
Wait, aren't grants just another name for awards? No...
(looks up dictionary)
OK yes they are. You know what I mean. They're mostly the same but kinda different. They're done in a different way, unless they're not...Get off my case here, it's been a long day.
So, if I'm getting this straight, we should get rid of awards? No, just care about them less. Or maybe get rid of a few to make them worthwhile. And make the judging somewhat visible to those who do care about the outcomes, instead of being shrouded in secrecy like ASIO files.
And Kanye? Kanye’s gonna Kanye.