As the so called prestigious Grammy Awards blitzkrieg had its annual rollout of nominees day before yesterday, I, like many others, was again stunned at how some of the best artists delivering some true standouts in terms of song cycles and albums were totally left in the lurch. It was a disappointment and an oversight of massive proportions, undermining genuine talent across categories. I felt more than a surge of anger here ; it was befuddlement and amazement at the tall claims made by industry ‘bigwigs’ and ensured another lost chance at establishing veritable transparency.
In a year where the power of sustainable musicality was more ubiquitous than ever before, this host of nominations proved that a community of fair, familial, like-minded artists is more of a myth and in the service of mediocrity reaching the topmost echelons, words like nepotism, unfair voting and an eye for further promoting flippant, ‘commercially viable’ entities became staples. There was no regard for even considering the aesthetic tastes of afficianados, music lovers who root for great artists, old and new, for discographies that embody consistent, cohesive body of works and soundscapes that elevated our understanding and sensibilities.
The Recording Academy, while being a predominantly American umbrella body, represents a global melting pot as international music has no bounds in its definition and reach and for me personally, it should have used its unenviable position resourcefully to cull categories based on pure and unabashed merit. Before unveiling the catalog of snubs and what I feel to be absolute omissions that didn’t even consider a said artist/song/ album’s eligibility by nominating them, I will say that being bestowed with a Golden Gramophone is every recorded artist’s ultimate dream and receiving one with due respect for a worthy piece accords it with pertinence that mixes joy with validation for one’s hard work. Fans then rejoice because it is an equal validation for them too. After all, their listening graphs determine success and acclaim for the very artists they come to hold dear and who, in turn, narrativise so much of their lives.
Unfortunately, it has become a barometer governed by chart figures. We have to practically know that while for someone like me, true musicians’ output doesn’t, at all, get limited by awards, let alone be considered on that shtick, getting one instituted to award excellence in a diverse field has the power to affect listening habits, change perceptions and diversify an artist’s omnibus. GRAMMYS 2020 falls short on all those legible fronts. From now on, I will echo the feeling that countless sensible people have shared over the years: awards are a scam mostly and do not yield anything beyond an annual ritual. We expect them to be fair, ensure and totally represent a level playing field. Alas, like life’s hard lessons, it isn’t so. For worthy artists, it’s a battle lost and a source of undue negligence, cult following and legends/iconic statures be damned.
NOTE: in the next posts, I will share some of the omissions and snubs that affected me likewise so many who may share my views.