Column: Grammys not musical achievements

Thom Carter | Staff Writer

Movies have the Academy Awards, the Emmys commend television and Broadway celebrates with the Tonys. Of course, the Grammy Awards seem like the obvious choice as the premier award show for music, but is it? To be frank, no, it’s not. In fact, the Grammys represent everything wrong with the music industry. Trent Reznor, who was most recently part of the duo that conducted the score to the film “The Social Network,” posted in a Tweet during last year’s show, “The Grammys = the…old media propping up their puppets trying to convince the outside world (and each other) they’re relevant.” Harsh? Not really.

My jaw dropped when Taylor Swift won the so-called “prestigious” Album of the Year Grammy at last year’s ceremony. Surely, a songwriter whose lyrics rarely expand outside of sappy teen romance territory can’t be awarded such an honor. Unfortunately, Swift can, proving it’s a popularity vote based on album sales, not quality of music. This year’s nominations for the award are even more of a sham. Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream?” Proof that wearing candy-coated clothing can get you places, assuming you look good doing it. Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now?” An album featuring the most overplayed song in recent memory with the most predictable pop/country formula ever is making strides in a miserable direction. Eminem’s “Recovery?” Many will loathe me for saying this, but he’s a has-been, and his quality of music has spiraled downward since his 2002 album “The Eminem Show.” The real surprise? Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs.” A band that rose to prominence in 2005 with their debut album “Funeral,” Arcade Fire has been haiiled “the greatest band in the history of music” by Coldplay’s front man and one of the decade’s best-selling artists Chris Martin. However, their inclusion in the Album of the Year running is just more evidence on the sadness of “music’s biggest night.”

In a speech after winning Best Hard Rock Performance, Eddie Vedder, front man of long-running rock group Pearl Jam, lazily remarked, “I don’t what this [Grammy] means. I don’t think it means anything.” He’s right. It doesn’t mean anything, and it won’t mean anything until the folks at National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the organizers of the ceremony, decide to wake up and award musicians worthy of accolades in a ceremony that is supposed to celebrate music, not spoil it.