Be warned: some stating of the obvious, mostly personal insight follows.
I officially realized the extent of my advanced age this past Sunday night, during the Grammy Awards. I didn’t watch the whole show, because we had skipped Downton Abbey the prior week in favor of the Super Bowl, and we thus proceeded with the 7PM repeat, the new Simpsons, channel surfing and half-watching an oft-seen Big Bang Theory, and then the 9PM episode. Occasionally we did flip to the awards in minute-long increments to catch a performance or speech. Those moments pretty much went like this:
HUSBAND: (Pointing to somebody dressed as either a life-size Muppet or the face on the Shock Top beer bottle) Who the hell is that?
ME: (Squinting) No idea.
Then back to Sheldon Cooper.
It wasn’t always like this. There had been a time, I’d say from the early 80s through the first years of marriage, where if I didn’t watch the entire Grammys ceremony I searched for the results the next morning. In fact, I can pinpoint the beginning of my fascination with music awards and the belief that my positive vibes might have affected a favored artist’s success. This would be the 25th annual awards in 1983, where holding my breath in front of the television aided in deserved accolades for a band I adored:
“We are the men, and we’ll see you again.” Yeah, I was eleven at the time and hadn’t yet been schooled on the Best New Artist curse. I didn’t see the Men again until 1998 in a small Virginia Beach night club, and by then they were down to Colin and Greg (RIP).
This week I’ve caught Twitter and blog rants on why this album/song should have won over the other. Eddie Trunk’s pissed about the Metal category, people debate Beyonce over Beck, etc. If you’re upset your favorite singer or band didn’t win a Grammy, it’s fine. Be upset. I recognize that it’s possible to simultaneously be pissed about a Sia shutout and the state of the roads. Rant away.
I had those screaming “WTF” at the TV moments, too. I remember Brothers in Arms, one of the perfect albums of the 80s, perhaps the whole rock era, losing awards left and right to Phil Collins’s Su-effing-sudio and “We Are The World,” while I sat open-mouthed and baffled. I remember hottie Julian Lennon losing to Sade for Best New Artist, and I pouted like the hetero tween I was. By then, though, I had become vaguely familiar with the Curse and the knowledge softened the blow. The two of them appear to have survived it, though.
In the early 90s The B-52s lost the Pop Duo/Group award to a sappy Linda Ronstadt ballad. I think I set something on fire in retaliation.
I’ve even had retro moments. When I got into Rush I looked up their Grammy scorecard to find “YYZ” had lost Best Rock Instrumental to the Police’s “Behind My Camel” and stopped breathing for a full minute. Mind you, I was a Police fan first and back in the day I had cringed over the bad timing of Synchronicity pitted against Thriller for all the awards, but “Behind My Camel” is probably the band’s worst piece outside of “Mother,” whose presence on Synchronicity might have tipped the scale in Thriller‘s favor for all I know. How Rush has yet to win at the very least a rock instrumental trophy from this country (Canada knows better in this regard) confounds me.
I don’t pay much attention to major media awards anymore, mainly because I don’t follow current music trends, or watch much television, or see first-run movies that don’t star talking snowmen. I’m not completely out of touch, but my interests have veered from the mainstream. Upsets at major award ceremonies seem aptly named, and social media is a good tool for venting. I can’t tell you if Beck deserved the Best Album award over the other nominees, because I need to hear all five contenders first. Even then, I can only give you my opinion. That said, here’s what I think of major media awards in general:
You’re never going to be 100% happy with the results. Ever. Your favorite artist or movie could sweep all the minor heats and lose the biggest award of all, and you’ll fume for days. See: Saving Private Ryan, Brokeback Mountain.
Often, an award is given as a lifetime achievement trophy or an apology for neglecting to award the victor at a time when it was genuinely deserved. See: Two Against Nature by Steely Dan, Dame Judi Dench for Shakespeare in Love.
Eddie Trunk makes a good point about that Metal category. Jethro Tull won the inaugural award. I love me some Tull, but they’re not metal. #NeverForget
The greatest award an artist can receive is your memory. Awards are nice to receive. You get a trophy and a line in an almanac. Legacy, though, ensures the value of your creative output remains strong.
I’d rather have people reading my books a hundred years from now than remembering I won an award a hundred years prior. I’d also hope in a hundred years the Grammys figure out that Metal category.
Graphic from SXC.HU