Last year the Grammy’s – or more so some people’s response to Arcade Fire’s win at the hardly music related awards – made me really mad (see below). Not because I didn’t know the reality of the Grammy situation (the fact that they value performance theatrics over talent) let alone the continued degradation of commercial music industry. And of course that indie music fans around the world have long ago accepted that the Grammy’s will never put emphasis on their idols. But if we accept the tragedy that is happening/has happened to the music industry – it will never change.
And no I didn’t watch it, but I thought I’d google some ‘highlights’ and do some comparison. And low and behold, the Grammy’s did enough for me to revisit some of the points I had last year. I am not getting as heated this time though. I think I did enough violent swearing last year.
The one wish I had last year was that more/another alternative artist would win the show and people would rejoice. Or at least know who they are. Or even better – go out and have a listen. Well I got half my dream to come true. And his name is Justin Vernon or better known (although hardly it seems) as Bon Iver. If you don’t know him, well you can join the many reporters who messed up his name. Its really hard for me to mentally process the fact that if I was talking about a musician and mentioned the name Justin – I think MANY more people are likely to ask Justin Bieber? Then Justin Vernon? I also am trying to breathe deeply when I found out that Bieber sold over twice the album volumes of Vernon. But I said this would not be a ferociously angry blog so let’s get back to the good news.
The fact that Bon Iver won not just one (Best new artist), but two (Best alternative band) important awards gave me more satisfaction than a creamed honey and butter toast. Bon Iver has been in my top 5 artist for the last 4 years and is part of my bread and butter of listening pleasure. I even looked past that with this being his second album of his 5 year career – he is hardly ‘new’. But why get caught in the details – pure talent was recognized and this is something to be excited about.
What was even better was the way Justin handled the situation and what he replied. Justin mentioned how he was uncomfortable winning this award and how ‘It’s hard to accept this award because when I started making songs I started for the inherent reward of making songs,” He also thanked and recognized not just the other nominees but more importantly all the non-nominees and people who would never be recognized as nominees.
Vernon also mentioned to Billboard that they turned down the opportunity to play “We wanted to play our music, but were told that we couldn’t play. We had to do a collaboration with someone else,” said Vernon. “We kind of said ‘f*** you’ a little bit, I don’t think they wanted us to play.” What a guy.
Justin echoed and represents everything that I feel about the Grammy’s and the music industry at large. He also had a go at the VMA in an earlier blog saying that they were responsible for the music industry being so little about MUSIC and having lost all soul. If you watch the Britney tribute this year – you can’t help but agree.It’s crazy that we are just use to such bullshit and blahblah crap that we become numb to it. But every now and again, maybe once a year, it’s good to step back, and realize just the gravity of the bullshit environment that we have created and accepted as a reality. The reality is the music industry is shrinking, or at least seriously reconstructing. And this is where we are wasting so much of the money.
And Justin did have many sources of proof for his arguments at the Grammy’s as well. The highlight of this must be Nicki Minaj. The new Lady Gaga wannabe rapper is trying to abuse this the-more-dramatics-the-more-records-I-sell tactics that has become the in-thing these days. I almost feel like I fall in the trap of what she wants to achieve if I talk about it. and even without mentioning the outrageous aspects of her performance or escort I have done it. I have given her free publicity to all of you. SHOCK SHOCK SHOCK. This is the new strategy of the industry. And frankly it never seizes to amaze me how far people are willing to push it as things become desperate. It is difficult to offend me, and I am openly an atheist, but even I felt slightly uncomfortable seeing what she did.
Nor were we short of social networks helping to remind us just how vast the sea of retarded people with access to the internet does stretch. What did most people blog about after Bon Iver won a MUSIC award? his looks. And of course the people who judge MUSICIAN by what their wear vs how they sound or their music ability AGAIN had the intellect of my remote control. And of course since these people mostly have the mental capacity of a goldfish and the creativity on the same level, the ranges of their biggest insult went from saying that he looks like an English teacher….to a Biology teacher…to a Maths teacher. Wow guys, really keeping it fresh. Considering the repetition I see in songs, lyrics and music videos of the majority commercial music I guess you just follow your idols. There is nothing quite like comments who go along the lines of: what is he doing winning awards when he LOOKS LIKE THAT. The only reason that I am not going on a swearing rant right here is because I am listening to Bon himself, and his calming ability is one which is bewitching beyond anyone I know.
Then another perfect example of retarded comments is this guy.
Comments included was – I never heard of him and I heard of all the other artist and HE WON – yes cause we all know you are the official knowledge god. And I’m not a big Nicki Minaj fan but I would have to given her to her she is freaking huge on the radio – well yes because the radio is the ultimate teller of talent. And let me not even get back to her performance or that this is a taster of the lyrics of her songs:
“He just gotta give me that look, when he give me that look
Then the panties comin’ off, off, uh”
Shame on you.
Its not even that I am against commercial music as a concept. I wasn’t angry that Adele stole most of the prizes. She is as commercial as Coca cola but I don’t mind it. She is actually talented and has a voice to be reckon with. Its ok if the nature of her songs are not in my favourite type. I respect as an artist because she ACTS like one. An artist. A musician. And she can sell the most CDs and that is fine with me.
What I don’t want to hear are long arguments for artist/bands that put greater value/time/effort/money on their appearances rather than their music. It’s not that I frown on entertainers. That is a great talent. But really an added bonus for me when I consider who are talented musicians. Their primary goal needs to be to create the highest quality of music that they are capable of. If not, don’t even start with me on the rest. After that you may want to entertain, you may want to make cash but first, and most importantly comes your music. It’s not even like Bon Iver didn’t sell out at all – he has used his music in commercials. If he has the opportunity to make cash from his talent – why not? When you see how much some of the other artist who have no talent make – why shouldn’t the guy with the skills be making some money in the same industry. Its clear that is not his underlying goal.
Lastly Justin states: I come from a place where music growing was an expression, it was a journey for self discovery. I was always a bit hesitative to an industrial approach to music……I don’t think its wrong….Michael was the best, but his success become fuel apart on top of fuel….the whole system is bizzare to me.
And at this point I watch that video. And I say one more time. What a beautifully genuine human being. A guy just being himself. Because he doesn’t need to do more. Because his edge is not his outrageous outfits. His hot body. The hot girls in his video. Because he can not brush his hair and let the music be the driver of why he gains fans and respect. It’s because for him music is a tool to express and feel passion and emotion. And the beauty in his creation is something that I am not talented enough to eloquently express or do justice. But I feel in full force. And so I leave you with two quotes I love:
After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
As you can see, I’m not so good at the keeping silence part. So I pick music. And I pick Bon Iver.