Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stop Caring About the Grammys

Now that I've gotten that of the way. After a long day of plowing through some Derrida, I just started looking at some of the Grammy tweets, many of which are infuriating (lots of complaining about Justin Bieber not getting his props--are we in a parallel universe?). I mean, some people are seriously getting worked up over Gwyneth Paltrow and Eminem, with the former in particular inspiring an alarming amount of bitching that could be better aimed towards, say, the major music labels who use the Grammys as their one night to pathetically proclaim their relevance (or the corrupt and unfair standards of the RIAA, or the lax attention given to radio payola, or the Live Nation monopoly, or...). I also wanted to call attention to this tweet from critic Charles Aaron:
It's funny. I haven't been watching the Grammys and have no idea of what performance he's referring to. And yet no matter which way you read into it, no matter what the context might happen to be, I know this comment is bullshit. Of course, I would say that, having previously made the case that 99% of the time, references to "white people" in music criticism only serves the point of making the same three or four dumb-ass generalizations about whitey's lameness, inability to dance or rap, and "pretentious" (oh how my blood boils) taste in clothes, music, whatever (and also 99% of the time, Mr. Aaron excepted, these comments are made by white critics). I'll admit that an "inability to sing," along with dancing and rapping, is not normally associated with white people, and I'd be really surprised if Aaron could pull out any actual statistics proving that white pop stars, on average, sing more poorly than their black counterparts. I'd wonder, even, how individual singing ability is even measured (do you think Charles Aaron would make the same bitchy remark about Ian Curtis, were Joy Division transposed to this year's Grammys? Or Lou Reed?). And please, include hip-hop music with those statistics, because I personally think there are a lot of black rappers out there who also can't sing very well. There are also some who can. Really, there's no correlation, no point of reasoning behind this cowardly yet unoriginal sub-Mencia racial "observation."

Remember, this is the Charles Aaron who wrote the article "The Wayward Crucifixion Of M.I.A.," in which he passionately defends not only a weak-ass album which features this type of singing, but also M.I.A.'s right, as a celebrity, to not be called out on the incoherent nonsense she peddles in interviews and on Twitter (at least not without the right of retaliation via phone number dissemination). In that article, he wrote the following paragraph:
Such sputtering speaks to music critics’ increasingly chaotic thought process—a rush-to-refresh ticker of childlike enthusiasm, glib put-downs, presumptuous advice, false dichotomies, fantastical speculation, abrasive careerism masked as political rhetoric, and honest revelation marred by cloying narcissism, all in a desperate quest to churn out splashy content and escape irrelevance.
Nice list, I couldn't have put it better. "Glib put-downs," especially:
Oh, and I might as well quote this now:
Bottom line: Were their 30 better records in 2010 than Maya (or Vicki Leekx, for that matter, released well after Pazz & Jop voting closed)? Is Maya such a joyless slog compared to her earlier records, Arular (#2 in 2005) and Kala (#3 in 2007)? After all the authenticity litmus tests thrown at someone who was born in a war zone (which most of us couldn’t find on a map) by desk jockeys who practice a profession that’s basically a glorified work-release program, those questions remain moot. Too many people showed their asses. Back in August, I embraced Maya as a cause célèbre, but as the nonsense wore on, it became pointless to defend a record that people refused to hear.
Answers: a) More like 100, at least (and Vicki Leekx is much, much worse). b) Yes (absolutely). c) What authenticity litmus tests? (Journalists went out of their way to wring coherence out of her college sophomore anti-globalist cliche-speak!). d) Everyone listened to Maya, no one "refused" to hear it, and Maya still sucks hard. And just because you're the only critic still drinking the kool-aid doesn't mean you alone suddenly have a point. And it doesn't mean, if you like her music, that you need to defend the Palin-esque celebrity behavior that goes along with it, either.

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