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Friday, February 22, 2008

Save Us From Ourselves.

Sometimes, I really think the Grammys is a whole sham.

I mean sure, yeah, it's the night of honouring artists for their hard work and dedication to their careers. But let's think about this.

How many artists are there in this world?!

And how many of them are signed to a major record label?!

Truth is, there are plenty. And plenty who are deserving of rewards.

Some of you may think what's this guy's motive now? Hasn't he been the one supporting the whole indie/underground scene and scoffing at mainstream artists?

Well, this is not entirely true. I do not scoff at the whole mainstream thing, but the reality behind it is, there have been artists who have been 'destroyed' by the mainstream market.

I'm going to take the nominees for 'Best Metal Performance' as my first example. This year, Slayer won. Again. Out of the five nominees for this award, which were Slayer, As I Lay Dying, Shadows Fall, King Diamond and Machine Head, an average Malaysian would probably have heard of only Slayer, and MAYBE Shadows Fall, who were pretty much unknown until some lucky fella reviewed 'Threads of Life' in The Star, listing the album under 'rock', which is plain stupid.

Slayer have been nominated for two years in a row now, winning both times. When you ask someone what their idea of metal is, bands such as Slipknot, Korn and Metallica would start spilling out of their mouths. Point is, these bands are just a mere type of mainstreamed-generalised type of metal. What the general public don't know is, there are probably other bands worthy of this award. And I state my case, it's dead true.

I'm listening to Slayer's Eyes of the Insane (which won last year) right now and to be honest, this is plain rubbish. There is no substance to it. There is no clear melody. Tom Araya's vocals suck big time. The only highlight is probably the solo. Yet, this is not a song that deserves a Grammy. Bands such as Lamb of God or Mastodon would have easily deserved it more than Araya and co.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't just about metal. I now move on to the awards of 'Best Hard Rock Performance' and 'Best Rock Album'. Winner? Foo Fighters. Now someone please tell me whether they're hard rock. Can't they think of any other bands who deserve these awards just as much as Foo Fighters, if not more?

NO. At most, rock.

Hard rock? NO WAY.

Another band which is so overrated is The White Stripes. They won for 'Best Alternative Music Album' for 'Icky Thump', and Wikipedia states they hold the record for most wins in this category. But think about it, how many thousand alternative bands are there in this world? I was so disappointed that The Arcade Fire or The Shins didn't win for their respective albums. What's the whole fuss about The White Stripes anyway? When they appeared onto the scene several years back, everyone was so excited about the fact that they had been married. SO?

Then there's Amy Winehouse. She won five out of six nominations this year. What for? Out of sympathy after going into rehab? And another HUGE sham is when I found out one of the awards she won was for 'Best New Artist.'

Amy Winehouse has been around for FIVE years now. Yes. FIVE. FIVE.


I mean if you gave the award to someone like say, Blake Lewis or Jordin Sparxx (regardless of whether they deserved it), it would mean something at least.

So how can one consider Amy to be a new artist? Well, that's probably because she only recently became known with 'Back to Black', which won 'Best Pop Vocal Album'. Strange thing is, Back to Black was released in 2006, and it just won the award in 2008. I'm just glad jazzman Herbie Hancock won the 'Album of the Year' award, instead of Amy's 'Black to Black.' Just proves the fact that the people at the top just wouldn't move out of their comfort zone to look for pop albums which were released in 2007. Besides, she's not even pop to begin with.

Still regarding this award, the artist Feist was also nominated. I personally hadn't heard of her only until last year, so I researched and found out she's been active as an artist since 1991. Good God.

Just don't get me started on Ledisi and Paramore, who were also nominees.
Going back to the award of 'Best Metal Performance'. I was just reading Michael Cheang's report in The Star about his experience in LA watching and meeting stars during that night, and I stumbled upon this line where he refers to Tom Araya of Slayer:

... and that even the most hardcore rock gods can have sweet little families.


Is he trying to imply that metal/hardcore artists have to be all evil and unpleasant just because of a selected few who really are? That is totally not true.

In this world, there is such a genre called black metal. And sadly, I have the impression that people associate 'metal' with 'black metal' a lot and saying things like it's evil and all that.

In actual fact, metal has so many different sub-genres. I admit black metal is mostly evil, and the lyrics of black metal bands tend to touch on satanism, anti-Christ themes, morbidity and what not. Take Dimmu Borgir's Satan My Master as a great example:

Satan My Master
I slit my wrists to drain me of my blood
Satan My Master
Up side down I turn the cross of God

WOAH evil, eh? Well yes, I totally agree. I'm not a Christian, but I am definitely against what people like Dimmu Borgir believe.

So, is all metal all evil?

Think again, after taking a look at lyrics from metalcore band All That Remains' The Air That I Breathe:

I have suffered defeat, pain, loss
Still I push to the edge, never falter
For this cement my beliefs
I'll will not choke on failure

There's the proof. There are bands which write lyrics based on positivity, such as the example above, relationships and even ANIMAL LIBERATION!

Wow, I really did get carried away. From the Grammys to metal music.

At the end of the day though, it all boils down to awareness. The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States should really be helping the situation, instead of sitting on their fat arses and just giving awards to artists who have either won before or only who they are familiar with.

This is my indictment. Sue me, will you?


oXYmoroN© said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
oXYmoroN© said...

At the end of the day, what matters is if it sells to the general public or not. And sadly, due to the current state of music education worldwide, people will accept trash as music. The music-savvy are a minority and the record labels don't give a shit about what we think.

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

Let's just hope that Amy Winehouse gets the Best New Artist curse.

Rejoice, rejoice!