I've always sort of wondered when I'd shake my teenage angst. At 25, it doesn't seem like it's going to happen anytime soon. I'm in college debt, cut it close to paying my bills with a part time job and continue to juggle two internships - one of them being with this site. For my parents, 25 was figured out. For some of my friends, 25 is being settled. There's more, there has to be more than just settled, right? There's a tight rope (read: noose) of mediocrity we walk (read: hang from) every day with choosing to let small details go by or choosing to get swept up in the stagnant acceptance of what is and will never change. But alas, we all still have the power of making ourselves something, leaving that lasting footprint that no amount of artificial contamination and fiscal damnation can tarnish for generations to come. They're ideas. They're discussions. They're thoughts that leave room for subjective chit-chat among the elite and the lowbrow alike. While I do enjoy Justin Vernon's contribution to the greater art of music, I'm overly infatuated with what he has to say about the subject of "award" in an industry that bastardizes art into a commodity. I think Vernon leaving out this line from his acceptance speech was probably bittersweet -
"Itís hard to accept this award because of all the talent out there, but also because Bon Iver is an entity and something that I gave myself to. A lot of people give themselves to it, so itís hard to think of Bon Iver as an artist. Bon Iver is not an artist. Bon Iver is an idea.Ē - SPIN article
See, some people will take that line as elitist and superficial and overly pretentious. Most of those people probably have no idea who Bon Iver is to begin with. As I've been dissecting that quote all day, trying to decipher its meaning like a Rubik's cube, I want to apply the quote more broadly outside of just Bon Iver, because the same should go for any artist doing anything anywhere at anytime. Music is considered an art to some because art can be sort of an escapism. There's so many rules set in stone to some degree in our society that when it comes to painting, street art, short films, comic books and even sitting down to let your soul out in one perfectly placed crescendo or chorus line - you don't want restrictions. The worst restrictions can come after the art is made, and that's the judgement we as critics and "sweet hookups" end up making, and I think that's what Vernon is renouncing - the idea that an "idea" can be judged and made to be something more or less than what it is - just an "idea," plain and simple. Take it or leave it.
Forever acclaimed, most will tell you that the music that "lasts" is the music that "went against the grain" or "revolutionized how things were" for a generation or a specific group of people during a specific time (generally set against the grain of how societal norms are going and political strife is effecting this and that and so on) - but it's not the revolution itself that connects, it's the unspoken integrity. Thousands of Bon Iver fans aren't excited about the win, they're stoked for a hot minute that something that they believe in their hearts to be true and heartfelt made it past the polished bullshit most of us sat through for three hours on Sunday night. It was a sign that maybe "they" (they being: industry, the general public, lowbrow, fat pockets) got that music like Bon Iver is needed past the quick hits and NOW! That's What I Call A Radio Dial compilations that continue to sell for whatever reason.
There are writers, publications, artists, labels and the whole of this industry that have this sort of "agenda" to them. There's this line of constantly wanting to be right and in the "know" of what's next. Most of these people are just older versions of ourselves. They once loved music, pogo'd during a Ramones show once and were old enough to understand how revolutionary Nirvana was while only realizing Fugazi was an equal underground counterpart years later. Some fuckbag once told me a review I wrote about a show was horrible because I was attached to it nostalgically and it was written from "my heart" for lack of a better phrase. That's it. That's where music comes from, right? That's why certain albums and songs last for years and others become that one-trick pony thing. Is that the right phrase? Isn't art supposed to come from the heart and an unspoken feeling to begin with and therein find a connection once done - not force it to happen through airplay, television soundtracks and ad-spots? When Dylan Baldi destroys his guitar in what can be deemed as one of the most perfect displays of swelling frustration to grace a record in some time on "Wasted Days," the proceeding "I thought I would be more than this!" over and over and over again has been stuck now for days in the back of my head. I wonder if for every pop artist with a hit single or Grammy win or those millionaires that have gone bankrupt and regret their footprints of drawn-out, overplayed Clear Channel radio rubbish, if for a second that line haunts them for days on end.
Why does it matter that the Arcade Fire won Album of the Year? What is its importance to the music industry that we know and one we continue to shun? Do we end up giving "the man" praise where praise isn't due? They've belittled our intelligence as consumers of art and media and have continually created a strain of mediocre consumers at that - buying into garbage such as Lady Antebellum.
Did you forget? On a night when the big award did go to the right choice of those nominated, the same show gave three awards, including a stolen one from Cee-Lo for Record of the Year, to the aforementioned.
Where do we restore faith into the system? We heard from one of the heads of the music industry tonight, and surprisingly, it seems like they've given up on protecting the true intellectual property of artists they drain in the system and throw out like juiceboxes after lunch when they don't turn them into an extra buck to support the bigger acts actually making money - somehow with shitty music.
Seriously, I need to see that Disturbed documentary. It's my next insight into mediocre consumption and how it thralls.
As I sat here for an hour tossing Drew's comment around in my head, angling comments from every side: the artists, the label, the poor interns all sitting in a crumbling building - and there's a possibility that little to no one in the equation truly cares about music as an artform. The truth is, a lot of what I'm spewing and most negative commentary on the industry overshadow the people who really push themselves. There are managers, tour managers, publicists, etc. that I deal with on a daily basis that really care about what they're behind. It's not a sappy press release, but a genuine/personal hand reaching out to say, "Hey, I fucking love this thing. Just give it a listen." The people behind that album, they may generally feel passionate about what they're doing - even if my subjective, asshole tendencies will belittle their actions to the point of them pressing on or going back to selling retail and trudging about like the rest of us day in and day out.
Then one day, years down the line of their settled-in and comfortable life, they'll discover Nickelback or Justin Beiber. They'll believe in the mediocrity of whatever that dream is, start watching Nascar and smoking their kids pot when they confiscate it. They'll find new music by watching the "hot new show" and learn to use that iPod their kids got them. They'll watch the Grammys and recognize their elders, reminiscent about hearing that "classic" song long ago, and chat about whether they like this new thing coming out of an egg and why their favorite artists since being a teenager sounds like he's about to croak over.
Then when they're unaware of any of the music up for Album of the Year, something that a lot of people who "work in the industry" (read: slightly out of touch) said is Album of the Year material - they're going out to buy it with their Best Buy Reward Zone card.
Then us, the young minds of the future, we'll be rejoicing and be happy that one of our favorite bands has made it big. It really stuck it to the man. Then this band gets too big. Your parents like it. The kids in school that mocked you for your weird music, they're going to the show with you....
Okay, I'm going to stop here, because you can clearly see where this is going...
My final comment on Drew's comment, which really sums up the night (except for when The Smiths came to see their son in his school's production of Rent...that was hilarious.) is that music's subjectivity is only a blanket for more issues than I have time to list here. Money or notoriety amongst music listeners and journalists and critics alike or even really being that band that defined the way things were done for future generations to come and look back on.
As you're still trying to figure out how the hell Train won that award, we're going to wake up tomorrow and most of our inboxes will be full of the same press releases, networks and bill reminders as they did this past Monday. Luckily for us, the spectrum is so wide out there, and on a year that really blessed us with a lot of great music from so many different soundscapes that after we're done ragging on the mediocre, we'll sift through that giant inbox tomorrow probably listening to something that didn't come close to making the award show radar.
It's on that iPod mix or CD you asked your friend to burn you, and you have your own convictions about it. Sometimes we get caught up and forget, "it's just music, enjoy it."
At least that's what Wayne Coyne tells me, and he's the fucking man. #realtalk
It's 4 in the afternoon. Someone supposedly got stabbed in a fight at one of the bars I was standing outside of last night. If I hear the word "stimulus" one more time, I'm going to lose it.
Yet, the worst is to come. See, in just a few hours the greatest farce in the music industry will present more awards to artists who may or may not have an impact on future generations, and the only thing I can do to prepare is watch FUSE and HAVOC MUSIC on demand, sifting through the worse metal videos I can possibly come across to lessen the blow of what is to come-- no seriously, what the fuck was going on in that Cannibal Corpse video?
Also, T-Pain should get an award for this video alone:
The Grammy Awards are not without its surprises though. Let us not forget the time they screwed Metallica out of the metal award, or played it safe by giving Steely Dan "Album of the Year" over The Marshall Mathers LP.
Let us not forget the greatest travesty of them all: When they propped poor Jerry Lee Lewis up by a wooden board while he was super glued to his piano seat garbling out a decrepit version of his hit "Great Balls of Fire." You could literally see the strings from the rafters moving is hands across the keyboards.
The Grammy Awards will continue to show MTV that their VMA's will never come close to the cream of the crock of shit that is one Sunday a year.
But alas, we will watch as our beloved Van Halen--- I mean Blink 182-- reunite on stage for what is expected to be big news full of hugs and possible backstage disputes.
And the performances this year are turning into more of a spectacle than the awards. Radiohead will hopefully not do "House of Cards," which may be not only my least favorite song on In Rainbows, but in their entire catalog. Kate Perry will give the Jonas Brothers embarrasing boners on stage and ruin their contract with the Disney Corporation and CBS will be fined another $4 Billion for broadcasting child pornography.
I expect Kanye, Jay-Z and T.I. to form Voltron and try to take out Weezie in an epic Godzilla vs King Kong battle on stage that results in West's head getting too big, blowing up and taking out the first 20 rows of spectatures.
U2 will claim salvation to all by giving their entire audience their new CD to leak across the Internet, having Bono proclaim, "Go forth and rejoice and tell the people of this, the follow-up audio version to one of the best selling books of all time, The Bible."
Yes, this should be a very interesting night indeed. As for the winners, there are a few artists I would like to see get recognition for, but they were nominated, and those who are, probably won't stand a Grammy fighting chance.