Same old song

Last Sunday stars brought out their stilettos, bow ties and sky-high geometric glittering headpieces to mark the 52nd annual Grammy awards. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I understand this system is supposed to be in place to award and celebrate the best music of the year.

After watching the festivities, I’m sad to report that it seems the award show has once again done its part to perpetuate the mainstream popularity and album sales of the same artists, labels and bands that continue to prevail year after year.

Yes, Beyoncé is undeniably fierce, “Use Somebody” tears at my heartstrings and Lady Gaga with Elton John almost made me pee my pants—until I saw Stevie Nicks. But, the irrelevance of the Grammys is becoming almost too painful to watch.

The fact that the show honours only a small and cherry-picked group of artists each year isn’t exactly an innovative realization. Stephen Colbert explained it honestly by confessing he was happy to help “celebrate our most precious right—the right of celebrities to congratulate each other.”

Don’t get me wrong. I genuinely enjoy a Cirque-de-Soleil-esque acrobatic number and Michael Jackson tribute as much as the next person and I’m the first to run to the dance floor when “Poker Face” or “Single Ladies” comes on.

This aside, I find myself wondering what the point of watching the Grammys is

anymore when some of the most talented and talked-about artists of the year are omitted entirely. This is especially concerning for me considering people’s tendency to coin 2009 as the year of indie music’s “arrival.”

I have to question who has arrived when I see Ke$ha covering herself in glitter and strutting down the red carpet while other artists like Uffie and Little Boots are seemingly banished away to the walls of the blogosphere. To be fair, I was pleasantly surprised to see French rockers Phoenix take home the best alternative album award for their Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, and found myself wondering if there could ever be a place for bands like Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear and Passion Pit to arrive in the mix outside of a unique venue like the Polaris Music Prize.

It’s important to take the Grammys for what they are: a show. Some stellar live performances, occasionally poignant acceptance speeches and the risk of a scandal make the broadcast, if begrudgingly, worth watching.

All I ask is that we also take the time to recognize the wide variety of musical achievement from last year.

Whether it’s through telling a classmate about a wicked new track or tweeting your favourite Kingston band some kudos—maybe we can bring music awards a little more down to earth.

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