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CMU Beef Of The Week #187: Grammy nominations special

By | Published on Friday 13 December 2013

The Grammys

I have a theory that if we did away with all award ceremonies, there would be no more war. Nothing divides opinions like arbitrarily chosen lists of names. No, before you say it, not even religion. Trust me, if there was a multi-faith awards ceremony that aimed to pick the best deities each year – held at the O2 Arena with a sit down dinner for invited guests – the world would be in much worse shape. Fortunately, there is not.

Few award ceremonies get more people riled up than the Grammys – simply because it provides more opportunities for anger by having so many categories. The number may have been cut down in recent times, but in 2014 there will still be 82 awards on offer. 82. There’s an award for the Best Surround Sound Album, for fuck’s sake.

Anyway, the nominations for the 2014 edition came out this week, so everyone was in a bad mood. Not least Lily Allen, who got right riled on behalf of Lorde, who does not feature in the nominations for Best New Artist, despite her being new, an artist and really rather successful this year.

Noting this sizeable oversight, Allen took to Twitter after reading a comment from Jimmy Jam, former chairman of Grammy organiser The Recording Academy, in which he told CNN: “She is still very new. Sometimes I think the Grammy voters like to say: ‘Well, let’s see what else you have before we say you’re the best new artist'”.

“AT WHICH POINT SHE WON’T BE A NEW ARTIST!!!” wrote Allen, adding: “What crap”.

Which would be a more valid point if the nominees in the Best New Artist category weren’t James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Kacey Musgraves and Ed Sheeran, who have all been around longer that Lorde and rather confirm Jam’s point that the Grammy voters have their own definition of “new”. In fact, between them those nominees have released twelve albums, which is pretty good going for five ‘new’ artists.

Also, Lorde’s not exactly hard done by in the Grammy shortlists, having been nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album for her debut long player ‘Heroine’, and Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for her single ‘Royals’.

Next, king of the award-related rant Kanye West stepped up. He wasn’t upset about Beyonce being sidelined on this occasion though (give it time). No, he was upset that another artist – specifically him – had only received two nominations. And them only for Best Rap Song and Best Rap album. It’s like the people who vote don’t even care. Or are racist.

During one of his now customary on-stage rants, at a show in Phoenix, Arizona this week, West said: “I’m 36 years old and I have 21 Grammys. That’s the most Grammys of any 36 year old. Out of all of those 21 Grammys, I’ve never won a Grammy against a white artist. So when the Grammys nominations come out – and ‘Yeezus’ is the top one or two album on every [other] single list – but only gets two nominations from the Grammys; what are they trying to say? Do they think that I wouldn’t notice? Do they think that, someway, that I don’t have the power to completely diminish all of their credibility at this moment?”

He added: “People come to me and congratulate me on those two nominations. Fuck those nominations! It’s all but patronising. It’s only patronising. Don’t patronise me. I would have rather had no nominations”.

Now, I’m not about to start defending the Grammy voting committee and say that none of them are even a tiny bit racist. However, Kanye’s complaint isn’t that no black artist has ever beaten a white artist to a Grammy (because that wouldn’t be true, clearly), it’s that he has never beaten a white artist. And given his active attempts to alienate people at every turn, it’s possible that’s because some of the Grammy voters are a bit Kanye-ist.

Finally, and speaking of alienating people, we reach the latest chapter in Snoop Dogg’s sustained campaign of annoying Jamaica.

As discussed in a previous BOTW column right back at the beginning of the year, there are many on the Caribbean island for whom the rapper’s metamorphosis into reggae star Snoop Lion isn’t quite the tribute to their culture he originally tried to presented it as. And now Snoop’s ‘Reincarnated’ turning up in the shortlist for Best Reggae Album has stirred all that up again.

Roger Steffens, who headed the Grammy Awards Reggae Committee for 27 years, told the Jamaica Observer: “I think it would be a travesty if Snoop wins. He, like Matisyahu and many others before him, have used a Rasta-influenced format and warped it toward their own ends”.

He added that he felt that this year’s reggae nominations – which also go to Beres Hammond, Ziggy Marley, Sizzla, and Sly & Robbie And The Jam Masters – opted for “name recognition more than anything else, regardless of sales or actual quality”, which in the case of Snoop is probably fair. Even he seems to have distanced himself from his reggae project of late.

Anyway, The Grammys take place on 26 Jan in Los Angeles. I will put good money on Kanye West not feeling hurt and patronised enough not to turn up to the ceremony. Though he may also have another little rant if he wins either of his awards (and almost certainly if he doesn’t). So that’s something to look forward to.