So the Grammys were tonight, and like I said before, they could have done a lot worse with the nominations. It isn't every year that "Song of the Year" contains two genuinely good tracks, as it does with Gorillaz and Kanye West. (It was also cool to see the live Gorillaz act open the ceremony--they had me for about three minutes there.)
But it was not without travesty. Three such travesties:
--Mariah Carey with eight nominations. I'm sorry, but you can either care about music or care about Mariah Carey. There is no middle ground.
--The nominees for Best Alternative Album:
Four of those albums are by established artists with their best work behind them. I loved the Beck, and liked the Franz Ferdinand OK, but these are like giving Robert de Niro a Best Actor Oscar for Meet the Parents. The fifth was the near-consensus album of the year among critics--the year 2004, that is. (The Grammy year starts on October 1, so The Arcade Fire slipped in.)
The Arcade Fire Funeral
Death Cab For Cutie Plans
Franz Ferdinand You Could Have It So Much Better
The White Stripes Get Behind Me Satan
--Speaking of critical consensus: there was as much of a consensus about the best album of this year as we could ever hope to see with Illinois by Sufjan Stevens. It came out in the Grammy year, but it's nowhere to be found in the nominations.
All of this leads me to a conclusion about the Grammys--the people who vote on them, by and large, don't really listen to music. Oh, they may work in the music business, or they may talk about music a lot, but they are certainly not the sort of people who seek out greatness or listen critically or even really listen to other people talk about music. They overhear snippets, but they just don't care enough to process it to anything. Most of the people who voted for Plans or GBMS have probably never heard them--they just remembered those band names.
(There's also the question of what constitutes "alternative". Death Cab for Cutie is constantly being name-dropped on The O.C., Franz Ferdinand has been in at least half a dozen movie commercials that I've noticed, and the White Stripes are doing a damn Coke commerical. It brings to mind the famous quote from Tom Waits, upon winning his Grammy in that category--"Alternative to what? Silence?")
Not caring about music doesn't make you a bad person--I married such a person, after all. But just as nobody should care what I think about the baseball Hall of Fame or the All-Star ballot, it's pretty silly for the music industry to give out its supposedly greatest honor based on the votes of people who don't give a damn.