While incorporating the tiniest inkling of what the current state of popular music is today, the 2003 Grammy nominations maintain the tradition of letting inebriated monkeys pick the potential winners by hurling dung at a spinning wheel of names. As if it’s not confusing enough to have two categories for the same award (Album of the Year and Record of the Year), the Grammy roster is bespattered with the usual list of culprits: the overplayed, the under-talented and the curious curve balls of the music industry. In all fairness, even pretentious Artsweek editors will gleefully tune in, like the 2 billion expected to watch this year’s telecast, so as to ogle, mock and salivate all over America’s royalty: rich, famous celebrities.
The Grammy Awards, established back in 1957, has always been a commercial event for those with bulging pockets to parade their talent and hopefully “move more units” from shelves. More importantly, the Grammys have almost never nailed the current trends in music with much success and instead have retained their unbearably unhip stereotype. Rarely do names pop up that haven’t worn out their welcome and become the “ohhh, God, not this song again” songs that listeners have happily sold back to their local record store.
Record of the Year and Album of the Year have nominees like Eminem, Nelly and even the Jesus-haired Canadians, Nickelback. If you’re a brunette with an affinity for the piano, 2002 might’ve been your year, judging by Norah Jones’ five nominations and Vanessa Carlton’s eight. Even still, the half-naked and angst-ridden have their hunk of the pie between Britney Spears (Best Female Pop Vocal), Christina Aguilera (Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals), Avril Lavigne (five nominations including Song of the Year) and Pink (Best Female Pop Vocal).
The nominations for Best Pop Performance by a Group leads even the most well-versed music aficionado to believe the Recording Academy does not differentiate between the words “pop” and “everything,” as Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band, No Doubt, *NSYNC and a publicity-challenged band called Bowling for Soup each got a nod. Best Pop Instrumental Performance was equally head-scratching, pitting BB King and Moby in the running for the same award.
In the category of Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, the Recording Academy showed a clear preference for the tried, true, wizened, wrinkled and Viagra-popping crowd, deeming Bowie, Costello, Gabriel, Plant and Springsteen the only names worthy of a nomination. Respectable bands like Queens of the Stone Age and Foo Fighters both garnered recognition for their efforts (Best Hard Rock Performance), but 2002’s spate of indie rockers was wholly ignored, even after the flush of bands like The Hives, The Strokes and the White Stripes. Remarkably, the same academy nailed 2002’s alternative artists squarely, recognizing Beck, Clinic and Soundtrack of Our Lives for their daring sonic ventures.
As far as the notoriously vague R&B category goes, one gives props for including the living impaired (Aaliyah for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance) and being ballsy enough to put R. “I-Swear-I-Thought-She-Was-At-Least-Seventeen” Kelly on the ballot (Best Male R&B Vocal Performance). The rap category is equally wishy-washy as it includes stinkers like Mystikal (Best Male Rap Solo Performance) and Petey Pablo (Best Rap Album). Note that a plethora of albums by groups like N.E.R.D., Jurassic 5 and Blackalicious were ignored in favor of socially conscious entries like “Pass the Courvoisier Part II” (Busta Rhymes feat. P.Diddy & Pharrell) that actually skyrocketed the liquor company’s sales by almost 300 percent.
We can only hope the monkeys’ aim improves in time for next year.