Sunday, April 14, 2024

Grammy Bold Choices: Arcade Fire, Esperanza Spalding


The Grammy Award for Best New Artist has really kicked up a tempest in a teapot. The fans–maybe thinking this was a bogus award show like the People’s Choice for American Music Awards–wanted a passing fad like Justin Bieber. It wasn’t going to happen. The award is for Best New Artist.  It’s probably the fault of the mass market celebrity machine that anyone would categorize Bieber as an ‘artists.’  He is a construct of a marketing campaign. That he got the nomination is an achievement in and of itself.

The other nominees–Drake, Mumford, Florence and the Machine–have a temporary quality to them. Spalding, who’s an educated, serious musician, no doubt seemed like the choice who would have a long career. She was a bold choice, and should be applauded.

The rest of the Grammy winners are debatable, but that’s always been the case. Pop music is totally subjective. I would have thought the Record of the Year was Alicia Keys’s “Empire State of Mind” or Train’s “Hey Soul Sister.” Cee Lo Green’s “F You” was simply not going to be rewarded with that title, even though it’s a great single.

Album of the year went to Arcade Fire. Considering how little respect rock has gotten in recent years, choosing Arcade Fire was a cool move.Here’s the problem: the Album of the Year category included Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, who are singles artists. Lady Antebellum received Best Record and Best Song, improbably, since they deserved neither. Album of the Year would have been a farce. Eminem is considered a rap artist. He’s masterful in that category. But it’s unlikely the Grammys are going to bestow their highest honor on a recording full of four letter words. (See Cee Lo Green.) There are legacies at stake here.

And still, this was a highly rated Grammy broadcast. All kinds of music and artists were showcased. And that’s what the Grammy Awards are about: diversity.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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