Music Exec Slams Grammys
Why? Because they don't honor the most popular nominees.
Veteran marketing and music executive Steve Stoute lashed out at the Grammys and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Sunday in a full-page newspaper advertisement, admonishing the organization for losing touch with contemporary pop culture and failing to acknowledge the talents of hugely successful artists like Justin Bieber and Eminem.
Stoute’s ad, which appeared in the New York Times, also criticizes the “over-zealousness to produce a popular show that is at odds with its own system of voting,” and how artists like Eminem and Bieber — who were snubbed for Album of the Year and Best New Artist, respectively – are still called upon to goose ratings for the show. Both artists performed at the 53rd annual awards fête on Feb. 13, which attracted 26.7 million viewers - - the show’s largest audience since 2001.
To further his argument about how NARAS is out of touch, Stoute — who is best known for once managing the rapper Nas — also took issue with how Kanye West’s Graduation was beaten out for Album Of The Year by Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters during the 50th Annual Grammys, and how Steely Dan triumphed over Enimem in 2001. “While there is no doubt in my mind of the artistic talents of Steely Dan and Herbie Hancock, we must acknowledge the massive cultural impact of Eminem and Kanye West and how their music is shaping, influencing and defining the voice of a generation,” wrote Stoute, who as the CEO of the marketing company Translation, works with recording artists to find advertising opportunities in the corporate world. (For more about Stoute, check out this profile in Time from last year).
I, for one, thought it was very cool that Steely Dan won Album of the Year. I hadn't heard it at the time it won, and although I'm a fan of the band, wasn't exactly blown away by the CD when I finally gave it a listen. But maybe they were overdue. Or not. Still, the idea that it's laughable that a veteran "rock" act wins a Grammy for Best Album is kind of appalling to me. With movie awards, people are often honored for lesser performances/films and given career awards. Yes, it's frustrating, but it's also kind of understandable. Often these folks have been shut out for earlier, more worthy efforts, and their peers are playing catch-up. Viewers and fans are left to argue the merits of the individual performance or work, but it just doesn't work that way.
As for Herbie Hancock, that win was wild. I like Hancock's most popular CDs from decades ago. Never been a Joni Mitchell fan. And, when I caught up with Hancock's tribute CD, was unmoved. But how cool was it that a jazz artist won Album of the Year? Never happens. First time in, like, 50 years that it had happened, right? And yet there's great "danger" in honoring said album at the expense of much more commercially successful artists of the moment.
Tough nouggies. Them's the breaks. Bieber and Eminem will get more moments in the sun, probably when they're well past their primes (is Beiber already there?). I'm not sure there's anything more to be said on the matter, but chime in if you feel strongly about this.
Edited by Christian, 21 February 2011 - 12:37 PM.