By Bruce Edwin
The Grammy’s were held this last Sunday night, with at least one reporter asking the head of the Grammy’s later during press interviews, why there were not more women nominated for awards. Grammy CEO Neil Portnow, who I have had the pleasure to meet at a Grammy’s event, is a very down to Earth, nice guy. Neil reportedly stated something to the effect of there was nothing stopping women from being more involved, and that they simply needed to step up and get more involved. Neil later faced a backlash for this remark, according to the LA Times, and later stated his remarks were taken out of context, and regretted the words he used.
The fact is, it is not Neil’s fault, or in my view–anything necessarily against women. The Grammy’s are an awards show for very mainstream, largely safe artists that fit a certain mold and genre, that are already at the top of their game.
Even though YouTube is what now dominates the music industry, and is the actually relevant barometer of the industry, the Grammy’s largely ignore that–the YouTube stars. Before YouTube, it was the music blogs, and before the blogs, it was the fanzines, radio, and TV including MTV and VH1.
Grimes, below–is a major music star who has racked up millions of views, and sells out venues around the world. She is also one of the greatest new artists working in music today.
One award at the Grammy’s is the so called New Artist Category, of which the majority of all said winners throughout the history of the Grammy’s further fall into the same predictable genre category, that don’t really shake up the system.
Sade and Amy Winehouse’s wins in this category back in the day are notable, however Amy was bringing back blues, and Sade was bringing back jazz to pop music–two already very established genres. Culture Club‘s win in the same category was also good, yet considering the massive influence of New Wave and Punk, countless bands were still ignored for this or any other awards category from these genres. Evanescence were also a notable win in this category, yet here too, countless other bands in the so called gothic / metal crossover genre, or the metal / industrial crossover area were totally ignored. Nine Inch Nails, for example, who were massive for years in the club circuit, did not get noticed by the Grammy’s until years later.
Does it matter? Not really. The best music throughout time has often times been ignored by Rolling Stone, Billboard, and the Grammy’s. I and others like me, were listening to bands including The Smiths, Depache Mode, The Cure, The Cult, Echo and the Bunnymen, Jesus and Mary Chain, Mazzy Star, The Cranberries, Jane’s Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins, Ministry, Hole, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sonic Youth, and countless more before they became ‘trendy’ enough to be noticed by the so called mainstream.
The Grammy’s are an important musical institution–sure, and they do a lot of good. But, ultimately, they are not the only barometer of greatness in music. The Grammy’s are the mainstream of the mainstream.
Bands and artists including Skinny Puppy, Suicidal Tendencies, Diamanda Galas, Lydia Lunch, Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Death In June, and countless other greats, have been and continue to be simply ignored by The Grammy’s. And, that’s OK.
U2 of course, are a great band, and put on a great performance Sunday night. Sting is a massive talent and naturally–never disappoints. Elton John is an amazing singer and songwriter, who did a great performance with Miley Cyrus. Miley–despite her haters, is a truly talented singer with a great vocal range, who really respects musical history and multiple genres, as seen by her duets with Metallica, Billy Idol, and others. Pink, though not my preferred style, also has an incredible vocal range and did great. Kesha, who exploded online with her massive YouTube hit Tik Tok, is a truly great songwriter and singer, who performed a heartfelt, powerful set backed by Cyndi Lauper, among others, singing about a women getting enough courage to leave an abusive man. Having read Kesha’s biography, I am very happy for her that she achieved this herself, and is spreading her talent and love to the world.
Lady Gaga, who also respects multiple genres, having done songs with Tony Bennett, Elton John, and Marilyn Manson among others, is a truly great singer with an outstanding range and vocal control. Aside from U2, these women were the most entertaining this Grammy night, performing the best songs.
Alessia Cara won the best new artist award, yet very sweetly mentioned how many other great artists were out there that don’t have the numbers to be considered for such awards shows, that deserve more recognition. This is of course–totally true.
Of the best new music being made across the past decade, the majority of it just happens to be made by women–and, it is largely ignored by the Grammy’s.
Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Warpaint, Grimes, Tove Lo, Mo, Elliphant, Sunflower Bean, Pussy Riot, Niia, Starcrawler, and countless more new musical acts are women, or led by women, and most are very successful. Lana Del Rey was in the audience. She, and all of the artists above, should have not only been present, but nominated or performing, or both.
The problem is not totally with the Grammy’s not making room for women in the Grammy’s. The problem is with the Grammy’s not making room for better, more daring, and more original music–period.
But instead of waiting for the institution of the Grammy’s to change, or trying to change it, perhaps someone should instead Create a new awards show. An alternative to The Grammy’s, that actually awards artist’s awards based on things such as creative uniqueness, soul, and original talent–not just on how well they get popular at following mainstream trends already established and laid out before them. Some of those already established artists at the Grammy’s may even get a chance to compete in the new awards show too–after some of them get introduced to a greatly needed vocal coach and learn how to sing on key.
Artists deserve awards. They work hard, and everyone likes to feel appreciated. We don’t need the Grammy’s to tell us women are important to music. Woman ARE music. From Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Rudimanary Peni, Patti Smith, X-Ray Spex, We’ve got a Fuzzbox, Blondie, The Slits, PJ Harvey, Ella Fitzgerald, Lauryn Hill, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Toyah Wilcox, Bjork, Siouxsie Sioux, Hope Sandoval, Tina Turner, Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, Kim Gordon, Ivy, Veruca Salt, Courtney Love, The Breeders, Bikini Kill, Poe, Letters to Cleo, Garbage, The Cocteau Twins, Ute Lemper, and countless more; Women comprise far over 50% of the best music of all time, and of the past 10 years, over 95% percent of the best music being created is by WOMEN.
So on second thought, maybe the Grammy’s really ARE ignoring handing out more female awards on purpose. Because maybe if they started actually handing out the awards to the people that truly deserved it, the men would be OUTNUMBERED. And if we are–that’s quite alright with me. I prefer the company of women anyway; especially the talented ones.
Check out our music page here at subnormal magazine at the Hollywood Sentinel LINK below, to see The REAL best in music of 2017; all women.
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