Random Thoughts – Randocity!

The Grammy Awards: What were they thinking?

Posted in awards, botch, entertainment by commorancy on February 2, 2014

GrammySo, I’m all for mutual-admiration-societies. You know, where you’re recognized by your peers with a gaudy gold award for producing something that’s entirely your job. Though, I suppose the point is to recognize that some creative works are better than others, but no one goes around pinning awards in most professions. No, this is a phenomena pretty much strictly involving the entertainment industry, and almost exclusively limited to Hollywood. I say ‘almost’ because the Tony awards recognize outstanding theater performers (which is pretty much exclusive to New York). And yes, there are the Saturn awards for novels, but again this is still considered entertainment.

Good Work or A** Kissing? You decide.

So, I’m all for recognizing good musical work. After all, that’s what the radio is for. Listeners vote by asking for music to be played and by purchasing it. Of course, we all know that’s not exactly true. Radio stations put music into heavy rotation mostly because of things other than popular requests. Sure, sometimes it is, but most times it’s because the producer wants it played and pays for that. And you might think that consumer music purchases are what drives the ‘Gold’ and ‘Platinum’ certifications. Nope. These certifications are assigned based solely on how many copies SHIPPED to retailers. Not how many were ultimately purchased. So, if 1 million copies are shipped to retailers, that’s considered ‘Platinum’. If 500,000 copies ship to retailers, that’s considered ‘Gold’. I’m not even sure how or if digital purchases factor into these certification programs.

The assumption is that the certification implies that there is a correlation between sales and shipments, but that doesn’t explain cut-outs. Let’s just say that this certification program is a bit of a scam. It doesn’t really say anything about the quality of the music or whether the music actually sold. The sales are merely implied. If someone has deep enough pockets to print 1 million copies of an album and get them shipped to retailers (whether or not a single copy sells), that would still be certified as a platinum album.

Music is subjective

Yes, it is. But, music is also derivative of other works. Sometimes it’s outright copying. Sometimes it’s rehashing tired themes and genres that have already been tread. Let’s take the 2014 Grammy Album of the Year: Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories as an example. What’s wrong with this album? Well, it’s good, but it’s not the best album I’ve ever heard. The music on RAM is mostly derivative, tired and somewhat cliche not to mention retro. It’s not that it’s not well performed, but it’s well under the level of skills I’ve heard from Daft Punk. The 2010 Tron Legacy Daft Punk soundtrack is a much stronger work musically than Random Access Memories by far. So what does that say?

It says that of all of the albums released in 2013, Daft Punk’s was the best. In fact, I found a large number of tracks on Random Access Memories unlistenable. Not because the tracks weren’t produced or performed well, but because they are just musically weak. They just don’t hold up to repeated listens. Yet, here we have the Grammy judges selecting it as the best album of 2013.

Personally, the best album of 2013 in my eyes would have to be OneRepublic’s Native. But, this album wasn’t really even recognized, for the most part. Only a single OneRepublic track was even nominated, ‘I Lose Myself’ and it didn’t win. The album wasn’t even nominated for best album. Yet Daft Punk’s mediocre album was nominated and won… so…

What’s up with that?

So what’s up with that is that it isn’t about the best music. It’s about the notoriety of the artist. Daft Punk has been recently riding the wave of publicity. The Grammy judges are only riding that same wave along with the artists. Winning has little to do with the music and has everything to do with trying to pull in as many viewers as possible. That’s crystal clear.

Daft Punk will drag in tons of viewers. OneRepublic won’t. But, OneRepublic’s Native is a completely outstanding and consistent album of mostly fresh tracks. I will state that they do sound a little like U2, but with a much needed sound update. However, the songs are mostly original, fresh and stand up to repeated listens especially when placed into a pop playlist of other tracks.

On the other hand, the Daft Punk RAM tracks are too long, sound too dated, are chock full of interruptions & weird intros and just drone on far too long in a pop playlist. Basically, they’re not something that I want to listen to often in a playlist. On the other hand, when I get into the mood for OneRepublic, I want listen to the whole album over and over. The songs are melodic, have catchy hooks, are mixed solidly, have solid musical themes and just overall work well as pop tracks. But, it’s just not individual tracks. It’s a whole album of them. They’re all consistent, catchy and fresh from start to finish of the album. There’s really not a bad track or performance on OneRepublic’s Native and this is, if no other reason, why this album is actually better than Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. Of course, if you don’t like bands like U2 or The Script, you may not find the music to your taste, but that doesn’t make this album any less strong production-wise or musically.

The Grammy Snub

So, not seeing a musical artist like OneRepublic recognized for their outstanding work on an album like Native is a fairly major snub. The Grammy awards simply snubbed this artist for no real reason. It also says the Grammy awards are in it for the viewers and the money, not for actually recognizing the best music released during a year. This is the reason I generally avoid watching award shows. I just don’t trust the judges to pick the best works for that year. I’d rather find the best entertainment myself. As for Bruno Mars’s win, I’m on the fence. Unorthodox Jukebox had some strengths, but his vocals were really not that strong.  He’s a reasonably good vocalist, but not the best I’ve heard. Unfortunately, I found the songs on Unorthodox Jukebox themselves to be less than impressive than OneRepublic’s Native. I’m not even sure why Unorthodox Jukebox was even considered for the 2014 Grammy awards as the album was released in December of 2012. Mutual admiration societies are really not good at actually picking the most outstanding of their bunch.

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Entertainment Awards: Why so popular?

Posted in awards, entertainment, TV Shows by commorancy on January 26, 2009

What is it about entertainment awards shows that make people want to watch?  Is it the women’s dresses, the celebrities or what?  Whatever it is, I really don’t get awards shows.  Further, I don’t get why news outlets feel compelled to show us these boring affairs.

What’s the point?

First, think about where you work.  Then, ask yourself if you have ever gotten an award simply for doing your job?  Rarely, if ever.  So, why does the entertainment industry feel compelled to pat themselves on the back by giving out awards?  If someone excels at doing a job well, that’s what the company paid you to do.  They didn’t pay you to do a poor job.  So, do you deserve an award for simply doing your job?

Celebrities are paid to act, sing, dance or whatever.  They’re paid to do it well.  In fact, the point to them paying the actor at all is to make sure the movie or music is done well.  Sure, some of the quality is in the hands of the producer, director, writers and other technical behind-the-scenes people.  But, a convincing performance is the basis for much of the quality of the entertainment.  Again, that’s what they are paid to do.

Red Carpet

So, why do people feel compelled to watch celebrities strut down the red carpet in their latest (borrowed, in many cases) designer fare?  Well, I can tell you that I am not one of those people.  I don’t want to hear about them, I don’t want to watch them and I certainly don’t want to read about them in the news.  For me, news is about events that matter.  That someone was handed a trophy for doing a job they were paid to do doesn’t do anything for me.  Watching someone thank every person who ever mattered to them (and possibly stumbling over their words, or on the carpet) doesn’t interest me overall.

Mutual Admiration Society

For whatever reason, Hollywood (and the rest of the entertainment industry) insists on foisting these annual awards programs on us year after year.  I always dread the start of the new TV year just for that reason.  I really don’t care that someone in Hollywood feels compelled to hand out a trophy (gold or otherwise).  I don’t want to watch them do it.  I don’t want to watch the entertainers who dot these extremely boring affairs and I certainly don’t want to be invited to any of these plastic mutual admiration events.

The Academy allegedly prides itself on its standards.  Yet, year after year it digs itself into deeper and deeper holes by picking only those stars who produced the most ‘popular’ films.  I can understand why some celebrities actually snub awards shows and refused to attend or accept any awards.  Then you have the other side where certain celebrities want nothing more than to be graciously accepted with open arms.  In fact, they try so hard that these awards outfits intentionally snub them time after time.  So, it’s less about how well you do and more about who’s butt you kiss.  And here I thought the awards were about how well you did? 

Awards Shows and their societal significance

Considering that the best thing that movies and music do is fuel more movies and music (by unloading large sums of cash to that industry), this entertainment is simply vacuous forgettable time wasters.  In a rare instance, Hollywood might produce a salient worthwhile work, but these are so few and far between that awards shows don’t need to exist.  These rare worthwhile informative works are the ones that awards are made of.  However, these cheesy Hollywood awards are given out so frequently to the wrong people, the awards themselves are meaningless trinkets.

Good Riddance

If the awards shows disappeared today, I wouldn’t even miss them.  It might put a few people in LA out of business who might otherwise organize such an event.  In time, society wouldn’t even miss them.   As it is now, the media feels compelled to shove these trite affairs down our widescreen plasmas.  However, I’d much rather see an actual educational and informative program than watching an hour and a half  of vacuous boring people serving meaningless trinkets to people who simply did their job (or kissed a butt or two).   I’m just confused by people who don’t understand that that’s an hour and a half (or longer) of your life that you will never get back when you watch these empty shows.  So, why watch?

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