Monday, February 9, 2015

Mr. Smith Goes To the Grammys (And So Does Mr. West)

After last year's kissing of all those hip-hop and electro-pop posteriors at the Grammys, I was surprised, and pleasantly so, to learn that British blue-eyed soul singer Sam Smith won four of the biggest Grammys last night - Best New Artist, Song of the Year ("Stay With Me"), Record of the Year (ditto), and best pop vocal album (In the Lonely Hour).  It was clear that, while Adele was nowhere to be seen (her next album could be called 32 or 33 before we finally hear it), her spirit clearly haunted the hall.
Even more surprising was Beck winning Album of the Year for Morning Phase.  Beck has always been one of the most interesting alternative rockers in the past decade and change, but alternative rock doesn't interest Kanye West, who, as he did at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards when Taylor Swift won an award, got up on stage to protest the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences' choice, this time without saying a word, then later saying that Beyoncé should have won.  (He said the same thing when Taylor Swift won a VMA.)  He also made it clear that Beck shouldn't have even been nominated.  He made it even clearer that he thinks Beck is a hack.
"Beck needs to respect artistry and he should have given his award to Beyoncé, and at this point, we tired of it," said West.  "Because what happens is, when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in the face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you're disrespectful to inspiration and we, as musicians, have to inspire people who go to work every day and they listen to that Beyoncé album and they feel like it takes them to another place."
He also explained why he said nothing when he jumped on stage when Beck got his Grammy. "I got my wife, my daughter and my clothing line, so I'm not going to do nothing to put my daughter at risk but I am here to fight for creativity. That's the reason why I didn't say anything tonight. But you all know what it meant when 'Ye walks on the stage."
West obviously has no need for white-boy indie rock. He also has no need for grammar or music, since he's obviously getting very far on his corrupted syntax and his outerwear collection.  Beck was gracious and classy enough to praise West as an artist in response, which was probably a smart move.  Because some times I think West is trying to goad rock fans into dismissing hip-hop and dance-pop as garbage, which would probably cause more trouble for the rock and roll crowd.
Why do we pay attention to West, anyway?  Why should his definition of artistry - one that excludes real geniuses like Beck - be the only one that matters?  And why does Paul McCartney keep hanging out with him? 

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