We’re Supposed to Report on Last Night’s Grammys, But We Don’t Want To

Congrats to The War on Drugs, The National, and Father John Misty, and That's About It

Jan 29, 2018
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We're a music magazine and website and so I guess we're supposed to report on last night's Grammy Awards, but we really don't want to. Perhaps that's like a film magazine not wanting to cover the Oscars, but the Academy Awards, while certainly ignoring some great independent films each year, have a better track record of giving awards to worthy artists than the Recording Academy does. For better or for worse, Under the Radar's bread and butter is indie rock music, whatever that means these days, and while we can appreciate a good pop or hip-hop song, most of the artists nominated for Grammys each year are of little relevance to us.

Some of our writers liked Album of Year nominees Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. and Lorde's Melodrama enough for them to make our Top 100 Albums of 2017 list, but the awards we probably most cared about, Best Rock Album and Best Alternative Music Album, weren't even given out on the main televised show (still congrats to Under the Radar favorites The War on Drugs for winning the former and fellow favorites The National for winning the latter, and also to Father John Misty for winning Best Recording Package).

We're supposed to be writing think pieces on how in this #MeToo and Time's Up era, although Kesha's moving performance of "Praying" addressed the issue, only one woman won a solo award during the televised portion (Alessia Cara for Best New Artist), Lorde wasn't invited to give a solo performance even though all the other Album of the Year nominees (who were male) were (JAY-Z declined), and Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said in an interview with Variety today that women basically need to try harder if they want to get more nominations next year (okay, he said they needed to "step up because I think they would be welcome"). But we're really not that interested, because even if there were more female nominees, most would likely be more interchangeable pop stars to our ears (sorry, we never really got behind modern poptimism).

We're also probably meant to be writing outraged articles on how Kendrick Lamar was robbed and Bruno Mars shouldn't have swept the major categories. But while Lamar's DAMN. was our #6 album of 2017, our #1 (The War on Drugs), #4 (Slowdive), #5 (Wolf Alice), #7 (The National), #8 (Grizzly Bear), #9 (Father John Misty), and #10 (Japanese Breakfast) were all released within the eligibility period for this year's Grammys and weren't nominated for Album of the Year. And of those only The War on Drugs was nominated for Best Rock Album and only Father John Misty and The National were nominated for Best Alternative Album (even though Arcade Fire's poorly received Everything Now was nominated).

And sure, there was 2011, when Arcade Fire surprised everyone and won Album of the Year for one of their best albums, The Suburbs. And then there was that odd year (2015) when Beck won Album of the Year for Morning Phase, surely not his finest work (nor his worst). And we appreciated that this year U2 performed in front of the Statue of Liberty to make a statement about immigration and to reference "shithole countries" (although too bad CBS bleeped that part out). We also applaud that they had a skit where musicians auditioned to read the audio book for Trump take down Fire and Fury, ending with a surprise appearance from Hillary Clinton. But in general, the Grammys aren't for us and rarely have been. They usually give awards to the biggest, most established, least challenging artists than to the best ones, such as 2001 when Album of the Year went to old timers Steely Dan for late period album Two Against Nature over Radiohead's Kid A, Beck's Midnight Vultures (which is one of his finest albums), and Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP. So we could be writing about how the Grammys ratings took a 24% tumble this year and how they left The Fall's Mark E. Smith, Can's Holger Czukay, and Hüsker Dü's Grant Hart out of this year's "In Memoriam" tribute to those who passed away since the last Grammys. We could be posting videos of all the notable performances as most other music sites have done, but if you really care about the Grammys you either watched it live or have already watched the videos elsewhere.

Until the Grammys start nominating and giving awards to artists we feel actually make the best music of each year we just don't care about the awards show and won't waste any more time, energy, or words on this year's ceremony. And perhaps you shouldn't either.

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Peter
January 29th 2018
8:20pm

I couldn’t agree any more with this view of the Grammys.  Thank you for writing about the music that I care about.