What the Grammys can learn from the Oscars
So many things went right with the Oscars this year that it is hard to believe that just nine years ago Titanic won a gazillion trophies and James Cameron declared himself the “king of the world.” So much went right that the Grammys should take a good hard look at what the Academy did and start mimicking that.
Take the Best Picture category. Three of the movies were independent or low-budget films and none of them were what most people would consider blockbusters (i.e. Lord of the Rings, Titanic, Star Wars). Also, there was no obvious frontrunner. Sure Brokeback Mountain had the hype, but the rumors were swirling around Crash and its surge to the finish. And that was just one of the surprises.
Three 6 Mafia wins an Oscar?! That’s right. Their song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow beat out Dolly Parton. THE Dolly Parton. So not only does Three 6 Mafia have more Oscars than one of country’s legends, but as Jon Stewart so eloquently put it, they have more Oscars than Martin Scorsese. Figure that one out.
The other surprises, mostly that everyone that was should have won, did. That rarely happens in most award shows.
The Oscars did mess up in a couple of categories. March of the Penguins over Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room or Murderball in the Best Documentary category?! Never mind that “Rize” wasn’t even nominated!
So what can the Academy that votes for the Grammys learn from this? First, nominate the best for each category, not the most popular. Gwen Stefani for Album of the Year? Am I the only one that thinks that that album sucked? There were no less than 100 albums that were better than that one yet Love, Angel, Music, Baby gets the nod over brilliant albums like Illinois by Sufjan Stevens or the Arcade Fire’s Funeral. Sure, Funeral was up for Alternative Album of the Year, but that could also be dubbed Critic’s Album of the Year. Every one of those albums was great. Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans, the White Stripes’ Get Behind Me Satan, Franz Ferdinand’s You Could Have It So Much Better and Beck’s Guero. All great albums. All relegated to a minor category.
Two of the most recent albums of the year have been Lifetime Achievement Awards as opposed to actual Albums of the Year. You can’t tell me that Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature was better than any of the other nominations or that Genius Loves Company was better than Green Day’s American Idiot or Kanye West’s The College Dropout. Or that Maroon 5 should have won Best New Artist over Kanye or Los Lonely Boys or Gretchen Wilson.
Also, the Grammy Academy should not be afraid to look at independent records. The Oscars rightfully honored Crash and Good Night, Good Luck, why can’t the Grammys honor Sufjan Stevens, Wolf Parade or Rilo Kiley? It’s not only the right thing to do, but it would restore a little credibility back to what has become a popularity contest.
Hopefully, somebody from the Recording Academy reads this and takes it to heart. The Oscars went indie and look at the results. The best of each category won. Think of what it could do for the Grammys. It’s just a thought.