Do Awards Still Have A Place In Music?
It's that time of year again when our favourite tabloids erupt into a frenzy, reporting and conspiring the endless scandals and gossip of red carpets and after-party debauchery.
Yep it's awards season; welcome to the media circus!
There's always some kind of indignity or drama creating an uproar in the weeks approaching various awards ceremonies. What appears to be the usual calm before the storm, has in fact become the purporting evil eye. And no, we're not talking about the indignity of two celebs wearing the same design; we're talking about the ability of these prestigious accolades to garner credibility in the biz.
So do awards actually help move album units and promote artists? Or are they naught a very fancy (and expensive) way to stroke the ego?
Awards are traditionally portrayed as a recognition of achievements; though many consumers and critics feel the awards have come to mean nothing and are merely an exploitation tool the record industry employs to sell more records.
Ask any artist what an award means to them, and the reply usually consists of the obligatory 'it's nice, but not what drives me to make music.'
However, not all artists agree. In fact, it can become the fuel behind the success fire and to some artists, being crowned 'the best', is more valuable than any millions they may make. Some may remember Kanye West's memorable tanties at various awards ceremonies. In 2004, he walked out of the American Music Awards, claiming he was "robbed" in the Best New Artist category. The following year, he promised hellfire and brimstone if his album 'Late Registration' didn't take home the Grammy for Album of the Year. And, perhaps most famously of all, he stormed the stage at the 2006 MTV Europe Music Awards after losing the award for Video of the Year. In 2007 he lost it because his performance of 'Stonger' at the MTV Video Music Awards took place in the Palms' Hugh Hefner Sky Villa and not on the main stage. Vowing to never again return to the MTV awards in any shape or form, he thankfully relented at the 2008 MTV VMAs and delivered a show stopping performance (Kanye also finally got his MTV VMA Moonman for Best Special Effects in a Video for 'Good Life').
A worthy awards recipient is clearly in the eye of the beholder. It could mean career benchmarks and goals complete. It could mean ultimate exposure for a break through artist and go on to provide them with an unprecedented amount of exposure. Our own ARIA Awards have thankfully managed to dodge the 'vote fixing' controversy that plagues so many other awards ceremonies. On the contrary, winning an ARIA is a true indication that an artist has not only made it on the local scene, but have the chops to infiltrate the oversees market.
And let's not forget the opportunity to be welcomed onto the world stage.
A perfect example of an act making it big off the back of an accolade is Wolfmother. The Sydney group received a Grammy for 'Best Hard Rock performance' in 2007 and Aussies everywhere were swollen with pride.
The honour and prestige of that nod alone saw the recognition of our homegrown artists the world over. The Erkinsville gentlemen then went onto lending their hit tune 'Joker and The Thief' to the cinematic blockbusters 'Jackass' and 'Shrek The Third'. This award alone propelled a once unknown talent to instant worldwide stardom and rightfully so.
According to Vibe Magazine, Eminem is the greatest rapper alive, outdoing his contemporaries in an poll which spawned some surprising results. Even Eminem was shocked. However, the timing appears to be suspiciously spot on, with rumours brewing that Eminem is quietly labouring away at home on new material alongside rap royals 50 Cent and Dr Dre. If there was ever any news to encourage a comeback, this is it!
Respected music website allaboutjazz.com claims, 'How much a song garners in revenue, or appears to have by amount of airplay, is its measure of value, as clearly demonstrated at the Grammy Awards ceremonies. And the public is made to think that what is being awarded is the best music in the nation.' Though many in the industry would agree, the evidence lies in the skyrocketing careers of those who have received recognition and have gone onto produce great music.
As for the consumer, the key is using awards not as rules of what you should listen to, but as a suggestion of talent. Awards are not about manipulation of the masses nor trying to define or tell you what 'cool' is, it's about credit to art and the work these artists put in to create it.
Don't try and convince yourself you weren't stoked when you were awarded a gold star for 'Student of the Week' in primary school. Being recognised and awarded for hard work is a feeling of accomplishment that never fails to exhilarate.
Yes, sometimes things really are as simple as they seem and there's nothing wrong with spreading the good the word. Whether it's for recognition, or just an excuse to get drunk and tear your hired Armani suit, Award ceremonies are here to stay.