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Velcro Mary



The American Music Awards Show - More Show than Music

This months feature article was supposed to be Punk & Principle: Necessary Partners?  but that age-old debate will have to wait on the back burner until next month.  I changed my mind on what to write about this month as I sat in front of my television to watch the 2001 American Music Awards.  Why, you ask, was I, editor of Left Off The Dial, bothering to watch the American Music Awards, the popularity-based, commercial, over-rated show that Dick Clark produces with nothing in mind but ratings?  Well, tonight the AMA crew actually decided to do something noble.  Coca-Cola sponsored a New Music Award contest among un-signed bands throughout the country.  Richmond, Virginias own Carbon Leaf beat out eight hundred other un-signed bands for the well-deserved chance to perform.

As I patiently sat in front of my television, waiting for hometown boys Carbon Leaf to appear on stage, I slowly found myself more and more annoyed by what I was watching.  The first thing that aggravated me was the announcement of the winners for the award of Favorite Band, Duo or Group.  The nominees were Dave Matthews Band, N Sync, and U2.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the five music industry pawns beat out both, the musical legends and one of the most talented bands that mainstream America has been exposed to in years.  When the pawns appeared on stage to accept the award, they were somewhat surprisingly greeted with booing.  (Is America actually getting some taste?)  The pawns ringleader then told the crowd, Oh quit booing; U2s gonna win Grammys.  Chances are, the pawn is right.

I already knew that music awards shows stunk in general as far as recognizing talent, but after a little research, I discovered that the American Music Awards are the scum of all music award shows.  Producer Dick Clark was quoted as saying, I like popularity polls.  This is not to demean the Grammysthe Grammys are to the recording industry what the Oscars are to the movie business.  Its just a different way of approaching things.  It sure is, and while the Grammys are not perfect either, the AMAs are musics equivalent to your high schools superlatives, where the kid who got voted Most Talented also happened to be both super-good looking and super-rich.  The AMA nominations are formulated strictly on the basis of record sales, and the voting is done by a representative sample of record buyers.  Hey, I bought tons of records this year!  How come I never got to vote?  I must have bought the wrong recordsI apologize for having taste.

The latest hot button issue in the music industry is the lawsuit Dick Clark is pursuing against the Grammys for blacklisting artists that appear on his own AMAs.  While the Grammys Recording Academy denies strong-arming Michael Jackson into declining to perform at the AMAs, it argues that given a limited amount of airtime, it makes no sense to have artists on the Grammys who performed at another awards show a month earlier.  What an amazingly profound statement to come from a profit-driven organization!  Why not allow other artists (not necessarily the ones who sold the most records) to perform at the Grammys, whatever the Recording Academys motivation. 

But I digressback to my experience watching the AMAs.  The next annoying bit were the nominations for the award Favorite Alternative Music Artist: Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, and Staind.  Now, I know that alternative rock has never been a clearly defined term, but since when did alternative rock get redefined as rap metal?  Perhaps it was when rap metal became the only mainstream alternative to teen-pop.  Whats worse, Limp Bizkit won

Among other disturbing things I noticed on the AMAs was a humongous emphasis on stage shows.  Kid Rock had a mannequin sitting in the chair while his recorded music was playing for at least a full minutewhat a waste of time.  Then he rode out on stage on his motorcycle.  As my own mother says, We live in a strobe light society, and the circus that was the AMAs is the epitome.  The only performers without an elaborate stage show were, of course, Carbon Leaf, who were forced to trim their song, Boxer, to a ridiculous two minutes, probably so that we could watch Kid Rocks mannequin.

Appropriately enough, the nail in the coffin was the segment at the end of the show in which a clip was shown containing pictures of all the music legends that had passed away in the past year as Luther Vandross covered a couple of George Harrison songs.  The clips started with Aaliyah, showed a few more pictures including Perry Como, and ended with George Harrison.  As it ended, I was sitting there still waiting for the picture of Joey Ramone.  Music legends, they say?  I realize the events surrounding young Aaliyahs death were tragic, but someone please tell me how it is possible that she has left more of a legacy than a man who helped invent an entire genre of rock music.  What a dreadful oversight.

If nothing else, this years American Music Awards allowed Carbon Leaf the opportunity to have their music heard by a wider audience.  Whether that particular audience will appreciate their music is another story.  Awards shows in general are lacking in quality, taste, and talent, but do we really need a show such as the American Music Awards whose purpose is simply to glorify the same stars that get undeservedly glorified year-round?  I think not.  Heres to the hope of seeing some fresh talent at the Grammys next month.

-Catherine Nicholas

What do you think?  - I will post all responses to this article.

Other Feature Articles

Related articles and websites  

ABC's American Music Awards Website

Play Louder - American Music Awards Smell a Bit Funny


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