Another Grammys has come and gone.
And this year all anyone seems to be talking about is Beck winning ‘Album of the Year.’
The Beyonce fans of the world lost their chill and Kanye ran up onstage in “protest.” …Leave it to Kanye to “pull a Kanye.”
At first, I thought, ‘Oh Lord, here we go again.’ But, he turned around and ran off the stage laughing. So, I thought, ‘OK, he was making a joke.’
…Lame joke, but a joke none-the-less.
And then, I woke up the next morning:
HE WASN’T JOKING?!?!
HE ACTUALLY MEANT TO RUN UP ONSTAGE…AGAIN?!?!
Then, I went online and saw tweet after tweet and blog after blog saying: “Beyonce was robbed!” “Beyonce sold millions of copies.” “Beyonce is well-known.” “Beyonce is music royalty.” “She deserved it.”
Alright, this needs to stop.
Sit down, Kanye and lemming stans, and let me educate you.
Let’s be real…Michelangelo is art. Warhol is art.
To give a modern music example, what Sia does with her songs and music videos…is art.
Beyonce’s album is a dance-and-party-in-the-club album. And that’s OK. We need songs in life to rock out to and have fun with!
But, just because something sells well and is mainstream, doesn’t mean it’s better or deserves to win.
The Grammys are supposed to be about quality.
It’s not a popularity contest.
I thought quite a few people nominated and not nominated, including Beck, deserved ‘Album of the Year,’ not Beyonce.
But, since it was Beck who won and many people seem to think he didn’t deserve to win, let’s just look at the facts concerning Beyonce and Beck’s albums.
I’ve always been under the impression that the best and truly deserving artists are the ones who tell honest stories through their music, play their own instruments, and write their own songs.
So let’s check it out…
Beck wrote AND composed ALL of his songs.
Beyonce had as many as 8 other writers on a song at once and 6 producers on a song at once helping compose her music.
Also, Beck knows how to play more than a dozen instruments, including guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, harmonica, percussion, sitar, banjo, slide guitar, twelve-string guitar, glockenspiel, vocoder, kalimba, and melodica. Beyonce, as far as I know, doesn’t play any.
Now, let’s explore the popularity of, the themes, and the visual aspects to their albums…
Beyonce is more popular and mainstream than Beck. Does that automatically make her better? No. It just means that more people are willing to let radio stations and the media dictate what they listen to, what is good, and who is popular.
In my opinion, the leading reason that this Beyonce album was as big as it was was because it was a surprise. She dropped it without telling anyone, social media blew up, and it was the talk of every entertainment news site. People flocked to buy it in its first hours. It was a thrill. An excitement. An experience. Beyonce fans bought into her and her team’s marketing tactic. She didn’t want to announce it, have time pass, and people’s interest wane before it even came out.
Lyrically and thematically…
In Beyonce’s self titled album, the majority of songs discuss her sex life with Jay-Z. (“Drunk in Love,” “Partition,” “Blow,” and “Rocket”) So creative and innovative. Songs about sex. That’s never been done before…
Two of the songs discuss a kind of trouble in paradise for her and Jay-Z, with implications of cheating and a husband straying (“Jealous” and “Mine”). Which doesn’t match up consistently with all the other songs where she talks about her wild, monogamous sex life and happy marriage. These songs disturb the flow of the album. Also, here is an excerpt of the lyrics from the song “Jealous.”
I’m in my penthouse half naked, I cooked this meal for you naked, So where the hell you at?
So thoughtful and deep…
One song (“Pretty Hurts”) talks about how society’s idea of perfection is damaging, which would have sent a really great message except for the fact that Beyonce is the one singing about it. This is the same woman who photoshopped her Instagram photo to give herself an unrealistic and unhealthy thigh gap…Great role model. She has a bangin’ body! Why is she photoshopping herself?!
Another song called “Flawless” is meant to be an empowerment anthem, but just comes off as a hollow attempt at feminism and is filled with themes of materialism and narcissism. Feminism is about helping those who are oppressed and lifting up other women, not talking about how much better you are than everyone else in your song lyrics.
In her song, “Haunted” she’s talks about how people are working hard in 9 to 5 jobs just to survive, and how bored she is in big record label meetings. Life as a famous, multi-million dollar, recording artist must be so hard…
And don’t even get me started on the disturbing section in the song “Rocket” where she calls Jay-Z “daddy,” or Beyonce and Jay-Z referencing and laughing at the idea of Ike and Tina Turner in “Drunk in Love.” Because domestic abuse is so funny…
Beyonce’s music videos have become boring and overrated. She’s always wearing skin tight or skimpy outfits, like bikinis or leotards or lingerie. She’s always glaring sexily into the camera while gyrating about with fans blowing on her or her hair dripping wet. It’s just so cliched and overdone.
Beck’s only mainstream hit was the 1994 classic ‘Loser.’ But, he has still stayed fairly popular among the underground and indie set for the past 20 years. This newest album, ‘Morning Phase,’ has sold over 300,000 copies.
Many people were saying: “Who is Beck?” “Who is this nobody who beat Beyonce?”
Even ‘Who Is Beck’ was trending on Twitter for several hours. I thought it was just a joke because many older people were making jokes that the kids today wouldn’t know who Paul McCartney, AC/DC, and LL Cool J were. But, some people were actually serious! To which I say, how can you not know who Beck is? Yes, maybe you’ve never listened to his music before. But, to never have even heard his name spoken as part of the music industry on the radio or through entertainment news media? You have to be either 11 or completely living in your own little watered down, pop-centric, auto-tuned, mainstream radio world.
Not only this, but if you don’t even know who he is or listen to his music, then how can you criticize him or say Beyonce deserved to win?
Lyrically and thematically…
Beck’s album Morning Phase has hypnotic vocals and is so sonically cohesive. The songs of the album flow one into another forming a singular, long journey. It immerses the listener into a place where Beck questions how you live in this world when the world is so messed up. The songs wallow in a deep melancholy and delve into ideas of love, beauty, and resolve, the solutions to the problems we face.
Beck’s songs are introspective and the album starts and ends full-circle with the songs ‘Morning’ and ‘Waking Light,’ using the metaphor of a dawning morning to represent the new day, to represent reflection on the past and how to process it, to represent one’s questioning of the stage of life you are in. It is deeply personal, yet written in a way that is completely universal and relatable.
Beck’s music videos always have a simple, quiet, natural feel to them. They’re metaphorical and thoughtful. No flashing lights. No choreographed dancing. No big budgets. Just a camera and a walk through nature.
So where does this leave us?
I’m not a snobby, music hipster who doesn’t listen to mainstream music.
I also have nothing against Beyonce as a person. As you can see, I only constructively criticized and analyzed her current work. (i.e. lyrics, songs meanings, music video creative choices…etc.) I’m sure she’s very nice, although I don’t know her personally, nor do I know any celebrities, so I cannot speak for anyone’s character.
I loved her earlier Dangerously in Love and Destiny’s Child eras. Her song Blue from her self-entitled album is very beautiful and I thought her Grammy performance of the old-school, gospel song, ‘Take My Hand Precious Lord,” was simple and stunning. Plus, Beyonce has great songs to jam to in the car or when you’re out dancing with friends. You can’t tell me you’ve never rocked out to Single Ladies while driving to work or doing laundry.
BUT, we need to be conscious of music that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Even if you’ve never heard of an artist or if you don’t personally like their music, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t create a beautiful piece of art.
So many people are blinded by their idolization of celebrities that they would follow them no matter what they do. Even if that means following them off of a cliff. (Did you know some Beyonce fans were sending death threats to Beck and starting petitions to strip him of his Grammy?! Crazy…) As a fan of something, you don’t have to ignorantly love everything that your favorite music artist says or sings. There are plenty of singers and musicians who create music that I love, but have things about them that I don’t like or particular songs I don’t enjoy. (There are things about Beck and songs of his that I don’t like.)
AND THAT’S OK.
Part of being a receptive and conscious fan is being able to form your own opinion about things and criticize the things you love. If anything, I would say that those who are the best and most passionate fans have constructive criticism for their favorite shows, movies, and music.
Beyonce can’t be the winning music artist every single year. The mainstream public needs to learn to respect other artists and the work that they do.
In this era of Spotify not putting value on music as art and the public downloading, or even illegally stealing, single songs without experiencing full albums, we all need to learn to appreciate things that aren’t spoon-fed to us by corporate, music industry, marketing teams and the entertainment media. We need to support un-manufactured, true, music artists who tell their stories honestly, write their own music, and have real talent, without the likes of auto-tune.
We need to put value on and invest in real music again. We need to “respect” TRUE “artistry.”