Did The Most Deserving Artists Prevail?

You know the hoopla over the Grammy nominations has gotten way out of hand when even that little video screen in the elevator you’re riding in at the Empire State Building puts up “Grammy nods: Did the most deserving artists prevail?”

Even the elevator wants to know. My friend Roger Friedman at his Showbiz 411 site revives a valid point. He notes that Pink’s “Just Give Me a Reason,” released as a single in February, is up for Song of the Year, even though it was released in September 2012, as part of her 2012 album The Truth About Love.

“Pink’s album and its singles should not be eligible again, for this coming year,” he writes. Makes sense to me. But what’s never made sense to me is the Grammy eligibility period itself: The eligibility period for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards—to be held January 26, 2014—was October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013. That means all recordings released during the fourth quarter, 2013, are ineligible for that year’s Grammys, while all recordings released during the fourth quarter, 2012, are eligible.

Lenny GomulkaI realize that the nature of commercial popularity of mainstream music—ever the factor in the top Grammy categories—isn’t always related to release date. But for a recording released in 2012 to receive a Grammy in 2014 is to me too big a time warp.

Then again, it may be too big a warp of showbiz reality—and far too sensible and simple—to ask the Recording Academy to make the Grammy eligibility period the calendar year, as it is for the Academy Awards. It would most likely mean pushing the Grammy Awards show back as much as three months and to a less exciting, less hype-able time of year, I guess.

But back to the question posed by the Empire State Elevator. Did the most deserving artists prevail?

As Roger pointed out, Elton John’s “superior” (his word) The Diving Board and Paul McCartney’s New were shut out. David Bowie’s “great” The Next Day was “stuck” in the Best Rock Album category.

Not to slight Elton or Paul or David—or Roger, for that matter—but what about Lenny Gomulka’s Save The Music? What? You haven’t heard it? Heard of it? Heard of him? Lenny Gomulka & Chicago Push, the great Chicago “push polka” band leader?

Elton John - the diving boardThe day after the Grammy Awards the media always likes to point out who got “snubbed,” like there was some conspiracy at the Recording Academy to not nominate a certain artist or record. Except that there are only five nominees per category, meaning there has to be a conspiracy big enough to snub the hundreds, if not thousands, of albums or songs per category that don’t get nominated.

If anything, there’s a conspiracy to favor the nominees that do get nominated, to make it look like the Academy has its fingers on the popular pulse. Hence we get, to use Record of the Year as an obvious example, “Get Lucky” (Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams), “Radioactive” (Imagine Dragons), “Royals” (Lorde), “Locked Out of Heaven” (Bruno Mars) and “Blurred Lines” (Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell) as the nominees.

Deserving? I guess the Grammy nominating committees, voters and viewers will decide.

But I’m siding with Roger Friedman and his two-word analysis: “Oy gevalt.”



Jim Bessman


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