Sunday night’s Grammys featured 23 performances, the most ever for the awards show. A-listers from every genre and generation were in attendance, with performances from Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, Beyonce, and just about everyone in-between. It was a great night for music fans.
But no one cares.
The only thing that people were talking about after Sunday night was Kanye West stopping himself before ‘Imma Let You Finishgate 2015’. When Beck beat out Beyonce (among other artists, but no one seems to be caring about them either), Kanye stormed the stage, turning back seconds before speaking. Everyone had a good laugh and it seemed like that was that. In the words of the great Miley Cyrus, he’s just being Kanye.
But if we know one thing about Kanye West, it’s that brevity is not his strength. Kanye storming an awards stage is common place at this point. Doing it in defense of Beyonce is like having a week that starts with a Monday. It was the two sentences that Kanye said later that rattled us.
Following the awards show, Kanye ranted, and yes it was a rant, to E! News about Beck’s win, putting Beck’s artistry into question, saying “Beck needs to respect artistry. He should have given his award to Beyonce.”
That’s enough, Kanye.
We love Beyonce. We love Beck. We also love Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, and Pharrell, the other musicians nominated for Album of the Year. What we don’t love is Kanye West putting another musician’s artistry into question and causing a war among fandoms online.
Articles quickly began sprouting up online, listing how many songwriters Beck uses versus Beyonce, who has sold more albums, who can play more music, who can spell Chumbawama backwards, etc. Anything that could be compared was compared. But just like ice cream choices, when it comes to music there is no right answer.
We get where West was going, or at least we think we do. He likes Beck, but he LOVES Beyonce and thinks she should win every single award that’s ever been presented to anyone in the history of time. He’s the worst combination of a proud momager and a hockey dad rolled into one.
Kanye said that by the Grammys not giving Album of the Year to Beyonce, they don’t respect artistry. What he was actually saying was ‘I’m now going to divide the world into Team Beyonce and Team Beck and see which side makes it out alive’.
West is not helping. He’s not even helping a little bit. Rather than this being an opportunity for a new generation of music fans to discover Beck’s music, he’s pushing backs against the wall and creating a division that pits artists against artists. Yes, that’s something that is technically already being done as a result of the very idea of awards shows and yes, artists are forced to compete with one another for chart positions, marketing money, and customer dollars all the time, but there’s no need to make it worse.
Music is subjective. One album selling more units than another doesn’t make the first one better. One artist winning an award doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best. What’s important is how the artist feels when they’re playing music and how the listener forms their own specific relationship to the music. Fairuza Balk’s character Sapphire from Almost Famous said it best.
We don’t care that Kanye is rude. We just wish he would learn to express himself without forcing people to defend their objective tastes. Stop sucking the fun out of music, Kanye.