Last night, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 2013 iteration of the Grammy Awards in a star-studded musical extravaganza – a spectacle dubbed, according to the organization’s official social media presence, “The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!! — Countdown To Music’s Biggest Night.”
This is a sad title. Its two exclamation points reek of desperation, of unnecessary enthusiasm, of blind unawareness.
And although this is, indeed, a sad title, the Grammy Awards don’t deserve our mockery.
Last year, according to Billboard Magazine, the Grammys saw a renaissance; the ceremony was viewed by over 39 million people, compared with 26.67 in 2011 and 25.87 the year before. That means – in completely unscientific isolation, of course – that more and more people are watching the Grammys every year.
Janelle Monáe performs with fun. at the “The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!!”
And although there were unique reasons for the 2012 broadcast’s astronomical success – a highly anticipated tribute to the late Whitney Houston among them – there’s no reason to believe that this year’s ceremony won’t benefit from the momentum. What’s more, the program promises to recognize some incredible talent. Nominations, especially in the ceremony’s niche categories, acknowledge a broad swath of artistic talent, which means everyone from Kanye to Gotye (and LMFAO to Diplo) could receive the prized gold trophies.
Also, there will be pretty dresses.
There are a lot of reasons to watch the Grammys, but every year, college kids don’t seem to buy them. Chris Shore, a USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent last spring, reported that the 2012 Grammys were “a mixed bag” for college students, with few interviewed students anticipating the ceremony with enthusiasm. And despite 2012′s remarkable viewership, Meghan DeMaria, another USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent last spring, concluded that “even the professionals couldn’t contain their disdain from the majority of performances,” and that the ceremony – burdened by its attempt to be all things to all people – fell flat.
What explains the disconnect between the ratings and the reactions? On my end, I think a cycle emerges.
Every year, college students watch the Grammy Awards. We, on balance, like it; after all, Kanye and Gotye are there, our favorite artists receive awards (or are cruelly, dramatically snubbed – what theater!) and there are pretty dresses. Awards shows are campy and fun and a little bit ridiculous, so you should expect them to be somewhat cringeworthy; this is largely why they are fun in the first place.
Yet we emerge from each Grammy broadcast war-torn and dirty. We are ashamed. We ask ourselves, “Did I really just allow myself to enjoy that performance?” No! we think to ourselves in defiance. I cannot become an award-show person; I cannot admit that I am the sort of person; I cannot tell the world. I am not one of them – the dress-lookers, the party-throwers, the nail-biters.
So we tell everyone that we hated the Grammys.
It is this post-Grammy, anti-Grammy melodrama that induces the kinds of embarrassing social media campaigns that the Grammys are currently pursuing. They think that you won’t watch, because you revel in your Grammy-hate, from which you derive a perverse sense of pleasure. So they, the Grammys, attack us, the 18-49 demographic – viciously, and with two exclamation points.
This year, I am no longer content to watch the Grammys suffer from marketing campaigns that ooze with unnecessary desperation. So admit it – you will watch the Grammys. You will probably enjoy it, and, if not, you will at least enjoy part of it, or most of it or even a tiny little bit toward the end, I promise. Watch the ceremony, and admit it – to me, to your friends, to whoever does the marketing for the Grammys.
Maybe then they’ll drop the second exclamation point.
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