Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A morning phase

ugh stupid extra long liner

Coat: Eddie Bauer | Cardigan: Target | Skirt: Ann Taylor Factory | Flats: Target

We need to talk about Beck's win for the Album of the Year Grammy.

I made a semi-serious commitment to listen to all five Album of the Year nominees so I could review them for work, where we post staff picks every few weeks on our website. I purchase all the music for our library system, so I try to review a lot of music. Pro bono publico, you know. I listened to all five albums, and the only one I wanted to listen to again was Morning Phase. I've found that a lot of albums now are more a compact set of singles crammed together onto one disc, but Beck's album was a comprehensive piece. You can't take a song out of it an make it a single. It is truly an album, and that is what I loved so much about it. Morning Phase suck with me. At work, I called Beyoncé the album that would win, X by Ed Sheeran the album that should win (he's an excellent songwriter), and Morning Phase was the album that I quite selfishly wanted to win, because I liked it.

So fast forward to Grammys night, and Beck wins. And I die. And then Kanye West ruins it. And then Beck saves it. And then Kanye ruins it again.

I made the mistake of looking at Twitter at one point, and I was overwhelmed by the typical "who is this hippie" tweets. But I also saw a few tweets that claimed this was discrimination--that instead of "giving" the award to a black woman or a gay man, Grammy voters "gave" the award to a white man. Just so we're clear, Sam Smith--the gay man in question--walked home with four Grammys, so that complaint is null. Beyond that, though, Sam Smith is also a white man! In addition, Beyonce also won three Grammy Sunday night. So that complaint is also null. What disappoints me most, though, is that a number of people have decided to shake away the great equalizing that music can do. You don't see who makes the music when you listen on the radio, turn up your iPhone, open Pandora. You hear the sound first, and everything else comes second. Music has this way of subverting and rising well above the basic differences we have to bring us together, to give us shared experiences. The albums are what are nominated, not just the people who performed the work. But instead, some viewers/listeners were ripping away the experience and looking just at a scrawny white Scientologist on the stage and making judgments based on that.

Fortunately for us all, Morning Phase is about much more than that. It's a smart album, and for my review at work, I compared it to the way moss grows on a tree: the album's beauty grows on you slowly at first, and then all at once. Beyonce's album may have been a new way to market, but it wasn't the most exceptional album of the year. Sam Smith sang about the same thing for 40 minutes straight. Ed Sheeran tried, but failed, to vary his music quite enough to make it count. And Pharrell put out some jams, but there was no cohesion to the album. Beck managed to strip away all the negatives of the other nominees' albums while containing their positives, all while putting his own touch on the work. And that's why Morning Phase deserved to win. I'm quite glad it did.

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