Following Beck’s winning Album of the Year my Facebook feed was filled with multiple posts validating this as the correct choice. Many people I know reposted memes dealing with the below issues as well as linked to this BuzzFeed article. I, however, found myself in disagreement over this sudden solidarity and especially with BuzzFeed’s article. After all, two of the five claims made in the list (He’s deserved an Artist of the Year award since 1995 and he threw a shoe in an interview with Thurston Moore in 1995) literally have nothing to do with anything Beck has produced in the past year while the memes have a notion of artistry that are very limited and thus refute below. That said, here’s the five reasons why Beyoncé ought to have been the true winner for Album of the Year!
1. Beck is just a musician, Beyoncé is an artist.
Beck isn’t even on the same level as Beyoncé. Beck released a CD of audio recordings while Beyoncé released a visual album. These are not just music videos that she released, but a thematically coherent and visual choreographed creation. Beck has a single video to support his album. If music is a vehicle for education, entertainment, and edification than the album Beyoncé is a spaceship while Morning Phase is a dinghy.
2. Beyoncé’s art has greater mass appeal.
At the time of writing this Beck has sold only 330,000 copies of his album Morning Phase while Beyoncé has sold over three million. Beyoncé has over seven million followers of her YouTube Channel. Beck does not even have eighty thousand. I’m not so naïve as to mistake sales and followers for great art – after all Nickleback and the Twilight movie series both had high sales. Sales are, however, a consideration that with the others prove she is the greater artist and that her album is better.
3. Beyoncé’s art has greater niche appeal.
Due to the nature of art that Beyoncé produces . For instance shortly after the publication of her her video for Run with husband Jay-Z’s discussion about elements of it were featured on Critical Theory magazine, Glenn Beck and a segment of NPR. Lest I be accused of overly emphasizing one particular video that managed to resonate across various minor sphere’s I would also encourage you to check out once of many websites that document the “Illuminati” imagery and purported history of the artist. This is because she is an audio-visual artist. Perhaps there are some corners of the internet that go into similar dissections of Beck, but I was not able to find any.
4. Beyoncé’s avowed inclusion of other artists into her production process is an item in her favor, not against it.
The production of art is not some isolated event created out of some magical sphere of inspiration. Musicians are constantly influenced by the people they meet, the places they go and the art they consume. As Picasso said, good artists borrow, great artists steal.While it may be difficult to quantify at times that doesn’t meant that given enough time and effort such influences can’t be found. Bey is giving us a list of artists that she thinks are worthy enough to work with her and thus encouraging us to expand our audience!
5. Beck is falsely lauded for introspection.
Some of the comments that I’ve read and the images like those above falsely place Beck’s introspective lyrics above what are wrongly presumed to be Beyoncé’s more lighthearted pop verse. Beyoncé deals with serious issues such as feminism, monogamy, parenthood, self-esteem and more but all in a way that is empowering rather than maudlin. To presume that because a few songs on it are lighthearted dance songs means that it is not sufficient to be “high music” is to denigrate some of the most important emotions of the human condition.
Beck winning was a legacy nod rather than an actual win and his doing so is more a comment on the nature of award-granting institutions than any real reflection of what is “Album of the Year”. After all, the only reason that the Grammy’s are granted any credibility as a curator of good taste in an age that makes it easier for consumers to grant similar accolades is due to their age which – 50 years – in the grand scheme of things is no long stretch of time. The composition of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences after all is but a small number of self-selected personages able to pay for membership and meet a criteria that my even my father, no music industry insider or player, is able to be a member of. The Grammy’s provide no rhyme or reason for their choices, but rely solely upon consensus of their members. I however disagree and wrote the above to refute the cases that I’ve encountered in Beck’s favor. Don’t agree with me? Decide for yourself after experiencing Beyoncé and listening to Morning Phase, make a case and share it with me.