By Linda Smith
A & E Editor
Is artistry, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder? I believe it is, but at times, celebrities and those vested in the arts hold their own artistic talent above that of others. Kanye West, at the 57th annual Grammy awards, was a prime example.
In a fashion that is characteristic for Kanye and for some reason put up with and even thought to be funny, he walked up onto the stage promptly after the artist formerly known as Prince announced Beck’s win for best album with “Morning Phase.” Everyone thought it would be a repeat of the 2009 Video Music Awards fiasco, when Kanye stormed the stage and said that while he was proud of Taylor Swift for her Best Female Video win, Beyoncé deserved the award and accolades. As he got to the microphone at the Grammys, he stopped abruptly, smiled and turned back to his seat, while Beck urged him jokingly to come back up.
The humor was gone long before that moment for me, but in a backstage interview with E!, Kanye revealed that he had really wanted to pull the same stunt as he had before. In a series of comments, he stated that the Grammys were something of a joke, that the Grammy voters clearly “disrespected artistry” and that Beck’s award should have gone to Beyoncé.
According to their respective Wikipedia pages, Kanye is eighth on the list of most Grammys won by a male artist, with a total of 21 wins out of 53 nominations, and Beyoncé has 20 wins out of 53 nominations. Beck won his fourth and fifth awards at the 2015 Grammys out of a total of 16 nominations, and his first Best Album.
Kanye was not one of the 14 writers who worked on Beyoncé’s self-titled album, and with her impressive record, it looks to me as though Beyoncé does not need his help to win any award. Also, what really cheapens any kind of statement being made is immediately saying someone else deserved it. No one storms the electoral college saying, “I’mma let you finish, but this government official really deserves to be the nation’s president.” We respect the office holder as deserved.
Several people were not aware of Beck’s existence prior to this year’s Grammys ceremony, and it pains me that we live in a world where people have not heard of Beck, considering his incredible artistry.
Beck has stayed in a floating position between rock and alternative throughout his career, and is considered by many (mostly his fans) to be a weird guy whose appeal is in that inherent weirdness. His music, in terms of genre, is leagues away from that of Beyoncé and several of the other Best Album nominees of the year. With that in mind, Beck spoke out with true class and said that he respects both Kanye and Beyoncé as artists, and was also surprised that Beyoncé did not win.
One kind of music should not deserve to win Best Album year after year. Kanye and Beyoncé have put out fantastic work over the years, and have deserved the awards they have won from the beginning of their music careers. The same can and should be said of “Morning Phase.”
According to an E! Online article entitled “Beck: 5 Things to Know About the Multi-Talented Grammy Winner (Pay Attention, Kanye West),” it is noted that Beck plays over a dozen instruments, including unusual instruments that require discipline to play, like the glockenspiel and the sitar. His most important instrument, though, is his voice, an airy yet profound one made for singing lyrics inspired by his observations of the times.
In a Yahoo News article entitled “Kanye West Breaks Silence on Beck Grammys Diss” published Feb.11, Kanye backtracked slightly on some of his overzealous Grammys comments, saying that he does respect Beck and think Beck respects artistry. Kanye referred to his comments as “just a little jolt of truth,” noting that he’ll still be seen as a bad guy while Grammy winners (a group that, in case Kanye has forgotten, includes himself) will continue to experience success.
This level of arrogance does little to sway what he has already said and done. Apparently, if it does not have the Kanye stamp of approval, it cannot be thought of as art deserving of merit.
Beck’s Grammy-nominated track on “Morning Phase” is “Blue Moon,” and the song shows his personal level of mastery.
The track begins: “I’m so tired of being alone/ These penitent walls are all I’ve known/ Songbird calling across the water/ Inside my silent asylum.” This win has shown that things out of the norm do not have to be alone any longer, and that true artistry takes time to master.