Surprisingly enough, the show was not somber. Channeling New Orleans memorial tradition, the mood was upbeat and a tender celebration of the memories Michael left us with. Host Jamie Foxx did an AMAZING job of showing respect to the legacy of Michael, having enough comedic twist that was not satirical of Jackson, but kept people laughing. The mood swiftly changed, however, when Janet Jackson appeared. Seemingly holding back tears, taking breath by breath, Janet gave a brief statement: “My entire family wanted to be here tonight…but it was just too painful, so they elected me to speak with all of you and I’m going to keep it very short. I’d just like to say that to you, Michael is an icon. To us, Michael is family, and he will forever live in all of our hearts. On behalf of my family and myself, thank you for all of your love. Thank you for all of your support. We miss him so much. Thank you so much.” With her father in the audience and a childhood photo of herself and Michael in the background, Janet bravely addressed the audience and the fans watching across the country. When I heard that Michael was gone, one of the 1st things that I thought was “God help this family. Everyone else is in their own grief right now, but nothing we feel compares to what this family is feeling. We lost our star, but there are children without a father, siblings without a brother, and a mother without her baby right now. Who cares what I feel…” I was glad to see Janet somewhat echo that sentiment and reminds us all that Michael, amidst all the magic, was indeed human, with a human family who was really grieving and we all just needed to take a step back for a second and acknowledge that. Following Janet’s speech, and thus closing the show was a piano performance of “I’ll Be There” by Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo.
There were performances by…..let me see if I can remember…. Ciara, Jay-z, Ne-Yo, Keri Hilson, Maxwell, Beyonce`….Jamie Foxx (of course) …and……..yeah, I’m going to have to check out the performers list to remember the rest, which is telling. I watched this award show with several of my friends and family, and the talent, or lack thereof, started a really interesting conversation about the state of the music industry today. I was making the argument that in current mainstream pop and R&B there are TOO MANY MEDIOCRE artists. Artists that are “just ok”, lack versatility, lack substance, and are talented in only one or two areas instead of many. One of the women in the room said that today’s artists are not “masters of their craft” and you don’t get a sense from them that they are “striving for excellence or growth.” One of the people my age responded to that by saying “well, this person isn’t supposed to be a “singer”, they’re just a dancer.” They’re not supposed to be a GREAT performer.” I sat back in awe of that comment. When in the heck did we just start ACCEPTING this ish?
Throughout the night, they defended poor live performances with statements like “His song DOES lack substance, but it’s not supposed to be deep. I mean, sure, it would be nice if her voice was stronger and his song had a real meaning. I would definitely like it better if we had more strong performers in music, but that’s just how it is right now.”
WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?? This is the music of OUR generation- the music they will DEFINE US by when we’re older. This is the stuff that will go on compilation albums in future decades. If you don’t really like it, and you know it could be better (hence the “better if we had more strong performers”) why are you buying it? The music industry is oversaturated with mediocrity because YOU (the consumer) keep supporting and buying it. Yes, the industry bigwigs and execs are the ones puttin’ the music out, but they’re only putting b.s. music out because people keep buying it.
With statements like “that’s just how it is”, my friends left me with the impression that they feel the market is something they have no influence over. We have more control as consumers than we think. With the recording industry, the power is split down the middle between the consumers and the bigwigs. If we stop buying this B.S. they’ll stop selling it. If we buy only from the Robin Thicke’s, the Alicia Keys’ , the Common’s, The Pink’s, the Paramore’s, the John Mayer’s, or whoever you like, the b.s. will reduce. B.S. will ALWAYS exist, but the key is to REDUCE it. It’s okay to have a Britney Spears type artist here and there, but there are way too many in the room right now. During our parents’ generation, EVERY OTHER artist was a consummate performer. It kinda went something like this: Beatles, then mediocre artist, The Jackson 5, then mediocre artist, Rolling Stones, mediocre artist, Tina Turner, mediocre artist, so forth and so on. Now, it’s like Alicia Keys, 7 mediocre artists, Coldplay, 7 mediocre artists, etc. NOT ACCEPTABLE. I’m encouraging and challenging you guys to care about the art of music (which you claim to care about) long enough to stop supporting the ringtone rap, the fruitless pop, and the soul-less R&B, so we can take back OUR music. I want something to pass on to my children, like my parents passed on Sam Cooke to me.
I’m tired of the b.s.
And don’t tell me to dig up neo-soul, Christian contemporary, or some other alternative genre. I’ve had people suggest that and say “well, you must not want to hear “real” music bad enough then, if you don’t want to get in to neo-soul.” BULL CRAP! Why should I have to change genres? I don’t like neo-soul (at least not all of it). I like pop and R&B (I’m pretty eclectic, but those are the genres I listen to the most) and I want good pop and R&B to listen to! I am determined to have the big wigs listen to me because after all, they don’t have an industry without money and they don’t have money without me (the consumer). It’s time you start catering to me, Clive Davis. TAKE BACK YOUR MUSIC CONSUMERS!