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Nice Package, Jim!

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 7, 2005 7:30PM

2005_02_07_grammy.jpg With the Super Bowl over for another year, America’s pop culture radar is now flooded with innumerable awards shows, most of which are utterly pointless aside from their function as commercials for whatever corporate entity is presenting them. In order to avoid exhaustion, Chicagoist avoids most of them except for the Grammys and the Oscars.* Not because they’re the most entertaining or honor those most deserving but because there’s not much cultural insight to be gained from, say, the Blockbuster Awards. Plus, we didn’t see the Grammys the year the Soy Bomb guy jumped onstage so we make it a point to watch just in case some topless dude with the words Je suis la merde! written on his nips interrupts U2 or something.

In a series of articles in yesterday’s Sun-Times, Jim Derogatis2005_02_07_dero.jpg offered a preview (and a defense) of the Grammys. With Kanye West leading the field with ten nominations, Dero predicts he’ll go home with four awards for Song of the Year, as well as Best New Artist, Rap Song, and Rap Album. As each year brings more and more nominations for artists who are pushing music forward, the Grammys themselves often go to those artists who are coasting on their previous efforts—-and whose previous brilliance was overlooked at the time. This year’s biggest support for that notion? The many nominations for Ray Charles’s Genius Loves Company--an album with only two decent tracks (“Here We Go Again” and “Crazy Love”) and none that stand out. This year’s biggest counterargument to that conventional wisdom after the jump...

* Shameless plug: Chicagoist will be live blogging on the night of the Oscars. Join us for the back-pattery and mockery with your comments on Sunday February 27th at 7 PM CST.

Green Day’s nomination for America Idiot, an album that ranks as one of the best in its career, stands out as an unusual move in that it's a recognition of work done by a band that may be at the peak of their creative output.

The defense of the Academy comes in a series of talking points, which note that for better or worse, the Grammys are the only national awards show that attempts to reward quality rather than sales (a la the American Music Awards or the Billboard Awards). Derogatis also suggests that the Grammy haters can put their money where their mouth is by joining The Recording Academy. You must have a creative or technical credit on at least six tracks that were commercially released in the U.S. to qualify as a Voting member. (We found it amusing that the “commercially released” requirement is verified through the presence of a link on an entry. Because if it’s on the Internet, it has to be true!) Otherwise, anyone else is eligible to become an Affiliate member which means you get discounts on CDs but can’t vote for/against Britney.

By the way, we’re not sure what to make of Dero’s preoccupation with Ashlee Simpson’s “Autobiography” despite his protestations that it is a “great guilty-pleasure pop song.” Then again Chicagoist owns Gwen Stefani’s solo record and three Kylie Minogue albums so maybe we’re living in a glass house here.