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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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The Art of Performing

The number of categories for the 54th Grammy Awards has seen a dramatic drop from years past. Where there were once 109, now there are only 78. While dropping categories isn't a new concept – there were once Disco and Polka awards – and while I'm sure there are very few who lament the loss of a Polka award, there is one category the Grammy's have never bothered to add – Best Live Performance.

The Grammy's gain respect by being the only American music award show that encompasses an immense range of music genres – from rock and folk to classical and children's music, the Grammy's attempt to make sure talent in all fields is given a chance to receive its hard earned awards.

Kudos.

It's nice that artists have a chance to be rewarded for music that has been finely tuned after hundreds of separate recordings and limitless tries. None of this matters if they can't actually perform live with the same quality.

By no means do I intend to infer that producers and sound engineers are talentless, soulless individuals who exist only to make up for artists' singular lack of talent. Recording, mixing, and mastering are no easy tasks and that's precisely why the Grammy's gives these individuals their own categories.

However, there is something that can be said for artists who can make their music sound as good on stage as they can in a studio. Whereas one moment sees endless opportunities to get every detail right along with the opportunity to use technology to make up for faulty vocals (auto tune, anyone?), the other instance catches an artist unguarded, surrounded by distractions, and working under far more intense conditions than a cushy little studio. A band that makes music consistent with their actual everyday abilities should be recognized.

Live performances seem to be a slowly dying art. Backing tracks pervade while sampling songs has somehow become something to be lauded and lip-syncing is now a well-developed skill. A concert should be a measure of a band's ability, particularly if it is dedicated enough to spend nearly all their time either in the studio or on tour.

In an interview last summer, Alex Gaskarth, lead singer of All Time Low, stated, "when we perform live, that's something we take very seriously. It's our focus as a band. We record so that people have material to listen to, but our hopes are that they come to the concert."

Whether or not you like All Time Low is irrelevant when considering the importance of this mentality in a band. Performing is a mark of a band's true talent, and it's something that goes unnoticed and unrewarded at the Grammy's. If you want people to attend your shows and are willing to charge them exorbitant amounts to do so, artists should at least provide an experience worth your dollar.

While it would be a herculean task to try and sort through and weed out the best concert performances in a given year, the Grammy's somehow manage to pull a select few albums to honor out of the nearly 115,000 released annually in the U.S. (numbers according to the Chicago Tribune).

How much harder could it be to honor bands that display actual talent?

Email: vanessa.frith@ubspectrum.com


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