Elm Staff Writer
At the 57th Annual Grammy Awards Beck took home the award for Album of the Year, beating out Beyoncé’s fifth album, “Beyoncé,” that many thought was a shoe-in to win.
Beyoncé’s album has been hailed by critics as a landmark in her career. It is urban and contemporary in musicality, and carries messages of feminism, marriage troubles, sexuality, standards of beauty and women empowerment. It isAlmost everyone in the music industry believed that it was finally Beyoncé’s time to win an award that she has been nominated for several times now. “Beyoncé” was fresh and cast her in a light that we’ve never seen her in before. She was more in control of her career while constructing this album than she’s ever been.
Beck, an alternative-rock singer and multi-instrumentalist, has several Grammys and MTV Video Music Awards to name a few. Beck has been enjoying an illustrious career since the early 1990s. He wrote his entire 2015 Grammy award-winning album, “Morning Phase,” himself and played each instrument in it.
The issue is not who deserves the Album of the Year Award. I’m not an authority on music. The issue is Kanye West (as it always is). During the 2009 Video Music Awards, West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech for the Best Female Music Video Award (which she won over Beyoncé) to rant on stage and on air about how Beyoncé should have won that award. This time, during the presentation for Album of the Year, West again jumped on stage to interrupt Beck’s speech but turned away from the microphone at the last moment, laughing at himself. It was an attempt to rekindle the joke that he is the best award-receiving speech interrupter “of all time.”
What was perceived as a joke took a serious turn when West railed off about Beyoncé’s snubbed album to the press after the show. West, a prolific and accomplished artist in the music industry, vented about how Beck by accepting the award discouraged inspiration and disrespected art on a public platform. He even went on to suggest that Beck should have handed over his award to Beyoncé, who in his eyes was the more deserving of the two.
West, who seems to have developed a habit to advocate for Beyoncé’s work, justifies his outrage by claiming that he has a duty as a creative figure to stand up for art and defend it to any extent he can. West said that although he didn’t take away from Beck’s speech-time or screen-time, his presence on that stage extends beyond the joke and stands as a message that if the Grammys keep snubbing artists who don’t get the awards they deserve the program will lose its audience and patronage from the very talent it ignores.
Is it West’s place to take the limelight away from Beck’s award? Should Beck have given his award to Beyoncé? West later took back his statement about suggesting that Beck should have handed over his award to Beyoncé. During an interview on “On Air with Ryan Seacrest,” West clarified his post-Grammy rant. He said, “When I said that thing about respect artistry, I think it came off the wrong way, and that was a mis-wording on my part because obviously Beck is one of the most respected artists and respects artistry. But I felt that even though the Grammys sometimes gives awards to people who you wouldn’t think should win in the category, as a respect to artists, we mention the other artist’s name in our speech. And that was the point I was making about it. There’s like many of times I gave other people my award, literally made them come up onstage. Maroon 5, when they won best new artist, mentioned me because it was the “College Dropout” and it had 10 nominations and all that.”
Should Beck have mentioned Beyoncé’s album? Maybe. He could have given her a shout-out or some sort of acknowledgment for being honored with an award that she was almost sure to win. However, taking it so far as to claim that a musician as accomplished and renowned as Beck disrespects artistry because he doesn’t awknowledge his competitors is airing one’s ignorance. In Beck’s words, “You can’t please everybody, man.”