Monday, November 21, 2016

Currently Listening or What Should Have Been on the AMAs


Last night was the American Music Awards, a show that I haven't watched since probably 1991 until last night.  So why would I subject myself to watching three hours of television devoted to top 40 music and mainstream pop culture?  My daughter asked me to and I'm a good father, that's why.  I had planned on spending my evening watching Survivor Series, but why your 16 year-old wants to spend time with you, you don't say no.

The American Music Awards (AMAs for short) was created in 1973 by Dick Clark after ABC lost the contract to air the Garmmy Awards.  Now while the Grammys are chosen by members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the AMAs are determined by public polling with nominees based on things like record sales, radio airplay, video views, streaming service data, etc. making it the award of the people (thank you Wikipedia for the info).  This year's edition was hosted by model Gigi Hadid and actor/comedian Jay Pharoah and included liver performances from the likes of Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Green Day, Sting, and a bunch of people I didn't know.  Some of the performances were good (Bruno Mars, Niall Horan, John Legend), some were okay (Green Day, Sting), some were terrible (DJ Khaled, The Chainsmokers & Halsey, Justin Beiber), but most were just there with people "singing" over their pre-recorded tracks.  The show was dominated by lots of vanity, bad jokes, and people in the audience trying to get themselves over.  There were a few actually funny joke and some touching moment (Selena Gomez's acceptance speech for example) but the show didn't have an "in memorandum" segment (though Prince did win for best soundtrack with a heartfelt speech from his sister) and despite the claims, it didn't really seem to be about the music.  In fact that is exactly what co-host Gigi Hadid said the show was all about, the music, but in reality it was a glorified love letter to fame, fortune, glamour, and modern internet pop culture.  I wondered how many people in the audience truly knew anything about Sting, The Police, or his legacy while they were bopping along to his performance of "Message in a Bottle" and "Every Breath You Take."  Now to be fair, most in attendance weren't alive during The Police's heyday, hell they probably weren't even alive in the late 1980s when Sting had his solo hits, so it isn't unreasonable that they wouldn't be familiar with his material or career, but they sure tried to look like they were (and again to be fair, The Police's hits are still played on the radio in regular rotation to this day so there's certainly been plenty of opportunities for those in attendance to be exposed to his work).

Throughout the night I couldn't help but think of all of the artists and musicians, bands, singers, and songwriters that should have been on that stage.  Folks that make incredible music that tears into your heart, grabs your soul, brings tears to your eyes, and makes you want to dance that never gets heard on that kind of level.  It's a crime really.  Far too often, vapid and plastic entertainers make truckloads of money off of their looks and lowest common denominator songs while artists struggle to make a living off of living in a van and a smattering of t-shirt and record sales.  Not all mainstream music is bad but a lot of it is and it has been for a very long time.  This isn't about glorying the past or deriding the present, it's about the quality of the music that gets the big pushes and lives on top 40 radio (which is still very much a thing).  This is about the bands that I think people should be listening to and highlighted on award shows and year end lists.  The following playlist consists of songs/artists that I would have booked for this year's AMAs, in the order I would have had them appear on the show.  Now obviously this isn't a comprehensive list of my favorite artists/records of 2016 (that's coming later) but instead the bands and songs that I thought would make a compelling three-hour television awards program.

1.  "Future Mixtape For The Art Kids" by Beach Slang (from A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings)
2.  "Festival Song" by Jeff Rosenstock (from WORRY.)
3.  "Highway 57" by Don't Make Ghosts (from Death Ride)
4.  "Respect" by Muncie Girls (from From Caplan to Belsize)
5.  "The Enemy Within" by Ben Lee (from Freedon, Love and Recuperation of the Human Mind)
6.  "Miserable Again" by Worship This! (from Mint)
7.  "Wednesday Night Melody" by Bleached (from Welcome the Worms)
8.  "A Wonderful Life" by Brian Fallon (from Painkillers)
9.  "Crash" by Against Me! (from Shape Shift With Me)
10.  "I Wanna Die in Los Angeles" by Dead To Me (from I Wanna Die in Los Angeles)
11.  "By the Time I Got to Georgia" by Billy Pettinger (from You Can Have It All)
12.  "Near To The Wild Heart Of Life" by Japandroids (from Near To The Wild Heart Of Life)
13.  "Voices in My Head" by Bob Mould (from Patch The Sky)
14.  "Say U Want Me" by Chris Farren (from Can't Die)
15.  "Pretective Boy" by Skating Polly (from The Big Fit)
16.  "Bad Catholics" by The Menzingers (from Bad Catholics)
17.  "Always the Rebel" by Wolves & Wolves & Wolves & Wolves (from The Cross and the Switchblade)
18.  "Beyond a Shadow of a Doubt" by Masked Intruder (from Love and Other Crimes)
19.  "Space" by Mary Lynn (from My Animal)
20.  "Outta My System" by The I Don't Cares (from Wild Stab)
21.  "Shame" by The Gomes (from Pronounced Nirvana)
22.  "Up To Us" by The Bouncing Souls (from Simplicity)
23.  "Beyond the Music" by Descendents (from Hypercaffium Spazzinate)
24.  "Thin Line" by Shit Present (from Misery + Disaster)
25.  "Brand New Flag" by Two Cow Garage (from Brand New Flag)
26.  "F.E.F.E." by Tender Defender (from Tender Defender)

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