Slate’s Bill Wyman hates the Grammys. Despite this, I’m sure he will be watching tonight’s ceremonies – for vindication, if nothing else.
Wyman’s vitriol stems from the existence of a secret committee appointed by the recording industry to engineer the voting process for the benefit of, well, the recording industry. According to Wyman’s digging, this Secret Society of Musical Super Villains can override nominations in the four biggest categories, installing songs or acts they believe better represent the industry. It’s a dishonest ratings grab, argues Wyman:
“The process is harmful in other ways, too. It induces cynicism in the membership and among the artists—or would, if the process weren't kept so under wraps. It's particularly unfair to those artists who, nominated by their fellows in the business, are unilaterally eliminated from the lineup by the committee.
And, finally, of course, the motivations for the procedure are plain: Sticking some controversial and megapopular names in the top categories to increase ratings for the group's annual TV show/cash cow.”
Combine this with other problems – such as the discrepancy between the members’ voting and the larger critical community, the bloated number of categories, or the likelihood of big names trouncing more deserving artists in smaller categories – and you’ve got one hot mess of an awards show.
That doesn’t mean people won’t watch. Just don’t expect to have a good time if you’re watching at Bill Wyman’s house.