Wednesday, June 10, 2009

You can only do so much (the last polka)

Often when you visit a mall, you will see signs that talk about new stores coming into the mall. Or when you go to a store, you will see signs that talk about how prices are dropping. Funny, you never see the malls trumpeting when stores close, or stores trumpeting when prices are jacked up. And so it goes with the Grammy Awards.

While one might think that with the addition of heavy metal, the Grammy Awards were comprehensive, in truth no music award can be comprehensive. In reality the organization can only support a certain number of awards, and at times a previously-award category has to be cut.

1940's Chicago Polka Band by ChicagoGeek used under a Creative Commons License

So, Grammy people, you've had your last polka dance:

The Recording Academy, which bestows the Grammy Awards, announced late on Wednesday that the polka category would be eliminated, saying in a statement that it had been cut “to ensure the awards process remains representative of the current musical landscape.”

To many in the polka world, that read as a kind of industry code meaning that their genre — once capable of supporting artists with million-selling hits, but long since relegated to micro-niche status — had slipped off the mainstream radar entirely.

But critics answer that there's so little competition that a Grammy for polka is meaningless:

The polka Grammy was first given in 1986. (It went to one of the genre’s last big stars, Frankie Yankovic, who died in 1998.) But it has long been under fire by critics of the awards, who say that the field is simply too small to sustain its own category. Some also complain that it has lost its value since the competition has been so dominated by Mr. Sturr, a slick nontraditionalist whose albums feature guest appearances by the likes of Willie Nelson.

Sturr has won the award 18 times. By way of comparison, Bruce Springsteen has won 19 Grammys.

Which suggests a solution - re-record "Nebraska" (which was pretty much a solo effort anyway) as an accordion-dominated piece. Although I'm not sure how the bass part of "State Trooper" would work on an accordion.
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