A lot has been said about Adam Lambert’s performance on the American Music Awards Sunday night. With all the hubbub of his “racy” performance, what’s most surprising about the entire escapade and commentary in the days since the show is that there is commentary in the days following the show. And it’s still going strong.
Yes folks, Adam Lambert managed to make the American Music Awards somewhat relevant. That’s a feat that no ABC or Disney executive could ever claim to have done themselves. Considering they are in the business of making business happen, a few minutes of Lambert strutting across the stage with his hands on every person acting as a sexual prop is worth its weight in complaints considering the waves of PR the TV station has gotten. After all, the old adage goes, “bad publicity is good publicity.” And this is as good as it’ll get for the AMAs.
Let’s face it, the AMAs are the Daytime Emmys of music award shows. And that’s low. Music award programs are probably the least-respected awards ceremonies out there, and the critical and cultural resentment of these shows has only grown over time. After all, it wasn’t even a year ago that the New York Times called out the Grammy Awards for being out of touch when they gave Robert Plant & Alison Krauss the top award. And that’s just this past year’s ceremonies. From the joke that is the Grammy Awards, you’ve got the MTV Video Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, the Source Hip-Hop Music Awards, the Country Music Awards… and the AMAs at the bottom of the list.
The AMAs represent what is basically an antiquated system, where the music industry defines the “big” cultural events in music and not the other way around. Considering the decline of the industry, one has to wonder how this awards show is still around. If the winners are selected by the music-purchasing public, who’s doing the voting in the first place? If the voting for awards ceremonies like this mirrors the polling numbers in national elections, I’d imagine a swing vote could finally put Ralph Nader in the win column once and for all.
And yet, there’s no choice in the matter whatsoever. The record industry selects the nominees and there are no ifs, ands or buts about it. And surprise surprise, all the nominees are on major labels. So in a year when indie act Grizzly Bear cracked the Billboard top 10 and Jay-Z talked them up as much as possible, one of the three alternative rock nominees was Shinedown. Really?
These kinds of music award ceremonies are simply congratulatory endeavors the music industry treats itself too. These award shows normally help boost album sales for a short period of time, and highlight the big-sellers of the year for their commercial appeal instead of their artistic integrity. (That isn’t to say that the artists who are nominated and win don’t have artistic integrity, it’s just to say they’re valued more for the cash flow they provide versus the musical ambition they have.) I can’t imagine the AMAs really helped the music industry over the past few years, but this year, Adam Lambert has no doubt given the industry a reason to celebrate. And it came sealed with a kiss.