Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What radio did to Dixie Chicks “not very American”

So the Grammys got even by compromising their own principles

More Dixie Chicks/Grammy Sweep fallout, in today’s New York Times. This is starting to look like the juiciest awards scandal since Pia Zadora's husband bought her a Golden Globe:

To some, the voting served not only as a referendum on President Bush’s handling of the Iraq war, but also on what was perceived as country music’s rejection — and radio’s censorship — of the trio.

Jeff Ayeroff, a longtime music executive and an academy member, said the resounding endorsement of the group reflected the fact that the academy represents “the artist community, which was very angry at what radio did, because it was not very American.” Mr. Ayeroff said he voted for the Dixie Chicks in at least one category.

Radio stations at least have the commercial imperatives of ratings and ad revenue to justify what the Times calls "censorship" of the Dixie Chicks' music. Ayeroff’s comment suggests that by voting for the Dixie Chicks, at least some academy members put politics before art. But that hypocrisy – like most hypocrisies endemic to the “entertainment community” -- would probably be lost on them.

But I would love to meet this unnamed hero:

Mr. Ayeroff, who founded the voter-registration group Rock the Vote, said a man sitting behind him in the Grammy audience snickered each time the Dixie Chicks received another trophy. “Finally,” Mr. Ayeroff said, “I got so disgusted, I turned around and said: ‘Dude, you’re in California now. Even our Republicans are Democrats.’

Yeah dude, shut up and clap while the Chicks get another undeserved Grammy.

And the AP confirms that, while Chicks' lead singer Natalie Maines may be ready to make nice, country radio isn't:

"Most country stations aren't playing the Chicks, and they aren't going to start now," said Jim Jacobs, owner of WTDR-FM, a country radio station in Talladega, Ala.

The awards might have the opposite effect, sparking another radio backlash against the group. Country broadcasters said Monday that the group's five Grammys show how out of touch the Recording Academy is from the average country fan.

"I think (the listeners) are outraged," said Tony Lama, program director for KXNP in North Platte, Neb. "This is rural, conservative America. They are just disgusted."

The AP piece also has some interesting background about country music and the Grammys that I wasn't aware of:

Wes McShay, program director of KRMD-FM, in Bossier City, La., said country fans understand that the big stars don't win Grammy awards.

"If you're talking about who's selling out 15,000-seat auditoriums, those acts are not awarded at the Grammys year after year," McShay said.

Consider the Country Music Association awards handed out a few months ago in Nashville: Entertainer of the year went to Kenny Chesney; the other big winners were radio favourites Brooks & Dunn, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts.
That might explain Carrie Underwood saying “I love country music first of all” during her acceptance speech for Best New Artist Grammy. Perhaps she is worried that being a Grammy winner may sow doubt in the minds of country fans.

Update: Raymond Arroyo at NRO, in the same vein:

Like its wicked stepsister, Hollywood, the music business has become increasingly divorced from its purpose, estranged from its audience, and maliciously partisan. Not that they seem to care. Case in point: the 49th Annual Grammy Awards held at the Los Angeles Staples Center on Sunday night. Watching the proceedings, who could be blamed for wanting to staple some mouths shut?


Shane said...

The irony is I happen to really like their song, "Not Ready to Make Nice". In fact, it is the only memorable mainstream song I recall from 2006. Nothing else that came out stuck in my head, artistically, thematically, or quality-wise.

I don't agree with their stance, but I do agree with their right to take it, and while I AM a Country music fan, I am embarrassed at the idiocy expressed by these rednecks from the south banning their music.


J0hnnyB said...

The Grammys are about art? That's new. You do know that "My Humps" won Best Pop Performance, right?

Joan Tintor said...

Hey, if Madonna (the first one) with elephant dung, pisse Christ, and breast milk are "art" then I guess "My Humps" is too.

Perhaps I should have said: art as it is understood in the American music industry.