The Grammys are always exciting for me. I have not always watched the shows in full, but this year I had planned to camp out in front of the TV for its 3+ hour run. I always find it interesting to see if I can pick the winners based off of my knowledge and 80% of the time I am pretty accurate (not to toot my own horn…..).
Although, this year I completely missed Album of The Year. I didn’t find there to be any strong contenders, but I was leaning towards Sam Smith to take the honor. Ed Sheeran always seems to almost make it but will come up short in the end. Beyonce’s record was overproduced and overhyped. I didn’t think lyrically Pharrell would be a strong argument. Don’t get me wrong, I am actually a fan of each nominee, but this is how I see them against each other.
I didn’t even see Beck being a dot on the radar. I will preface this in saying that I had never listened to a Beck album fully and couldn’t name a single tune he sang. I did know he was a very talented musician and writer, but that is where my knowledge ended.
So after work on Tuesday, I had to make a stop at the record store and buy Beck’s Morning Phase. The album had thrown me into a conundrum and I had to find my way out.
After the first listen I found nothing special about it. During the second listen it was just background noise. It wasn’t until the third listen that it turned to genius.
Beck, as a musician, almost solely won this award. He wrote every song on the album, produced it, and played the majority of instruments. This wasn’t about singing through lyrics, it was about the whole structure of the songs that turned into an album. And like Prince said, albums do matter. They were rewarding a full-fledged, multi-instrumental artist.
This album listens lyrically in a way I can’t exactly explain. I would be curious if Beck himself could. Every song makes since yet every song throws you for a loop. These songs are universal touching topics such as relationship breakup, rebellion to societal norms, and even suicide.
The album is about all those things that aren’t necessarily depressing, but what have adverse effects on us as a growing person. It’s a coming of age album no matter what age you are. After really digging into the lyrics I took away that I needed to focus more on being who I am and forget what others think or say. I need to embrace my individuality. I found this message in songs such as “Heart is a Drum,” “Unforgiven,” “Wave,” “Turn Away,” and “Waking Light.”
I also discovered how love can be like a little trinket that means the world to you, but you don’t know why or even where it came from (“Blackbird Chain”). I discovered that home is where the heart is, but once you leave and declare your independence it’s never the same (“Country Down”). Lastly, I saw where I can wake up in the morning and decide my fate, but it may take a few do-overs (“Morning”).
Beck proved with this album you don’t need fancy production or a god-like image to create a masterpiece in today’s musical realm. It is a breath of fresh air. I applaud the Grammys on this choice. They got it right.
And he didn’t even need a surfboard to get there.