Let’s cut through the noise and take a hard look at what sets Beck apart from Beyoncé. And it’s not a Grammy award.
First, an obligatory reminder that the Grammys aren’t to be taken seriously. My two favorite fails: Bon Iver winning Best New Artist in 2012–four years after releasing his debut album–and the infamous “How-the-hell-did-Jethtro-Tull-beat-Metallica” Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental moment from 1989. This isn’t about “who deserved the Grammy more: Beck or Bey?” The award itself is has little meaning.
And it’s not about Kanye West, either. Kanye is Kanye, and Kanye continues to undermine his talent with his antics. If anything, more Grammy night tsking should have been directed at Epic Records President Sylva Rhone, who tweeted (then deleted) this:
To be fair, Beck’s PR firm Nasty Little Man played a little tweet-then-delete, too. So much drama over who won and who didn’t win a silly little statue. So let’s set the statue (and the drama) aside and take a closer look at the difference between the two artists.
Beck is a professional musician. He writes, records, and performs his own original material. Beyoncé is a professional performer. She performs material that’s written and recorded by a team of songwriters and producers.
Does Beyoncé initiate and have input in the creative process on her records? Absolutely. Does Beck enlist the help of other producers and musicians when crafting his albums? Of course. But what sets the two apart is this: Beck can create compelling, “award-winning” records all by himself. Queen Bey can’t.
This distinction doesn’t make one artist better than the other. Both Beck and Beyoncé create relevant, compelling music that appeals to a wide, varied audience of music fans. But it’s an important distinction nonetheless. Because without the talents of the Becks of the music world, the talents of the Beyoncés of the music world might never reach eyes and ears.
Now there would be a happy ending to this story line: a Beck-Beyoncé collaboration. Just keep Kanye out of it. And don’t release it on Epic.