In 2019, do awards matter?
Yes, they do. Forget about boasts of a large bank account, a garage filled with exotic cars and sold out shows, awards matter more than ever especially in this day and age of mumble music and Instafamous one-hit wonders.
If awards don’t matter, artists who feel hard done by won’t rant or react publicly. They wouldn’t pull tantrums or cause a scene on stage (word to Kanye West).
We are all sensitive beings who need constant validation. Artists are more sensitive people in constant need of this. 40,000 people can scream your name at Eko Hotel, but you still need a higher validation that you are not only great at what you do but the best at it.
Every artist worth his or her salt strives for greatness. A streak of vanity lies in the heart of every genius. He is not satisfied with just doing great things, he wants to win great things as well.
That’s why Cristiano Ronaldo is not satisfied with scoring 100 goals in a calendar year. He also wants to win the Ballon d’Or. He needs to know he is the best at what he does. Kanye West can sell a billion records but will do anything to win a Grammy for ‘Record of the Year‘.
Winning a reputable award is a hallmark of excellence. It is an achievement that speaks directly to that streak of vanity that creatives are blessed or cursed with.
Awards also mark or define a legacy. Think Michael Jackson winning eight Grammys in one night for his classic ‘Thriller‘ album or Lauryn Hill scooping five Grammys for ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill‘, one of the most lauded albums of all time.
Here is another great example. Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the best actors of all time. Movie after movie, he has given stellar performances and shown breathtaking range. Yet, from playing a global heartthrob in the ‘Titanic‘ to a stockbroker who sniffs cocaine off prostitutes in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘, DiCaprio was always snubbed by the Oscars.
The overlook was baffling to DiCaprio’s global audience. The snub felt like a stain on his illustrious career. At the 88th Annual Academy Awards, DiCaprio finally won an Oscar in the Best Actor category for his role in ‘The Revenant‘.
The whole world gave a sigh of relief as the actor walked up the stage and held the gold statue. No doubt, the Oscar is now a mark of DiCaprio’s genius as an actor. This also applies to Denzel Washington who won the same award for his role in ‘Training Day‘.
Selling out shows or featuring in hit movies do not define legacies. Artistic ingenuity, records made or broken and awards help define legacies. All three are important.
You might make the argument that legends such as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Bob Marley, Notorious B.I.G, Nas and others are music giants without Grammys adorning their shelves.
Yes, but the usual conversation tilts towards the sentiment that despite the amazing and influential work of these legends, it is baffling that they have never won a Grammy, the highest music tangible honour for any artist on earth.
If Nas wins a Grammy in the near future, Hip-Hop heads will pump two fists in the air, that one of the greatest lyricists of all time has won an award that is befitting of his skills on the mic.
It’s not that we do not know that Nas is great and has done great things but a notable award like the Grammy would add a nice sheen to his glossy career.
Don’t get me wrong, awards do not solely make legends or great musicians, but there is a reason why many people congratulated Seun Kuti for his recent Grammy nod. It’s a verification that his music is technically great.
When I refer to awards, I am speaking of awards that are not popularity contests but are determined by a panel of experts, and seasoned industry tastemakers.
Awards are not infallible especially awards that are determined by public votes which open the door for one-hit wonders and flashes in the pans to go home with something despite their terrible music.
‘Vox Populi, Vox Dei‘ is the old Latin phrase for ‘the voice of the people is the voice of God.’ These days, in many awards determined by public voting, the voice of the people is the voice of the mob.
There is a need to revamp award shows and do away with the public voting and popularity contests. The creative arts are more or less magic, and the viewing public cannot understand how magic is made, they can only appreciate it. Only fellow magicians can assess magic tricks.
Leaving award shows up to the public has diminished the essence of a lot of awards. There is a reason why the Grammys, Oscars, Palme d’Or are some of the most respected awards in entertainment.
The winners are judged by a panel of peers and not people who lose their heads in the senseless argument of who is richer, Davido or Wizkid?
Not only do awards celebrate excellence and legacies, they also have the job of introducing a promising act to the mainstream. A fine example of this is M.I who was catapulted to fame after winning the ‘Best Rap‘ Single category at the 2008 Headies ahead of more established acts.
Apart from celebratory purposes, awards also herald the entrance of an artist or actor who is bound for superstardom and legendary status. It is not an exact science but most times the credible awards correctly predict the future.
Awards (credible awards) are embellishments that define careers, highlight achievements, celebrate legacies and are tangible vanity symbols that reassure the best of actors, musicians and entertainers that they are great at what they do.
There is a need to revamp most award ceremonies but they shouldn’t be tossed away. There is a sense of pride when you win a prestigious award that can never be replaced.