The Customer Blues

The not so recent Grammies 2012 left me thoughtful. I didn’t follow much of the usual noise, as the results of the event were so obvious, with Adele looming large on every music industry radar and all over YouTube for months before the show. I’ve also never really cared for Grammies which seem both “closed circle” and “lowest common denominator” at once – the two things I dislike most about the show business. It was refreshing to read the New Yorker article the day after, the opening line of it: “There was little to redeem the 54th Grammy Awards.” I’ll spare paraphrasing but highly recommend you Google it during the precious work hours you spend on Facebook and other 2.0 distractions.

Having read the article, I decided to refresh my memory by watching promo clips for the two songs that won awards: Adele’s “Rolling in The Deep” and Kanye West/Jay-Z “Otis”. And it struck me, watching these videos back to back, that being so far apart they are actually much alike, their message being the destruction of the lifestyle that the artists in question represent.

Let’s start with Adele who is known to appeal “to all ages” – which means she is extremely popular with housewives. There she sits in her video, in the middle of an empty living room, dressed like a perfect middle aged hausfrau, her make up and hair all done and oh so desperate, water dripping from the ceiling, drop by brain-numbing drop, into a myriad of transparent water glasses. And then she just starts throwing things. Breaking the faceless Ikea homeware. Thrashing it up against the wall. Her truly amazing voice, surging up from somewhere really deep, resonates with cups and dishes breaking and breaking and piling up on the dusty floor, and they better call the cleaning lady soon as this little dame ain’t picking anything up in the near future.

Fast-forward to Kanye and Jay, alias Yeezy and Hov, who spend their entire “Otis” video taking apart a Maybach while singing “luxury rap, the Hermes of verses
Sophisticated ignorance, write my curses in cursive”. The car in the clip is 100% real — they say this video prop set Hov and Yeezy back 100KUS, maybe more. Then again, as Kanye says in another song “What’s 50 grand to a mothafucka like me, can you please remind me”.

The “Otis” song is all about consumption, and the moral of it is summarized in one line “I get it custom, You are a customer”. As in “I can chose what I buy, but you are a sucker who buys what they tell you”. Which is very much what an Awards show is about – telling you what to buy – well, maybe download – and congratulating you for what you bought, after it has been shoved down your throat by marketing and PR departments of an industry that is nothing but a serpent munching on its own tail.

Adele cried on the Grammy’s stage, picking up her busload of awards. Kanye and Jay Z didn’t show up. Maybe they were driving in Jay’s “other other Benz”, listening to Kanye’s other other 2011 album (the one that should have been nominated): “Lost in this plastic life, Let’s break out of this fake ass party”. Or maybe they were just shopping for some more bling they can annihilate.



Ses brillantes études l'ont amenée à Harvard et au MIT. Depuis, elle s'intéresse à l'évolution de la télévision. Elle vient de lancer une chaîne musicale sur IPTV.

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