Letters to the Editor, 03/11/11

Bieber’s fame not grounds for Grammy

On the topic of pop culture and the Grammy awards, I couldn’t disagree more strongly with Entertainment Editor Patricia Uceda’s editorial in the March 4 issue of the [Technique], (“Grammys need to reflect”). Ms. Uceda stated that Justin Bieber was the obvious choice for the Best New Artist award, and that the Grammys have shown themselves to be irrelevant through their slighting of him for the award. While I cannot disagree with her assertion that 2010 was his year, I think most unbiased individuals would agree that it was not a result of the strength of his music, but rather media oversaturation and curiosity about a 16-year-old pop star.
While I can appreciate Ms. Uceda’s point that popularity should factor into the Academy’s choice when presenting these awards, I would argue that it already does, perhaps too much. Hundreds, if not thousands, of deserving bands are not even considered for the award, not because of their (lack of) artistic merit, but simply because they are not popular enough. Even Arcade Fire, winners of this year’s Album of the Year Grammy were dismissed for their relative obscurity, yet are far more popular than many bands producing quality music can dream.

What Ms. Uceda seems to imply in her editorial is not that popularity should be a factor, but rather that it should be the only factor in choosing the recipients of these awards. Or, to put it another way, that the cultural significance of the artist and his or her public persona should trump that of the music which is supposedly being celebrated by the Grammys. In choosing a Best New Artist, the academy should be looking to identify who shows the most promise to be significant to our culture over the next five, 10, or 50 years, not just provide an affirmation to the artist who was most able to promote themselves in a year. Given this as a goal, I would argue that Esperanza Spalding, or any of the other nominees for this year’s Best New Artist, would be more deserving than Justin Bieber.

Grant Michalski
Grad CEE

Ramblin’ Reck Club preserves tradition

As an organization strongly devoted to fostering a sense of pride and tradition within Tech’s student body, the re-institution of T-Night over the last two years has allowed Ramblin’ Reck Club (RRC) to share our passion for tradition with all of Tech’s students, not just members of our organization.

In order to offer students a well-rounded glimpse at the past, RRC contacted several organizations who also take much pride in Tech traditions and spirit including SGA, GT Band and the Student Alumni Association. RRC worked closely with Marilyn Somers, director of the Georgia Tech Living History Program of the Alumni Association, to obtain copies of photos, videos and archives dating back to the 1930’s in order to get the most accurate depictions of each tradition. Our organization also pulled past T-Books from the library archives dating back to the early 1900s. Moreover, the script used for the presentation was made available to all organizations involved in planning T-Night and suggestions were encouraged.

One thing we have learned from such extensive research is that differing perspectives and the passage of time will cause traditions to evolve, a process that is both natural and beautiful. Take, for example, the traditional name for a first year Tech student: a RAT. When the RAT cap first appeared on campus in 1915, this acronym stood for Recruit At Tech originating from the then recent establishment of campus’ military program. However, as a result of anti-hazing rules and the extension of this term to all students, this name was no longer relevant. Instead of a definitive change in the meaning of the acronym, it has simply evolved to Recently Acquired Tech student. If you are interested in learning more about this please refer to page 11 in this year’s T-Book, an annual RRC publication.

Lastly, we would like to emphasize the fact that the T-Book article published a few weeks ago in the Technique (“Tech History,” printed on Feb. 18) was not associated with RRC in any way. Our organization was unaware such an article was being published, and no one was contacted in regards to the article before it’s [sic] publication.

Because we are extremely excited about the recent interest students have exhibited in regards to Tech tradition, however, we are currently working on a new initiative through which to better showcase the Institute’s wonderful history through a collaborative effort.

Ethan Speir & Natalia Cuenca
Co-Tradition Chairs, RRC

Editor’s Note: Both the Technique and the T-Book are official publications of the Board of Student Publications.

Spalding’s Grammy for art achievement

A Grammy is one of music’s most revered awards and recognizes exceptional achievement in the music industry. Members of the entertainment industry vote on these awards, and in the past they have received (often fair) criticism for being simply a popularity contest for the music industry. To have someone as talented as jazz musician and singer Esperanza Spalding win the “Best New Artist” award should be celebrated as a great underdog story. I like Justin Beiber. He has incredible musical talent and many guys are jealous of the way he makes girls go crazy for him. His movie Never Say Never was excellent and has already grossed over $74 million. Musically his records have sold in the millions, and despite this, he just celebrated his 17th birthday. With all of these achievements, Justin Beiber would have deserved a Grammy if it was a popularity contest. (Though he did win Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards, which is simply a popularity contest voted on by the general public.)

Fortunately, the Grammys aren’t, and should never be, a popularity contest. Judging music is an incredibly subjective task with the myriad of genres to consider. However, listening to a new genre not only amplifies creativity, but also stretches the brain in new directions. In this sense jazz is no exception. The chords are complex, and the songs are packed with subtle nuances. Listening to her work, Esperanza Spalding has embodied the jazz genre and expanded my listening from just the mainstream pop/rock/country and the trendy indie/alt-country/singer-songwriter genres. While she’s not one of my “go-to” artists, her music is rich with talent and pleasant to listen to. Jazz is decidedly not cool with 18-24 year olds, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. She brings a fresh and vibrant face to a genre stereotyped by aging or deceased performers. In this way, she is helping shape and revitalize the jazz culture in America today.

Both of these artists are worthy of winning a Grammy, but it’s a pleasant surprise for the underdog Esperanza Spalding to get the recognition she deserves. I hope this will encourage everyone to explore other genres in the hope of uncovering all of the musical talent this great country and world has to offer.

Mac Clayton
Third-year ECE


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