The Grammy Awards are fun to complain about. That's fair. If you watched the telecast Sunday night, you probably care about music. People who care about music tend to have strong opinions about what's good and what's not. Strong opinions often lead to disappointment, especially since the pop-music sphere is increasingly consensus-free.
Cataloging the Grammys' flubs has become easy sport, full of now-cliched landmarks: Christopher Cross wins everything in 1979; Jethro Tull wins the first hard-rock/metal award over Metallica in 1989; Steely Dan beats Radiohead, Beck and Eminem in 2001; Herbie Hancock's collection of Joni Mitchell covers tops Amy Winehouse and Kanye West for Album of the Year in 2008. It would be reasonable for any highly invested music fan to have given up long ago.
And yet. When an underground favorite wins a big award, the idea that we don't care goes right out the window. Think about Arcade Fire snagging the Album of the Year trophy in 2011, or Bon Iver winning Best New Artist last year. Both were celebrated as wins for indie culture. Which, if the knock on the Grammys as out of touch is to be believed, either spells bad news for the bands you cared about before their irrelevance was confirmed by the win or H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y.
You can't have it both ways. Be honest. Search your soul. Do you care about the Grammy Awards? I've thought about this question a lot in the last few years, and for me the answer is a surprising yes. I feel disappointment when a big award goes to someone I don't like. A rush of elation when a song I love wins. I felt great about pretty much everything that happened in the R&B categories last night.
More than anything else, I care because the Grammys so obviously care. Because the members of the Academy know about the mistakes they've made and will — forever — try to fix them. They're going to make new ones along the way, but I'm going to keep watching, hoping they get a few things right, too. Will you?