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Commentary: Taylor Swift win proves it’s time to leave award-giving to the pros

Courtesy of MCT

It’s time to stop letting the public vote for entertainment awards.

Case in point: pop-country star Taylor Swift won Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards Sunday. Yes, Swift, over Adele, of all people, is the Artist of the Year, according to the general public.

Before I make my point here, I don’t want to diminish the importance of the public’s voice. Consumers are certainly welcome to have their voice, but why at an awards show?

The public awards entertainers by buying their products, and sales are what get many artists the attention required to be nominated for an award. After all, when was the last time a true, quality underground act got much attention in a major Grammy category?

Look at the other artists who were nominated alongside Swift and Adele for Artist of the Year. Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne and Katy Perry were the other three artists who received a nod. On a purely musical level, the inclusion of Lil Wayne and Perry is laughable. Lil Wayne’s latest album, “Tha Carter IV,” was a critical flop, and Perry’s music is brainless, pop fluff. (Though I admit it’s often a guilty pleasure of mine, but by no means award-worthy.)

With that competition, it’s hard to make an argument against Adele — whose album, “21,” has been universally acclaimed by both critics and the public — winning. I’d even make a case for Lady Gaga before Swift, whose last album, “Speak Now,” which came out in late 2010, was neither here nor there.

I have my problems with Swift — her lyrics sound like the product of a 13-year-old and it’s hard to buy her constant deer-in-the-headlights look now that she’s one of the biggest names in pop music — but even so, those aren’t necessarily why I’m against her being any form of “artist of the year.” It’s because other artists actually deserve it.

Since Swift released her last album, other artists have released truly great albums. Apart from Adele, Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” was a smash hit critically, and his collaboration with Jay-Z on this summer’s “Watch the Throne” sent shock waves through the populace. Other relatively big names, such as Drake (who I profess to not be sold on) and Bon Iver also released quality albums, and deserve at least some consideration in such a category.

For me, I have a hard time picking against West for the aforementioned reasons, though Adele would be a close second. Both are legitimately talented artists who were not only well-received by critics with their latest albums, but also did very well in terms of sales. My only other nominations would go to Bon Iver and J. Cole, both of whom released albums this year.

My predecessor as arts editor, Ryan Book (who is admittedly more of a music aficionado than myself), said he would also choose West as artist of the year, and would nominate Florence and the Machine, J. Cole, P.J. Harvey and Mastodon alongside him.

The Grammys are far from infallible — they are privy to favoring sales titans — but I have to imagine their final list for Album of the Year (the closest equivalent to an “artist of the year” award) will be a better reflection of quality than that of the AMAs.

So, let’s take the jurisdiction in awards shows away from the general public. Let the public have its say with the almighty dollar. Let those who truly know music vote on the awards.

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