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Pussy Riot + The American Music Awards

by Joshua B. Hoe I spent many days being angered  by the very existence of the American Music Awards.

But, now that I think about it more, it was a blown opportunity. The people running Billboard and Dick Clark Productions could have actually made it must see television by doing one thing.

Giving a courage award to Pussy Riot.

Why I hate the AMA's (and Awards Shows)

So, as near as I can tell we have the following "music" awards shows:

The People's Choice Awards (includes music)

Grammy Awards

I Heart Radio Awards

Kids Choice Awards (includes music)

Academy of Country Music Awards

MTV Video Music Awards

CMT Awards

CMA Awards

ACA Awards (which are different somehow)

BET Hip Hop Awards (okay with this one)

Latin Grammy's

and the American Music Awards

With virtually all of these there is no rhyme or reason to how these are awarded.

Generally, the process is opaque. So, that is one reason...they really don't mean anything.

For the AMA's the site says it has something to do with how fans interact with Billboard's website and some other alchemy that is unexplained.

Getting these awards seems as random as if I gave them out...(but, trust me, mine would be much different).

The second thing I hate, is that because nobody (not even the artists) know why they should give a shit about winning...They give speeches that are almost always stunningly boring.

Thanks to my fans, this means the world to me, thanks so much to Billboard...What an honor.

Great. Thanks. Glad I wasted the time to see you.

The third thing I hate is that the awards go to people who could barely be considered musicians or even singers.

One Direction? Even when I was 10 I would have been flabbergasted by them winning any "music" award.

I get that kids like them....kids liked the Fat Albert movie too, but it did not win an Oscar. Nor did any of the Transformers movies.

And when have they ever put one thing at risk...they were designed like from a test tube like the Jonas Brothers and every other dumb idea of what the music industry thinks we want...the great rock and roll swindle.

There is no reason all of these awards shows have to pander.

The fourth thing I hate is that he performances almost always SUCK. By that I mean the performers leave NOTHING to chance and have NOTHING at stake.

They play to a backing vocal and music track. The vocalist has a "live" mic...but they only use it to say a few things here and there to let everyone know it is a live performance...But, the truth is they are not singing...and nobody is actually playing amplified music.

In other words, with very few exceptions, the performances are no different than those on Lip Sync Battle.

I have a hard time understanding why anyone gives two damns about "performances" with nothing at stake and nothing left to chance.

Which is odd, because every memorable performance I have ever seen is about openness and putting something at risk.

Example, Miley Cyrus did a truly live performance of "Wrecking Ball" at the MTV Video Music Awards that was great, she performed without a net and showed real emotion...she left it all out on the stage...and she could have literally fallen on her face.

I have no large love for MC, but when she wants to, she can sing. And she has guts. Huge courage in this era putting it out there like that.

I respect that.

But that is the exception not the rule.

Music that puts something at risk...anything at risk...can inspire...it can move the world....it can spark change.

It can even be to a vocal track...but, it has to put something at risk.

Which brings me to Pussy Riot.

The American Music Awards Special Award For Courage in Music

So, the AMA's decided, in a blatant marketing tie-in, to give a "special" award to recognize Star Wars.

In other words, like the rest of the show, just shill.

I loved the original Star Wars and have high hopes that JJ won't screw the new one up....But still, why does Star Wars music need an award from Billboard?

Instead of blatant shilling for a movie...The AMA's could have done something that would make the whole night interesting, relevant, and make it actually stand for something.

Create a special award for "Courage in Music"

And present it to the combined members of Pussy Riot.

And here is where it gets interesting.

Pussy Riot is not technically a "band" although the idiot press often calls them a "punk band."

Pussy Riot uses punk rock methods and appearance as performance art.

They are lip sync performers...but for a cause.

And what a cause.

In a country that persecutes and prosecutes LGBT people to the fullest cruelty of the law. A country that refuses to protect LGBT people from violence....They speak out for LGBT rights.

In a country with an illegitimate government that holds on to power by intimidation, force, and collusion with the Russian Orthodox Faith, they protest the government.

In a country where women are still treated, in many ways, as they were in feudal times...They speak out for feminism and women's rights. Reproductive rights, rights to control their bodies, the right to say no to sex...everything we take for granted here.

And they put themselves at real risk.

They have done real prison time in Russia (which is awful time). They have been beaten by police. They are always at risk. But still they protest.

They might not be able to sing or play instruments...but they perform...they perform music with courage.

So, why didn't the AMA's award Pussy Riot?

Because they are full of shit? Because they don't care at all about music? Because all they care about is the never ending marketing machine?

Obviously.

Anyone who listens to music...really puts the time in...knows NOBODY on that stage had any of the best albums of the year.

And nobody really gives a shit...because MTV figured it out...Music for most people is about People magazine and personalities and hair and plastic surgery.

The Che Guevara T-shirt is much more popular than Che ever was.

Its about gossip and nonsense. Its about listening to the same 12 songs everyone else listens to until someone cool tells you the next 12 songs to listen to.

That's what Jem and The Holograms is selling to young girls...the same thing that the Spice Girls were selling - empty corporate feminism that ends in cash registers ringing.

If you want to mean something more than T-shirts and "attitude" I would suggest the following:

Sleater Kinney

Bikini Kill

The Slits

X-Ray Specs

The Breeders

Sonic Youth

Patty Smith

Queen Latifah

MC Lyte

Lauren Hill

Blondie

The Go Go's

Many more....

And for 2015:

Girlpool

Hop Along

Bully

Braids

Chvrches

Beach House

Julien Baker

And, for all that is holy, THE ALABAMA SHAKES

Brittany Howard puts more soul into every second than these pre-packaged pop stars have ever felt.

I am sure I could come up with more but you get the point.

And for God's sake...Please care about Pussy Riot.

Pussy Riot shows us all what courage in music can mean...How powerful music can be...even in the hands of people who can't play or sing....THAT IS THE POWER OF PUNK ROCK!

Not a T-Shirt...Not a cool hat....not an award that "means the world."

Music is best when it is live, raw, and dangerous!

Adele could move the world like this...If she wanted to.

Sound and Color by Alabama Shakes

What do you think of awards shows? What do you think of Pussy Riot? What do you think of canned performances? I would love to hear your opinion, leave a comment!

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