Esperanza Spalding

One of the funniest stories I have read of late is this one–angry Justin Bieber fans vandalized Esperanza Spalding‘s Wikipedia entry out of spite, vengeance, and poor judgement following her “upset” win for the Best New Artist Grammy.

Subjective award shows are idiotic to being with; “The Best” is a concept that simply does not exist, especially in matters so personal as taste.  Nevertheless, the Grammy voters got it right.  Esperanza Spalding is an artist.  Those who care to listen to her, will discover a legend in the making–someone who will be a towering figure in jazz (and non-jazz) music for decades to come.  The first time I ever heard her (on Marian McPartland’s NPR show Piano Jazz) I bought her album.  I plan to get her latest album as soon as I can afford to spend money freely again.

As opposed to Justin Bieber.  Look, he may be popular now, but he’s a flavor of the month.  In a few years, the same little girls who loooooooove him now will laugh at themselves for being so into such a silly fad.  That’s how it always is with industry-produced singers, particularly those who appeal to the tweens and young teens.  (I would also like to add that my very astute 15-year-old cousin said to me about Bieber once, “He looks like a 12-year-old lesbian.”)  Such singers are eventually forgotten, or worse, live forever as a punchline.

Not so with true artists.  They last forever because they constantly influence and re-influence future generations.  It is not impossible for pop singers to transcend into artists.  The history of pop music is littered with such figures.  But it is becoming rarer and rarer as the only way to break into the pop music scene is to become aligned with mega-labels who care more about the dollars their artists’ sounds produce than the actual sounds themselves.  Hence Justin Bieber.

But lest anyone forget my original point, about the stupidity of award shows and the Grammys in particular, I will let the Simpsons have the last word.


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