Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Is Kanye West the Music Artist of the Decade?

I’m stating this as a question. There is no formula that can determine what music by one artist better than music by another. Unlike judging the movies, when most people will agree that one movie is the best of the year, music is different.

To say that Amy Winehouse and Kanye West were not as good as Herbie Hancock last year is up for a lot of debate. But when judging the body of work an artist makes over a decade, it is easier to differentiate those who had a good year from those who had several good years.

If I had to pick several artists who would up for the award, I would have to include (in no order)…

1. Radiohead (critical darlings)
2. U2 (for two great albums and one coming out next year that cannot be judged yet)
3. Linkin Park (for several albums)
4. Norah Jones (for an acclaimed album and for her work on other great albums)
5. Eminem (for the first few years of the decade)

Groups that I cannot include on this list

1. Justin Timberlake (I cannot stand his crap)
2. Britney Spears (I cannot stand her crap)
3. Gnarls Barkley (one good album, one bad one)
4. Outkast (where are you?)

I think that Radiohead is a great group, but I feel that they haven’t had the songs that hit the airwaves the way that the other artists did. I feel that one of the factors to being the best artist of the decade is for people to remember your music.

U2 has had two great albums this decade and they will have another album come out next year. I can admit that if their next album is great, then I may have to change my mind on my current verdict. I don’t think that two albums allow me to declare that one group has had the greatest effect on society (unless it is the 1980s and we are talking about Michael Jackson).

Linkin Park is one of my favorite groups of the decade. I think that they should be considered one of the best groups of the decade. I also feel that they are the future of hard rock. I really like them a lot. So this is subjective. I would feel tempted to rank Linkin Park at either the number two or three music artist for the decade.

Norah Jones is not one of my top favorites, but I do acknowledge that she is one of the top artists of the decade, regardless of my personal preference. To dismiss her as “not my type of musician” would be unfair. I do believe that she is talented. I also admit the fact that she has not acted like the attention hogs we see in the industry and she has lived a quiet, non-controversial life since making it as a famous musician.

Eminem is extremely talented. I think that he is more than just a rapper. I think that he is also in a category with U2. I would say that if he has his album released next year, then he can also be in the running for artist of the decade. But since his last album was released in 2004, he seemed like an artist ready to retire. He seemed like he was ready to put rap music behind him. I don’t know if he will come out of retirement to release another album, or if he is done for good. If I was going to choose the artist of the decade in 2005, he would probably be the winner.

I would also like to say that I really want Outkast to return. I felt that Speakerboxxx/The Love Below was a masterpiece. I really want Outkast to return with another great piece of work. But it’s hard to imagine that it has been five years since that album. They did make a soundtrack to their movie Idlewild, but the soundtrack did not having any hits that stood out on their own. I never heard one song from that album on the radio. It wasn’t a great album and the movie wasn’t great either.

I think that all four of Kanye West’s albums have great songs that not only are radio-friendly, but really great pieces of music. I think that Kanye West is to music like Pixar is to movies. Neither of them has had any flops. It is possible that Kanye West’s new album 808s & Heartbreak can win Album of the Year? I would be shocked if it is not nominated. His first three albums were nominated for Album of the Year. This time he may have a winner.

Even if Kanye West never wins the Grammy for Album of the Year, he is my pick, as of the end of 2008, for Music Artist of the Decade.
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