The top categories at the Grammys – Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Song of the Year – have a problem: Most of the judges who decide them are old enough to have actually listened to music on a gramophone. This means the awards inevitably end up in the hands of painfully safe artists. Take Bruno Mars, for example. He’s a great musician and all, but he’s also the auditory equivalent of a Toyota Corolla.
"There's nothing wrong with a Corolla" I hear boomers splutter in indignation. No, there isn't anything wrong with a Corolla, and there is nothing really wrong with Bruno Mars, either, who is safe and reliable, much like the automobile I'm comparing him to. But his tunes mostly appeal to DJs who have long since given up on life, looking for a go-to "banger" to fill the dancefloor of a white suburban housewife's fiftieth.
It's the music industry for fucks sake. This is the business that brought you Bowie, Motley Crue, questionably-aged groupies and producers up to their gills in cocaine. We expect something exciting from you guys, not a flaccid Philippino Michael Jackson wannabe. We want to drive 'Raris, not Corollas.
So, we’ll give the Grammys a bit of advice. They should make the awards night more relevant, particularly with the youth market, by introducing a category for artists who have ‘memed’ their way to success.
Think of viral sensations like ‘Gangnum Style’ or Rebecca Black’s song ‘Friday’. They arguably had more cultural impact than ‘Uptown Funk’. It’s time we acknowledge these brave trailblazers and their undeniable contribution to the zeitgeist with an entirely new category: ‘Meme of the Year’.
Here’re a few suggestions for meme-musos who totally deserve a golden gramophone.
Michael Dapaah AKA Big Shaq
When he delivered lyrics like, “The ting goes skrrrahh/ Pap pap ka ka ka/ Skibiki pap pap/ And a pu pu pudrrrr boom/ Skya/ du du ku ku dun dun/ poom poom,” Michael Dapaah, the London-based comedian-turned-viral rapper was destined to become a meme.
Big Shaq, formerly MC Roadman Shaq, became a viral sensation after his appearance on BBC 1XTRA’s rap and grime segment Fire in the Booth. Everyone went nuts for his hilarious piss-take on the Grime genre and Big Shaq was born. He later expanded the freestyle into a full-length track, ‘Man’s Not Hot’; a comical, creative and ridiculously catchy tune about a London tough in Miami who refuses to take off his Puffa jacket.
Kirin J. Callinan
We can’t let the yanks and Brits take all the meme glory. What about our own homegrown viral sensations? Kirin J. Callinan, whose music is a bizarre mashup of 80s-inspired tunes with a distinct flavour of self-parody and performance art, beamed himself into the digital limelight late last year after his song ‘Big Enough’ was picked up by The Tonight Show host, Jimmy Fallon – who thought the track was absolutely awful. Guess he didn’t ‘get it’? The ‘Big Enough’ video features Aussie rock legend Jimmy Barnes as a head and torso in the clouds, screaming at the top of his lungs for what seems like an eternity. It’s incredible. If Bruno Mars is the musical equivalent of a Corolla, Kirin would be a 1990 Lamborghini Countach.
Depending on who you ask, Lil Pump, the artist responsible for the song ‘Gucci Gang’, is the future, or death, of rap music. He’s only 17 years old, but already he’s rocketed to the front of a new style of rhyming called ‘mumble rap’. His lyrics are harder than Chinese algebra to understand, but when 90 per cent of the words used are “Gucci gang” and the others are gems like, “Spend ten racks on a new chain /My bitch love do cocaine, ooh”, then we have to wonder if that really matters. Shakespeare, he ain’t. But he is certainly a meme in the making. The video for ‘Gucci Gang’ has over 490 million views and has spawned countless parodies, many of which have views in the hundreds of millions themselves.