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Michael Jackson's American Music Awards nominations: Unfair?


Music award shows are never the most current barometers of pop music. By the time the big galas get around to airing on television, many of the albums nominated date back to the prior calendar year.

The cut-off period for Grammy eligibility this year was Aug. 31, ensuring that all the major holiday releases, from Jay-Z to Leona Lewis, will not be represented when nominations are announced Dec. 2. But this year's American Music Awards completely throw the concept of an eligibility period out the window.

Michael Jackson's "Number Ones" will compete for favorite album in the pop/rock field against Lady Gaga's "The Fame" and Taylor Swift's "Fearless." Both of the latter have a decent shot at being represented at the upcoming Grammy Awards, but the latter won't feature any albums from Jackson.

That's because his "Number Ones" was released back in 2003. What's more, the album is simply a greatest hits compilation, featuring only a pair of songs actually released this decade. Regardless of retail impact, a 2009 award show should be restricted to albums actually recorded within its recent history. At last check, Jackson has already won plenty of American Music Award trophies for the songs on "Number Ones," including an artist of the century accolade in 2002.

A segment or two honoring Jackson would have been a better way to recognize the King of Pop's contributions to music. The MTV Video Music Awards opened with a tribute to the star, and the 2010 Grammy Awards will surely feature some sort of Jackson memorial. Yet giving the artist posthumous awards, especially when said artist hasn't released an album of new material since 2001, seems an unfair slight to today's current crop of pop stars.

If Jackson wins three or four of his five nominations (Pop & Hiss predicts a sweep), then the entire American Music Awards telecast will feel very much a tribute to Jackson. If reflecting the current sales landscape is purely the objective, then the American Music Awards succeeded at representing what is selling.

And yes, old and new fans are discovering Jackson's music in the wake of his June passing -- his "Number Ones" currently ranks as 2009's bestselling album, according to Nielsen SoundScan -- but an outpouring of sales and appreciation shouldn't come as unexpected after the death of such a legend.(To be fair, the American Music Awards are based on sales and radio data from Nielsen.)

In a fan-voted contest such as the American Music Awards, current pop stars such as Swift and Gaga probably don't stand a chance. Yet if fans thought it was an injustice that Kanye West had the audacity to interrupt Swift accepting a "Moon Man" at the MTV Video Music Awards, then they should be ready to riot if she's now losing awards to artists who haven't had a new song in nearly a decade.

-- Todd Martens

Photos: Michael Jackson at the 2002 American Music Awards. Credit: Getty Images. Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV VMAs. Credit: Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (160)

Give me a break. Michael paved the way for these people, and he's outselling living artists . . . he did this while he was alive, he's doing it directly after his passing, and your grandchildren will be listening to him, people. Get used to it. He's huge for a reason. He deserves the nominations. And he created much of the foundation, almost all of it, that everyone is leaning on right now in the music industry. He's the ship, the harbor, and much of the sea that carries many of today's artists.

If they only want current artists to win they should change the rules. Jackson should win if he deserves to win.

Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga are nothing compared to Michael Jackson. They are flashes in the pan that bring no actual artistic talent to music. Michael deserves every award in existence and more. He has made such a huge impact on the world. Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift are merely eye-candy and sold as visual musicians. They are only thought of as a place to put something.

Oh, yes, and by the way, everyone just praised MJ the last weeks and months for resurrecting dreary music sales numbers. Michael has activated, reactivated, and continues to reactivate sales in the music industry, whether physically here or not, Michael is the centrifugal force in the musical arts, pop culture, he continually trailblazes and lifts up the music industry, he is, pretty much, the music industry. GO MICHAEL. Keep trailblazing. Another record he broke being nominated. Well earned, brother. You gave your life for your art, your audience, and your craft. Keep it comin', love, keep it', comin' love, don't stop it now, don't stop it no. Borrowed from KC.

Michael was a true talent. He could sing very well and he had a showman's moves. He wrote the bulk of his own material and worked on much of his own choreography. At his height he was one of the hardest-working people in showbusiness. These days most music awards are given to auto-tuned dance acts who neither write nor choreograph their own performances. Large-format music awards exist only to reward sales, not creativity or musicianship.

Considering the talent that this man had and the atrocious way that the mainstream and tabloid media treated him while he was alive it's about time he gets some long overdue respect. He was treated like a national joke and a punching bag for the media with their snarky comments about him since I can remember back into the 1970's.

His 2001 album was virtually ignored and in my opinion it sounds better than a lot of what I hear playing on the radio nowadays (most of this new stuff is garbage imo). MJ's passing away made me appreciate his music again, I rediscovered him and yes he was an amazingly talented performer and singer. No one else's music has the power to move me emotionally (literally to tears as well as joy listening to that beautiful voice of his) the way his songs do. Only after he died did I watch his concert footage and watching him sing "Man In The Mirror" live in Bucharest was unbelievable. In fact all of his live concert footage is pretty amazing. He really had the power to move people emotionally which is obvious when you watch a dvd of one of his concerts. (people screaming, fainting, crying hysterically). There aren't too many people in the world who have that ability.

I'm sorry I didn't make an effort to go to one of his concerts when he was alive, if he comes across so powerfully on a tape I can only imagine the impact of being at one of his concerts in person. At the time I thought I was "too cool" to go to an MJ concert, I only wanted to see bands such as the Rolling Stones back in those days. I feel sadness every day since his death at the tragic turn his life took. He wasn't perfect, he had a lot of personal problems but so do a lot of really talented people. This man was part of American culture, he was an Icon for over 30 years. There's a huge hole in my heart since he passed, I grew up listening to his music since I first heard "ABC" and "Ben" playing on the radio back in the 1970's as well his and the J5's other hits.

As far as Lady GaGa is concerned, I think she has a very good voice and she's talented, but she is using Madonna and Michael's playbook from the 1980's to bring attention to herself (not a bad thing.) She's young and she's just getting started, she'll get plenty of awards in the future.

Stop sounding so jealous, LAT! LOL!!

Who cares? If the people say it's all about MJ, then it is. There are more important things in this world to worry about, people. MJ probably would've said just that, too.

why you hate michael jackson !!tablid junkie !! dam disrespectable!

obama and michael jackson?? what is wrong with them? ohh nothing, um michael deserves it he is sooo much better than taylor swift and firt of all she sucks live and no one wants to here her remake one of his sucks it would just be terrible. Why does it matter if he hasnt made anything these last 10 years?? he sold more than taylor swift or lady gaga put together!!

Of course Michael deserves these nominations. He was the most talented artist in music history. No one comes closes..no one. I only wish he was here to see all this. I wish the media had not beat him up all those years but seen the real MJ..the most genuine person with a heart of gold. He deserves to be honoured like this.

It is fair, I am here to say. So what if Michael's music is old, I still love every songs he made. He is the best selling artist of all time. No one will reach the same level as Michael, so it is no surprise that he is the nominee for this award.

The AMAs have always represented sales more than quality and Michael Jackson had big sales when he died - so its logical that he's up there. Look at the history of winners and nominees of the AMAs vs the Grammys on the RockOnTheNet.com site and you'll see a big difference usually. The only thing the AMAs have in common with the Grammys are that they are both awards shows.

If MJ sold the most records, then it stands to reason he should be included. It also would be a great tribute to a man that gave so much to humanity, that always got bashed. RIP MJ

What do you mean it is not fair? His NumberOnes albums is the best selling album of the year. He does deserve all the awards. His music is just heavenly and timeless and it deeply moves my heart, mind,and soul. He is the only artist who has this kind of impact on me. He is in a league of his own. Incomparable. Period. I truly love you Michael with all my heart.

By no means is this a "hater" blog for MJ. I completely agree with this article. Lets face it, awards shows have been anything but "award shows" for quite some time now, but they the AMA committee really went crazy this time. Michael shouldn't get nominated for all those categories. Instead, maybe something like an individual award could have made more sense, like......I don't know.......maybe "Most Influential Artist of the Century" award or something, simply because HE IS the most influential of pretty much every popular artist out there today. Being nominated for a collection of work that came out in 2003, let alone a greatest hits album, is just plain outrageous. Not saying he doesn't deserve anything, cause I pretty much expected all music award shows up until next year's Grammys to honor him in some way. Come on people, I appreciate The Gloved One just as much as the next guy, but you have to take a hard look at this. You might as well take out every other artist in those 5 categories, cause they will not win.
And off the record, soundscan, Neilson, or whatever does not always magnify all the real talent that was produced in a year's time. Record sales do not tell you ANYTHING about the quality of the work. Therefore, award shows REALLY need to change their tune. Not even the Grammys can get it right anymore. And the Grammys need to change their "eligibility timelimit" and make everything relevant from Jan.1 to December. I'm getting sick and tired of seeing an award go to something that came out 3 years prior. "Song of the Year" means the most successful song of the relevant year (exp. Grammys 2010-"music year 2009") Not most successful song of 2007.

Pedophile. Good riddance.

It's Michael Jackson. The rules don't apply. ;)
The people have spoken through record sales. MJ records have been selling like crazy this year, so if the AMA's are based on record sales, then MJ deserves it. This just goes to show that MJ will never really be gone due to his impact on the music world.

I hope he wins them all because current music is crap these days. If it takes old school MJ to spice up the AMA's, then why not?

Congratulations, MJ! R.I.P.

Irene Njeri:

I could not have expressed it more eloquenly than you. I quoted youu below, in case some did not read all comments.

First, from me-MJ, sing and dance and love and play in Peace, Sweet Angel. Your legacy will live on for many years as the youth of today are being introduce to your magic. Long Live the King of Pop!

From Irene Njeri

"You Know what Michael might not write new songs, but history tells a story.
We all one day will die and become history. May be Michael jackson will live forever in the Guinness book of records and on Hall of Fame as his name is there. Don't take him for granted because he has died physically. We his fans love MJ dearly and will always love him forever more. His body decomposes but his soul is in a better place. He endured tribulations, but God loved him more. Even in death Michael Jackson conducts lots of love from his fans. We love the guy. We will all decompose one day ask yourself, when all is done and you decompose where will you be with your hatred? Michael rested gossip and lies against him, but his music we ares till buying and will live forever more bless his heart."-Irene Njeri

...don't you get it, yet Martens ? good grief. People are crying out- loud, for good reason. He IS more than deserving. The crass, judgmental media who lied and called names for the last few years are beginning to look pretty stupid by continuing to call him names and now scratching for material to even go as far as to make-up things wrong with Michael.
Finally, more media AND supposed fellow artists, are non-chalantly learning the truth of his innocence & turning around, with open-minds & realizing his greatness. This is the discord; not only the continuation of controversy which was inevitable; a reflection of the times we live in.
Meanwhile, any artist; true artist that has really listened to MJ's compositions, not just heard would graciously applaud him. Even if you don't care for his music, # ones & there's so much more, I think you need to listen in order to qualify to dare write this article.
I suggest you LISTEN to the song "Why you Wanna Trip on Me ?". It's on Michael's greatest album, Dangerous.
And guess what ? I doubt Michael would care. He had fame & glory...what he missed out on, the last few years, was RESPECT.

Ummmm if the awards are based on record sales and airplay
posthumous or not Michael deserves it and it is 100% fair.

Absolutely it's fair.

Uh oh, here we go. A chance for people to whine and complain about "it's only because he died!!! wah wah wah!!"

Absolutely it's fair.
Why people so judgemental only about him.
Please get fair mind.
This awards show is based of consumer reports and The Beatles sold a ton of albums this year but not so much sold compare with other musitian.
so what's the problem?

People need to let it go, its way unfair! Its only because he died, and they feel the need to honor him, even if the album sucks. Come on..seriously...get over it! Before that he didn't have album for how many YEARS!? Great entertainer, but he had his time, and now its time to honor others.

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