On Sunday, Taylor Swift dominated the AMAs, and won the coveted “Artist of the Decade” award.
During her “recap” of the awards, Wendy Williams laid into Taylor, suggesting that she’s a symptom of cheapening tastes.
“Taylor Swift made history, which is like unbelievable to me,” she opens her recap.
“She is so talented,” Wendy acknowledges. “I like Taylor Swift.”
“I’m not quite a Swiftie, but I’m a Swe-” she jokes. “Like, I like her.”
Wendy adds: “I didn’t really know her until Kanye brought her on stage all of those years ago.”
That is … not how most people remember the incident at the 2009 VMAs. (Also, that’s where I learned that Kanye existed)
“But ‘Shake It Off’ and some of those songs are some of my favorite ones,” Wendy says. “I play ’em loud, they make me feel young.”
“So good for her,” she continues. “She won six awards, now she has a total of 29 awards.”
“That sounds unbelievable, but what sounds unforgivable,” Wendy claims. “She’s got more awards than Michael Jackson!”
There is then an outraged outcry from the audience. Um … is MJ and his murky legacy really still the touchstone for musical talent? In 2019??
“I know!” she says. “Prince. Madonna. Michael Jackson.”
“Michael had 24. Taylor’s got 29. And Artist of the Decade?!” Wendy exclaims.
She then asks her audience: “Is she who’s been firing you up for the last 10 years?!”
“But you know what?” she proposes. “I think that taste has cheapened through the years in a lot of things.”
“The quality of clothes we buy — they get tattered and torn real quick,” Wendy points out.
She then claims: “the quality of food we buy — we’re being poisoned by a lot of crap.”
“Just life in general I think has cheapened,” Wendy argues.
“I don’t mean this in a bad way to Taylor, but it’s unbelievable,” Wendy reiterates.
“I appreciate her,” she claims. “But Artist of the Decade?”
Wendy marvels: “More awards than Madonna and Prince and them? And Michael Jackson?”
She then suggests that Taylor’s child-friendly performance was somehow a cheap ploy to win over the AMAs audience.
It seems clear that, were one to ask Wendy who the greatest musician of all time is, she seems likely to name Michael Jackson
(Meanwhile I’m sitting here trying to name a fifth MJ song without cheating, and I cannot)
There are generational gaps involved. Their may be racial and cultural gaps involved.
Also, some of us simply do not listen to men singing because it always just sounds worse than a woman singing. (Me, I’m some of us)
Artist of the Decade is, first and foremost, an award relative to a decade.
So if MJ was the best artist of the ’80s or ’90s or whatever, that wouldn’t necessarily mean that he and Taylor are equals.
Second of all, it’s a relative term. Are we talking about who had the best bops? The most social impact? The best mix of both?
Purely on social impact, we’d give it to Beyonce. Purely in terms of music? That’s Ariana Grande or Selena Gomez.
Both of those factors? Well, that’s probably Taylor, for this decade.
Now, if Wendy Williams wants to suggest that Taylor Swift won due to a racial bias that ignored some black artists, we can totally listen.
But Wendy never quite goes so far as to say that.
Instead, she just says that Taylor is vaguely unworthy of her award and lets her audience reach their own conclusions.
And Wendy’s analogy to greedy businesses that cut corners and sabotage the shelf lives of their own products is just way off.