Despite the obnoxious and omnipresent campaigning/politicking that went on this year, it looked like there was an end in site on November 6th. Not quite. The joke’s on us in the EDM world; we have an all new movement that is, unfortunately, captivating our medium. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the (annoying and undeserved) campaign of Al Walser for Grammy 2012.
First of all, if you haven’t heard of Al Walser by now, you’re doing life right. Secondly, a slight bio is in order to introduce this character. Walser is a Swiss-born producer/label owner who claims the small principality of Liechtenstein as his home. Walser, from his ironically named label, Cut The Bull, mainly produces Eurodance in the same vein as Vengaboys, Eiffel 65 and other groups who are rightfully not in the modern cultural lexicon anymore. And now this genre of EDM that is only relevant when playing Dance Dance Revolution or during pre-school exercise routines has a nominee at the Grammy Awards for Best Dance Recording with Al Walser’s “I Can’t Live Without You.” Walser is nominated alongside Avicii, Calvin Harris, Skrillex and Swedish House Mafia. Needless to say, seeing this strange man’s name listed with EDM mainstays was shocking. Just to amp up the outrage, let’s make a small list of those who weren’t nominated: Afrojack, Porter Robinson, Knife Party, Felix Cartal, Deadmau5, Zedd and endless more producers that are much more deserving than this, quoting Office Space, “no talent, ass clown.”
Prior to his nomination, Walser was relatively anonymous in the EDM world and thus when he became infamous for his nomination, comparisons abounded. The most prolific comparison for Walser is Rebecca Black, but that’s giving Walser way too much credit. While Black has become somewhat of a pariah for her song “Friday,” Black has said “I don’t think I’m the worst singer, but I don’t think I’m the best singer,” indicating that, while she has confidence, she is aware that she is not a musical messiah. Contrarily, Walser spews forth, in fluent douchebag, “Maybe I’m the Robin Hood of EDM” as well as what his bio states on his website: “He [Walser] can either be hard or HARDER. He is a DJ/Artist, young Hollywood mogul who takes the dance floor by the balls and grips it there until the crowd begs for submission” thus comparing his music, aptly, to genital torture. The first insight into Walser’s ineptitude is his dumpster fire of a music video for “I Can’t Live Without You” in which, a seemingly uninterested featured female singer and Walser switch back and forth from driving along a coastline, to a green screen studio, a la the ‘80’s, in which Walser is holding (not playing) a keytar against a background that looks like a schlocky desktop background for Windows Vista. The video continues with the introduction, and unexplained shoehorning, of a toddler age boy and ends with an old couple admiring desert hills. And just when you thought Walser couldn’t get any worse, he goes off and throws in more assholery at no extra charge in the form of stealing stems from Zedd and posting them as his own.
On a remix of “I Can’t Live Without You” that Walser has taken down from YouTube, supposedly due to accusations/pressure, he apparently takes stems from Zedd’s “Spectrum” and claims them as a remix of “Without You.” Without the slightest bit of doubt, Zedd has called out Walser on Twitter for using stems from “Spectrum” and gave him the sarcastic nod for the nomination that Zedd himself probably should have had instead. Of course, Walser claimed that it wasn’t his idea and offered to take down the remix… but only if Zedd asked for it. Luckily for us all, Zedd has found a video that has the ripped off remix. Judge for yourself, even though you probably won’t deliberate too long. Admittedly, everything Walser does is not bad, just most things, and one thing he does really well is networking.
Unlike all his fellow nominees, with the exception being Skrillex, Walser is a voting member of the Recording Academy (those who vote for the Grammy Awards). This only goes to further the stereotype of the Grammy Awards being the ‘Granny’ Awards by being completely behind the times musically. Walser has a very vast network of friends/fans/lost souls on the Recording Academy’s social website Grammy365.com. Some have speculated that Walser garnered his nomination by using this website, made up of exclusively voting members, as a way to gain attention/notoriety and, of course, Walser disagrees. In fact, whenever the possibility of ‘trolling’ the Grammys is brought up, Walser becomes extremely defensive and apparently is Tom Cruise-ian in his pursuit of those who claim he got his nomination from anything but ”great music… And drive.” As Walser puts it, he “nourished” these relationships with other voting members and sent them newsletters about him. When it came time to vote for nominations Walser said “So probably when it came to ballot time they were very familiar with my name.” Al, for once, you nailed it. But then you went and contradicted yourself a few sentences later in the same interview by saying “It’s not a popularity contest, and it is what it is.” So what is it? Maybe Al Walser has a die hard group of fans on a social website made up of only Recording Academy members, who are mainly made up of those over the age of 40, that truly love his music and see him as the equivalent to his fellow nominees, or maybe, by his own admission, his name is recognizable from e-mail newsletters. The decision is really yours to make, but honestly, it’s hard to see it as a purely musical nomination.
Whether it’s related to his nomination or not, Al Walser is one of the greatest opportunists in Grammy history. He wrote a song that he loved and wanted to bring it to the masses and found a unique and effective way to find a nomination. This plainly shows us that the Grammy nomination process needs a massive overhaul and Bill Freimuth, Vice President of Awards, has suggested following the footsteps of other niche genres by having an intermediate committee review/change nominations before they are publicly announced. This committee would have made sure that Al Walser would never have risen to the infamy that he has obtained as well as rightfully filled his nomination slot with a more deserving artist. But yet, we did/do not have that committee and so even with all the vitriol and ire being spewed at you Al Walser, congratulations on your Grammy Nomination as well as your unenviable return to obscurity after the awards. You won’t be missed.
Credit to StoneyRoads.com for the images
An obsessive musical hobbyist who graduated in genetics. Fell in love with electronic music growing up in the Detroit music scene. Now lives in Utah and enjoys the serene solitude it offers. Follow him at @Brian_the_Red15