Kanye West — as has become customary for the insecurity-burdened rap star — gave an acceptance speech at the 2008 American Music Awards that just added to the growing sentiment among most music lovers that he either simply shut up or people simply have to stop voting for him. His childishness and poor attitude about awards in general have been bad enough over the years, but when you tell people you want to be Elvis, you might be stepping far beyond your talent level, which, speaking of West, is limited at best.
Kanye West won two awards at the 2008 American Music Awards: Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Album and Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Male Artist. He told the gathered stars at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles that: “It’s our responsibility as musicians to keep pushing each other. We will be the new Beatles, the new Hendrix. I want to be Elvis.”
Somebody should tell Kanye West that after four-to-five decades of emulators and wannabes, nobody as yet has come close to touching these artists for their contributions to music. The Beatles remain the top-selling group and recording artist in history. Elvis remains the top-selling male artist in history (and is perennially the top-selling dead artist, according to Forbes magazine). And the incomparable Jimi Hendrix, the artist who inspired and continues to inspire generations of guitarists – nothing more needs be said. The Beatles had “it”. Elvis had “the voice.” Hendrix had “the touch.”
Kanye West has his tirades, whines, and complaints.
For Kanye West to suggest that other artists challenge each other to place themselves among the pantheon of music gods is like Steven Segall challenging other actors to be Orson Welles, Paul Newman, or Tom Hanks. His arrogance shows. His tirades were much more genuine.
But while Kanye West was adding another layer of fool onto his already considerably foolish-looking public persona, at least other artists at the American Music Awards were showing much more class. Chris Brown, who walked away the night’s big winner with three awards, including Artist of the Year, told reporters, “I was shocked. I’m so thankful and grateful. I thought Coldplay should have won the award, but I’ll take it.”
Someone should tell Chris Brown that he gives himself too little credit and Coldplay far, far (how many “fars” can be used?) too much. Still, it shows he has class.
Miley Cyrus, who performed at the ceremony, turned 16 the day of the American Music Awards. Her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, and some friends, Julianne Hough, Taylor Swift (winner of the Favorite Country Female Artist award), and Jordin Sparks (winner of the Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist award), surprised her backstage with a small party. A teen party but still classier than Kanye West.
Alicia Keys and Rihanna both won two awards and were beautiful doing it.
West has become legendary for his over-the-top tirades in past years. In 2004, Kanye West through a fit over not winning the Best New Artist award and the Album of the Year award at the Grammy Awards. He went on a tirade when his video for “Touch The Sky” did not win Best Video at the MTV Europe Music Awards. He also publicly criticized MTV for exploiting Britney Spears when he was bumped as the opening act at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards.
Although audiences around the world found out about Kanye West’s secret wish to be Elvis, at least we didn’t have to hear him whining about the awards he did not win. Of course, that might be because he won in the only two categories in which he was nominated.
Jump to see a full list of the winners at the 2008 American Music Awards.