Thoughts on the 2017 Dallas Observer Music Awards

Green Trash Ballot
Photo of the Dallas Observer Ballot Box?

The Ghost has always maintained a soft spot in his heart for awards shows. While I have enjoyed major televised events like The Grammys and The Academy Awards, the Dallas Observer Music Awards have always held a truly special place in my musical heart of hearts. Perhaps it’s the fact that it celebrates talent that is local. Perhaps it’s the fact that the nominees are accessible for Dallasites to see. I’ll even confess that I get a smile on my face getting to see friends of mine up for awards. But perhaps most importantly, I had an opportunity to contribute my own opinion, as well as see how the rest of the music community voted.

As years went by, The Ghost started to often feel that there was a sense of redundancy in the DOMAs. Bands that never released new material were repeatedly nominated. Some bands were misclassified, sometimes even to an embarrassing extent (anyone remember the country band Blackstone Rangers? Anyone?). I even began The Ghosty Awards not only as a means to express my tastes, but to protest some of that lack of diversity. Yet still through the frustrations, I always felt an undeniable respect for the DOMA’s.

This year, however, I feel that the Dallas Observer has sunk to a new low that makes me question what the award is worth anything at this point. Yes, I have several complaints. I question how Garrett Owen is up for Best New Artist when he released his Slightly Foreign EP back in 2011. I question how Acid Carousel’s Higher Than the Beatles! (18 tracks, 58 minutes in length) is up for Best EP while Midnight Opera’s The Mesmerist (6 tracks, 22 minutes in length) is up for Best Album. And yes, much of the list of nominees look like last year’s list. And the list from the year before that. And so on, and so on, etc.

Those complaints, however, are not at the core of my frustration. For the first time, the Dallas Observer Music Awards will be decided not by the general public, but a “panel of experts”. Who these experts are, I cannot say, as this is the first year since 2007 where my input was not asked. I trust that these people are knowledgeable about local music, but that’s not the issue. By leaving the public out of the decision-making process, it offers one less avenue for local music fans to voice their opinion.

The reason that the DO opted for the selected panel of judges versus public vote has not been stated on their website. Perhaps the Observer felt it would bring more publicity to the site. I’m sure this choice will bring them publicity, though not necessarily positive. Perhaps they felt that their panel is more qualified to judge the talent than the local music community. To take away the public’s vote and give it to these “special judges” smacks of musical elitism. This leaves the local music fans without a voice in what has always been considered the premier local music awards ceremony.

So where does the local music fan get a forum for voicing an opinion? At risk of sounding like The Ghost is tooting his own horn, it seems that The Ghosty Awards are currently the only awards that encourage the participation of the local music community. So please, take a moment to review the candidates in this year’s list of Ghosty nominations, and cast a vote for the act(s) you feel are most worthy of a win. If you have a complaint with the selection of nominees, Talk to The Ghost about it. Unlike other local media outlets, I welcome the input of local music fans.

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