Here is a real thing that is happening in the world: Will.i.am is receiving a CLIO Honorary Award at this year’s CLIO Award Ceremony. What are the CLIO Awards, you ask? According to the Internet, the CLIOs are “annual awards honoring creative advertising in package design, print, radio and television.” Which doesn’t sound a bit like what Will does, right? Wrong! Wrong and wrong again. This is a world where Alicia Keys is basically the CEO of BlackBerry and Lady Gaga invented the Polaroid camera and Justin Timberlake built the Internet with his bare hands and then bought MySpace in the middle of a golf game just for fun, just to prove that he could. They’re moguls.
So! The executive director of the CLIO Awards explained her decision by saying this: ”will.i.am has not only mastered music but has transcended his art form, extending his boundless creativity into areas like politics, technology and philanthropy. He embodies all of the values the CLIOs represent by inspiring change and encouraging us to think differently.” Which is, like, sure? Okay?
But let’s have a real conversation about this for a minute: Will.i.am is a corporate hit machine who’s worked with huge brands (he’s the “director of creative innovation” for Intel, namely, and has partnered with Coca-Cola and Beats by Dre), and he’s obviously brilliant in that capacity, but calling his music his “art form” is a travesty. His music as a solo artist is widely reviled, and it’s only through strategically partnering with artists who have rabid fan bases of their own (Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus) that his songs are buoyed up the charts. It’s not like he has actual fans. And while piggybacking onto credible pop artists could be characterized as “encouraging us to think differently,” it’s probably not for the better.
So it’s cool that Will.i.am gets to take this award and feel important, but giving him a medal for being a no-talent goon feels gratuitous, somehow, and oh, his new album #willpower is out tomorrow and it’ll probably top the charts because Will.i.am is really good at what he does, even if what he does is terrible. Also, he looks like the Statue of Liberty in that picture up top. That’s all.
Hashtag willpower, everyone.