The Grammys become the people’s choice awards – or do they?

Kelly Clarkson has become the first contestant from “American Idol” to win Grammys.kellycl.jpeg

I officially don’t get “Idol”, but like Honda says about the Accord, millions of Americans can’t be wrong.

Of course, the Grammys themselves can’t be vouched for with the same certainty: Some television analysts have speculated that one of the more thrilling competitions of the evening will be the ratings rivalry between “Idol” and the kudocast for the hour in which they both overlap.

This is to miss the point, I think. The real question is, are the members of the Recording Academy awarding Clarkson the Grammy because she’s actually popular, or is she popular because the radio stations have made her so? The organization bills itself as “the only peer-presented award to honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position.”

Well, maybe. But today, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer – who himself deserves an Oscar for his sense of timing – announced he’s subpoenaed nine of the nation’s largest radio conglomerates in his payola investigation of major artists and songs – one he claims got air thanks to envelopes of cash provided by labels.

“A lot of the major songs have been implicated in this and it showed how pervasive the payola infrastructure had become,” Spitzer told The Associated Press. “Major artists, major songs were sent up the charts through improper payments to buy spins on the air that translated into sales.

If it turns out Clarkson’s name is in the mix, will she have to give up her Grammy?

Stay tuned…