THE 52ND ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 03, 2010
The Grammys. To quote a friend:
Ha, garbage. OK this is a Grammy discussion in two parts. Part one regards ignorance in how the Grammys work, and why being educated makes you hate everything more. "Experts" sound off?
"The Grammy: an award whose gigantic meaninglessness is dwarfed by the extravagance and fanfare it's perpetrators assemble to essentially fluff itself." - Pitchfork, probably.
It is widely accepted that a Grammy doesn't mean anything in the avant garde music community, whose precious artists are mostly shunned by NARAS and their voters. Remember, many more people are inclined to call The Simpson's better than a David Lynch movie, mainly because they fear what they don't understand (Animal Collective, Joanna Newsom,
Johny Weir). They aren't wrong or right. All this shiny nonsense is a SUBJECTIVE CONSENSUS of "industry professionals." The same ones that are driving the entire thing into the ground.
Now I want to clearly state that I do not agree with the masses in their "cool kid" dismissal of the Grammys, and with a little research and a brain, you'd understand why they work the way they do, and be able to effectively dismantle their opinions with logic instead of whining about Lady GaGa's Fortress Of Solitude dress.
It is fair to say that the Grammys are a bit over the top (an All Star Tribute to Michael Jackson, in 3-D on Pandora?) and also very polarizing in their performances. Pairing Lady Gaga and Elton John was an interesting and probably fruitful choice. Imelda Maye and Beck? Also interesting. Pretending the Jonas Brothers deserve to be there? Not as interesting. Pink's performance was horrendous. But this year's Grammy broadcast had the largest audience since 2004. Why? I'm not really sure, but I guess music is still popular. Let's face it, Taylor Swift writes good music. Lady GaGa has generated four or five club hits and a ton of news stories about weirdos and transvestites. Truthful? No. Good fodder for a culture that thrives on instant dissemination of anything that could pass for news at light speed over social networking? Absolutely. It's the meme age. I bet half the audience tuned in just to see what the "moment" would be that would spread like wildfire and be the butt of every e-joke. No such moment arose (a la Kanye West/Taylor Swift), but this came close:
It's OK, I've got a few spares.
Honestly though, this doesn't matter (as the internet has made abundantly clear). You all hate the Grammys, and you don't know why.
"Everyone HATES the Grammys! They are the worst! They are so unfair and don't reflect anything tangible! Pavement reunion!" - Your cool friend who knows everything about music and works at FYE
Here is what really happens.
NARAS posts their entire process on their website, which might be a helpful read for you, children.
Recording Academy members and record companies enter recordings and music videos released during the eligibility year.
Reviewing sessions by more than 150 experts in various fields are held to ensure that entered recordings meet specific qualifications and have been placed in appropriate fields.
First-round ballots are sent to voting members To help ensure the quality of the voting, members are directed to vote only in their fields of expertise.
In craft and other specialized categories, final nominations are determined by national nomination review committees comprised of voting members from all of The Academy's Chapter cities.
Final-round ballots are sent to voting members the finalists determined by the special nominating committees are also included in this ballot. In this final round, Recording Academy members may vote in the four general categories and in no more than eight (8) of the 29 fields.
You see? This explains a lot. Some of the old world thinking, like the presence of Hall and Oats, can be chalked up to many of these "experts" being around long before animals began collecting or whatever the kids are tripping to these days. They listen to the radio and don't care about your blog. They work in studios and production values matter to them (sorry lo-fi). And record sales still matter to these people. And MOST IMPORTANTLY, there is a vote and it includes a large amount of "seasoned professionals" (read: fogies). Some of the new blood voters explains how MGMT and The Ting Tings made it onto the ballot for Best New Artist (weird in and of itself), but the split between hip artists all but guaranteed Zac Brown Band would walk away with the win.
Quick thought: I don't know why Green Day is still popular when they've clearly jumped the shark (like five years ago), but they have a musical based on their music, and someone thought they needed to spend millions on it, so I guess "seasoned professionals" really like them, or something. Ugh.
The point here is that we need a reseasoning. You can't walk around hating the Grammys because you just do. You can strongly dislike them because they still represent an old business model that is sinking like the Titantic, with executives unable to let go. I guess that makes illegal downloading the iceberg in this metaphor? The internet is probably the huge diamond in the sea? I don't know how movies work. The point is the problem is the industry, not The Grammy.
We need The Grammys, in some capacity, because music needs a highest honor. But there is almost no way they can reflect the general public due to the ridiculous beaurocracy surrounding them, the inane deadline for eligible releases (August 31st of last year?) and the gigantic volume of submissions (over 100,000 records were released in 2008, more than any other media... film, television, etc). Maura Johnston, former editor of Idolator, said it best. The current procedure is like "trying to pick the Greatest Pine Needle out of the White River National Forest." Like so many other things in this country, we need some reform.
And changing the process doesn't mean it will look totally different, Taylor Swift deserved to win and so did a lot of other people who did. But changing the process will prevent disasters like this from happening:
And THAT is why you hate The Grammys.
Some Performances, Presented With Limited Commentary
Lady GaGa basically says "f--- you" to the haters by getting a legendary musician to sing her songs, and weave in some of his own. Not to mention they sing the most stripped down, specific example of her songwriting; no synthy glitter to hide the power of her voice here. Yeah, she has a weird sch-tick, but it's selling records and finding an audience for her talent. 2010 calls for a new form of celebrity, I guess. If Sir Elton is subscribing...
If you could legally marry someones voice, I'd probably marry Jenifer Hudson's voice. But Beyonce is pretty amazing too. Although I can't stand this "If I Were A Boy" song, she's had plenty of other hits this year that we can all appreciate/drunkenly dance to. I disagree with the Youtube comments about the Alanis cover being weird... I think it solidifies her ability to go from the strange schizophrenic Lady GaGa/Shasha Fierce thing to a straightforward singer/entertainer who is just really, really pretty and talented.
This one I like because not only was it Lil' Wayne and Eminem, it simultaneously sounded cool AND exposed flaws with the network. The "signal drop" was actually CBS getting too trigger happy with the censor button, and a lot of people say it was overkill. We need to change up those rules! I like the live drumming, and find it very funny that it is Travis Barker. Oh and Drake can go sing along with his backing track in his bedroom, where he belongs.
Now the not so good.
Sorry Taylor Swift/Stevie Nicks, but you guys sounded terrible together when you should have sounded great, and that makes me sad. I guess songs about old Welsh witches and being fifteen don't work together.
This one is just garbage. "How can we mock an unfortunately dying art form AND taunt it with a stale, overwrought autotuned R&B song? Let's get Slash to play guitar."
NOT PICTURED: Pink populates more of my nightmares, some people I don't care about, and the all star Michael Jackson tribute in 3-D is just terrible. Probably some other stuff happened, but I don't care anymore, this is already way too long for something I barely care about. So raise your glass, here is to a world where this never happens at the Grammys:
A world where our children will be safe from evil, generic music robots. In masks. -joe