Thoughts on the Grammy Awards

Victoria and I watched the Grammy Awards last night. I usually don’t watch them. Not because I have anything against them, really, but there are rarely any surprises. And I don’t really care to watch a parade of entertainers who are pretending to be musicians get thunderous applause by repeating the same chorus over and over and over from a song we’ve already heard two million times on the radio. Usually all you have to do to figure out who’ll win the awards is look to the sales charts. It’s a popularity contest, not a measure of an artist’s worth. Led Zeppelin never won a Grammy. Or Pink Floyd.
But I certainly enjoyed watching the show and the performances. A 50″ plasma TV is not a bad way to watch something like this. Especially once I discovered that it was being broadcast in HD and we started hearing it in surround-sound. Cool! I switched it over just in time to giggle at Kanye West’s jacket.
Nothing much surprised me about the Grammy Awards. But the one thing that did was Herbie Hancock winning album of the year. My jaw hit the floor. I’ve always loved Herbie Hancock. But who the hell would have ever thought that a jazz artist would win Album of the Year? Didn’t someone say it had been 43 years since a jazz artist had done that? I was excited by Hancock’s win, if for no other reason than that. I mean, pick out the most skilled musician from this list; Amy Winehouse, Chris Daughtry, Kanye West, Herbie Hancock. See what I mean?
I was certainly glad that Kanye West didn’t get it. Is anyone else tired of this talentless fuck’s constant whining about how no one deserves a Grammy Award in any category more than him? Hell, it was a running joke during the show. I loved it when Usher said “There are no losers … Kanye”. It seems to me that Kanye West is living proof that technology has advanced to a point where anybody can make a record. He wouldn’t bother me if not for his planet-sized ego. He has a few cool studio toys that make him sound professional and he thinks he’s John Lennon or something. Shut the fuck up already. You’re in a room full of people with genuine talent. No one is buying it.
I’m also equally unimpressed with Amy Winehouse. She was sort of interesting when she first came out. I liked I’m No Good but was mystified by the success of Rehab. I’m not sure why those two successes equate to the amount of adulation she receives. She’s a passable singer with great producers who skillfully pulled off the whole retro thing. What’s all the fuss about? Could it be that we’re all just fascinated by the train wreck her life has become? That’s about Celebrity, not about music.
I didn’t bring much else from the awards, apparently. I’m sitting here trying to think of something else to write about. But most of it was painfully generic. Though it did occur to me that the performances were mostly by entertainers. Musicians were painfully under-represented.
Oh, while I’m at it, could we please be done with the rappers already? Although there were a few exceptions, for the most part the rappers present couldn’t have mustered an ounce of class between them. Isn’t this an art form that should be allowed to die quietly? The genuine talent in the genre wandered off long ago. Hip Hop survives today only because nothing has come along to replace it. Is anyone else tired of seeing these people masturbate all over the Grammy Awards year after year, sadly believing that everyone else in the room is a has-been, that Hip Hop is the future of music? I don’t expect them to like every act that walks up on the stage, but get that smirk off your face. Whatever artistic relevance Hip Hop and Rap once had died with the decline of Public Enemy. Everything since has been corporate marketing.
However it sounds, there were things I liked about the show.
It was cool to see John Paul Jones with Foo Fighters, but I was disappointed how few times the camera actually turned his way. As many times as the announcers dropped his name in the lead up, you would’ve thought they might have shown the man’s face more often. And I kept wondering if Dave Grohl ever turned around and thought “That’s John Paul Fucking Jones”. If not, he needs to have his guitar broken.
The Beatles thing was cool. I liked the Cirque du Soleil part, but not so much the other half with the singers. The young black kid was great, but when they brought out the gospel chorus and the black lady who was throwing around the weight of her voice, I got kinda bored. It was like the kid got it, but the adults didn’t.
Not much else comes to mind. They trotted out John Mayer (like they do every year), and I always like seeing Alicia Keyes. The John Fogerty bit with Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis was a little uncomfortable. Little Richard looked annoyed (maybe because of the half-assed song they were playing?) and I was afraid Jerry Lee Lewis was going to die on the spot. And Ringo Starr kept up his “Yes, ‘tis I, ‘tis Ringo” shtick (which wore thin decades ago).
I guess in summation the only revelation of the even was Herbie Hancock winning Album of the Year. It struck me as one of the few genuinely music related wins of the evening. Seemed to me like the rest of it was more about production and entertainment than music. Maybe that’s why Kanye West is so pissed off all the time. His product is as well crafted as anyone else’s, and he can’t understand why his McRap doesn’t get more respect. I wish they’d switched the camera onto Kanye West when they announced Herbie Hancock had won. I would have loved to savor his disbelief that a mere musician won with mere music.

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