Tag Archives: Grammys

Days of the Past in the Future

The gramophone was invented in the late 19th century.

Does it seem at all odd that it is the object mounted on a pedestal for the Grammy Award?

Yes, there is certainly something to be said for tradition, but arguably that would be akin to Motor Trend giving the winner of its Car of the Year Award a hand-crank trophy.

The Recording Academy, which puts on the Grammy Awards, consists of musicians, songwriters, producers, engineers, recording professionals, and quite possibly historians.

And the Academy is doing its damnedest to maintain relevance for the Grammy Awards, and doing what it can to extend the franchise.

As in holding “The GRAMMY Nominations Concert Live!!—Countdown to Music’s Biggest Night” [imagine that this page is literally littered with those little R-in-a-circle registered marks.]

The Concert Live!! will feature Maroon 5 and Luke Bryan. It will follow the one-hour live TV show (on CBS) during which the nominations will be announced. Two-time Grammy winner (and star of the CBS show “NCIS: Los Angeles”) LL Cool J and six-time Grammy winner Taylor Swift (a cover headline about Swift on the current Delta Airlines in-flight magazine: “Building the Brand of the Sweetest Girl in the Whole Wide World”) will be the hosts of the show. Of course.

According to the Academy, the nominations show is given credit for increased ratings for the 54th annual Grammy Awards, the largest audience since 1984. I wonder how many viewers were actually in search of “The Big Bang Theory.”

Award shows are all about moving product. Whether it is the Oscars or the Grammys, it is about acknowledgment of difference, of distinction. Those who didn’t buy tickets to see that movie or didn’t download that album may be likely to do so as a result of the award. “Oh, it won the Whatitz Award last night—I’d better get on it!!” (The dual exclamation point is sort of engaging, isn’t it?)

But it is that last thing that brings us back to the gramophone. It once was that gold stickers were proudly attached to the shrink-wrapped packaging of the 33 rpm LP or to the jewel case CD. But now that those are vastly reduced in number, where’s the sticker go? What is the upside for the recording artists several weeks after the event, when “Grammy Award Winner” is no longer used in the on-line descriptor of the music. (It is highly unlikely that people would buy music from an un- or barely-familiar performer/band if it is described in a general sense as a winner: there must be something specific that that victory is attached to.)

Perhaps this is the real reason behind the nomination show, the post-nomination concert (yes, Ticketmaster is handling it), and the televised event (February 10, 2013, 8 pm ET/PT, CBS): it helps with the ad revenue. I wonder how much the recording artists make on any of that?

Well, at least there is the opportunity to get a historic artifact.

Twitter Roundup #9

Tweet tweetBelow are the things we’ve posted to Twitter recently. In reverse chronological order, just like Twitter… We’re reposting 196 tweets this time with a total of 109 links to stuff that (mostly) didn’t end up on GLONO.

Also included in this round are Phil’s comments on shows in Portland including the Maldives, Black Whales, the Jay Farrar/Ben Gibbard show he later reviewed, and the Motels! And my comments on “American Idol” and Conan O’Brien’s final “Tonight Show” that featured Neil Young and a group cover of “Freebird.” Oh, and lots of bitchy re-tweets from people who actually bothered to watch the Grammys.

# Do it! RT @slicingeyeballs: Book publisher to #morrissey: Please, please, please let me get what I want: your memoirs. http://ow.ly/12JHF about 11 hours ago

# Only as amazing as the songs and performances. RT @adamficek: How amazing would it be to record the next babyshambles album In Russia? about 11 hours ago

# Hey @rustyrockets word of advice, don’t wear boots with tapered pants. There’s a reason we have a “boot cut” option: http://ow.ly/12LWa about 13 hours ago

# Interesting. RT @iancr: Subscriptions are the New BLACK. (why Facebook, Google, & Apple will own your wallet by 2015): http://awe.sm/50MBA about 15 hours ago

Lots more after the jump, and you might consider following us on Twitter if you want to keep up with this stuff as it happens…

Continue reading Twitter Roundup #9

Radiohead vs. Steely Dan

Why you gotta do the Dan like that, guys? Arguably the best drug rock band of the 70s (other than Camel, right Phil?), with a sound that is always amazingly contemporary, even now. As we all know, Mary Jane never goes out of style. Sure, they didn’t deserve a Grammy, but who gives a shit? Those prick fucks in Radiohead wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the Dan. Maybe, I think, you guys just haven’t smoked enough ganj when you’ve been in the presence of a really expensive, really good stereo system. What do you say we all go over to Tom’s dad’s place with a phat sack: An infallible recipe for changing your mind about Fagen and Becker.

You think I give a damn about a Grammy?

So it appears that I have missed the Grammys again. Not to get all Woody Allen or anything, but I’m going on a pretty long streak here. Like, I think the last time I tuned in, George Michael was getting something—and it wasn’t just a sloppy kiss backstage from the Pinball Wizard. No, I think it was one of those little Victrolas (talk about a perfect representation of the relevance of the awards) for his seminal work with Wham!, but then again, I might be wrong.

Doesn’t matter really. (Though I know someone out there’s going to be shaking their fist, railing about how the Wham! Rap never got the propers it deserved.) Sex-is-fun George could have even been a presenter that last time I watched, but I don’t care and you really shouldn’t either. What are the Grammys, other than a bad TV show and a useless collection of mediocre music? Why watch, when you could be listening to something good? Or doing the goddamn laundry.

But no, we live in a society where we have to give out “awards.” Where we are so damn worried that we won’t receive the “recognition” for our hard work that most of our “hard work” is directed at things like awards and tributes and garnering praise from others. Internal motivation? Screw it, why do anything just to do it, just because you can? There’s no point if there’s no payoff, right? It’s this attitude that’s a cancer on our society, and it’s this attitude that’s responsible for the never-ending parade of musical clowns that occupy the limelight of our public consciousness.

And I don’t care if the Monkees were a good band (they were), because they’re still guilty of putting the PR ahead of the music. Not everyone is that lucky. (N Synch comes to mind, but maybe I’m just in a pissy mood today.)

Remember Milli Vanilli? Those poor suckers lost their Grammy in a wretched attempt to pretend that there was some sort of integrity to the awards. But why? Take their Grammy away, but let the other similarly talentless who win keep theirs? All because these guys didn’t actually sing? Who cares! It’s not about the singing, it’s all about the award itself. Gettin’ it in the first place, that’s the objective. Playing the music is secondary, it’s just a consequence of the desire to get that little record player statue. These guys did it just the way our society says to do it—worry about the accolades, get them in place, then work on your game. And they were punished?

Rather than being the Grammys’ eternal patsies, they ought to recognize the Vanillis as the true patron saints of the Recording Academy. Hell, how about renaming the award after the late Rob Pilatus, getting rid of the little Victrola and replacing it with a nice two-turntables-and-a-microphone setup?

Girl, you know it’s true.

Come on, Steely Dan?

The following comments re: The Grammys are from ML (extracted from an email to Johnny):

I mean come on, Steely Dan? Are you kidding me? Just because people were overlooked when their music was contemporary (meaning in the category of unlistenable 70’s music) doesn’t mean we need to go giving them awards 25 years later. Oooh, they’re soooo visionary man. Shut up. If the Spin Doctors get back together in 20 years and release an album should we give them the award in 2021? Who wins next year, Bread?

Come on, these two trolls don’t serve any purpose today but to drive arguments in bars about what is good music. I would venture to say that there isn’t anyone who is really into music who doesn’t run hot or cold on these guys. Sure, we all know people who say, ‘yeah, I like that one song’, but you know they don’t know what they’re talking about.

If you really like music you either give them a Grammy or you wish they’d just go back to their hole, and take that awful vocal sound with them.

Bottom line being anybody who cares about music feels strongly about them, great. But aren’t the Grammy’s supposed to be about a little more than that. Isn’t popularity and impact supposed to weigh in there somewhere? I’m sure [someone somewhere will] crow on and on about how that record has changed her life, but do you really think anybody will ever say, “man – that Steely Dan album from 2000 – that was it man. I heard that and everything changed.” Bah!

AIN’T NOTHIN’ BUT A G THING, BABY

Tragically, the Grammy viewing audience found itself asking all night, “Where’s Soy Bomb?” The utter lack of anything more controversial than another plunging neckline made even host Jon Stewart’s bits about a gay Eminem seem watered-down. The cavernous Staples Center was nicely decorated in shades of purple. But so is a baby’s nursery. After all, it’s the Grammys. It’s like watching a Soviet awards show – always 25 years behind.

2001’s Grammy Awards made an attempt at diversity. Throwing bones to vocal jazz, classical piano, and the Native American community was weak, but at least it was more sincere than last year’s Carlos Santana blow job fest. Unfortunately, whatever momentum gained from these gestures got lost in the shuffle of a poorly produced show with plenty of weak live elements (memo to Jon Stewart: a sardonic smirk doesn’t count as a punchline).

A bizarrely coifed Macy Gray beat out Madonna (nice accent!) in the best pop female vocal category for “I Try.” But hey, do we really need to hear the song again? I wonder if the blue hairs in NARAS thought they were watching another performance by Lauryn Hill. In the role of Britney on Wednesday night was Christina Aguilera, who could have hid behind her mic stand if she hadn’t been lip-syncing. Boring blonde braids flitting about, the JV-squad diva gave us a sneak peek of her Branson future by arriving in a flying Love Toilet and performing (in Spanish?) with an orchestra. Back up the RV, sister, it’s over. Another orchestra helped Faith Hill’s “Breath” sound like the AAA/Adult Contemporary tripe that it is. Looking like an all-growed-up Jessica Simpson, Hill’s 93Lite-FM performance didn’t exactly give some big ups to her Nashville peeps. Shocker: she later won for best country album (Emmylou Harris to waiter: “Get me a drink!”)

U2 performed “Beautiful Day” capably, helped along by a nice light show and Bono’s trademark histrionics. Picking up record of the year honors, The Edge – normally numb – unveiled his Appalachian comedian side. Sounding like an Irish Harry Callas, Edge gave the first documented shout-out to Jubilee 2000, 3-blade razors and frozen pizzas. No one questioned whether his black ‘3’ shirt was related to Dale Earnhardt. After some filler featuring more bad live cueing for Stewart and unlikely celebrity pairings, not to mention about the millionth Unnecessary Carson Daly Siting, Moby took the stage with Jill Scott and Blue Man Group. It’s just like the unassuming Moby to stand back, playing the bass while the Blue Men and Scott conducted an odd re-version of his “Natural Blues.” But those pesky Intel hucksters became annoying about midway through the song, and that was BEFORE they started firing confetti from their drum cannons. Too much percussion, not enough Moby.

While an artist being an afterthought in his own song would be re-visited later during Eminem’s “Stan,” the night’s best performance was its simplest. Sheryl Crow warmly strummed an acoustic guitar as she harmonized with best “new” artist Shelby Lynne. My pal Phil and I were waiting for the moment to be ruined by an orchestra or 18 backup singers. But for once, it didn’t happen. A lone electric guitar player joined with Crow’s acoustic towards the end of the number, giving it a nice Nashville-meets-Tom Waits feel. Some of Waits’ boozy energy was no doubt conveyed by two of the hardest (and hottest) partiers in the business in Lynne and Crow. Roll out the drink cart, boys – Shelby’s in town.

As the show was winding down, most of the fidgeting crowd seemed to be longing for something, anything to be excited about. Honestly, where’s ODB when you need him? After a self-serving speech by the smarmy president of NARAS, who no doubt cornered some unfortunate soul at the after-party and talked her ear off like your smelly Uncle Ned, Eminem took the stage for his fateful pairing with Elton John, King Of All Gays. Em’s rapping during “Stan” was fine; he showed off his unique flow while keeping it street enough for his homies back in Cell Block 6 (But what was with his right hand? It kept fluttering around like Gene Wilder’s shootin’ hand). As “Stan”‘s chorus arrived, John made his appearance, emerging from behind a set piece castoff from the last stage production of “Star Wars.” The song continued with terrible censoring, and ended without fanfare. The two men raised each other’s arms in triumph, looking like a homophobic Reagan greeting a gay Gorbachev at Camp David for a photo op. Meanwhile, somewhere in England, a forgotten Dido cried in her soup.

After such an anti-climactic event as the Elton/Eminem Peace Accords, the record of the year went not to Marshall Mathers, Beck, Radiohead, or even that over-produced fossil Paul Simon. Instead, the cutting-edge trend-setters over at NARAS went with NYC art-rockers Steely Dan, who evidently released an album in 2000. While cheers could be heard in coffee houses full of goatee’d grad students, no realistic music fan could really give a shit about Steely Dan’s triumphant return to our public consciousness. And yet, in a move similar to the Academy giving “Howard The Duck 2” the Best Picture nod, Donald Fagen, et al took home record of the year. I swear, even Steely Dan looked bewildered about their victory. Someone get Jethro Tull on the line, quick! But that’s what happens when an out-of-touch, thick-as-a-brick group of old voters is confronted with a potentially challenging decision. Whatever you think of Eminem, or even Radiohead and Beck, it’s obvious that these artists’ music was a just a LITTLE BIT more vital in 2000 than a bunch of aging math rockers from Greenwich Village.

See you next year. I’ll be over here in the bread line.

JTL