I’m starting to understand what the Grammys have become. Sunday night’s show helped me figure it out.
The Grammys used to be about HONORING the year’s best in music. Major awards were given out on screen, and the major nominees performed their nominated songs without major flare. It was about highlighting why these artists and these songs and these records were the best.
But as Sunday showed, the Grammys are now about CELEBRATING the year in music. It’s about flashy, gigantic stage shows and shocking — SHOCKING! — duets. There’s no room to give out more than a handful of awards when there’s so much partying going on.
So I get it. We live in a world where iTunes kills the album and replaces it with quick-grab downloads. Where VH1 kills the video and replaces it with non-stop reality television. And where the Grammys replace congratulations with choirs and cover songs.
But to me, it’s all too much — too bombastic. Did the Black Eyed Peas performing two songs in space suits really show why they deserved to win? Does Jamie Foxx really belong at the Grammys, lip-synching to his
And what was with all the strange, sad collaborations? Seeing Taylor Swift and Stevie Nicks stumble through “You Belong With Me” was a lesson in painfully mis-matched harmony. The Zac Brown Band and Leon Russell? Maxwell and Roberta Flack? Were the producers trying to showcase artists from the 1970s that only my
parents and I would know?
Then, there was the ill-prepared tribute to Michael Jackson. It could have been a celebration of one of the Grammys’ greatest stars — complete with clips of his 1983 victories for “Thriller” and a bevy of stars singing the rousing “Man In The Mirror” or the touching “Human Nature” or the electric “Wanna Be Startin’ Something.” Instead, we get a boring rendition of a forgotten Jacko single, “Earth Song.” Lame.
But hey, the ratings were high — which is a rarity these days for an awards show. It helps when your awards show isn’t really an awards show at all. Maybe the producers are starting to get it, too.
A few final notes:
1. One super-sized performance that was done tastefully? Dave Matthews Band’s rendition of “You & Me.” On record, it’s easily the least inspired, most insipid song on a great album. But complete with a choir, strings and extra horns Sunday, the song sounded heartfelt and fleshed out. See: You can go big and still not sound muddy and loud.
2. Speaking of which, I like Taylor Swift. Her songs are clever and spritely. She seems a pleasant-enough girl. But she did not put out the best album of the year. My pick was easily DMB’s solid, sturdy, career-saving Big Whiskey & The GrooGrux King. But if the Grammys really wanted to represent the best — and most popular — music of the year, voters should have went for Lady Gaga’s The Fame, an album chock full of well-made hits. Gaga, however, went home empty-handed in the major awards — regulated to winning in the dance categories. Shame. (Even though her outfits — and persona in general — are starting to get redundant, predictable and boring.)
3. I love a good surprise at awards shows. But I didn’t understand how an incredibly obscure country act, the Zac Brown Band, could be named Best New Artist. Then, it kind of made sense when I saw their performance — well-played, organic and fun music. Still, they are hardly more exciting than the Ting Tings.