Monday, February 11, 2013

I GOT SO MUCH (LESS) TROUBLE ON MY MIND: Whatever one wants to say about last night's Grammy Awards, it's clear that they seem to have wholly escaped the problems of even 5-10 years ago, in which the awards themselves and performances in general had failed to reflect What People Are Listening To. Natalie Cole and her late father didn't sweep the awards last night, and nor did Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, Ray Charles, or Quincy Jones. You can no longer look at each category, ask who would old people find least threatening?, and win your pool.

This is not to say that the awards themselves, or the performances were uniformly excellent -- I think only Kelly Clarkson, the Levon Helm tribute, and the Black Keys/Dr. John number approached "yes, I'd like to watch that again" levels, with the disappointments including Frank Ocean, Taylor Swift, fun. not getting electrocuted, a "Bob Marley tribute" with precious little Bob Marley music, and Prince not performing at all despite being there to present. Still, any night that ends with an Adam Yauch tribute anchored by Chuck D. (who himself has never won a Grammy) ain't all bad ...

Or is it? Because the obvious rejoinder is "dude, you're forty now. If you want to know if the Grammys are relevant to contemporary music, ask the teens and twentysomethings who comprise its principal market." I am open to the possibility that, like Matthew McConaughey's Wooderson in Dazed and Confused, it's not that the Grammys are actually getting younger but we're getting older, and there's a whole sphere of viewers from whom we're largely disconnected wondering why that old dude from NCIS:LA decided to rap (and why were there no contemporary rappers performing, save Jay-Z's cameo in Timberlake's performance?), and who was that tiny dude with the cane presenting Record of the Year, and why didn't Japandroids get to perform, and what's up with all those banjos?


  1. So, now, to win our pools, we can just look at each category and decide who _we_ find least threatening? Nice.

  2. Tosy and Cosh11:16 AM

    I know it's a lost cause and just not what the Grammys are about, but I kind of wish we lived in a world where the premiere music awards show found time to celebrate the passing of one of the maybe 10 most influential jazz musicians ever for more than 30 seconds. Or that it acknowledged that classical music, you know, exists.

  3. KCosmo's neighbor11:27 AM

    In that case, I'm sure Chris Brown would be out.

  4. One thing I really didn't understand was how they sequenced the show. Yes, I can understand wanting to start with a big production number, but the Juanes and Frank Ocean numbers were not really the best choices for ending the show. At a bare minimum, Frank Ocean should have gone before the Best New Artist award was presented. Despite the criticgasm, Channel Orange hasn't even gone Gold yet, and setting it up that way could have set a better tone.

    And yes, the Brubeck tribute should have been more substantial, but it's hard to do unless you were going to assemble a bunch of rockers to try and play jazz, which could've been interesting--imagine a Dave Grohl on drums/Alicia Keys on piano version of Take Five?

  5. Adam B.11:46 AM

    It was a bad song choice, and Ocean is (apparently) not yet a great live performer. This wasn't his "Bad Religion" from Fallon, certainly.

    The "Bob Marley tribute" was weird -- it's not like Marley just died recently, and the segment didn't have enough of his music in it.

    All five Album nominees performed; so did all of the Record nominees, save the one who won (Gotye.)

  6. I reasonably enjoyed it. My top five performances were probably The Black Keys/Dr. John/Preservation Jazz Band; Levon Helm; Kelly Clarkson; Jack White; and maybe Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood (though I don't understand how the dress effect made sense other than as a "hey! we can do a dress effect thing!"). I'll admit that I didn't get the Frank Ocean love based on that performance.

    I'm more than a little annoyed that Eric Church's excellent album Chief did not win any Grammys (this year or last). One of the best country albums in years, and Springsteen is a great song. I would have subbed that in for Blown Away in a heartbeat. (Nothing against Carrie Underwood, but, really.)

  7. KCosmo's neighbor1:06 PM

    Is there no love for Justin Timberlake in this crowd? I thought his performance was great, but no one is really mentioning it. I love him (and can't believe how he has evolved over the years). I also liked the Elton John duet with (sorry...can't remember his name--showing my age here). A couple of years ago Elton teamed up with Lady Gaga, and I just think it's great. Maybe I'm not reading between the lines, and maybe he's just trying to stay relevant (does he need to try??), but as I see it, it's his way of giving these newer artists a huge "moment" that they will never forget. I mean, Elton, singing YOUR song. Is that not the coolest thing?

  8. More likely to have a second hit: Gotye or fun.?

  9. Adam B.1:19 PM

    Isn't fun. already at hit #3, between "Carry On" and "Some Nights"? Hell, my five-year old knows (and loves) the latter.

  10. Watts1:26 PM

    Well, I remember Gotye's minor hit from several years ago "Heart's a Mess." ( - I heard it on the always excellent So it wouldn't surprise me if he continues on.

    And for kicks, here it is on an episode of the Australian SYTYCD, as interpreted for cello: