Monday, February 9, 2009
The irrelevance of the 2009 Grammys
Stuck in an era when black face was considered legitimate entertainment, the Grammys have two choices: Change the game or roll up the sidewalks and call it a day.
Last night, with the allure of Radiohead playing with the USC Marching band drawing me in, I decided to watch the Grammy telecast. I'm pretty sure it's the first time I ever have. It didn't hurt that I received rave reviews of my Golden Globes Twittering either. But that was a cake walk compared to what I had to witness last night.
Hip acts intermingled with tired acts, and bizarre pairings ruled the night, and the stamp of "irrelevant" came down hard. Even the hip acts appeared confused, as though the organizers didn't know what to do with them, and they didn't know what to do back.
In a phrase, it was a glorious mess. If you find entertainment in that sort of thing, then you were in heaven. If you just wanted to see whether or not Metallica would win a grammy, then you were in for disappointment.
The following is a quick recap of the night based on my tweets and a little more in depth analysis. If I can stomach it.
And let me preface all this by saying if I didn't have DVR, there's no way I would have watched the Grammys. I would have watched the awesome made for TV movie with Val Kilmer. Title? I have no idea. Some roman numeral, so you know it had to be good. Anyway, on with the show.
The "evening" started early, with E rolling out the red carpet probably around 9 AM. Seriously, I flipped it on at 5 to see Seacrest in all his awkward glory trying to kill time as busboys were arriving to start setting up tables. As the night moved on and more musicians began to show up, I realized one thing - Ryan Seacrest does not know how to interview someone. Example - here is with John Mayer...
Fantastic. Great start to the evening.
Here are some of my tweets as the red carpet began to heat up...
"kardashian (grammy red carpet covereage) looks as though she should be beckoning Richard Dreyfuss onto a space ship. Alien much?"
I wish I could find a picture of her stretched back look, and will update if I do. But seriously, she might have hid behind a drawer and scared the bejesus out of Christopher Walken before getting to the red carpet.
"if death cab for cutie had called themselves "abusement park," I think I would have listened to them."
"Just heard this from Seacrest: "TI, on a serious note, you'll be in jail soon." How can you not love the Grammys red carpet?"
Now if only the actual awards show was as exciting.
U2 starts off the evening with what I can only assume is their new single. Since I really have no opinion on U2 one way or the other, it doesn't strike me as anything special, but it also wasn't aurally offensive, so I'll say no more. But their performance does highlight one of the bigger problems of the evening, and that is the absence of a host. Say what you want about bad hosts, but if nothing else they do perform one important job - they announce what is going on. Sure, most people recognize U2, however, as the night goes on, sometimes it gets difficult to figure out who is playing what.
Thoughts from the Grammys (tweets are in blue)...
Whitney - how about a hotdog occasionally? C'mon!
Honestly - she needs some food. Never mind the fact she is slowly morphing into Tina Turner. I was out of the room but heard her out of place tribute to Clive Davis. I get he's a huge figure in music, but I'm not 100% sure this was the soapbox to preach your love for him. Maybe it's just me.
Jennifer Hudson looks like she's wearing a penguin.
Robert Plant's head seems to have consumed his neck.
Jay Mohr and LL Cool J? can we get more bizarre pairings tonight? Mohr looked as though it was the first time he saw a black person.
Mohr looked about as uncomfortable as you could get. He made some bizarre shout out ( I forget what it was) and then chastised the audience for not getting it. Jay, it might work when you sub in for Rome on his radio show, but it's not going to work on the crowd at the Grammys.
Why does USC Marching band get all the cool gigs? First Tusk with Fleetwood Mac (at their heyday) and now Radiohead.
It's supposed to work like this. Dorks and nonsocials gravitate toward the band. Sure, a college marching band might move you up a rung, but it's still pretty much the second rung up. Yet now, the USC marching band is disrupting the socioeconomics fo this tried and true adage. How much poontang you think those trombone players scored last night after backing the greatest living band at the Grammys? Ok sure, i twas the Grammys, but still...
It's an insult to Richard Roundtree to play Shaft when Samuel L Jackson comes on stage.
Samuel L. I know John Shaft. You are not John Shaft. As long as Richard Roundtree is alive, he and he alone should be able to come out to that song. Don't agree? Watch Shaft in Africa and get back to me.
oh good, an old white guy to ignore.
I tuned out with this guy. Did he really suggest there should be a Secretary of Arts? Um, how about not bringing this up as the country is on the verge of the greatest economic collapse in the history of history. Just sayin.
Jamie Foxx doesn't belong on the stage right now.
It' hard for me to describe exactly what was going on during the tribute to the lone remaining member of the 4 Tops. Luckily, I don't have to...
Sweet Caroline? Really? How about a Brother Love for the fans?
Of course no matter what he played, he not only brought down the house, but gave the telecast the energy is was sorely missing. Watch it here.
When I think music, I think Gary Sinise.
The sentiment was there, as he introduced a tribute to New Orleans led by Little Wayne that ended with members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band in the audience, but the network synergy is getting a little annoying.
and...Stevie Wonder plays us all out in a most bizarre ending to a very bizarre evening. FIX THE GRAMMYS and MAKE THEM RELEVANT
Honestly - the Grammys have to reinvent themselves...and I'm not just talking about the telecast. Sure, watching The Jonas Brothers destroy any and all my good feelings of the song Superstition (I've included the video, but I suggest you don't watch it): to Miley Cyrus calling her shouting with "melody" singing... (same warning applies to this one) it's obvious the telecast could use some tweaks. But the larger problem is that people look at the music industry in a different light now. Regardless of how you feel about online music, it's here, and it has to be addressed. And that includes awards shows.
Even with the rap acts and th eR&B infused in last night's telecast, the show felt dated. It seemed as though old white guys simply sat in a room and figured getting some hip hop acts would make the Grammys relevant. And that couldn't be further from the truth.
I have an idea - let's let some of these acts do their own thing. Give them a blank canvass and see what they come up with. You think Kanye West can't get crazy and bring something we haven't seen before? Jay-Z and Chris Martin from Coldplay together? Cool I guess, but it's been done. Let's branch out. How about a deejay always on stage, spinning us in and out of breaks? I don't know, I'm just riffing - but it seems like I'm the only one doing it.
Until that feeling of irrelevance is shaken off, the Grammys, much like traditional CD sales will taper off into non existence.