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Monday, February 14, 2011

Ruminations From the Grammy Awards

After watching the Grammy Awards last night, I have several thoughts.  First, congratulations to Album of the Year winners 'The Suburbs' for their album Arcade Fire.  They beat out efforts from Lady Gaga, Eminem & Katy Perry.  After winning, 'The Suburbs'...what's that...the band is called 'Arcade Fire' & the album was The Suburbs.  Are you sure?  Well, okay...so as I was saying, after one of my longtime favorite bands 'Arcade Fire' won the night's final Grammy, they performed an encore to end the show right - with yet one more "huh?!?" moment.

Immediately after the show it became clear (at least from the buzz on Twitter & Facebook) that most of America had never heard of the winners of two of the more high profile categories - Album of the Year and Best New Artist.  The social networks were up in arms (atwitter?) over the wins by 'Arcade Fire' and Esperanza Spaulding.  The only comment I heard as often was from those who wanted to know who were 'The Suburbs'.  When Album of the Year is announced and most of America can't identify the band name vs the album name, it's a good time to announce that Top 40 radio has officially jumped the shark.  

I know many of you think this is the fault of the Grammy Awards, but it's not.  Arcade Fire was very deserving of the win.  I will acknowledge a certain like for Mademoiselle Gaga's album and even certain songs by Ms. Perry and new Corporate Shill Eminem.  But on the whole, The Suburbs was better than The Fame Monster.  Top 40 radio has degenerated into a very narrow format.  Artists such as Ozzie Osbourne, Huey Lewis & the News, Tom Petty, Real Big Fish & even Metallica could be found in rotation on Top 40 next to the pop and hip-hop, but they wouldn't have a place in it today.  Radio programmers need to sit back and reevaluate their jobs.

As for the rest of the night, it seemed like a lot of fireworks to hide what is missing from today's music; namely music.  I may seem like an old fogey, but I remember sitting in front of the TV to see my favorite bands play either the Grammy's or the American Music Awards.  It was great seeing Bon Jovi, Guns N' Roses, Metallica, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, REM, The Pretenders & Duran Duran among others play live.  Madonna or Whitney may have played on every award show, but these bands didn't.

Like Madonna, we've seen Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Eminem & Rhianna perform countless times on these shows, so the spectacle must top their last performance, since the music rarely does.  I can only assume that the Black-eyed Peas were still wore out from last week's drudgery at the Super Bowl.  These artists spend so much time keeping your eyes busy in an attempt to distract us from the reality that the performance is utterly normal.

I remember watching the electricity of one man performing on stage alone, with nothing to offer but himself, a glove and a hat.  In just under 5 minutes, Michael Jackson's Billie Jean performance at the Motown 25th anniversary in  1983 gave us more spectacle than 3+ hours gave us last night.  They used to call it a command performance, but it failed to command my teens' attention as they drifted in and out.  It was all so utterly normal. (Yawn...)

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