Tonight is the vaunted Grammy Awards at 8pm Eastern, on CBS.
This is the 50th Grammy Awards ceremony. Do I care? Should I watch? This flowchart from Vulture in New York Magazine give some great insight to these questions:
I think that the Grammys is a poster child for all that is wrong with the music industry. First, it’s basically monopolized by Clive Davis and the mega labels’ warlords. The major categories — which, let’s face it, are the only ones that anyone really knows about — are full of the same old shite (Beyonce’ and Justin Timberlake) and a bit of new, contrived shite (Chris Daughtry and Taylor Swift) that the major labels have crammed down our throats through obnoxious overplay on the radio and manipulation of record sales and charts.
However, I must say that there a few diamonds in the rough that are shining through. Amy Winehouse, whose Rehab, CD is nominated in six categories. Unfortunately, she won’t be attending because her Visa didn’t come through in time. Perhaps her recent detox will have her better prepared in the future, but this time she’ll likely be accepting via satellite.
Corrine Bailey Rae is also nominated for Song of the Year with Like a Star. Sadly, she doesn’t stand a chance against the bought juggernaut of Carrie Underwood’s Before He Cheats. Also, ma girl Feist is nominated for best new artist. Riddle me this, how is it that Daughtry is nominated in three or four categories, yet not nominated for Best New Artist? And, Amy Winehouse who has been around a while, is?
As for the men, Johnny Boy is nominated for Belief, and is truly the most deserving of those in the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. I think Sir Paul’s nominations are nostalgic and a nod of respect, but Memory Almost Full just wasn’t that good. Dance Tonight was cute but Best Performance? And, of course, Justin Timberlake received his obligatory four or five nominations. Wasn’t his CD released, like, two years ago? Strangely, he performs What Goes Around Comes Around at last year’s Grammys and it’s nominated in 2008?
Just how much exposure can they give this guy? This is the best song he’s ever written? Really? That should about say it all.
To me, the organic and worthy music is peeking through sporadically, but the manufactured and over-synthesized productions are still dominating the music industry and award shows. The Grammys are just a microcosm of the celluloid and shallow state of music today. If Britney Spears wasn’t mentally imploding before our very eyes, she would most assuredly would also be front and center, showcasing the Grammys and the music business as it really is.
Clive Davis once again threw his pre-Grammy self-adoration gathering, with his loyal subjects all in attendance and performing at the feet of the master who controls their fate. Obviously feeling some pressure from the fallout of the dying recording industry, Mr. Davis was compelled to throw a a dig at the critics out there (like me) who blame the demise on mediocre music. “How wrong you are!”, the Puppet Master proclaimed, before introducing The Foo Fighters.
The only redeeming thing about the Grammys is that the great Aretha Franklin was honored last night as the MusiCares’ Person of the Year. Lefsetz describes her performance as bordering on a religious experience. Speaking of religious experience, The Queen of Soul is also nominated tonight for Best Gospel Performance for her duet with Mary J. Blige on Never Gonna Break My Faith, a Music Maven favorite.
Earlier in the week USA Today interviewed Ree Ree about the award and I was particularly struck by her very blunt statement about her thoughts on today’s music:
R&B is “alive and well,” says Franklin, but it’s no match for the music of the ’60s and ’70s. “You had stronger artists, unquestionably. Sam & Dave, Ray Charles, Etta James, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson. C’mon, you know. Please.”
On a homeboy note, here’s wishing Geno Delafose good luck tonight in the Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Performance category.