I didn’t even bother watching the Grammys (nor have I in the past… well, who knows), because, well, for one thing, I rarely go out of my way to watch TV (especially on a Sunday night). But for one thing, of all the inumerable awards out there, the Grammys seem most meaningless; they toss aside critical flavor and often consumer favor for boomer taste. If you were to look at the nominees for many of the awards this past year, then yes, you may have to contend with the idea that 2008 was a lously year for music (especially considering the big winner of the night was an album that didn’t even come out this past year). And sure, Lil’ Wayne got a lot of awards, but they seem tailored for his genre and not his proven artistic merit… after all, they have so many hip-hop-based awards, somebody has to get them. (Not to rag on hip-hop, but rather the mindset of the award categories and concept… the hip-hop category appears to be the only one that does promote forward-thinking and inventive musicians on a mainstream level.)
And this is far from a unique complaint on my behalf. Just look at The New York Times‘ live blogging from when Robert Plant & Alison Krauss won the big one…
“11:23 p.m. | Album of the Year — Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, “Raising Sand”
Dave: Come on, you knew it.
Jon: I mean, what can you say? I did indeed know it. It just would have hurt to say it.
Dave: Is it really that bad a compromise?
Jon: Let’s think of some collaborations we’d assemble next year to win a Grammy.
Dave: Mick Jagger and Cat Power?
Jon: Julian Casablancas and Iggy Pop.
Dave: M.I.A.’s baby and Aretha Franklin.
Jon: Pretty sneaky, sis!
Dave: But back to the question at hand — is it that disappointing a victory? It could have been Coldplay…
Jon: I’m not disappointed in the music, only in the inevitability. I mean, next year, let’s dispense with pretense and nominate five albums for the NPR/AARP set.
Dave: This can’t be seen as a crossover album, one that reaches out to older listeners and, um, medium-age listeners?
Jon: Your great-grandparents, and your grandparents!
Dave: My parents and me? I like Zep, they like Zep. It’s a start.
Jon: Not my parents and me. I appreciate your Yes We Can attitude!
Dave: Next time you want to talk about your parents, I’m charging you $125 an hour.
Jon: It’s not that the Grammys need to surprise or shock, but more that they need to reflect what’s actually happening in popular music. Otherwise, they run the risk of becoming a niche event. $125? That’s a bargain.”
Talk about nasty! And these guys aren’t exactly spring chickens to boot. (Just check out this hilarious annotated review of The New York Times‘ piece by the Fader on a Wavves show from this past weekend – the kind of gig that would seem to appeal to the most notorious vinyl diggers and uber-hip and not the middle-to-upper-class readership that NYT is famous for garnering.)
But their message is clear, and it’s something along the lines of “this is a farce. One big, giant stink that basically curtails the idea of an awards show celebrating current music, another bland attempt to celebrate the bygone eras, no matter what the music they produce today sounds like.” I could go on, but there’s plenty in there for another combination. But in essence, you don’t have to be some rabbid fan of indie, emo, hip-hop, reggae, salsa, klezmer, jazz, blues, funk, soul, R&B, world music, or even rock to notice that there’s something wrong when one of the only albums of this decade to sell over a million copies in a day (Tha Carter 3), a record that broke taboos for consumption and distribution while breaking online sales (In Rainbows… though it was released in 2007), and a couple of equally popular current pop acts are beat out by a baby boomer choice record that came out a year previously and also won “Record of the Year” despite having no discernable single released (according to Allmusic). It just doesn’t quite make… any sense really.
In closing here’s the only thing from the night that I’ve been able to view on YouTube, and only one of two that I probably would’ve enjoyed seeing live on TV (the other being the performance of “Swagga Like Us”). And because this is YouTube and all, I was hoping to have been spared the introduction, this time an unfortunately horrendus ode to Radiohead’s brilliance by Gwyneth Paltrow (we understand you love ‘em – your husband has made a career of trying to sound like them). Anywho, here goes: