I am writing this a day later than usual, because I am still trying to decipher what happened at the Grammys. The worst Grammy show ever was viewed by over 28 million people. Were they tuned in just to see the Paul/Ringo reunion? If so, they had to be sadly disappointed.
One thing was very apparent from watching the Grammys this year…ROCK IS DEAD. It has essentially been relegated to the same position that Bluegrass held 15 or 20 years ago. Rock gets token exposure. If the Grammys was the only contact you had with music during the year, you would think Dave Grohl was the biggest contemporary rock star and the Foo Fighters were the preeminent rock band of the day. Wait a second…maybe this is the case? When in truth, Grohl is a very nice guy, with a pretty mediocre band. There just isn’t much competition these days. How many people even knew any of the five songs that were nominated for Best Rock Song?
It says a great deal when the producers of the show have to count on some octogenarians (Willie Nelson &Friends), a band who hasn’t released a record in nearly 35 years (Led Zeppellin) , A pair of 70 year olds (Ringo and Paul) and an iconic R&B star (Stevie Wonder), who actually got more airplay on rock radio than anywhere else, to save the show. I am only glad that Stevie couldn’t see how stupid Pharrell looked in the hat he borrowed from Smokey the Bear. By the way, if I see another gratuitous shot of Taylor Swift dancing in the aisle I will vomit.
The truth is there are no young stars. Sure, there are people passing as stars, but none that will stand the test of time. Taylor Swift is a terrific songwriter and a very gifted young woman. But I have yet to see her “pull it off” on live TV. Her contrived stares into the camera, coupled with the obviously choreographed throwing back of her head in contradiction to the music, almost made her look like she had CP. The Beyonce/Jay Z segment proved only one thing. That Jay’s career as a rapper is behind him and hopefully his career as a sports agent is just beginning. I mean really…what the hell was that spot about. According to Billboard, Jay and Beyonce are the most powerful people in music. That is the best they could do? She is about to embark on the first real dip in her career. He is history. Let’s see how Macklemore and Ryan Lewis do in the future. The only thing I know for sure, unless they are smart you will see them on every music TV show for the next couple of years. Guys, you have done an amazing job. Now lay low, make music and let the public develop a thirst for your next effort.
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on the Grammy’s
Rap music is certainly the mainstream. But the problem is no one is making good rap records these days. At least you couldn’t tell it from watching the Grammys. Where did all the promising young rappers go? Mackelemore and Ryan Lewis have eclipsed the next breed of urban rappers. Even Kanye, who was regarded by many as a “true genius” has seen his musical career eclipsed by his exposure in the tabloids. I hope he knows how to be a sports agent, because his career as a serious artist is over.
Today’s pop stars will be tiny blips on the radar screen in the very near future. Is Bruno Mars a real pop star? Let’s talk again in five years. Let’s hope that Lorde continues the ride she began. We desperately need female pop stars. But where is the new Madonna? The next Mariah? The next Whitney? None of the artists that were threatening to join their ranks have held it together. Lady GaGa has made two mediocre records in a row. Rhianna’s personal life gets more press than her artistic contributions. How long can a 30 year old like Katie Perry keep singing songs about teenagers? There are simply no stars with staying power on the horizon.
Daft Punk deserved the honors they received. Although again there was not much competition. I love the gimmick and I really wonder who these guys are? Are they really from France or from LA? Again, it took legends like Nile Rogers and Stevie Wonder to make that performance the highlight of the show.
Daft Punk, Pharrell Williams and Stevie Wonder on the Grammys
Not to take anything away from Pink, but didn’t you do the high wire act last year? I wonder if she is serious about being a pop star or is she just auditioning for Cirque de Soleil? Was she really singing all throughout the act? I find that impossible to believe. John Legend is a terrific artist. But is that the best song he could dig out of his catalog to showcase the other night. Even he looked like he was bored.
I will never understand the Paul & Ringo reunion. There are only two living members of the greatest rock band in history. They both are still capable of performing. Although Ringo’s sophomoric stage presence on Sunday may belie that fact. Still you put Sir Paul and Ringo together and they play a new song from McCartney’s album!!! Where was “With a Little Help From My Friends” or something else as cliche. If Paul insisted on playing a new song, give him three minutes more and have him and Ringo play something that matters to people. I heard the remotes around the country clicking loudly, just after that performance.
The show has become about the spectacle, not the music. It is a good thing, because most of the music sucks. It is time to scrap the format. Start finding ways of getting the ratings and also showcase some of the great talent that is out there. There are lots of young artists that are making better music than the current bunch of “nobody’s”. They just don’t have the money behind them to get noticed. The labels, which still run the pop and urban world, continue to invest on their current artists that sell singles for them, rather than stick their necks out, to the degree necessary to develop new stars. If this doesn’t change the talent level will just continue to decline.
We need more Kasey Musgraves and Ed Sheerans. Talented people who make great music and don’t take themselves too seriously. It is not about posing and mugging for the cameras. It not about grabbing your crotch. It is about great songs and great performances. Something that was terribly absent Sunday night.
Kacey Musgraves on the Grammys