Nipper Would Be Ashamed

The Grammy Award Show was yesterday. Full disclosure: I didn’t watch any of it.

For the uninitiated, the Grammys are the music industry’s Super Bowl. Unlike the NFL, however, the powers behind the Grammys haven’t figured out how to squeeze in the maximum amount of annoyance to their customers. They’ve got the “no commoners” thing going. Even better than the NFL, even. At least Super Bowl tickets are available to the public, even if the average football fan can’t afford them; the Grammys, as is the case for most award shows, are invitation-only*. But in other respects, the music industry has a long way to go.

* You can, however, buy tickets to various after-show parties. A few years ago, for example, Diddy threw a benefit party with ticket prices ranging from $1,500 to $50,000. One “perk” at the high end: your own posse of booth babes–excuse me, “promotional models”. I’m not sure what you would do with fifteen decorative accessories, but I suppose if you could afford the ticket, you could afford to hire someone to come up with a plan.

The NFL not only screwed up traffic in San Francisco for more than a week and subjected random pedestrians who weren’t even going to Super Bowl-related events to pat-downs and metal detectors, but they convinced the city to pay for the security.

By contrast, the Grammys only interfered with traffic over a few blocks and a few hours, and the only security I’m aware of–paid for by the show–concentrated on the people at the venue.

Come on, guys. How will we know the music industry is successful if you don’t drive away thousands of potential customers?

Then there was the show itself.

The reviews are scathing. The best review I’ve seen suggested that the show occasionally reached adequacy.

Lady Gaga, fresh off wowing the Super Bowl audience with her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” reportedly underwhelmed Grammy viewers with her extended David Bowie medley. Several acts were spoiled by audio problems–remember, this is a show devoted to the best in music*. Shouldn’t the producers pay attention to the miking, mixing, and other technical matters first?

* Well, “best” according to those who run the show. Them what gots the gold makes the rules.

I hear Bonnie Raitt’s part of the B.B. King tribute was one of the rare high points. I imagine that’ll show up on YouTube–heck, it’s probably there already. My plan is to take a listen to that and ignore the remaining four hours of the show.

And there’s another way the Grammys fall short of the Super Bowl’s annoyance factor: by tomorrow, it will be possible to ignore the Grammys until next year. A week after the Super Bowl, the media is still blathering about it (yes, including me–sorry about that).

Look for the Grammys to step up their game next year. Until then, enjoy the peace and quiet. And go buy some music from an artist who wasn’t at the Grammys, just to say “thank you”.

9 thoughts on “Nipper Would Be Ashamed

  1. I have a whole house full of music from artists who have never been at the Grammys — considering I don’t think of any “popular” music as worth listening to, much less buying. Maybe a dozen or two tracks that have some complexity and/or nostalgia value (I’m thinking Freddie Mercury here). The radio here is frozen on the local classical station. I have never understood why people make such a fuss out of loud, pounding or wailing variations on the 1-4-5-1 harmonic scheme scored for the same instruments over and over, performed by people who bawl and shriek rather than sing. I grit my teeth when people roll by my house with the radio on and the windows open.

    All I know is, because I subscribe to a couple of Twitter feeds that do breaking news, the Grammys pretty much crashed it for several hours. Possibly that was the equivalent of a traffic jam, only it didn’t cause any real problems. I was really perplexed to think anyone cared about that level of detail.

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    • Different strokes, ya know. People who like the kind of thing the Grammys offer will like the Grammys. (Assuming they can hear them.)

      Given that my tastes are all over the map (see earlier blog posts about Arlo Guthrie, BABYMETAL, and Weird Al Yankovic as data points) I can’t really throw stones at people who like that sort of music.

      As for the Grammy show itself, at least I can say it’s not Mumford & Sons.

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      • Just the knowledge that there’s something called “Fiddle and Banjo Crap” makes me tremble. Though a lot of folk styles pass muster with me. I just don’t get the appeal of music that’s been mechanically enhanced (or just plain mechanically generated) to within an inch of its melodic life, set to a beat that makes you want to bang your head, and then overpromoted by marketers until young people don’t know that there’s anything else to listen to, or that it’s possible for music to exist without a video of the singer performing mimes and gyrations.

        Unlike a lot of my contemporaries, at sixty I still have pin-drop hearing. Not a coincidence.

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      • Let’s be fair here: “Fiddle and banjo crap” was a phrase Martin Mull came up with for the great folk music revival in the middle of the twentieth century. Personally, I think it applies beautifully to M&S’ old sound, but I’m just one lone blogger.

        I suppose if we wanted to affix blame for M&S, we’d have to point a finger or three at Bob Dylan. But that’s a futile pastime. And, honestly, I don’t have any problem with folk/rock hybrids of any ethnicity when they’re done well. I still listen to Boiled in Lead from time to time, and I’ve got a sneaking fondness for Enter the Haggis.

        You do have a point about hearing, though. I’ll admit that my ears aren’t what the were [mumble] years ago, though I don’t think I can attribute that entirely to my listening habits.

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      • The problem with Bob Dylan was that he couldn’t sing his way out of a paper bag. At my age, be assured, I couldn’t escape his recordings. Later in the day, Peter, Paul and Mary covered “Don’t Think Twice,” the text of which resonates with me personally as it didn’t when it was written, and it was actually listenable. Just not as listenable as, say, Winterreise. 😉

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      • Will you at least credit Bob with the ability to sing his way out of a wet paper bag? Remember, he can crank his amp to fiber-splitting levels. ;-D

        I’ll skip the potential “You like Schubert” jokes out of deference to blog readers who can’t tell Schubert from Schumann.

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      • Oh, and I forgot my near favorite: the people who have been so indoctrinated in the popular-music culture that they refer to each and every work of music as a “song.” Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto: “What’s that song? I like it.” You look up a classical performance on some music utility like iTunes and the separate movements of a piece are referred to as “songs.” Sometimes the people responsible for cataloging CDs don’t understand the difference between a composer and a performer because after all, Taylor Swift sings Taylor Swift songs, so you’ll see things like “Artist: Mozart.” Don’t I WISH!!
        http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/technology/jeremywilson2/100008881/spotify-is-ruining-the-way-we-listen-to-classical-music/

        Pls forgive rant. It’s a raw nerve with me all too often. I think it’s having to cope with the PA at the gym, but where else can I lift?

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      • Oy. Don’t get me started on that rant–it’s a topic for another day, I suspect.

        Most of the problem there, however, isn’t the people cataloging the CDs, it’s the people designing the databases and tagging software. Far too many of them seem unaware that there is a “Composer” tag in the core standards for most formats.

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      • Okay. A WET paper bag. Because he was able to hold pitches. Just no timbre or resonance. It was like listening to a crank-up noisemaker.

        I didn’t know there was such a thing as a Schubert joke, however. Though my Late and Ex Husband, a walking Schwann catalog, used to refer (affectionately) to the Trite Quintet.

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