Herbie Hancock For Best Album?

At the beginning of last Sunday’s Grammy broadcast, they aired a clip of Frank Sinatra from the very first award’s ceremony 50 years ago. In welcoming viewers to the show, Frank explained that the awards they were going to hand out were to reward “excellence”, and not necessarily the biggest sellers of the past year.
If only that was the case. For the next 3 ½ hours, we saw almost nothing but chart toppers from every major genre. Too bad there was little art. A Time reunion was interrupted by the latest bubblegum pop tart singing a song that was originally intended for America’s Greatest Trainwreck, Britney Spears. If she had put the pipe down for a day or two, poor little Rhianna would not have been in the building. And I doubt she ever will be there again.
After almost nothing but predictable wins, the final award went to a record that I doubt anybody reading this even knew existed. Jazz legend Herbie Hancock’s tribute to Joni Mitchell defeated multi-Grammy winners Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, Vince Gill, and the Foo Fighters to nab the Album of the Year award.
I don’t doubt that River: The Joni Letters is a fine album, but let’s be real. This is not an album that received much notice anywhere. It didn’t any critic’s polls I’ve read, and I thrive on that crap. It certainly didn’t set any sales records. Grammy apologists will claim that it’s “proof” that Grammy voters selected quality over popularity, but it really doesn’t pass the standard that the Chairman of the Board proclaimed way back in 1958.
I have no problem with awards being given to artists that aren’t household names. The Grammies would have more validity if it truly did make their choices based on artistic integrity. In fact, I could name albums in every category that would be more deserving than those that actually win.
Was the worst Foo Fighters album ever really the best rock album of the year? Was Slayer’s latest album the best metal album? Should Maroon 5 be allowed to exist, let alone be rewarded with a Grammy or two? No way.
Enough about the actual awards – let’s talk about the telecast. Sigh. If I wasn’t expected to comment, I would have turned the channel off the minute Alicia Keys oversang her first lyric.
That’s really the problem with the majority of performances this past Sunday. I’m sure Alicia Keys, Beyonce, and that American Idol twit are all fine people, and I do understand their popularity. Yet it drives me up the wall that they can’t just sing a song. You don’t have to prove on every line that you can hit all of these extended notes; not every line has to end with wailing. Watching Beyonce try to caterwaul a semi-rock song with Tina Turner was excruciating.
As for Ms Turner, all I have to say is the wrong Turner left the earth a few months ago. Or did they? I’m convinced that it wasn’t actually Tina Turner that was squeezed into that unflattering spandex outfit. It just had to be a robot, because even at the age of 190 Tina Tuner could not have been that wooden. I was embarrassed for her.
At least Jerry Lee Lewis obviously didn’t even know he was still awake. Note to producers – senior citizens must be in bed before sundown. Poor guy, getting upstaged by a 65 year-old John Fogerty.
I have to admit, though, that there was one moment that was almost worth the misery. For weeks, the music world wondered whether Amy Winehouse would even be alive by the awards ceremony, let alone have the ability to perform.
Although she was denied a visa to attend the ceremony, she did perform via satellite from London. The entire world sat back and waited for the meltdown. Yes she was tentative, and hit a bum note or two. Yet unlike all of the robots that had not a hair or step out of place, Winehouse came across as almost human. Clearly nervous, and messing with the hem of her micro-mini, Winehouse gained confidence as her two-song segment progressed, and this emotionless zero actually cheered when she gazed directly at the camera and angrily pointed as she got to the “no, no, no” part of “Rehab”.
A few minutes later, “Rehab” was a surprise winner in the Best Song category, and again we saw real human emotion. While Kanye, Alicia, Vince, and most of the other winners acted like it was business as usual when they gave their speeches, it should have been clear to anybody watching that this award actually meant something to Winehouse. Hell, it may have even been a lifesaving event. She may be a car crash waiting to happen, and somebody who is easy to parody, but this past weekend she was by far the most human person who was beamed into our homes.
Here’s a few more quick suggestions for next year. Make Kid Rock learn the song before throwing him up on stage. Keep the current bubblegum queen off the stage when you have a not-so-surprising reunion. Let musicians play Beatles songs instead of forcing us to listen to an album cut while Cirque whatever cavorts around the stage. Most importantly, though, if we have to sit through the gospel and other garbage throw us a bone and let us see some alternative or indie rock. Just please don’t make me endure Fergie ever again!


I tired very hard to watch this year.
Teeth clenched, I made it through Alicia performing w/"Frank" and attempting to walk across the stage in high heels. I barely made it through what's-her-name, only because I liked Stomp (which was like ten shades of wrong, paired with her song) and only relaxed when Time started to perform. That didn't last long. I let myself enjoy Beyonce's gorgeous legs for about 3 seconds and had to quit there. Wondering what shenanigans Amy might amuse us with was not enough inspiration to keep me from switching it off in favor of a good book.
I long to see some originality get the attention of the masses. I'll just keep loving my indie stuff and let the majority of the world choke on this stuff.
Wow, I think I really needed to get that out. Thanks Scott...
Anonymous said…
I thought Rhapsody in Blue was awesome.

Popular Posts