You know what really blows about the Grammy Awards? The Mountain and Pacific Time zones watched a recorded program. The great irony being that the show was recorded at the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles. We’re right here, down the I-5 freeway and we have to watch a delayed broadcast — that just ain’t right.
Every other awards program, all the big events like the Super Bowl, everybody sees it live. The Emmys: live. The Golden Globes: live. The Oscars: live. The Grammys … umm … you guys out there, down the street from where it’s taking place, you gotta wait a few hours.
So you East Coasters and Midwesterners were teasing the rest of us with your posts about the show. What did J Lo (Jennifer Lopez if you don’t keep up with pop culture) wear that was so scandalous? Why were people trashing Taylor Swift’s opening? If you lived out here on the West Coast, or somewhere in the Mountain states, you just had to wait three hours.
We could of course scour the World Wide Interwebs for photos and tidbits of news, but it isn’t the same as watching the show live.
Was it worth the wait? Hard to say really. If you’re young Fun. wrote a song for you. But it wasn’t the song they played at the Grammys. Let’s face it, the Grammys are primarily for young people. Pop music is a medium for the young. Older people can like Katy Perry, Mumford & Sons and Justin Timberlake, who rocked the place with his old school R&B, “Pusher Love Girl,” but unless you’re taking your kids to see any of these acts, you’ll look a little out of place. Well, maybe not for Mumford & Sons.
Baby Boomers are, for the most part, fairly open-minded when it comes to music. We grew up with the beginnings of rock and roll so we tend to like rock in jut about every era. Disco was an aberration, but now, 30-plus years later, the big disco stars like K.C. and the Sunshine Band are getting some love and many people were saddened when we learned Robin Gibb and Donna Summer left this world.
Although I don’t remember the show, I do remember seeing Summer perform “Love to Love You Baby” on TV. It changed my attitude about disco, at least a little. Disco was the music we loved to hate.
So, despite the young look of the Grammys, old farts can enjoy the show too. Or at least enjoy dishing on it all night — while watching the entire three and a half hours.
One interesting thing about the Grammys are the categories. Years ago, 1989 to be exact, the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences added a new category: Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental. Metallica was expected to win for their album …And Justice For All. They were the best, most popular metal band in the world at the time.
Also nominated in that category was English progressive rock band Jethro Tull, for the album Crest of the Knave. People didn’t think much of that. The Grammys were notoriously out of touch with the real world. Besides, Metallica was the clear choice for everyone — except the members of the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences who chose Jethro Tull. That was when most of the world (including myself) decided the Grammys were total BS.
Of all the albums in Jethro Tull’s oeuvre in their 20-plus years in the business at the time, Crest of the Knave was … not what I would have thought was worth a Grammy for J. Tull. Passion Play, Thick as a Brick, Aqualung; any of those could have received awards, but when those albums were fresh the Grammys shut a lot of music out of the awards.
The Grammys, like all awards shows, is for socializing. Performers get recognized for their achievements, but it’s the big convention for the music business. Everyone gets together, hobnobs with one another and then at the climax, they spurt out their jubilation in this glorious TV program celebrating their industry and creativity, pretty much in that order. As the show goes on the cameras pan across the front row audience and we see the luminaries sitting, smiling and politely applauding their colleagues. All sorts of famous and nearly famous people were there.
The girl behind the HBO series Girls, Lena Dunham, was sitting with Fun. She looked so forlorn whenever Fun. lost, but jumped and hugged everyone when the band won an award. Being hip has its perks, but it also helps that her boyfriend is Fun. guitarist Jack Antanoff.
Beyoncé was in attendance with her man, Jay-Z. The woman who holds the title of having the sexiest half time show for a Super Bowl presented an award with comedian and talk show host, Ellen Degeneres. That was pretty funny.
The big deal this year was the dress code issued by CBS, the network airing the show. In years past the Grammys set the standard, high or low depending on your point of view, for revealing attire. Women wearing pasties, see-through dresses; skirts and dresses slit all the way up to the hipbone; it was a horny man’s dream. Not this year … or so CBS hoped.
J Lo’s dress was slit up one side, exposing the entirety of her right leg. She even joked about the memo, which included, “… please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered.” No under boob or side boob allowed.
Let me be the one to break it to you CBS: this is the Grammys and these are people who are looking to make a statement and they resent like hell anyone telling them what to do and wear. My guess is, when the participants saw the dress code memo some of them changed their wardrobes just to flaunt their independence — and their bodies.
So, Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child had a sexier, more revealing dress than J Lo. See-through in all the provocative ways you can guess and Rihanna, during a segment honoring Bob Marley, wore a two-piece that gave the audience quite a view of her under boobs every time she raised her arms — and she raised her arms a lot.
The preacher’s daughter, Katy Perry, had the deepest plunging dress of the night and CBS couldn’t put up a graphic to hide her cleavage fast enough. America found out Katy has breasts. What a revelation.
The Grammys though are all about the music and the business of getting the music out in front of the public — in a way that puts money in everyone’s pockets. Meaning, we weren’t going to see or hear from the likes of Ani DiFranco and Billy Bragg, two music icons that reject the conventional business model of the music industry and prefer to be independent.
There were some great moments in the show, like when Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Wayne Shorter paid tribute to the great Dave Brubeck. In 2012 Clarke and Corea received the award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, for Forever.
Alicia Keys and Maroon 5 shared the stage for a combination of their songs, “Girl On Fire” and “Daylight.” It was well done and well received by the Staples Center audience, which occasionally was louder than the canned crowd noise we heard throughout the night. Adam Levine and Alicia Keys make a great duo if they ever want to do an album of duets.
During the Bob Marley tribute several great names joined Rihanna and her under boob show: Bruno Mars and Sting chief among them, along with Ziggy and Damian Marley.
The most significant musical moment came after the show’s tribute to those members of the music community who passed on in the previous year. “In Memorium” ended with a tribute to Levon Helm of The Band, with Elton John, Mavis Staples, Mumford & Sons (Marcus Mumford sang a verse), Zac Brown, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes and the great T-Bone Burnett performing “The Weight.”
Do you ever watch the TV show NCIS: Los Angeles? One of the stars is LL Cool J and in case you didn’t know he was once the preeminent rap/hip-hop artist on the planet. He was also the host of the Grammys show, this year and last year. He’s a seasoned performer, both musically and as an actor, making him a really good choice for host. There were also appearances by Prince and Johnny Depp, who presented awards. For the most part, it was a good show.
There are so many categories not all of them could be presented during the broadcast. If you didn’t know it, for instance, you would think the Grammys no longer had an award for Hard Rock/Heavy Metal. Halestorm won the award this year. I’ve never heard of them either, but the band is fronted by a woman, Lizzy Hale.
The irony for me is that had I not noticed we on the West Coast were getting a taped broadcast I would have most likely just tuned in once in a while, instead of watching the entire broadcast. This is the first time since 1989 I’ve watched the Grammys from beginning to end. In 2003 I just happened to tune into the MTV Video Music Awards right before the infamous kissing between Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Madonna. That’s how it usually goes with me and awards shows.
I don’t give up an entire evening to watch them. The Grammys caught my attention because they had me believing I was going to miss something because the show was a delayed broadcast. Those wily marketers. They saw me coming.
For the most part, it doesn’t matter to me who wins what awards, I don’t even keep up on the categories. As a celebration of the music industry it ain’t bad, but it leaves me wondering: what would the women have worn if CBS hadn’t sent out their dress code memo? I guess we’ll just have to wait and watch the next VMA’s. Let’s hope we get to see those live.
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality.