I can’t remember the last time I watched the Grammys. When rap took over, and even before that, really, I lost interest in music that sounded less and less like actual music, the performers didn’t dress for the occasion, and the choreography consisted of grabbing a crotch and spastic finger and arm gyrations. I probably wouldn’t have watched it this year except for the fact that I had just watched Saturday Night Live and had to endure a performance, and I use the term loosely, by a group called Sia. Really? This is music? I decided that since I am so out of touch with what kids today have been convinced is artistic and creative and the fact that I wouldn’t know Beyonce from Nicki Minaj if I heard one of them on the radio, and since I don’t like people who censor books without reading them first-you have to know what you are talking about, right?-I decided it was time to practice what I preach and see what it takes to win awards these days. Which didn’t take much in way too many cases.
Now, don’t panic; I’m not going to dissect the entire extended extravaganza, but I taped it so I could watch it later with the advantage of fast forward. Ha. I know. That’s cheating. But here we go.
Initial reactions: not as bad as I thought it would be; not much rap to fast forward through;I even liked some of the new stuff; overblown production numbers as expected; older traditional singers gave the more rousing and appreciated performances; too many numbers appeared to be badly lip-synched; Katy Perry just screams; Kanye West is an egomaniacal no-talent asshole.
I really enjoyed Lady Gaga singing real music with Tony Bennett, AC/DC rocking the house, even liked Sam Smith’s song, but I did find Beyonce way over-rated. I did pretty well until they gave the stage to Sia with this Chandelier business. Performance art, maybe; music, I don’t think so. If there was any music, it was overshadowed by lyrics I couldn’t understand and the ridiculous flailing about by Kristin Wiig and some other girl while Sia stood with her back to the audience, immobile. I’ll admit it; I’m old, and I just don’t get it. But then I don’t think there is anything to get. In today’s music scene, it seems to me that the competition to be famous is so great that many would-be musicians have moved from talent to the absurd to get noticed and the public has been overcome with the same pretentiousness and false knowledge of talent, are so overcome with a need to appear savvy and in the know, that they behave like the crowd watching the Emperor as he strutted about in his invisible clothes, fawning over something that wasn’t there rather than admit there is nothing there, no clothes, and in the case of some of today’s music, no talent.
Which is not to say we should take ourselves too seriously. The musicians and singers who attend the Grammys do have a good time with it, and that’s not a bad thing. Pharrell and his silly shorts, Madonna and her tasteless Red Carpet attire with her bottom flapping about, Rhianna’s cotton candy dress, which, the longer I looked at, the easier it was to accept; they were all enjoying their moments. I will say they don’t seem to take themselves quite as seriously as Oscar-goers, and they seem to enjoy all the music throughout the night.
All art, be it music, painting, dance, literature, whatever, is going to be appreciated differently by people based on their individual taste and styles, as well as their time in history. Artistic styles do change with the times. But underneath it all, if there is no real talent, no true creativity involved, then there is no art. And for me right now, there is a dearth of musical talent from which to choose.
So I will try to listen to some of the new stuff and give it a chance. But give me something to work with other than arrogant rap and pointless dioramas thought up for a video. I prefer not to walk around in invisible clothes pretending to see something of value when nothing is there.