Why The Grammys Are Broken

Before I begin in on a few thoughts that popped into my head after watching the 56th annual Grammy award ceremony, I would like to say that this is not a hater type piece.  By no means do I look down upon or judge anyone who might have enjoyed watching the live event this past January 26th.  Much like all pop culture, whether it be movies, comics, video games, etc. music is just another form of entertainment that works for everyone in no same way.

I don’t feel the need to critique the entire three and a half hour show that was broadcast because let’s be honest, those who watched it don’t need a play by play and those who didn’t watch it didn’t really care that much about the show, nor do they go to this blog to read up on the events that took place on stage.  This piece is going to be something that can create some fun discussion about an idea that may or may not work anymore.

It’s nice that accomplishments are noticed and celebrated.  This type of ego stroking (and you know it’s an ego boost) begins at the earliest of ages and continues on right up until we die.  Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, milestones are all ways in which we celebrate our achievements.  In the professional world we have award ceremonies.  People complete the education that goes along with a certain type of job and we throw a dinner party that involves strutting up on stage, having your name called, a hand shake and a piece of paper that says you technically are now able to perform you job properly.  Then there’s the head to head competition within a company OR between companies that pits the best individual/team in company A against the same in company B.  Again when a victor is crowned we go through the process once more to take the time and allow for the walking on stage and the hand shakes and so on and so on.

I must be clear in saying that I really have no problems with this.  People enjoy being recognized and if that’s something your into by all means bask in the glory.  As I’ve gotten older I really have no desire to find myself in those type of situations.  A simple thank you or good job is more than sufficient for achieving something.

In the magic world of music there are a few events that take place every year that allow musicians to come together in one place to better celebrate the industry and the accomplishments that have happened over the past 12 months.  There are the Brit Awards, the MuchMusic & MTV video Awards, the Juno Awards and a pile more but none seem to grab the spotlight like the Grammy Awards.

Supposedly the grand daddy of all music award shows, the Grammys are given out to those acts who have somehow seemed to make an impact on the musical landscape over the past year.  Awards are voted on by a select group of people that have a connection to the industry (writers, directors, producers, etc) and then handed out during the live show.  During this show certain musicians who had hits over the past year, take to the stage and perform for their peers.  To some musicians this is a pretty big deal and to others not so much, but it’s clear that 90% of the artists who found themselves in the mainstream will also find themselves sitting in the seats during this celebration…..which brings us to the whole point of this piece.

What do the following musicians all have in common;  Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Ozzy Osborne, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Chicago (the band), Stevie Wonder, and Merle Haggard?  Well first off they’re all over the age of 60, they really haven’t done anything worth speaking about musically in the past 20 years and yet each one found themselves performing during the latest instalment of the Grammys.  Sure it’s awesome that musical icons are still able to strut onto the stage, pick up an instrument and bust out a song but why is it necessary for this to happen at a supposedly relevant event?  Don’t get me wrong, I still like to bust out a Wings jam every now and then and let’s be honest Stevie Wonder is always a hit when people are sitting around having a couple of drinks, but what’s the point in showcasing these artists time and time again.

Now I realize that there were artists who performed during the awards show that have made an impact, musically, over the course of the past year, but isn’t that the point.  Why was it that Bruno Mars was left introducing the circus act known as Pink when he could have been on stage putting on a stellar performance much like he did in 2012?  At what point did someone think that it would be an awesome idea to throw up three corpses and call them Nelson, Kristofferson and Haggard?  As for Ringo Starr…..well….there really isn’t anything to say.  If you saw the performance you understand.

I realize that bands do have commitments and are unable to partake in events such as award shows, but in all seriousness when you have major musical acts like Justin Timberlake, Arcade Fire, David Bowie and Vampire Weekend (just to name a few) all pumping out big selling albums with multiple hits, I find it mind boggling that we would need to sit through a mashup of songs from a horn dominated 70’s band, sprinkled over an over-sexual one hit wonder.

I know, I know, I know…..you always have the choice to change the channel and watch something else but that’s not the point.  The Grammy Awards is a celebration of the music that has helped define the past year but all to often during the course of the evening I found myself wondering if maybe we were all stuck in some sort of time warp.

About the author


Jeff is one-fourth of the group that makes up HAFILAX. His usual ramblings can be read right here on the website. If reading isn't your thing, he also hosts the Basement Tapes podcast.