Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"...And The Winner Is....No, Really, We Mean It....THE Winner Is......"

Interesting thing about the Grammys.

And we're not talking Gaga's shoes.


Here's a thing.

When reading an entire list of winners in respective categories, one could easily get the impression that the Grammy Awards are a veritable plethora of diversity and variety, shining a respectful and admiring spotlight on a wide ranging, multi-talented, multi-ethnic, multi, multi group of writers, producers, singers and/or performers.

(The "and/or" there is intentional, given the long established evidence that a singer, for example, is not necessarily much of a performer and, of course, a performer might not be much of a singer. Miranda Lambert comes to mind. Due respect and all that, you know).

Fact is that, actually, that spotlight of diversity is less illumination than it is illusion.

And it has nothing to do with racial inequality.

We have the Oscars for that.

Consider this (considerably) truncated list of last night's winners.

  • Album of the Year: Taylor Swift, 1989
  • Best Pop Vocal Album: Taylor Swift, 1989
  • Best Rock Performance: Alabama Shakes, "Don't Wanna Fight"
  • Best Rock Song: Alabama Shakes, "Don't Wanna Fight"
  • Best Alternative Music Album: Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color
  • Best Country Album: Chris Stapleton, Traveller
  • Best Country Solo Performance: Chris Stapleton, Traveller
  • Best Country Duo/Group Performance: Little Big Town, "Girl Crush"
  • Best Country Song: Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Liz Rose, "Girl Crush"
  • Best Rap Album: Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
  • Best Rap Performance: Kendrick Lamar, "Alright"
  • Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: Kendrick Lamar featuring Bilal, Anna Wise, Thundercat, "These Walls"
  • Best Rap Song: Kendrick Lamar, Kawan Prather, Sounwave, Pharrell Williams, "Alright"

13 prestigious awards given in recognition of unique and culturally impacting "artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position."  (The italicized portion a direct lift from the Recording Academy's own mission statement)

13 awards.

And, co-writers momentarily notwithstanding, 5, count em', 5 actual winners.

Of 13 awards.

Don't misunderstand here, mind you I'm not plugging in and flipping on this "As Seen On TV" axe grinder that I just bought, but I do find it pretty much impossible to not offer up one familiar audio offering.


And...let's think about this for a minute.

How many albums released in the eligibility year 2015?

Couldn't tell you. I gave Google a shot but all I could find were lists that would have taken hours to add up.

So, let's ballpark it this way.

200 albums, at any given time, on the Billboard Top 200 Chart.

Even if the chart comprehensively refreshes itself just twice in a calendar year (and that may be a conservative refresh estimate) we're talking 600 albums.

Yes, I know that 200 twice is 400. We're talking there were 200 to begin with and then another 200 and then another 200,

Total 600.

Better not let the IRS get a look at your tax return.

Okay, so we're talking 600 albums released minimum.

And that's just "charted" albums.

That doesn't count the myriad of music released on major labels that don't chart or albums released on medium, small, tiny and/or garage/basement based indy labels that never see any real light of day, airplay and have only a Carly Fiorina chance of being submitted for your approval..

Let's be Ted Cruz-ishly conservative here and say 2000 albums in the qualifying year.

That brings our total to...

2600 albums.

Minimum. Conservatively speaking.

Two thousand, six hundred albums released in the eligibility year 2015.

And, to play fair, let's say that 80% of them are crap.

80.0002, of course, if you include Kanye in that count.

80% if 2600 is 2080.

Which leaves us with 520 released albums worthy of consideration.

Minimum. Conservatively speaking.

520 albums worthy of consideration as potential Grammy nominees.

And just five people, between them, won 13 awards.


vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.




noun: pattern; plural noun: patterns

a combination of qualities, acts, tendencies, etc., forming a consistent or characteristic arrangement

5 people.

13 awards.

Sensing a pattern here?

It's ludicrous, of course, to insinuate that there should be hundreds of awards doled out at these things. Be they Grammys or Oscars or Emmys or Tonys.

It only seems like that's what they're doing sometimes. Cheesy comedy bits, badly written "witty repartee" between presenters and four minutes of commercials for every three minutes of actual ceremony accounting for that "dear God in Heaven, will this never end???" feeling. 

But, it doesn't take a Mensa member to recognize the very human quality of these award dealies.

We like the idea of diversity and variety.

But we love the idea of familiarity.

None of which, of course, should take anything away from all those folks who were nominated or those five folks who bagged those thirteen awards.

After all, it's an honor just to be nominated.

Two co-writer friends of mine, and I, were, in fact, nominated for a Grammy some years ago.

We didn't win.

But it was an honor just to.....yeah, whatever.

Bottom line here is that, this morning, at least five people in the music business woke up proud and happy.

And good for them.

Everybody loves a winner.

So imagine how much they must love a winner/winner/winner/winner/winner.

Here's a thought, though.

Let's pick up that rock lying just outside the box to kill a couple of birds.

Next year, how about they give the awards out in clusters?

Kendrick Lamar, for example, would have come to the stage last night once and been recognized for all four of his Grammys.

Alabama Shakes, their three.

You get the idea.

And the ceremony would be tight, timely and feel superbly streamlined.

In fact, come to think of it, given what's likely,  next year's ceremony could very easily be pared down to a sleek, sexy thirty minutes.

18 minutes of commercials and/or performance. Potato, patahto.

An easily bearable 5 minutes of badly written witty repartee' between presenters.

3 minutes of host intro, outro, yada yada.

And four glorious minutes of Grammys awarded and acceptance speeched.

At one time.

By one winner.


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