I would like to offer some advice to all the music business executives wondering why sales continue to fall every year. Watch next year’s Grammy Awards show.
Against my better judgment, I started watching this year’s Grammy Awards show on television last Monday night. I wanted to see the Eagles’ tribute to their leader, Glenn Frey, who died recently.
Half an hour into the broadcast I had seen a major production number by Taylor Swift, plus a few other performances by “superstar” singers and rappers I’ve never heard of.
What I did not hear in that first half hour, or the rest of the 75 minutes I managed to hold out until the Eagles sang one song then were “already gone,” was anything I’d call real music.
Judging from what I saw on the Grammy Awards, what passes for music these days is people hollering at the top of their lungs over a wall of background noise. Melody? They don’t need no stinkin’ melody!
Before Don Henley and the boys showed up with their harmonies, the closest thing I heard to a real song was a bad duet featuring country stars Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt. It too featured lots of top-of-the-lungs emoting. I’m not sure what the song was, other than bad, but it definitely wasn’t country.
Underwood and Hunt are very talented and very capable of singing great songs. Why they agreed to perform this awful duet that did neither of them any favors is beyond me.
I know, I know, I sound like a grumpy old man shouting, “Get off of my lawn!,” but I’m not really angry about it. I’m just a bit sad.
I understand that every generation wants its own music and should have it. While I truly loved the music of my generation, the fact that my parents hated it made it even more attractive.
But looking back, it seems that other than the electric guitars and amps turned up to 11, my music wasn’t all that different from my parents’ music. Whether it was Tony Bennett, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Simon and Garfunkel, Judy Garland or Joni Mitchell, they all had one thing in common: melody.
And as much as I loved “my” music, I also loved my parents’ music. I still get just as much enjoyment from hearing Frank Sinatra sing “All the Way” as I do listening to The Who play “Pinball Wizard.”
But after watching more than an hour of this year’s Grammy Awards, it seems to me that today it’s more about the show than the song. It’s more about how many dancers you have on stage, how many costume changes you make and how many vocal gymnastics you perform than it is about the music and lyrics.
I couldn’t understand a single word Taylor Swift sang Monday. She might as well have been reciting the phone book (which is disappearing even faster than melody). I’m not even sure I heard a chord change in the background noise. But she had plenty of glitz, glamour and glitter as she pranced around the stage.
I know a lot of people love rap music, and that’s fine. It’s not my cup of cognac, however. To me it all sounds like an angry young man or woman screaming, “There was an old woman, who lived in a shoe. She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do. Yo!”
To save myself further sadness, I’ve decided to refrain from watching any more music award shows of any kind. And if I want to hear new music, I’ll buy the latest from my old favorites. For example, Elton John and Vince Gill both just released excellent new CDs full of good songs, meaningful lyrics, amazing musicianship and lots of melody.
So, Grammy Awards, though it pains me to say it, “Get off of my lawn.”