Friday, February 10, 2012

Will Grannies Be the Only Ones Watching the Grammys?

Let's be honest. Most big time award shows are nothing more than a "Hooray for Us!" celebration, designed simply to reaffirm who's "in the club" and who gets to stay in the club. After all, if you're a corporate cog looking to cross-collateralize your widgets with a hot, young piece of "talent," or a network exec. interested in garnering ratings for your attempt at an eighth generation spin-off of a talent competition, nothing says you won't get fired like a gold phonograph.

The Grammys have long been to music what KFC is to chicken(see Jethro Tull's win for Album of the Year). And, now, with the recent signing of a petition by legions of angry musicians who demand NARAS, the organization behind the annual awards show, reinstate the Latin Jazz category -- and other recently eliminated ethnic groups -- to the ballot, as well as the planned protest outside the Staples Center this Sunday, it's beginning to feel more like Occupy the Grammys than anything else.

For a show that now seems to be entirely dependent on Lady Gaga's outfits for ratings and a mandatory appearance by the Foo Fighters to maintain its 'danger factor,' pissing off tens of thousands of loyal supporters to the point where a class action lawsuit is now underway, doesn't seem like the best way to go. Add to that the refusal of the "Grammy Republican Guard" to release the minutes of its secret meeting in which these eliminations took place, and we could be looking at a musical version of the Arab Spring (Arab Spring Awakening?). Hey, here's a category; Best Revolutionary Action by a Growing Group of Disenfranchised Artists. "... And, the winner is, Molly Hatchet!"

The Grammys are the largest non-profit organization in the U.S. and, like any non-profit, any of its members are entitled to read the minutes of any meeting upon request, but, according to nominee pianist/composer Mark Levine, who rejected his recent nomination, "For some reason, the repeated requests for the minutes of this particular meeting have been met with nothing but resistance. Thus, the petition and lawsuit, backed by legends such as Bonnie Raitt and Carlos Santana, seems the only way to go."

In N.A.R.A.S.'s defense, when looking at some of the discontinued categories, it appears they got it right (has anyone ever bought a "Pop Instrumental" Album?). However, it took members of the Latino community over seventeen years of lobbying to finally get N.A.R.A.S. to include the Latin Jazz category, so, if nothing else, it certainly seems they could at least make an exception to reinstate this popular genre, as opposed to, say, Best Contemporary Pop Album by a Hawaiian Playing a Blowfish.

If Chris Martin and Rihanna performing their version of Miss Saigon isn't enough to entice you to watch this year's Grammy telecast, keep in mind, each year they manage to come up with one-huge-gaff which makes for hilarious water cooler conversation - e.g., last year, some unknown named Justin Bieber lost the Best New Artist award to a long-established Hispanic, Contemporary Jazz artist by the name of Esperanza Spalding. Even Spalding herself was shocked. This year should prove to be no less exciting, as, in keeping with a condition of his probation, Chris Brown has agreed to perform in handcuffs. Just in case.

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