AXS TV Grammy Prediction Special

I had a car accident.

An unlicensed driver in an unregistered truck took a wide turn and slammed into me.

Oh, I’m okay, just in shock.

Well, maybe there’s some soft tissue damage. I can feel it a bit in my neck and shoulder, but nothing life-threatening. And you get as old as I am and you gain perspective. I mean it could be much worse.

But it was illegal to have a car accident in my family. Have a fender-bender and my dad would remind you every time you got behind the wheel. As for the one time he rear-ended someone, it was undiscussable.

And I’m thinking how I’m not in the greatest mood to begin with, and I’ve got to go downtown to do this TV show. How L.A. is that?

The perp wanted to make some phone calls. And then I asked myself how long I had to stay here before I could move on. Is having an accident something de rigueur? Normally I’d let it ruin my whole day. Go home and sulk. Feel inadequate. Worry about all the effort yet to come, getting an estimate, a rental car, a repair… But in this case I had an obligation.

And accidents today are so much different from before, at least when it comes to the exchange of information. Today you don’t write it down, you shoot a picture. It’s so much easier. But the hassle still remains.

But, as Elvis Costello so famously sang, accidents will happen. It’s the nature of life.

And the show must go on.

I’ve never been in this situation before.

That’s right, I hold myself to an impossible standard. I should never have a car wreck. And haven’t for nearly twenty five years. I see it as some kind of moral failing. I think there’s going to be some price to pay down the line. And although I’m very good at running the repair gauntlet, the truth is I’m too good, my OCD kicks into gear, I have anxiety about getting it exactly right.

But all of a sudden that was irrelevant. I couldn’t go home and call my insurance company. I’d made a commitment, AXS was depending on me.

And my car is fully drivable. It’s got a hole in the bumper, but I could still hit the freeway. And traffic was not bad until just shy of downtown. And all things considered, I was barely late.

So I flopped down into the makeup chair and was confronted by Mark McGrath.

What do I know about Mr. McGrath? That he’s the front man of Sugar Ray which got a little bit more than fifteen minutes? That he graduated from SC? That he’s got a side career hosting television shows? That he’s a “Jeopardy” rock trivia champion?

And stunningly, Mark in real life looks just like his photos. His teeth are perfect, his hair is coiffed, and he’s talking like he knows me.

I love when people know me.

That’s what drives me wild, when people don’t, even though they’ve met me.

Turns out Mark watched last year’s tape. And when I interrupted his spiel to tell him I’d just had an accident he was so concerned, giving insight and support, that I felt like he was on my team. And I feel this so rarely in life.

And the set-up is Mark’s gonna host, DJ Skee and me are gonna predict, and John Dick, a pollster with Civic Science, is gonna tell us what the people said.

And normally I’m champing at the bit. This is my opportunity to demonstrate my brilliance and my ability to wing it. I don’t need no stinking cue cards, I can make it up on the fly, I can make you laugh, I can entertain you.

But I’m wondering if that neck pain is significant. I’m thinking about calling my insurance company. And the truth is, I’m still in shock.

But I’m fascinated by Mark McGrath.

You see not only is he attractive and famous, he’s charismatic and quick and so much fun to be around.

That’s what they don’t tell you, A&R guys want to sign stars. Anybody can sing. Some can write. But can you dazzle the press, can you make people fall in love with you? Then Jason Flom is interested.

And after discussing my accident, I start asking Mark questions. I’m fascinated by people, who they are, what makes them tick, are they warm, are they engaging, are they open?

And the truth is we live in such a narcissistic society that if you express any interest in an individual, they usually open up, they’re thrilled someone cares.

So Mark lives in Studio City with his twins.

I can talk twins, I’m in love with one.

But his are fraternal, a boy and a girl, they arrived via IVF.

Wow! If Mark’s gonna tell me this…

Turns out he woke up in the Hollywood Hills at forty, looked at the empty pillow beside him, and realized he didn’t want to do this anymore. That’s right, you think a life of screwing and excess is fulfilling. But then you wake up and it’s not.

And the truth is he had a sixteen year relationship, with a girl he met on the Sunset Strip at the advent of his career. He asked her…do you want to do this for real?

He’d sowed his wild oats.

But so had she, she was a model.

And she said yes.

And then the show began.

I like John Dick. But the truth is data won’t tell you everything. Even if you’re relying on your best predictors. Because if you’re predicting Grammy winners you’ve got to take into account the makeup of the Academy, who votes.

Who does vote?

I certainly don’t, even though Mark thought I did.

And he doesn’t either, even though he’s had hit records.

Skee said it was people in the industry. I said if you can’t get nominated for a Grammy, you didn’t make a record, that’s how many categories there are. Mark said he didn’t even know anybody who was an Academy member.

And I say all this to indicate that it’s very hard to predict who’s gonna win, unless its obvious.

Everyone agreed that Sam Smith would win Best New Artist.

After that?

Do you pick the one you like, the one with the most traction/visibility/airplay, or the one you think the Grammy voters will like?

I don’t really care. Doesn’t really make a difference. Unless Sam Smith sweeps, and he just might do it, everything will be forgotten nearly immediately.

And I’d love to tell you I was killing it, but I was off-kilter. And still fascinated by Mark.

He does 100 gigs a year.

How many are privates?

About half. After all, Sugar Ray is a good time party band.

And Mark’s telling me about his summer shed tour, with acts from his era, and I’m thinking how he’s working for a living, but it’s all based on those hits, all that MTV exposure, it pays dividends, forever!

And its so much different today. No one has that kind of ubiquity. Taylor Swift may be a star, but Mark McGrath was in our face for years.

Not that he has a record deal, that was gone in 2006. But he doesn’t care. There’s no money in records and no action either. He’s going into the studio tomorrow to cut an EP. He figures he’ll sell 10,000. If a label was involved, he joked he might sell 12,000.

That’s right, Mark’s irreverent and fast on his feet and the banter is both thrilling and fun and you realize this is what made him successful. He may not have been the most talented, but he was sharp and engaging and had a megawatt personality.

You remember personality, don’t you? When it was subservient to the music, before stars could be famous for nothing?

As a matter of fact, Kim Kardashian doesn’t have much of a personality. It’s all skin deep.

And I’m not saying if I hung with Mark McGrath for a week, never mind a night, it might not be overbearing. But I got it, I realized why he was a star. I wanted to hang more.

Except I had to go home and call my insurance company.

“Mark McGrath Hosts AXS TV’s 2nd Annual ‘GRAMMY PREDICTION SPECIAL'”

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