Grammy Noms

It’s not your father’s Grammys.

Forget all the horseshit about Madonna being snubbed. Prince too. These are not lifetime achievement awards, rather recognition of what is popular and successful.

Yup, that’s what we’ve got. Not only were the alta kachers eliminated, we didn’t have any of the cred artists either, except Alabama Shakes and Chris Stapleton, who is coasting on his CMA coattails. What we have here is pure pop for now people.

And everybody over the age of thirty hates it.

But that’s the music business we’re living in now. Rock is dead. Americana may have a category, but its penetration is de minimis. All those other categories, jazz, classical, etc., ignore them…the public will. And the Grammy telecast will too, they won’t get any airtime.

And we know that an appearance on the show is much more important than winning. But really, we’ve got to give the Grammys credit, unlike the Oscars, they’re living in the twenty first century, they’re living in the now.

That’s right, Jennifer Lawrence has her knickers in a twist about women in Hollywood but women are dominating in music. Are there enough execs, enough producers? Of course not, but if you look at the nominees… Taylor Swift is up front and center. And three females are in the Best New Artist category. And Liz Rose, Taylor’s old compatriot, and Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna wrote Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” and if you don’t know that’s Karen Fairchild’s band, you know nothing about Nashville.

And you may not.

You may not know anything about rap. You may be enamored of Adele not knowing that the Weeknd rules Spotify. You may be completely out of the loop on this year’s nominees other than the ubiquitous “Uptown Funk” and the Alabama Shakes, led by Brittany Howard, a woman.

But I wouldn’t expect the Shakes to win. But you never know, Kendrick and Taylor and the Weeknd could cancel each other out, but the truth is most all of the players are so YOUNG!

The classic rock era is over. The baby boomer music is toast. It’s a whole new world and either you’ve got a hit pop track or it’s like you don’t exist.

Forget the rest of the 79 categories. The circle jerk wherein everybody who makes music gets to be nominated and put it on their bio so they can tour when they’re aged. Those categories don’t count. I’d say it’s like the Little League World Series, although the Little League World Series is more important and more people watch it. There’s this fiction that people care about the nominated stuff, I can’t say songs, because there’s comedy and even spoken word, but the truth is only those listed and their parents and spouses care. Just being brutally honest, can you take it?

Lana Del Rey, the critical darling… Her new LP stiffs, and it’s like she doesn’t exist.

As for the exclusion of the Foo Fighters from the big four categories… “Sonic Highways” was a brilliant TV show and a sub-mediocre record. But the Grammys don’t nominate the sub-mediocre anymore!

Let’s start with Record of the Year. All five tracks were hits! “Uptown Funk” was ubiquitous like in the days of old, everybody heard it and knows it. Of course it’s unoriginal, but if you think we’re in a heyday of music exploration you think vinyl still counts and sales eclipse listens.

“Can’t Feel My Face” couldn’t have been bigger in the demo…the kids who’ve inherited the earth, boomers and Gen X are in the rearview mirror.

As for Taylor Swift… She could run for President and win, she’s more popular than Donald Trump. I wish she’d take a political stand, she’s the only one who can get out the youth vote. Hell, she took Ed Sheeran on tour and gave a boost to his career.

And sure “Really Love” didn’t have much chart success, but it had cultural impact, and that’s more important today, especially when the charts can’t figure it all out, mixing streaming and sales and radio and coming up with something incomprehensible.

And sure, Fetty Wap deserves a nom, but there are only five slots, a plethora of riches I say.

As for Album of the Year… All the kids talk about Kendrick Lamar. Sure, you don’t know him if you’re addicted to HBO and expensive dinners, but if you’re actually listening to music, following it, he’s part of the discussion, always.

Personally, I think Alabama Shakes lack good material. But if that’s as left field as the Grammys want to go, I’m down with it. Better than nominating the unheard Beck album.

And “1989” and “Beauty Behind The Madness” were two of the most played albums of the year. Taylor Swift may not be on Spotify, but she’s on YouTube, which eclipses everything, most certainly sales, never mind Apple Music. And the Weeknd just blew away everything else upon release.

As for Chris Stapleton… He won’t win, you’ll forget he was nominated, we’ll see if he can follow up this publicity bump with a hit album, unlike Kacey Musgraves…

Yup, it’s all about what you’ve done for us lately, music is a cruel world, have a couple of hits and you can tour forever, but Kacey hasn’t done that!

As for Song of the Year… Most interesting is the number of writers on each. Kendrick’s “Alright” has three, including the omnipresent Pharrell, as do “Blank Space,” “Girl Crush,” “Thinking Out Loud” and “See You Again,” which is an incredible cut most adults haven’t heard, but should, it’s really a Charlie Puth record as opposed to a Wiz Khalifa track, kinda like Shaggy had his name on his hit but it was more about Rikrok. And Ed Sheeran, the great white hope, the one who plays the guitar…even his song has two writers. We’re not into personal statements as much as success. We bring out the heavy artillery, we buy insurance. Could this be why the music slides off of us? Even the Weeknd uses Max Martin, the true star of Music’s Biggest Night. We used to believe the songs emanated from the writers’ souls, now we’re skeptical. Used to be music was the most personal of media, now it’s all done by committee.

And there you have it.

Oh, we could talk about the Best New Artist category but that’s one you don’t want to win, it taints your career, even though the nominees are all good. But Meghan Trainor’s work was nominated LAST YEAR!

And Adele didn’t make the cut-off this year.

And Cash Money forgot to nominate Drake’s “Hotline Bling.”

But does any of this matter? Will the winners get a Grammy bounce? Probably not, everybody who cares already knows, they’re in the loop.

So what we’ve got here is a snapshot of the music industry in 2015. One wherein the rules confound us, make it hard to understand who is winning and who is not, but one in which we only care about what’s popular and everything else is irrelevant, where pop rules and meaning takes a back seat, where the youth own music despite the aged selling out arenas.

U2 may be telecasting from Paris, but to the people who listened to the nominees, who care about the nominees, they’re a bunch of old fart has-beens sans memorable material.

As it should be, the young should eat the old, music’s famous for that.

And the old should realize they cannot win. It’s too late, baby. You can get a Kennedy Center Honor, but in the cutthroat world of the chart, of popularity, of what’s driving the culture, you’re a sideshow. Count your money and be done with it.

Madonna, stay off the road for a few years. Bon Jovi did, good for him.

And know that your kids run the world.

Music was at the epicenter of the youthquake back in the sixties, it led and then rode shotgun. And music has incredible impact amongst the young today, even if the oldsters don’t feel it. Music dominates social media, from Twitter to Instagram, and music dominates YouTube… We’re just one step away from an anthem that blows a hole in the culture and gets us all moving in the right direction.

But that would require the winners to stop playing it safe, to stop kissing ass, to stop chasing the bucks of the sponsors, to start believing in themselves and using their power for good.

They’ve got the power baby, don’t try to fight it.

The men don’t know…

But the little girls understand.

Comments are closed