Ed Sheeran is horrible. It's not because I'm old. It's not because I miss Andy Williams. It's because Ed Sheeran is horrible. And so is Katy Perry. And if you're going to watch and complain about the Grammy Awards in the year 2017, then you only have yourself to blame.
I watched the Grammy Awards.
If you can guiltlessly mock "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" by Genesis or roll your eyes at "Shout It Out Loud" by Kiss, and yet give a rousing, standing O of respect to Beyonce and her bizarre, music-less, seven minutes that even Golan-Globus would have left on the cutting room floor, something is definitely rotten in Denmark.
And speaking of rotten in Denmark, here's Lukas Graham's Grammy nominated song.
Once I was seven years old, my mama told me,
"Go make yourself some friends or you'll be lonely."
Once I was seven years old
It was a big big world, but we thought we were bigger
Pushing each other to the limits, we were learning quicker
By eleven smoking herb and drinking burning liquor
Never rich so we were out to make that steady figure
Once I was eleven years old, my daddy told me,
"Go get yourself a wife or you'll be lonely."
Once I was eleven years old
I always had that dream, like my daddy before me
So I started writing songs, I started writing stories
Something about that glory just always seemed to bore me
'Cause only those I really love will ever really know me
This was a Grammy nominee for Record Of The Year? Remember "Playground In My Mind" by Clint Holmes? How about Jessie Colter's "I'm Not Lisa?" We hated those songs. "Only Seventeen" is one of those songs. And this is okay now.
I can recall sitting glued to the television for hours when MTV first came on the air, whining about bad videos by Saga while waiting for an Elvis Costello video, or wanting to the throw the remote at the screen when the "Safety Dance" video aired for the 15th time in one day. Today, Men Without Hats seem like Bacharach and David.
It couldn't have been just me who counted no more than three notes in the entire melody of that Katy Perry song? Or any Katy Perry song?
Nothing is right about any of this. Even a small pleasure like David Bowie getting his first Grammy Award is tainted by the fact that he won for Best Rock Performance on a record he recorded with a jazz band. Plus, it was too late. Bowie is dead. Bowie is now the Peter Finch of glam.
As you may or may not know, I have no love for Adele, a perfectly decent, one trick singer who unbeknownst to me, made a "comeback" this year at the age of 27. The drama on stage during her pathetic, funereal take on George Michael's "Fast Love" was somehow embraced as heroic. "I'm sorry. It's live TV," Adele reminded us, as she carelessly tossed off "fucks" and asked to begin again. Live TV can't be easy...unless, you know...you rehearse. (Adele meet Sid Caesar. Sid. Adele.) Her tribute to George Michael was neither moving nor entertaining. It was really more like Adele paying tribute to Adele. It made me squirm.
Megagaca seemed to delight many people on social media. "Finally, something refreshing." I enjoyed it. It was a holy mess, but less of a holy mess than everything else we had been subjected to up to that point. We loved it because it didn't suck. That's the way we treat music in 2017. If we don't absolutely hate it, it's Mozart.
And how about that ill-advised Bee Gees tribute? I read a few comments asking,"Why pay tribute to the horrible disco years?" For one thing, the Bee Gees disco years were far from horrible. The Brothers Gibb reinvented themselves and took on the world with some of the greatest pop singles in the history of music. Plus, it will soon be the 40th anniversary of that reinvention. That explains wanting to pay tribute. It also explains not one song played from "Cucumber Castle." But, I digress. The cast of characters chosen to sing 90 seconds of four songs, while a voice similar to Martha Stewart's casually announced each performer over the music, was mind-bogglingly bad.. Truly, a shambles, that even for the Grammy Awards, was an embarrassment. I imagine Barry Gibb was singing to himself the way we were told to repeat, "It's only a movie" when we went to see "The Last House On The Left."
I realize this ranting is just spitting in the wind, and many times, it can backfire. I fully expect the cards and letters to come in defending Solange, Frank Ocean, Little Big Town, Kelsea Ballerini, Mrs. Manicotti, Queen B, Adele and all the other "kids" who just want to have fun and be heard. We had our chance. Why shouldn't they? Well, of course they should. But at what point do we stop accepting spectacle over substance?
I have this vision of John Hiatt singing "Have A Little Faith In Me" surrounded by 25 male dancers dressed like Darth Vader. Or, Elvis Costello singing "Alison" while swinging from a trapeze. Or, Black Sabbath calling Joni Mitchell up on stage for an ironic cover of "Free Man In Paris." Of course, this is all very silly, except it's what we watch every February on CBS. Only the names have been changed.
Is there no chance at all that this will ever change for the better? Can it be that music will actually get worse as we get older? All of our heroes are dying and I don't see anyone carrying the torches. Some are trying. But too many have no idea whose torches they need to carry. That is the problem. That is our fault.