Monday, February 09, 2009

A few thoughts on watching some of the Grammys

Try to imagine a Oscar ceremony where the presentation of awards is delayed by Sean Penn and Kate Winslet performing a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. That would be the rough equivalent of what went on at the Grammys last night since CBS and the producers seem to believe that a successful awards show equals depends on the number of musicians per square foot of stage space. The "rap summit" had some energy and I think I can name most of the people involved (What was M.I.A. doing there exactly?), but the Bo Diddley tribute felt like something I'd watch at the Smithsonian and the Lil Wayne New Orleans-themed number is a couple of years too late. I'm hardly the first to point out that the number of Grammys given for what appears to the casual fan to be exactly the same thing (Record of the Year, Song of the Year, etc.) means the shelf life for the winners lasts about as long as it takes to download an MP3. For all the hoo-ha about the sorry box office of Oscar-nominated films we remember the winner because "Best Picture" has a certain simplicity to it and there are natural storylines around the acting nominees. See all the blog chatter about Kate Winslet and of course the anticipation around Heath Ledger's likely win for examples. How about Best Album, Male, Female, and Group for Rock, Country, Rap, Jazz, and "Alternative" with a "Best Song" going to the songwriter? The show would still be overlong but at least we might remember more than who sang with who.