Oh right, it's that day, again. It's the Grammys! Hooray. I'm dancing around the room just thinking about it.
You know how entire industries have sprung up around the idea that people are interested in seeing images of their favorite stars without their makeup on, or what they look like running errands, or even caught in the act of not wearing underwear while walking down a street? "We" are supposed to delight in the spectacle of these famous people's normalcy, as if this lifting of the veil somehow is a democratic act, or of interest enough to make up for the highly subsidized stalking that produces those images.
If you want to see if stars are like us, all you need to look at is the way that so much time, energy, money, backroom deal-making, hairspray and politics goes into the industry's own awards pageants. They really, really want to win that shiny little thing! They want it in the same way you wanted a shiny prize in first grade for the spelling bee or that soccer game. If these performers are already millionaires who get flown around the world to have their fans shell out hundreds of dollars per seat and to make themselves hoarse in order to display their affection, then what do they need some shiny little statue for? We don't need TMZ to exist in order to understand that; these people are insane, just like us.
The only Grammys that should matter are the technical ones, and those for lesser known genres which maybe we don't pay attention to. It's possible that in such hidden areas of the musical landscape, that artistic merit is more at play (doubtful, but possible). I'm sure the fix is in for "Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano)" as much as it is for the prettiest and shiniest pop star. But the artists competing in "Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano)" are a lot less likely to already be in front of everyone's eyes all the time already anyway (panning shot to Bono, sitting in the crowd pretending to not know the camera is on him, and hey did you notice Bono is sitting in-between his best friends Jack Nicholson and the Cool Pope). I do have one question when it comes to front runners: who the heck is Sam Smith, again, and do motherfuckers really think the bland shit that little mellonhead slings is "soulful"? Soulful.
Like the Oscars and probably the Emmys (who's ever actually watched it to know?), the Grammys is currently run so that all the interesting, weird, and technical categories are handled first, well outside of the televised bit. It would be so much better if it ended with, say, Best Reissue of Awesome Weird Old Shit (Including Tejano). Then we could see Lance and April Ledbetter of the stalwart reissue label Dust to Digital up there at the end of the program, getting an award to standing ovations from all the humbled and pampered pop stars, in awe of the Ledbetters' obsessive dedication to craft. But then, I guess it's cool that those kind of projects are even still a part of the process at this weird stage in the quickly decomposing music business. We should all be thankful for the crumbs that are thrown.
So, even though it's a shame it won't be under a thousand lights and broadcast live around the world, I sure do personally hope that in the category of "Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package," that Susan Archie, Dean Blackwood & Jack White win for their beyond audacious art direction on The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917 - 27).
If you want to know later on who won all the shiny things, or who looked the most shimmering in their brand new suit, then simply turn on your radio, or your phone, or computer. Heck, you might even open up a newspaper, tomorrow, if you're retro and stuff. But I've no plans to sit here and copy and paste the same results that everyone else will have and know at the same time. Nor do I care to parse the differences between all the various deserving acts. I'm going to watch AMC's The Walking Dead and try to get to bed early, thank you.
Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal has written about music since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance at age sixteen with money saved from mowing lawns in Florida. He's since written for Spin, Pitchfork, the Village VOICE and Artforum. He's been a museum guard, a financial reporter, a bicycle...