Segarini: The Grammys

You can blame the Grammys for this column being late. OR, you can thank the Internet and You Tube for this column even being written. Take your pick.

The thing is, I haven’t been able to watch an awards show since Hello Dolly won Song of the Year at the Grammys back in 1965, so I waited until I could access the performances and their surrounding detritus on the Intertoobz, thereby saving myself the humiliating experience of having to sit through countless minutes of self-aggrandizing back slapping, badly read teleprompter sincerity, and pseudo-edgy behavior from those who are as uncomfortable being there as I am just watching this parade of well-intentioned claptrap. Still, even watching the clips, I have to ask myself the time-worn (and totally irrelevant) question, Am I just too old for this shit?

The short answer is that nobody gets too old for music. Nobody. What happens has more to do with non-music lovers than it does with those of us who will never stop listening, never stop searching for music that drills down and touches those areas of our psyche that makes us human, gives us clarity, and informs the soul. There is no age limit to curiosity or for the hope that there will always be something new that is deserving of our attention.

The problem for some folks is that they think they love music but they don’t, not really. They love the music that defined their youth. The music they got laid to, fell in love to, the music that played at their prom or was popular during the ‘best years of their lives’, the music that defines them as a person, the good times, the music that serves as the snapshots of days gone by, never to return. Because there is a lot of effort involved in keeping up with the music being made today, most older people, having grown up with new music being delivered to them on a platter every day thanks to radio stations’ old, and much missed  habit of wanting to be the first to expose the latest music (local and otherwise) to an anxious public. When that habit was scrapped, people like me continued to look elsewhere, but the vast majority of my peers hung on until so frustrated they just gave up, looking no further. For example, the next time you’re at a house party and the host insists on playing nothing but Led Zeppelin, Ozzy, and Iron Maiden, he is sharing his youth, his roots, with you. If he doesn’t follow them up with Rival Sons, Black Stone Cherry, or Dream Theater, he stopped looking for new music along with a lot of other people when radio started focusing on the ‘hits’. When radio and the Major Labels changed direction, forsaking risk takers and ‘unmanageable’ rock bands for youthful, co-operative artists, popularity, not music, became the focus of today’s musical entertainment…and before you throw your iPhone at me, yes, some of it is just fine.

As a business, music now relies on ‘hits’ to survive in the style to which it is accustomed. Nobody gets into the music business dreaming of owning a Ford Escort and eating at the Sizzler 3 times a week. Musicians, on the other hand, used to be perfectly happy to achieve those 2 humble goals, and even now most real musician/singer/songwriters would be thrilled to own any car and just eat 3 times a week. There are no awards shows for them. What there is for them is the desire (and the dream) and hard work it takes to make a living making music. More than a goal, it is the driving force behind the obsession that creates every new generation of performers, every player who devotes his life to getting better at what he or she does so they can do just that; make music. The Music Industry used to be a huge part of the process, but now most artists know they are on their own, the industry waiting for them to surface without help before deciding if the investment of time and money needed to turn their music into a viable commodity will be worth the effort. In the meantime, the Industry seems to have opted for a different approach, one based not on music, but on image, familiarity, and compliance. Create celebrity and popularity and the money will follow, and so here we are…inundated with the soulless progeny of the new paradigm every time we turn on a radio or television, but in awe of the incredible music being made without the Music Industry’s help or guidance, radio airplay, or television exposure. It is difficult to hear the music we know is out there somewhere. Trouble is, we can’t find it unless we spend hours every day searching for signs of life on the internet, tracking down tips from friends who do likewise, or roaming the bars and clubs hoping to hear something that feeds our addiction, gives us hope, keeps us soldiering on.

The Grammys have always been a reflection of the Industry, not of the fans. Grammy officials are not looking at the lineups in front of clubs or what is spreading virally on You Tube. The Grammy folks are looking at numbers on a spreadsheet, watching TMZ, and listening to ‘HIT’ formatted radio stations, and (judging from some of the new artist/old artist matchups they seem to be in love with) using a dart board to make the hard decisions. What you see when you tune in to the Grammys isn’t any form of reality as we know it, it is and always has been the perception of a group of people who make their living seeing to the needs of the Industry they serve, celebrating that which has driven the business for the year being celebrated, and putting on a show for the masses that tries to be all things to all people, current winners for today’s radio/record audience, and past musical icons for the old and infirm. I’m talking about you and me, kiddo. Try as they might to please everybody, I still can’t shake the feeling of being sold a bottle of Jack Daniels full of ice tea.

Even in Spanish, Homer makes the point…The Simpsons aren’t  fans either

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The 2012 Grammies – Highlights and Lowlights

Understandably, this year’s Grammy show was centered around the tragic passing of Whitney Houston. Beginning with a prayer led by L.L. Cool J, through Jennifer Hudson’s tribute performance of what I consider to be, out of all Houston’s recordings,  the most maudlin, ear-itating track Houston ever recorded (although Hudson just sang the shit out of an otherwise hopeless piece of goo), and culminating in this year’s “Folks We Lost” memorial video dedicated to those who lost their lives during the past year, which inexplicably left out the passing of Etta James and Don Cornelius but included Houston. (When confronted with this information, a Grammy spokesperson stated that they were paid tribute to during the show and therefor excluded, ignoring the fact that damn near the whole show was a tribute to Whitney Houston, who was included in the video, proving that politics are not the only popular entertainment where spin doctoring and back peddling sometimes make matters even worse and paint the powers-that-be as horses asses).

Bon Iver

I have to admit, because of this I am more of a Bon Iver fan now than I was six months ago. I also now believe that having scruples and ideals are only good up to a certain point. Best new artist after slaving away since 2007…go figure.

First, a statement  from the lead singer before the Grammys concerning an invitation to perform, which they turned down: “We wanted to play our music, but were told that we couldn’t play. We had to do a collaboration with someone else… And we just felt like it was such a large stage, we’re getting nominated for this record that we made. Me and Brian [Joseph] and a bunch of our fucking friends and we were given accolades for it, and all of a sudden we were being asked to play music that had nothing to do with that. We kind of said ‘fuck you’ a little bit and they sort of acted like they wanted us to play, but I don’t think they wanted us to play.”

Little wonder, then, that when Grammy voters awarded them the trophy over favorite Nicki Minaj, Vernon appeared a bit embarrassed and visibly unsure how to balance his apparently genuine disdain for the awards process (and the show’s pageantry) with the fact that said process just resulted in him receiving one of the industry’s highest honors.
“It’s also hard to accept because when I started to make songs, I did it for the inherent reward of making songs, so I’m a little bit uncomfortable up here,” Vernon told the crowd. “With that discomfort, I do have a sense of gratitude. I want to say thank you to all the nominees and all the non-nominees that have never been here and never will be here.”
Gotta give him credit for getting through this…The night’s most uncomfortable acceptance speech

Here’s a Bon Iver track from 2007: Skinny Love

Here’s a current recording: Holocene

Skrillex

A lot of people thought this guy should have picked up Best New Artist. You can draw your own conclusion after listening to this track, which won them one of three awards earlier during an untelevised portion of the Grammys. One piece of advice, though. Now that you have mainstream recognition, find a new barber. Skrillex acceptance speech

Here’s what all the fuss is about. I like these guys, too. Cinema and Scary Monters and Nice Sprites

Nicki Minaj

Drake calls this woman intelligent and one of the biggest stars in the world in his Grammy introduction. If she’s so smart why doesn’t she know there’s no ‘e’ in ‘Ho’: Stupid Hoe

Here’s Drake’s (an actor reading scripts to take on his next role, playing Barack Obama, after his current role playing a Rap Artist is over. Then Nicki “Middle Finger” Minaj frightens children, displays a bit of what appears to be Tourette’s Syndrome, and replaces Lady Ga Ga as my new benchmark for The Most Embarrassingly Needy Artist Who Should Be Delivering Strip-O-Grams to Bachelor Parties. Nicki Minaj Grammy Performance

Adele

Okay. She’s cute, endearing, and has a decent set of pipes. However, I find the songs meandering and rambling, with no hook in sight, and being covered relentlessly by people hoping to be associated with her success, and not because there aren’t better songs. Is the makeover, blonde dye-job and slimming little black dress the beginning of compliance with a paragraph in her recording contract? Let’s hope not. Rolling in the Deep

What kind of audience is this that giggles at the word ‘snot’? Would they have fallen down laughing like a pack of 12 year old boys if she would have cut one and then said ‘fart’? One of Adele’s acceptance speeches

Bruno Mars

This was the best performance of the evening. I can’t parrot some people’s assessment that he is the new James Brown, but if Coldplay had a tenth of this kid’s energy, they wouldn’t look like a group of Canadian toque salesmen onstage at a karaoke bar. Good song and a smokin’ band, too. Runaway Baby

Chris Brown

Either Rihanna is the most forgiving person on the planet or was so desperate to perform at this hootenanny, that she just avoided being in the same room with this guy backst…wait…what? They spent hours together alone in a room at the Grammys? Either her contract has some sort of commitment written into it or the Grammy  folks have something on her she doesn’t want known. Why this guy was even asked to perform is a mystery considering what he did. That so much love was given by the audience even more mystifying, and Brown’s decision to lip sync his whole performance so he could show off his mad skills at dancing completes a puzzle so…puzzling, even Batman couldn’t solve it. Chris Brown

And Now for All You Youngsters Out There….

The Grammys give the old folks a tea biscuit and apologize for taking over the regularly scheduled Matlock Marathon by giving day-passes to some of our favourite seniors and affording them a day out of the home. Seniors in waiting Bruce Springsteen and other volunteers make this an almost patronizing exercise in demographic/cost-per-eyeball media savvy and manipulation. Even so, The Grammys clout gave us something we won’t see again until we pony up the cost of an over priced ticket to go see these Ed Sullivan veterans live later on this year. For those of us who wouldn’t even get off the couch to look out the window at two hot strippers making out on our front lawn, I salute you, Grammy Committee!

The Beach Boys

A. This is really cool to see. The surviving Beach Gentlemen back together. B. Brian can still sing wonderfully. C. Brian’s backup band, the previously-known-as Wondermints are playing along behind the Beach Boys. D. Mike Love is still the creepiest, most annoying singer I have ever witnessed on a stage. And finally, E. All of the above.  Good Vibrations

Why? Maroon 5 – Surfer Girl

Again…why? Foster the People – Wouldn’t it be Nice 

That was like eating a Twinkie in a room full of cannoli.

Paul McCartney

His voice is lower, he is starting to resemble Droopy Dog, but damn, the songs, the band, the very fact that he still brings joy to his performance. Wonderful. My only complaint, as good as the guy playing was (and he was great, just like the whole band) Ringo should have been on the kit or even a second one. The Medley

The Last Word on the Grammys

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Was anyone connected with the Grammy Committee listening?

David Grohl is the voice of Reason?

Seacrest OUT!

 Segarini’s column appears every Monday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, The Segarini Band, and Cats and Dogs, andnominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late GreatMovies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now sadly gone), and now provides content for radiothatdoesntsuck.com with RadioZombie, The Iceage, and PsychShack. Along with the love of his life, Jade (Pie) Dunlop, (who hosts and writes “I’ve Heard That Song Before” on RTDS), continues to write, make music, and record.

7 Responses to “Segarini: The Grammys”

  1. You stole my column for Saturday 🙂 Back to the drawing board. Off to interview the children in PEI who Lady GaGa stole the fishing net from….

    • Wha…? Dude, you can still write about them…surely our takes must be different. After all, the Grammys are a deep pool of newsworthy events people just can’t get enough of. Anyway…sorry…I didn’t know. bob https://bobsegarini.wordpress.com/

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    • haha Jaimie, I liked the Grammy’s this year. My Boss just happened to win tickets so had to watch it. Probably would have missed it if she didn’t keep us up to date with the countdown.. The best part of the show was seeing Paul McCartney doing a new tune, It was nice hear him do My Valentine , enjoyed the Golden Slumbers , was a great ending…Loved this column Bob even if its late you still rock!

  2. Bob this is exactly what Ive been thinking for a lot of years.

  3. Bob.

    I love your column. But I have to tell you that this reverse type is really fucking hard to read. I’m a writer and an advertising art director and one of the first thing I learned was that reverse type is OK for headlines and short bits of copy, but nothing longer than a couple of paragraphs. Here’s some free advice. Go to black type on white. Your readership will improve and your readers will appreciate it. After all, a blog is all about the content. So make it easier to access and you;’ll have happier readers and probable more of them.

    Cheers, Jim Murray

  4. I struggled reading this reverse type. Had I not valued the person who directed me to this page, I wouldn’t have read this. It’s very tough on the eyes. I am a graphic designer and a recording artist… man, what you say here is so great that I’d hate to see people steer away from reading it because they genuinely can’t… okay now I need to go rest my eyes before getting some work done. I loved the article…. Please listen to Jim Murray and myself!! 🙂

  5. Jim Chisholm in Campbell River Says:

    I guess I was too late. It looks like half of . . . no almost all of these links have been pulled. Oh look, there’s Chris A-Hole ready to be viewed . . . maybe I don’t want to.

    You wrote, “What kind of audience is this that giggles at the word ‘snot’?” Maybe it’s the same kind of audience that giggles (nervously) when I tell them I’m going to peform a song by one of my favorite bands that are called The Wackers.

    Finally, I’m so glad that I had a gig to do on the night of the Grammies show. Got back in time to see some of the best at the end of the telecast and some of the worst too.

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