Segarini – Grammys, Ga Ga’s, and Pitbulls, Oh My!
I was getting an overwhelming sense of Deja Vu writing about the Grammys this year. Not just because it has become something I do every year, but because it has become a sadly stagnant affair of old ideas that were bad to begin with and have only gotten worse.
Because DBAWIS just goes back to 2011, I had assumed that I have been barking at the moon over this yearly back-slap the Industry gives itself, its survivors, and its newly shanghaied cannon fodder for about 4 years, but I had forgotten DBAWIS’s humble beginnings…as a thrice-weekly column in the first incarnation of FYI Music, an online industry catch-all of the latest music news and the occasional feature….
I dug into my archives, 3 external hard drives and a treasure trove on a buried desk worth, and I found this. This may be my first column on The Grammys, from 7 years ago.
In re-reading it, I was surprised to find that I actually gave a thumbs up to a fledgling Adele, admitted I liked the Jonas Brothers, and was still impressed by the currently flailing Stevie Wonder. …and Rascal Flats? Doing Dean Martin? That is an odd thing to say, even for me.
Otherwise, if you change the names, this could have easily been used again this year.
7 years…and the Schlock Remains the Same.
Some hindsight and some thoughts after you read this corrected and slightly better rewrite of this column from my first year as a journalist. The pictures are new….
February 2009 – The Win/Fail Grammy Column
Another Grammy Pick for Stardom 2009
I’m sure by now, that everybody has chimed in on the Grammys, yet I feel obligated to
drag the poor, wounded relic down the stairs for one last hurrah.
The consensus seems to be that the Grammys suck.
Not like Jenna Jameson.
Like a Hoover.
You are a muso that loves, has knowledge of, and follows great music where ever and whenever you can find it, (mostly on the internet, clubs, or at your local equivalent of Barney’s Indie Music Barn these days). You hear about an artist either online or through trusted friends. Your interest in music probably demands great songs, and great live and studio performances by actual musicians that do not have to have perfect teeth and hair, or a great rack, or an ass you could eat a taco off of…or any of the above.
The music you listen to has to be more than just popular, embraced by the casual listeners that dominate radio and record sales. It has to be fucking GOOD.
Unlike the people that just want the latest hit, flavour-of-the-month, or hyped-to-death hottie, you need to be engaged, touched, and seduced by music in order to love it, or buy it, or download it, or whatever. AND, unlike the Casual listening crowd, you will follow a true artist through thick and thin to see what they do next, to hear their latest musical offering…and you don’t give a shit about who they date, what they wear, or how hip their clothes/car/anything else happens to be. Those things have nothing to do with the music, and you know it. You want artists who at least seem like they deserve a career, not just a hit.
The Grammys are not for you.
Sure, the Grammys always throw in some career artists, but most of the time they do some really strange stuff with them. Friends of mine that DO watch the Grammys, watch it for the same reason they watch American Idol and Survivor.
We LOVE to watch failure. The idiot on the skateboard with an outboard motor strapped to his ass. The Victoria’s Secret model who can’t walk in high heels and takes a header into the runway. The accountant that eats a tree slug to win a Twinkie on some rat infested atoll.
The totally delusional mini-divas that think the amount of notes they sing in a song will win them an indentured slavery contract and a pant load of writers, makeup people, managers, lawyers, agents, and sycophants, whose only purpose is to use these children for financial gain until a new batch comes along.
It is rarely the winners of these little Bread and Circus’s we watch for…it’s the poor, pathetic losers that draw us to these train wrecks. If Simon Cowell, (is that a character he plays on tv, or is he really a douche?), actually keeps his word and eliminates most or all of the painful auditions, I’ll wager American Idol will lose half of it’s audience.
OK…the Grammys Win and Lose….
The Win: Stevie Wonder.
The Fail: The Jonas Brothers? I actually like these kids, but Jesus, aren’t ANY of the new artists as soulful as Stevie?
The Win: The tribute to Dean Martin.
The Fail: The Rap Pack? THE RAP PACK?! Do I even have to say that this was wrong? Christ, weren’t there any singers available? The guys from Rascal Flats could have knocked this out of the park.
Double Win: Adele. Whoever came up with this pairing should keep his job.
The Win: Bono and U2, Coldplay and Paul McCartney.
The Fail: They let them perform.
The Win: The memorial mentions of artists we lost in the past year.
The Fail: The incredible amount of people they left out. For starters, where the hell was any mention of Jeff Healey? Lux Interior? Alan Gordon, the guy that wrote ‘Happy Together’? Let’s see one of the new kids write one that sticks to the ribs as long as that song has.
I’m sure you can all fill in the rest of them yourselves.
If you liked the Grammys, fine. They just aren’t about music. I don’t think they ever have been.
I truly believe there is a ton of great new music and artists right now, more than ever before. But most of them weren’t on the stage Sunday night, or on radio last year, or signed to a major label.
Whose fault is that? Give up? I’ll tell you.
The Record Companies
Get Up Offa Dat Soapbox
There are times when I think the people in charge of choosing the artists who perform on The Grammys, use a combination of a dart board, a Ouji Board, and advice from their entitled, spoiled children to pick the winners.
The cynic in me is probably more on point in thinking the selections are made by some mystical stew of powerful label/managers campaigning for their artists, financial backing and earning power of the artists, youth appeal, and willingness to read the always AWFUL teleprompter bits clearly written by interns, first year gophers, out of work writers from Saved by the Bell, and one overly caring activist from Vassar with a law degree, who spends most of her time posting Face Book threads urging people to eat vegan, stop smoking, save the whales, support the LGBT community, send money to every country with problems, end bullying, sexual assault, rape culture, obesity, support all lives matter, give generously, change the gun laws, and think of the children.
…and then write these pleas up for sparkly celebrities to read to us as if we have no idea that these problems and crises exist, and have never heard of these deserving organizations who need our attention and our help.
We are treated like idiots.
…and maybe, because we sit through this handjob of an awards show every year…we are.
I honestly don’t believe the music industry needs to tell us how socially aware they are, or bring up these troubling topics that we are ALL very much aware of, at what is supposed to be a celebration of music and the people who create it.
It’s like interrupting a wedding reception with a dour reminder that there are heroin addicts out there who won’t be eating any wedding cake today because we’re not doing enough.
I know a lot of people that do community work and give a lot of time and money to the causes they consider important. Not once have I ever seen them mention what they do in public, in social media, or even in conversations with groups of people. I wish celebrities would just write a massive cheque to the causes they support, roll up their sleeves and serve food at a hospice, or donate a car or three to charitable organizations who need them, all without their press, publicity, and marketing people or a photographer in tow…and realize that we too, watch tv and read and know how to use the internet, and have these same concerns and do what we can (or not) without having to be told about the world we live in, by people who can somehow manage to get themselves 53 million dollars in debt or wonder which one of their estates to sell so they can buy a better one.
Bono and Bieber could fix the Flint Michigan water problem by themselves. Every problem in the USA could be solved and the infrastructure repaired, if the music, television, movie, and sports empires just wrote the cheques and did without a bonus, larger swimming pool, or new yacht for a year. The rest of us are lucky to be able to feed our families and pay the rent these days, but many give what they can of their time and money. …some of which goes to the aforementioned empires. It would be nice to see that contribution put to good use.
If celebrities want to impress me with their good work, let me find out about it years later, from a source other than them or their ‘people’. THAT would impress me.
You can tell when the mention of a cause is from the heart and in the person’s own words, and those are always short and to the point and said with genuine passion and in passing.
And the few that were voiced at the Grammys and Oscars and Brit Awards this year were moving and sincere…but they also expose the written and positioning ones for what they are; “Sure we’re wealthy and beautiful and powerful…but we’re also really really really really nice and caring”.
We didn’t think you weren’t.
Shit…now I have to get up offa dis soapbox.
Lady Ga Ga and Pitbull
Lady Ga Ga
I am not a fan.
But it is not for lack of trying.
Being able to like Lady Ga Ga would not be the first time I had reversed my opinion and done a 180 degree turn around on an artist or other publically embraced object of affection.
It took one song and an article in Rolling Stone to make me rethink my opinion of Lionel Richie and forgive him for “Hello”, “Endless Love”, and the hellacious “!, 2, 3 Times a Lady”.
The article explained his process and passion and he gained my respect, and the song I had heard in a Ramada Inn lounge when a local cover band started their set with it. I thought they may have written it, but when I asked after they set was over, I was surprised to learn it was Mr. Richie what done wrote it.
So…I am not above being able to learn new things, re-evaluate my position, and move forward fueled by new information and a better understanding of what it ws that put me off in the first place.
Sometimes, no matter how much I try, or how much an artist bends over backward to redefine themselves, I still feel inclined to embrace my first impressions and continue to not listen to the media, or my converted friends…even though I love and, for the most part, trust those friends.
The more Lady Ga Ga wins over my peers and peeps, the narrower my eyes get when I hear them explain to me what a talent she is.
Lady Ga Ga’s Talent….
Like Madonna (and Cher) before her, Ms. Ga Ga’s skill set is very much Business School, not Music School.
It may appear she has ‘grown as an artist’ to many, but I am having trouble buying into that.
Based on my research, the media, and the evidence, this is what I see….
The Evolution of Ga Ga: From Meat Dress to Artiste….
1986 – 2010
OCTOBER 8, 2014
“Lady Gaga has always existed on an accelerated timeline. Ever since Stefani Germanotta became “Lady Gaga” nearly a decade ago, she has constantly evolved her persona (with physical transformations to match), emulating the careers of Cher and Madonna. But while pop stars in the ’80s and ’90s moved at the pace of the print media cycle, Gaga is a pop star for the 2000s, operating at the high speeds of the Internet’s news cycle. Madonna had a new look for every album. Gaga changes her look every single day. Her persona’s multiplicity feels like a reflection of the social-media-infested times. She is searching for her identity through performing every possible iteration of it, in public and documented from all angles. She debuts new signature accessories almost faster than fans can keep up; by the time you could easily purchase hair bows made out of fake hair, like the ones Gaga wore when she first appeared, she had already moved on. At first, this extreme mutability seems like Lady Gaga’s ace — she can outrun being associated with any one sound or trend — but it has become a double-edged disco stick. She moves through the phases of a pop star’s career at hyperspeed: struggle, triumph, reign, slump, comeback, has-been. She saturates pop culture so quickly that the backlash also occurs at an accelerated speed. How can she possibly stoke any kind of mysteriousness or desire for her return when she never went away? Her inability to slow down also seems endemic to her form of pop stardom. It’s as if she were afraid that if she were to stop performing for one moment, we’d forget about her and replace her with a newer model.
While Gaga’s Eurotrashy pop aesthetics were relatively fresh to Americans in 2008 when The Fame came out (and truly, Kylie Minogue already had that sound on lock in Europe), pop culture morphed around her in imitation of her success. The Fame Monster was a brilliant turn from Europop effluvia into a dark pop riff on industrial German techno, but by the time Born This Way was released in 2011, Gaga backlash was in full throttle. The glam-rock-inspired themes that she worked with extensively on The Fame andThe Fame Monster — celebrity, wealth, and sex — felt played out, and her attempt to rally her fans toward political activism with the call-to-equality single “Born This Way” seemed like a cynical and ill-informed attempt by one wacky white lady to use queer identity politics as a cash grab to further her own fame. Born This Way received the brunt of criticism for Gaga’s sophomore slump, as the quickening fame cycle caused fans and critics who had championed her as a laudably ambitious underdog to denounce her as an overexposed fraud. Artpop, her third album (if you count The Fame and The Fame Monster as one double album), was rolled for underperforming commercially and being overhyped by Gaga before its release. Despite some strong songs and a charming Muppets Holiday Spectacular, Gaga fatigue was still in full effect. People were bored of her over-the-top stage act and clubby musical milieu. The never-ending identity changes had become boring. Gaga had always played the gap between the wig-changing alien she becomes onstage and the normal everyday gal who likes to hang out at dive bars that she claimed to be offstage. With a lavish Hearst Castle–set video for“G.U.Y.,” Gaga took her glamorous avatar to its furthest extension yet. But nothing, no amount of dancing or outfit changes or exuberant chord progressions, could recapture the thrill of “Bad Romance.” The outlandish aesthetics meant to free one’s inner freak had become a cage.”
You can find the rest of Ms. Lambert’s article here if you would like to continue reading.
As far as her “stunning” performances of late, read this from Entertainment Weekly….
” Lady Gaga stunned even her haters (well, almost all of them, but we’ll get to that later) with her The Sound of Music tribute on Monday night’s Oscars. While better known for pop songs like “Poker Face” and wearing crazy outrageous costumes, she sounded sounding amazing performing a medley of the classic tunes including “My Favorite Things,” “Edelweiss” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” in a gorgeous gown fit for a princess.
But the flawless vocals weren’t exactly effortless — Oscars executive producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan revealed to ET that the 28-year-old singer actually practiced every day for six months for the 50th anniversary tribute.
“She worked half a year with a vocal coach every day for half a year to do that,” Zadan told ET.
“She’s the real deal,” Meron added. “She can do anything.”
Meron also revealed just how seriously the “Applause” singer took the performance.
“She said that if she pulls it off, it’s going to change the focus of her career and she pulled it off,” he said.”
Here’s the link to the full article.
I have no doubt she has done the same homework for every high-profile gig she has done since.
When Ga Ga performed the Diane Warren co-penned “Til It Happens to You” on the Oscar telecast, I was further put off by the way she intoned “know” in the first minute of the song.
No one sings that way unless they have been taught to sing that way.
Ms. Ga Ga is nothing if not deadly serious about her career.
Now don’t get me wrong. She has a good voice…but millions of people have good voices. She can play the piano, but millions can play the piano.
What sets her apart is her actual skill set; Marketing, Branding, Statistician, Spin Doctor, Investor, Hands on Management, and adaptive abilities.
She has my utmost respect.
…for that which she excels at.
…but I don’t like her trained voice…it is the aural equivalent of plastic surgery, and sounds fake and forced.
That said, Ga Ga has one thing in common with Bowie that has gone mainly overlooked…just like it was in Bowie’s case.
They are both Performance Artists, with more in common with Lori Anderson and Sia than with Rockstars.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Pitbull is the 21st Century Swingin’ Medallions. As long as there are drunk teen and 20-somethings, Frat Boys, and Keggers, he will have a place in the heart of solo cup, beer pong Wooters.
I can actually see him becoming this generation’s Rip Taylor…if he’s as serious about his career as Ga Ga.
Party On, Pitbull…Party On America’s Youth.
Segarini’s column appears whenever birds suddenly appear
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” 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 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.