Posts Tagged ‘Grammy Awards’

WHITNEY AND LANA – BORN TO DIE?

February 14, 2012

Whitney Houston and Lana De Rey? It seems a long stretch but hear me out.

Whitney Houston died and again we need to ask the very same question asked when Michael Jackson died, and Elvis died and others died. Where were the minders? How did it get to this? We know that Whitney was a trainwreck ready to crash. There were probably hundreds of junkies who died on the same day. Alone. Famous people aren’t alone. I’m not naive. I know that their fame and money allows them to surround themselves with people who WILL turn a blind eye and WILL assist destructive tendencies, but they’ve still got more chance of being rescued than those other lonely casualties.

Whitney Houston was handed life on a platter. That’s the real tragedy. She was beautiful and she had the gift of a great voice. She already had a potential career as a high profile model on offer when she opted to  follow her mother and cousin into music. Then she was handed “the world”, not an ordinary beginning to a career. Clive Davis searched out songs and producers and months were spent on assembling that debut album. It was an important record in many ways. It introduced us to Whitney Houston. It broke the mould of one producer overseeing an entire album. The industry was never the same. And Whitney and her album changed pop music.  It was so fitting that Jennifer Hudson paid tribute to Whitney at the Grammys. Since American Idol started we’ve seen female singer after female singer emulating Whitney Houston’s “over-singing” vocal style.

Whitney was handed life on a platter. How could it go so wrong? . Is it true that she used to have someone blow cocaine up her backside?

So where does Lana Del Rey fit into all this?  I’m wondering what the hell HER minders are up to. Are they deliberately letting  her commit career-o-cide or are they just incompetent? How could she be put out there so “un-prepared”.  Maybe she really is a starry-eyed wanna-be who’s stumbled into the spotlights, but she actually didn’t get there on her own. She has management, she’s signed to a major record company. There ARE people around her who SHOULD know better.

Has there been another artist who’s been made such a public target for derision? A lot of it wasn’t necessary. Or was it? Is this the way the music industry operates now? Sacrifice rather than support?  The first artists caught lip-syncing on stage were lambasted and ridiculed, but now that’s the way it’s done. Is that what we’re seeing with Lana, the first step in the next era of public illusion? After Lana, after she’s been made to break the ice, is this the way we’ll see artists in the future launched?

The pity is that the ’Born To Die’ album is quite interesting. Lana seems to have idea of the kind of mystique she wants to create. We should have been allowed to focus on that, to share her vision and allow her to evolve it. Already she’s talking about not making another album.  

How did it come to this? How could it go so wrong? Or is this the way it was meant to be, as inevitable at Whitley’s demise. Born to die.

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CAN’T TAME THIS MONSTER

July 11, 2010

The Grammy Awards’ rule change  to avoid another Lady Gaga phenomena failing to qualify for the Best New Artist has made headlines – because everything connected to Lady Gaga makes headlines – but the Grammys made another important initiative at the same time, another sign that the major records companies’ control  the recording industry is a thing of the past.

The Recording Academy has invited ALL record labels and media companies to register on line, the first step in submitting songs for consideration for the 53rd Annual Grammys.  The door has thus been opened for the ever-expanding independent recording sector to get more actively involved. Whether they immediately stand a realistic chance of challenging the entrenched powers is another thing, but this is the start, if that is ever going to happen.

The Grammys have always been behind the game. The awards were instigated in the first place as a reaction against the arrival of rock and roll, designed to highlight “quality” in  the hope of putting down the uprising. The Grammys were behind from the start and have remained so.  It’s only when there’s a glaring hiccup there’s an official  reaction – a tweaking of the categories, a lifetime achievement award to plug an omission , or a rule change.

Lady Gaga wasn’t the first artist to miss out on the Best New Artist award because success took longer than the rules catered for. She’d managed a dance nomination in 2009 which meant that in 2010 she  wasn’t “new” any more. There had been other examples of the same thing, but that was the rules then, and that was bad luck. This time the Grammys looked bad and something needed to be done. Sorry Gaga.

Something else will happen further down the line. That’s what I love about music. It just won’t be tamed by the system. Music  consistently finds a way of breaking the rules the “industry” sets for it. A Lady Gaga comes along and everything is suddenly different. While the business scrambles to catch up there’s someone somewhere out there dreaming up something which will make it all different all over again tomorrow.

Every time I put on a new song or a new artist I’m ready for my world to change. And I’m not talking auto-tune!

What I’m listening to: Sleigh Bells (Treats) , M.I.A (Maya) , The White Stripes (White Blood Cells)

AND THE WINNER IS … (I DON’T CARE)

January 29, 2010

Here we go again – the Grammy Awards.

The only annual music awards that gripe me more are the MTV Awards, where artists get up and take credit for the videos they’ve appeared in, which is like fashion models taking the awards for the clothes they wear. But the Grammys…

They don’t have a very good track record when it comes to reflecting  music as it really is. Elvis was only ever acknowledged for his gospel records, and during the time they were the greatest sensation music had ever known the Beatles received a grand total of FOUR Grammys for their troubles, two in 1964 and two in 1964.

Apologists for the Grammys will say that was then and the Grammys have got their act together in more recent times. Have they? I know it’s easy to be clever in hindsight, but it’s actually interesting to cast an eye over the ‘Best New Talent’ category, some kind of indication of where the Grammys’ focus is at. Consistently they’ve opted for the softer option, Crosby Stills And Nash over Led Zeppelin in 1970, then the Carpenters over Elton John, and tellingly America over the Eagles. The 2000s winners in the category were Christina Aguilera, Shelby Lynn, Alicia Keys, Norah Jones, Evanescence, Maroon 5 , John Legend, Carrie Underwood, Amy Winehouse and Adele (!).

How does that sum up the decade for you?

Even without really trying the Grammys have to be SOME kind of reflection of SOMETHING. Take a look at the “rock” categories. Best Rock Solo Vocal performance. And the nominations are Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Prince, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young. ‘Duo Or Group’, Eric Clapton with Steve Winwood, Coldplay, Green Day, Kings Of Leon, U2. ‘Hard Rock’ AC/DC, Alice In Chains, Linkin Park, Metallica, Nickleback (huh? Hard Rock?) Put aside Kings Of Leon – thank God for Kings Of Leon – and it’s a pretty boring list isn’t it? Is rock dead or have the Grammys simply decided to bury it? Or is the “industry” no longer in the rock and roll business?

MGM are the other bright spot. They head (for me anyway) this year’s ‘Best New Artist’ list. The others are the Zac Brown band, Keri Hilson, Silverspun Pickups and the Ting Tings, with all due respect, not a very inspiring list either.

Everyone who is anyone will be there however. We’ll all watch the Grammys. It’ll be like a high school musical where everyone gets something. For the rest of their lives some artist will now be able to put “Grammy winner” in front of their names, like musical royal. I refuse to call him Sir Paul McCartney. I feel the same way about the Grammys.

What I’m listening to: Motion Picture Soundtrack (My Dinosaur Life), Graham Parker (Squeezing Out The Sparks), The Rollings Stones (12×5)

GRAM SLAM

December 5, 2009

 Every year I struggle with what the Grammy Awards mean – no what they say, what they represent. It would be easier if we could just see them as what they really are – just one perspective – not THE TRUTH. But there’s so much hoohah about these particular awards. 7.15 million viewers watched the unveiling of the nominees the other day. The awards themselves attract some 20 million viewers around the world.

You HAVE to take the Grammys seriously don’t you? As an EVENT maybe.

Some perspective. Who are the two most significant recording artists of all time? Elvis Presley and the Beatles. You couldn’t possibly argue that contention. The Beatles boast a grand total of SEVEN Grammys, recognizing ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, ‘ Sgt Pepper’ and the Beatles Anthology. That’s it? Elvis? Three little Grammys, all for his gospel performances.

Apologists for the Grammys will say that’s yesterday, when the Grammy’s represented the music establishment, and the Grammys have got their act together since then. Maybe. That’s not the story you see when you explore the underbelly of music and the Grammys view of music. In the last twenty years three genres – don’t get me started on music genres – which have changed music’s boundaries are metal, dance and hiphop. The first metal Grammy (in 1989 for gawdsake) famously went to Jethro Tull! Over Metallica, who have shifted in Grammy lore from metal to plain rock this year.

The Grammys are like high school awards, so many categorise that everyone will find some happiness. Where metal and rock and confused and misunderstood and not REALLY taken seriously. Dance (not separately recognized until 1988!) is confused with pop. According to the Grammys rap came into existence in 2003. Hello! It’s not about music. It’s another fame fest, the biggest stars in the world falling over themselves to be seen there, to at very best make it onto the stage during the ceremony, as performers if not presenters and winners, but at least out there in the audience warming seats or being spotted by the cameras at the myriad of parties.

 The biggest industry buzz out of this year’s nominations? That Whitney Houston’s comeback album was ignored. THAT says everything you need to know about the Grammys.