Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Is it me or do you also think the 50th celebration of the Grammy Awards show was about as over-hyped and under-delivered as the London performance by Amy Winehouse. Poor Amy, fresh out of rehab performed her Best Song Grammy winner Rehab, of course. With the song finishing last among the nominees in sales it seems odd that Amy won over the number 1 & 2 sellers by Rihanna and Beyonce.

The English lass also won for Best New artist, a Grammy according to the Recording Academy “for a new artist who releases during the Eligibility Year the first recording which establishes the public identity of that artist. Albums only.” Fair enough, except Amy released her first album in 2004 and won many international awards between 2004-2007. She has performed professionally since she was 16.

Maybe the bending of the rules for her award was because Simon Cowell of American Idol fame has owned her contract since the 2004 album. At any rate it seems normal the Grammy for this years new artist would go to a new artist from 4 years ago just as the Song of the Year should go to the one finishing last in sales among the nominees.

At least a couple of performances during the over three-hour telecast were worth watching including the sophisticated Alicia Keys, Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang from China in a grand piano duet of Rhapsody in Blue, and Andre Bocelli and Josh Groban singing The Prayer, a song little known to the gun toting gangstas of rap infamy. There was even an interesting Beatles tribute by Cirque du Soleil and stars from the movie Across the Universe but the LA crowd got really restless watching such tasteful performances.

The Grammy Awards have been known for their blunders over time but of more concern is the fact the telecast has been dropping in ratings since 1984 when Michael Jackson and Thriller captured the public imagination and over 52 million people tuned in. This year (18.2 million) was the fourth straight year the ratings were 20 million or less, which is just 35% of the Michael Jackson era.

Once rap and hip-hop began to dominate the telecast in the late 1980’s the ratings have fallen in direct proportion to the increased focus on the urban music. This year the winning Rock and Roll song was by Bruce Springsteen and he wasn’t even allowed to perform it during the telecast. No wonder 34 million people stopped watching.

The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences runs the Grammy show and 12,000 industry professionals are allowed to vote for different awards. Of course the vast majority of members are from the recording industry whose bread and butter comes from the record labels. This industry ego trip was first created in 1958.

The top-selling artist of all time with over one billion sales, Elvis, won just three Grammy Awards his entire career, all in gospel. Astonishingly the King of Rock and Roll never won a rock and roll Grammy. The Beatles only won four Grammy Awards. Yet Amy Winer wins five in one year? Are you kidding me? Of course there is also Buddy Holly, Diana Ross, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Bob Marley, Neil Young, Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, The Doors, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Who and Jewel, none of whom ever won a single Grammy, while the other winning winer of 2008 was Kanye West with four Grammy Awards.

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