Ten Grammy awards that you don't see on TV but that are totally worth being televised
The Grammys are supposed to be "music's biggest night." Unfortunately, the only person who truly believes this is the copywriter who came up with that tagline. There are easily five festivals every year with stakes to the same claim. One of the highlights of this year's Grammys was a Bruno Mars/Sting/Rihanna collabo! I sincerely doubt my Facebook timeline will be flooded this morning with memes gushing about the incredible pairing of those three musical vanguards like it was after last year's Coachella. To be fair, it's hard to top hologram Tupac.
The Grammys has its heart is in the right place, but its priorities are all screwed up. Believe it or not, this year they put on a decent show hosted by David Alan Grier and featuring performances by R&B newcomer Elle Varner, jazz and world music legend Hugh Masekela, contemporary chamber music sextet Eighth Blackbird and terrible actor/terrible rapper/decent singer/decent movie star Tyrese. One caveat, it wasn't broadcast on CBS. For the second consecutive year (and also, it turns out, for the next three days) the Grammys streamed the pre-telecast awards on its website.
Tyrese on the pre-televised awards ceremony.
For those of us who truly love music, this is where honors are doled out to paltry duties like engineering, album cover design or producer. It's just a little backwards that all the awards that might actually drive new music sales are not a part of the telecast -- but then again, if they were, they'd have to cut that big Maroon 5/Alicia Keys performance, and as Neil Portnow pointed out to Deadline.com, "Great music, doesn't always make for great television." Here are ten Grammy awards that evidently don't make for great TV.
Gotye accepting the award for Best Alternative Album.
10. Best Alternative Album:
Okay, Grammys, I get it. I'm sick of Tom Waits winning all the awards and accolades. I mean, after forty years of being a music iconoclast and hogging all the Grammys (with a lifetime total of two), I am sick of Tom Waits and all the overexposed boldfaced names in this category (Fiona Apple, M83, Bjork, Gotye). Not even that last artist's massive hit could lift this category into primetime. But then again, why should it? Alternative music doesn't make people want to buy records the Monday after the show (Arcade Fire was a fluke!), Justin Timberlake does.
9. Best Engineered Album, non-classical:
Engineers are the last line of defense in the music industry. They are the only thing holding the masses of bedroom musicians at bay while the music biz still makes money. Why? Because engineers are responsible for the sonics of your favorite song. A good engineer can make an average song a hit between mixing and mastering. Now that music is so easy to create anywhere, engineers have their work cut out for them trying to stay on top of the latest techniques and sounds, so that new artist sounds great on your phone.
8. Rap Grammys Categories (Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song, Best Rap Performance):
Dude! Seriously? It's not bad enough that the category names have shifted over the years to the point where almost no one has won the same rap Grammy twice. (Ja Rule, no matter what your homies tell you, you were NOT robbed) The one thing that has remained consistent is that the trophies for rap have never seen the bright lights of the Grammy telecast. It makes sense. I mean, rap is the number one selling music in the country, and rap stars are known for giving really boring speeches. I wouldn't televise them either. Fun Fact: Jay-Z has thirteen Grammys. Remember all his great acceptance speeches? Me neither. That's because Jay has repeatedly declined to attend the awards because his categories were not televised. This year he spent his time in the limelight rightly ridiculing the Dream's swap-meet "Boyz n the Hood" snapback.
Billy Vera accepting his Grammy for Best Album Notes.
7. Best Album Notes Nominees:
In an industry that can no longer sell albums, why not televise the category that makes people appreciate albums? Most great albums have great liner notes -- or at least they used to. Liner notes are the one thing that you can't get unless you download or purchase the entire album, or you haunt Wikipedia. This category is generally considered "music nerd" territory. It shouldn't be. Sites like Rapgenius.com, Wikipedia and Whosampled are having great success giving people the information they want to know about music. Billy Vera's acceptance speech was sweet, inspiring and everything that a music lover might say, but he has zero beef with Chris Brown, so maybe it's best he won before the broadcast.
Juanes accepting the award for Best Latin Pop Album.
6. Latin Music Grammys Categories (Best Latin Pop Album, Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative, Best Regional Mexican Album, Best Tropical Latin Album):
Artists like Juanes, Fonseca, Campo, and Quetzal have millions and millions of fans in America and around the world. Why should Latinos have to cross over to the mainstream to get a slot on the televised award show? The televised award show should be crossing over to them. The money shot is the dead look on Juanes' face as he gives his acceptance speech. He knows he's been marginalized.