People often come up to me and ask, "Rob, why are the Grammys always so lousy?" Actually, no one's ever come up to me and asked this, but play along.
I watched about 30 minutes of the Grammy Awards until I realized it wasn't even close to over. I, too, wondered why people like Smokey Robinson, Celine Dion and Usher were walking across the stage like Phil from The Amazing Race. I also thought many other deep thoughts I didn't bother to write down. But I did read plenty of criticisms about how bad the show was and it made me think about ways to improve it.
If we don't change things quick, we could have what Philip Roth calls "The Dying Animal" on our hands. Or maybe it's already dead.
Here are ten:
Neil Young An Annual Eternal Apology Award For Not Getting A Grammy Until Now: Like so many others who deserve these awards more than Christopher Cross, Neil Young could be the official "mea culpa" of the industry. This year he finally won an award for finally releasing the first boxed set of his career retrospective. Finally! So, I say every year from here on out, we give Neil a Grammy in penance for not giving him one for the first 34 years of his career. This will encourage him to live forever.
9) The Music Jams Sound More Like Elvis Costello's Spectacle : The music jams on Elvis Costello's show Spectacle aren't always the greatest. Sometimes everyone plays too much. But at least it recognizes musicians who have been majoring in music and not the entertainment business. Besides, any band with Pete Thomas on drums is worth checking out.
Bob Dylan Host: Who would make for a better host than the inscrutable one himself? He's already name-checked Alicia Keys in song. If he can do a great radio show, he can host a newly-revamped Grammy Awards. Soy Bomb, optional.
7) Do Not Allow People Who Can't Sing Without Auto-Tune On The Stage: I have nothing against people who make their records in the studio and who rely on the electronics of the age. I'm no purist. A good record is a good record no matter how many people were killed in the making of it. But performing live is a different skill set. Save the live performances for the people who can actually perform.
Milli Vanilli Grammy to the people who played on the record. After all, if the Academy recognized them as being such great artists, shouldn't the people who made it get the award? As for people who choose to use every electronic gimmick known to studio producers, more power to you! If you can create something worth listening to, I'm all ears. Just stay away from the mall. Kids could get the wrong idea.
5) Do Not Make Veteran Performers Play Tambourine Behind Young Superstars: If people who have paid their dues a thousand times over and are richer than Goldman Sachs want to show up and sing a tune, let them. Don't make them pay for the privilege by handing them a tambourine when they're done. Let them leave the stage and go back into their personal bubble to do some blow.
3) Coax Captain Beefheart Out Of Retirement And Force The Band To Play His Music: C'mon, we have to have fun with this sometime. These backing bands are always so capable of playing anything. Let them tackle the crazy time signatures of Captain Beefheart.
Tim Buckley Award: It doesn't have to be Tim Buckley. We can make it any weird, dead songwriter. Nick Drake? John Martyn? Elliot Smith? Then we award it to someone still living and really give them the creeps.
1) Give All Singers A Limited Amount Of Notes: Music would be improved 100% if singers were given a limited amount of notes to use in a single song. No more operatic flights of disaster. No more murdering the songs you once loved. If a singer wants to reinterpret a song they have to change the phrasings. They can't just emulate cardiac arrest.