I've been watching a lot of the live music shows this year; including the AMAs, Hope for Haiti concert and tonight, the Grammy Awards. My brother reminded me today that we always used to watch them as a family and my dad would growl "They're all on drugs". Not anymore, Dad. Now, they're all on ProTools.
A couple of things have struck me as I watched these shows. First, a startling number of today's biggest names in music simply cannot sing live. They've relied on so much technology or the camouflage of the spectacle to disguise that basic fact. Gaga is one of the few that combines the flash with the vocals. (Black Eyed Peas, I'm looking at you. You couldn't even sing in step with your own music tonight.)
The second thing that I noticed is that the same names are chosen to perform again and again at these events. Shakira performed at the AMA and Haiti benefit and she was just plain bad both times. Does the industry associate name recognition with talent? If that's the case, Spongebob SquarePants should open next year's Grammys.
Is Beyonce really that good that her ass gets kissed everywhere she goes? I will give her the credit of knowing her audience and feeding them exactly what they want. But when I saw the scene with her and Jamie Foxx in Dreamgirls where he tells her character something like "your voice is just ordinary", I immediately thought to myself that he just described Beyonce. But she's treated like royalty by the industry regardless of whether she has a hit or a miss. I mean tonight she was introduced as one of the most "exquisite and compelling artists of our time". Oookay. The screeching my ears heard after that introduction begs to differ.
Some hit it every time. Mary J. Blige always looks and sounds great. Taylor Swift deserves everything she has earned. Girl can't really sing that well live but she's so bright and fresh and her songs are important ones for her target audience. Her parents have earned my admiration.
When it comes to the Grammys, I always think about Clay Aiken. One of the best voices in the industry and one that actually sounds even better live than recorded. My hope is his new album due this summer will be nominated for Best Traditional Vocal Album. I hope Decca works their magic.
Recently, Clay asked his fans to help tally up his live performances on stage, along with his television appearances. I assumed the performance count would be high, he has toured nine times and starred for eight months on Broadway. But the overall number of total stage and television appearances was more than 750. I've been here for all of that and I was still impressed.
Clay's entering his eighth year as a professional singer/actor. I chuckle at those who desperately have been proclaiming his fifteen minutes are over...for the last seven years. Most careers in entertainment should be so troubled.
Clay's latest blogs have been oozing excitement over what is to come this year, as he readies promotion for his first album with Decca Records. We've been promised news in a week and I have a feeling that it will match one of my longtime wishes for him. His label seems excited about what he's created too, with tweets about the album revealing a little bit each time. Now I'm no novice, I recognize planned, pre-promotion when I see it. But planned promotion, pride and primetime have been missing from his mix for so long that I almost forgot what it's like.
So, I'll sit here tonight and watch the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences reward some very deserving nominees, ignore some equally deserving artists and rubber stamp award some that just make me wonder if they have naked pictures of the accountants that tabulated the votes.