Sunday, January 31, 2010

15 Minutes...times a few million

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.

Technorati tags:


Anonymous said...

You hit so many good points in this blog!It amazes me how sick of all the music and awards shows I am. I use to be such a whore for them and now I don;t even keep track of when they will be on, much less actually watch them. I miss fresh faces with rare or unique talent that isn't over hyped or manufactured by the pwers that be! I remember the year The Cure opened the Grammys and couldn't wait to watch the show. And they blew me away. I think that was an amazing show that year for the most part. But now it just feels like the "in crowd" there and I can;t get worked up for any of them. I just don't care about them or their music. I hipe one day Clay Aiken get's his due but I won't hold my breath. But if he does I will make sure to make note of it for historical purposes! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Spot on!!! Why do TPTB think we want to see the same artists, over and over again. Can't they share the WEALTH of talent that really does exist in the music world? And the 40th anniversary of BOTW deserves a performance that will blow you out of the water...especially during these times of great challenges throughout the world. Why not call on Clay Aiken, whose performance of that song during the AI finale in '03 created a watercooler moment of great proportions?!

Listen up show producers...give a moment to other artists who have the chops to sing live in an extraordinary fashion. Give a moment to these talents where this national exposure would mean a great deal to them to open the world to their gifts. And when you honor a legend or a song, make sure the performers have the gifts to do that honor great justice.


Anonymous said...

I've given up watching all those award shows, when I realized just how unfair and biased they all are. Only a chosen few are allowed to receive these awards....the same names each year. It is really sickening and boring. Clay's voice surpasses them all, but for some reason, they decided not to play him on the radio, thus, no awards. The music industry tells us who we have to listen to. It should be the other way around.

Anonymous said...

I watched 1408 starring John Cusack while the so-called celebrities strutted their %@*($!!! Even my 15yo daughter stayed away from it. True, the same people are asked over and over again. Swift, she's cute and all but she can't sing live! Even a reviewer from Chicago TV network said for someone who just won Album of the Year, she is off-key! Beyonce is also one who has a very ordinary voice, but can jiggle anything that moves in her body! At least she is not off-key. M. Blige can sing! Lady Gaga, no matter how weird she dresses sometimes (or maybe all the time) can sing!In fact, I like her. Pink, I love her, has a gorgeous voice! Oh well, I hope we get to see different faces and real talents next year!

Anonymous said...

So many well-deserved Grammys were given prior to the televised ceremony. And what was televised was what has appealed to the buying public, which unfortunately for MY musical tastes, differs in many ways. So when Clay eventually receives a Grammy (which I believe he will), don't be surprised if it is given to him as part of the non-televised ceremony. Looking at who that group included this year, he would likely be in some very prestigious (if not overly-marketed)company. And I think I will be okay with that.

I have my own little awards show for music I like. I call it the cincy's. This year's recipients included Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum and Jennifer Nettles, along with Andrea Bocelli, Heather Headley, Kristin Chenoweth, Chris Botti, Mary J. Blige, Brian McKnight, Daughtry, and GreenDay. Less notable winners included lifetime achievers like Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Django Rinehart, and Kenny Loggins. Noticably missing were Lady Gaga and Adam Lambert. Because you see, my tastes are what is important to me and other than the two I mentioned as not there since they just personally ANNOY the heck out of me, I can't comment on the performers or the people whose tastes include them who may differ from mine. I look at those performers with a hope and an open mind that their talents will one day give me something worthy of my time and awards. Until then, I am glad I have so many other artists to love, Clay first and foremost among them.