On The Record: Ten Steps To A Better You (Especially If "You" Happen To Be The Grammys.)
Nobody really cares about the Grammys anymore — well, actually, that's not true. The music industry and fans of Adult Contemporary Radio and jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock are probably really fired up about this year's awards. But for a lot of us, particularly those who actually know how to use the Internet, the Grammys are sort of a joke. They are viewed as archaic and out-of-touch, a rather pointless waste of time and awards given out by Luddites for Luddites.
And this is not exactly incorrect. The Grammys are sort of all those things, and the Recording Academy — the organization behind the awards — is pretty much to blame for it. And things aren't getting any better. In fact, they're probably worse than they've ever been before. And if this downward trend continues, it won't be long until a Grammy is just as obsolete as a CableACE Award.
I, for one, don't want that. I'm a Grammy apologist of sorts (I'm a sucker for overblown production numbers) and, quite frankly, I'm tired of seeing the award's good name sullied — even though the last two paragraphs do just that. So I've come up with a list of 10 sure-fire ways to fix the Grammys.
It's a fairly drastic bunch of ideas — a complete overhaul of the way the awards are voted on and presented, the creation of new categories, etc. — but such is the situation we're dealing with. And I think the Academy would do well to listen to me. After all, I've seen nearly every Grammy telecast since around 1996, and I write a weekly column read by thousands! So clearly, I'm an expert. Away we go ...
1. Be honest with the audience. Rather than attempting to hide the fact that the industry is in the toilet, why not address the issue head-on through a series of flashy show-pieces? Kick off this year's telecast by showering the audience with unsold copies of Will.I.Am's flop Songs About Girls album. Follow that up with an onstage performance from the Pilobus troupe in which dancers mimic an airplane crashing into a train, colliding with a tanker truck and smashing into a munitions depot. Later in the broadcast, have Recording Academy president Neil Portnow stagger to the podium, unshaven and wild-eyed, and launch into a tirade against illegal downloading that ends with him either, a) screaming "ARE YOU HAPPY NOW!?!?! YOU FILTHY PIRATES ARE KILLING US ALL!!!," or b) pulling a Howard Beale. That'll show 'em.
2. Establish your credibility. This is the 50th Grammy Awards, so hit viewers with a cavalcade of fun facts throughout the telecast. Possible suggestions include "Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, the Beach Boys and Diana Ross have never won a Grammy Award. Sheryl Crow, on the other hand, has won nine," "David Bowie has exactly as many Grammys as Men at Work (one — and Bowie's was for a video), "or "Soulja Boy: Grammy nominee!" Actually, wait. Do not do this. It's a terrible idea.
3. Just a suggestion: Britney Spears + margaritas + Spandex pushed to its maximum tensile strength = ratings! (Hey, it worked at the Video Music Awards!)
4. Establish a special "Tony Bennett Recorded a Duet With Someone This Year" Grammy, just to keep the annual tradition of honoring him at every telecast alive and well. While you're at it, go ahead and create the "U2 touched their instruments" award, to be bestowed only upon U2 every year, regardless of musical output (or lack thereof).
5. Have Kanye West lose an award. It doesn't matter which one — the important thing is the meltdown/tantrum that will undoubtedly follow. And given that this year, West enters the Grammys as the most-nominated artist, well, let's just say the chances of him setting fire to the Staples Center or taking Taylor Swift hostage if he doesn't win are pretty good. And who wouldn't tune in to see that?
6. Three words: More Vince Gill.
7. Film Amy Winehouse at a rehab facility. Fill it with cast of D-Level celebrities and the guy who used to be in Crazytown. Have facility run by "addiction medicine" specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky. Pitch the idea for a television show. Make a million dollars. Feel somewhat dirty inside. Wake up late at night, covered in sweat. Sit up in bed. Sob uncontrollably. Develop substance-abuse problem to ease the pain. Enter rehab facility. Relapse ...
8. Take every opportunity to honor Bon Jovi's Lost Highway, even if it doesn't rip like the old stuff. Because no matter what some people might say, they've never made a bad album, and Jon's still got it and Richie's out of rehab. (Note: This logic only works if you are broadcasting the Grammys from Northern New Jersey.)
9. Realize that you are the Grammys. You are an institution. Making fun of you is sort of like shooting fish in a barrel or cracking jokes about the Catholic Church. It is easy, sort of mean and ultimately pointless. Because you are never going to change. And as such, you probably shouldn't take the advice of snarky, know-nothing music journalists who have never recorded a note of music, since you will be here long after they have disappeared from the face of the earth.
10. Just cancel the Grammys.
B-Sides: Other Stories I'm Following This Week.
Kanye's "Thank You And You're Welcome" book sounds like an updated version of "How to Win Friends & Influence People," except written by an egomaniac wearing slotted shades.
Hey, something crazy happened while Britney Spears was in court on Monday! (Kill me.)
50 Cent: Still talking sh--, about no one in particular.
Questions? Concerns? Grammy Suggestions? Send 'em to me at BTTS@mtvstaff.com.
Don't sleep until February 10 — geek out on the Grammys with MTV News' complete coverage right here!