Even though our daily blog is about being fans of Duran Duran, the truth is that I am a fan of music. I am an observer, participant and student of pop culture. Nowhere is pop culture, or at least the result thereof, more evident than at an awards ceremony – and last night the Grammy’s took place in Los Angeles. There was much to see, absorb and make comment! I’d like to point out that while old habits will continue to die hard (with me), this is the first Daily Duranie blog I’ve ever taken the time to outline in advance.
You may hold your applause. 🙂
I must give props where they are due, and LL Cool J deserves just that. Both entertaining and authoritative, he cut to the chase at the beginning of the show with the statement “There is no way around this, we’ve had a death in our family”…and then did something I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed before: lead the audience in a real prayer at an industry ceremony. Sure, the lines were likely written for him, but he handled what has apparently been a shock for everyone with class and grace, qualities that I can honestly say I rarely see in the music industry these days.
Last night’s show was probably one of the more thought provoking Grammy Awards I have watched in my lifetime. I am an avid watcher of the show, and in more recent years I’ve watched with increasing apathy. Last night gave me several brief glimmers of hope in an industry that I personally feel has become far too concerned with getting the most bang out of a cheap buck, then throwing away the leftovers and moving on without a second glance. To put it bluntly, our landfills are getting quite full and it’s high time to rethink that recycling plan.
Let’s do a little celebrating, and for that I must begin with Adele. Her return to the stage was incredibly triumphant, and as a fan I was thrilled. I am indeed humbled by the sound of her voice and look forward to many wonderful years ahead for this talented woman. She gives both my oldest daughter and I real hope that talent still reigns, and while no – her album was never intended to be a pop album, it has crossed over that line and gained fans that probably didn’t even realize it was possible to sing like that without the help of a computer. Naturally, I feel a special sort of kinship with Adele’s fan base simply due to her vocal problems – as it was very similar and timely to what we all dealt with last summer. I cheered in happiness for all involved last night. Oh, and her six trophy win last night wasn’t bad either, but we’d be mistaken if we all believed that was the real “winning” moment for Adele.
In more celebratory moments, the Foo Fighters came away with 5 trophies of their own last night. I’ve had my special moments with the Foo, but I can’t say I’m a hardcore fan by any means. However, I do believe that Wasting Light is worthy of many an award. For crying out loud the album was recorded in Dave’s garage, and I will stick my neck out to say it’s a damn sight better than most of what I’ve heard this past year. There is something precious and pure about recording with some mics and a tapedeck. If I didn’t already have a bit of a love affair (in the most respectful sort of way) with Dave Grohl over some other statements he’s made, I definitely do after last night. “To me this award means a lot because it shows that the human element of making music is what’s most important. Singing in to a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft – that’s the most important thing for people to do.” The crowd started to applaud and only grew louder as he continued, “It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about sounding absolutely correct. It’s not about what goes on in a computer. It’s about what goes on in here (your heart) and what goes on here (your head). Long live rock ‘n’ roll!” The beauty is that the Foo Fighters album IS perfect. It is a representation of what they are and what they wanted to show the world in the moment they recorded.
Chris Brown is also exactly whom he’s already shown us, and it’s perplexing if not infuriating to me as to why this man continues to be allowed any sort of air time, respect, dignity or INfamy. I don’t think I really need to remind anyone that he in fact beat Rihanna to a pulp in 2009. Yes, I know that was three years ago. The effects of abuse last a lifetime, not just three years. While it is not up to me to forgive, it IS up to me (and you) not to forget. Never mind that I don’t think the kid can sing or dance his way out of a tin can…it’s the fact that to this day, he has thousands of women believing that he’s the hottest thing since sliced bread. That shocks me, saddens me and worries me to the core. Forgiveness? That’s not my job. Forget? Never. He’s already shown the world exactly who he is, and we should have believed it the first time.
In much more of a celebratory moment, The Beach Boys took to the stage as a full group, complete with Brian Wilson for the first time in many years. Granted, only the surviving Hall of Famers could make the show. This group has had more than it’s fair share of deaths over the years, but there was something particularly charming and heart warming about seeing them up on stage together. On a purely personal note I watched this group with very misty eyes, for it was the one group I went to see in concert with my parents (more than once!) while growing up. There is something very special about hearing the song you were named after while standing beside your parents, and it was one of the two music groups I shared with my dad. (The other being Tears for Fears – which is another story for another day.) On the same token, my silent and persistent prayers were answered because neither Maroon 5 nor Foster the People (Who were too darn cute for words in their matching button down blue striped shirts – very reminiscent of The Beach Boys back in the day!) dared sing “Help Me Rhonda”. There are some things that should just not ever be attempted. That said, I did think that both performances were solid. It wasn’t even remotely close to the cringing I did when I witnessed The Jonas Brothers DARE to perform Planet Earth. *shivers* (Again, there are some things that should just never be attempted.) I digress.
The Rhinestone Cowboy (Glen Campbell) himself made what has to be one of his last public appearances. I can remember my father humming that tune many times during my childhood. I didn’t even realize I knew the words (Or that Paul McCartney knew them!) until last night. It was a beautiful moment in time, and a true celebration of what he has bestowed upon music history. My children have absolutely no idea who he is, which makes me think I have much teaching to do before I set them free on the world.
You want a triumphant, in your face moment? How about Taylor Swift singing “Mean” up onstage at the Grammy’s? My favorite line of the song is “Some day I’ll be singing this at the Grammy’s and all you’ll ever be is mean.” The truth is, Taylor is among my 15 year old daughter’s favorites – and while yes, she’s young and yes, her lyrics can be a bit juvenile, there is something WONDERFUL about that in a world where 15 year olds are more grown up than I was at 21. I don’t mind my daughter listening to Taylor at all, and you know what? The girl *can* sing. She might not be Adele, but I’d much rather my daughter aspire to be Taylor than aspire to be Nicki Minaj, say what you will.
I’ve been doing some blogging about the Bruce Springsteen fan community book I am currently reading, and so I did find it rather fitting and timely that Springsteen should open the show with his new song “We take care of our own”. I can’t help but believe one of the many meanings for that song has to do with his own fan community. Bruce is very close to them, and one standout theme for that book is how they really do take care of one another. In fact, it’s shocking how much the fans look out and help one another – I can’t wait to tackle that topic in another blog. The big celebration moment for me though, was at the very end of the show when Paul McCartney took to the stage again along with Bruce and Dave Grohl, among others. You give as good as you get. The love you get is equal to the love you make. We take care of our own.
In a moment that left even this blogger in tears, Jennifer Hudson left the house in stone cold silence as she sang her tribute to Whitney Houston last night. Just Friday night I sat and watched Jennifer on Piers Morgan’s show as she recounted how much of an inspiration Whitney Houston had been for her during the formative years of childhood. Who knew she’d be up onstage Sunday night singing in tribute? The entire show left me wondering just how long we’ll continue to allow this industry to chew people up and spit them out. It’s not just about who handed Whitney her first line of cocaine on a mirror as though it was just a cocktail. It’s not just about who are the enablers, although we’d do ourselves welcome to look right in the mirror…our money lines the pockets of the idiots in charge. It is absolutely not just one issue. How much longer are we going to reward the worst behavior and overlook some of the best? Sure, we can sit back and say “That’s just the way it is.”, or we can actively do something to change it. In what kind of a crazy, messed up world are we going to seriously applaud a girlfriend beater because he can dance and maybe even sing? Who CARES?!? Why are we continuing to applaud people that truly don’t have an ounce of real talent in them? They certainly don’t play an instrument and they clearly don’t know their craft but damn they look good in a photo…so that makes it fine? How is that OK and better yet, why are we teaching our children those values?!? One of my favorite sayings is “If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” It lends itself perfectly to almost everything I saw last night, including my next comment. If you haven’t already bought the Foo Fighters album, do yourself a favor and buy it. Listen to it. Understand how it was made, and respect the place it came from. You don’t have to be a fan of the band, but every music lover out there should be a fan of HOW it was made. The album was made from human hands. Human heart. Human talent. Let’s celebrate, support and applaud those facts. Do we really take care of our own? Perhaps the prevailing thought here is that we SHOULD take care of our own.