Tag Archives: Taylor Swift

2015 Grammy Awards: Ink Spot on A Plastic Spoon

As nice as it would have been to see, Paper Gods was not included in the list of 2015 Grammy awards nominees released this morning.

For many within the fan community, this does not come as a shock, nor does it threaten to take the wind out of the sails. It is par for the course this band was set on since their first album was released. Is it frustrating? Possibly to some. Is it disappointing? I suppose it could be if we let it. For the band? Chances are – they’ve not given it more than a thought or two (if any).  This isn’t a band that has hung their hats, so to speak, on awards, nominations or even lifetime achievements – although they have certainly had some of each. This isn’t a band that has openly given credence to critics, and I can certainly appreciate that.

As a fan, I’ll admit it would have been nice to see them nominated.  Yes, this is purely MY opinion. I certainly said as much in a previous blog I’d written on this very subject. Duran Duran’s absence on the list of Grammy nominees is noticeable, but not terribly surprising. When I look at the field – names like Mark Ronson (Not that I can complain much about that one), Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and Ed Sheeran fly off the page. As John himself mentioned in a recent Katy Kafe – the band has a difficult time competing on that level, with kids who are easily 25 years their junior (in some cases). I don’t know that any band truly worthy of Duran’s salt could really be in that same category (Pop) and expect to be successful in the sense of being nominated and winning awards or even being played on top 40, “pop” radio stations.

What does that really mean for Duran Duran? Do they just hang it up and quit, realizing that they’re being expected to compete in a category that is likely impossible for a band in their mid-50s? Absolutely not. I don’t know who decides how an album (or a band) should be categorized in sales for places such as iTunes – that’s probably a great question for Katy Krassner, but obviously at least John Taylor feels like Paper Gods wasn’t given it’s just due in that regard, and perhaps he’s right.  I really don’t know and don’t profess otherwise. Even so, and even if it was only for a short time – Paper Gods hit the top 10. This is their 14th studio album and instead of just phoning it in or releasing one “greatest hits” album after another, they decided to take it up a notch. Duran Duran has succeeded in not only challenging their fan base to expand the proverbial music “box” where the band resides in their hearts, they’ve also dared critics to accept that they’re not just aging pinups – that they have serious musical chops and deserve much overdo respect. Paper Gods is already a huge win.

Seeing Duran Duran passed up time and time again for a Grammy can be frustrating to some fans, and I can understand that.  In some ways it’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, I laugh at award shows like the Grammy’s, the MTV awards, and the American Music Awards. The artists and bands who are typically celebrated on those shows aren’t even on my radar much of the time – how could I possibly even want Duran included among those masses?? On the other hand, I’m a fan. I like seeing the band I love getting their moment(s) in the sun. Sure. I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t admit that I’d hoped for the best. I’m not ashamed of my positivity, because if we don’t have that – what do we really have? What’s the point of being a fan if we can’t extol the band’s triumphs?

I know many are reading and shaking their heads, thinking to themselves my opinion doesn’t matter, the blog is pointless, or that the Grammy’s are a joke and I’ve wasted my time. Some are likely thinking, told you so. Again I ask – why even bother being a fan if we can’t celebrate success? I love Duran Duran. I’m proud of them, whether there are zero nominations or fifty. I am never going to apologize for my pride, even if I’m the only fan left standing.

-R

Random thoughts on those Billboard Music Awards

I had originally wanted to title this The Good, The Bad and the Kanye but another (highly prominent) news outlet beat me to it.  That’s what happens when you’re a west coaster….

I subjected myself to (most) of another awards show last night. I do this for you, people…ALL for YOU.

Ok, well, I also do it so that I can see Simple Minds perform one of my very favorite songs ever…but more on that in a bit!

Truth be told, I really am getting to the point where either Duran is going to need to start showing up again on these shows or I’m going to quit watching and just assume that the (music) world has already gone to hell in a hand basket. No, I’m not stuck in the 80’s and yes, there is a lot of new music that I love….but none of it ever makes it onto these award shows, and honestly I’m tired of seeing JLo’s cleavage and clever uses for sticky tape. Alas, I settled back last night and prepared to be disgusted. And I was.

The show opened with Taylor Swift’s new video for Bad Blood. I didn’t hate it. I liked the badass femme vibe to it (who wouldn’t?), and the song wasn’t horrible. I know the kids love her – I happen to live with one here who has adored her since Day One. I just liked her a little better when she sang and wasn’t completely overproduced to within an inch of her vocal life.  I was amused that she included a group of what she calls “Powerful Women” in her video. I think the word “powerful” can mean a lot of different things, and her idea of powerful is apparently, “female celebrity and/or model”.  Food for thought.

I need a new planet. Anybody else?

Chrissy Teigen. To be completely fair, I could have written an entire blog just on her hosting ability, or complete lack thereof. I honestly thought she was higher than a kite when she first appeared on stage, and I’m still not entirely convinced she wasn’t. I just know that she did not show herself off in her best light last night, but then, this is the entertainment industry, and apparently that doesn’t matter as long as you look good – and she’s a model. It’s sad, really.  Her best comment of the night? “I bang a musician.” Classy.

That brings me to Van Halen. Let me just say, if you ever want to see a fan community that has been ripped in half due to personnel changes within a band – Van Halen is your go-to band. Half of the community knows who David Lee Roth is and loves him despite the fact that he’s never been as much of a vocalist as he’s been a showman. The other half is supremely dedicated to Sammy Hagar (and original bassist Michael Anthony)   It seems that when you’re a VH fan, you pick a side and you stick with it until death do you part. It wouldn’t have mattered if sparks had flown out of Eddie’s guitar as he played last night – if you’re a Hagar fan, they sucked and David Lee Roth was terrible. On the other hand, if you loved Van Halen from the start, you might love the showmanship of David Lee Roth enough to excuse his (lack of) vocal talent. It reminds me ever so much of a certain amount of drama that takes place in this community if we want to chat about guitarists.  (I don’t.) Last night Van Halen treated the crowd to Panama, and while I still agree that Roth is mostly flash, and a lot of goof, it got the show started with a bang.

 

I probably could have changed the channel right then and not missed much. EXCEPT that I was waiting patiently for Simple Minds, and dammit I was going to suffer through the rest to see them.

There were a ton of awards given. Most of them went to One Direction and Taylor Swift. I’m sure you can tell just how much I cared about the actual awards. Listen, they can call me when Duran Duran is nominated and I will gladly pay rapt attention.  Until then???

I was amused by Sam Smith’s acceptance speech because he is awaiting surgery and is on 100% vocal rest, so he wrote his speech on cue cards.  I wish they all did that, actually.

 

One moment in the show that shocked me…because that does occasionally still happen from time to time (thank goodness!), was seeing Wiz Khalifa, Charlie Puth and Lindsey Stirling’s performance. As most of you should know by now, I’m not a huge fan of Rap…not by a long shot and I still 100% disagree with John about Kanye West (In fact, I’d argue that every single time Kanye opens his mouth, he proves my point that he is WAY overrated and needs to be shipped to a different planet.)  This song, however, is different. It was beautiful and I loved it. Three things that shouldn’t really go together well, but they did. Loved the power, loved the texture, loved the message.

 

At some point in the evening, Chris Brown and Pitbull were on the stage. I just have to ask, when are we ever going to learn? Why is it that bad behavior…truly abhorrent, BAD behavior, rewarded? I’m not talking about people with drug problems, or even people who have (very sadly) completely come undone (don’t even go there) in front of the cameras and spotlights.  Sure, some of those things are bad, but this is on a completely different level. A different galaxy of “bad”. I’m talking about someone who literally beat the crap out of their girlfriend on the way to an awards show. That’s not just “a mistake” that someone should be given a second chance to fix.  Abusers shouldn’t have time in the spotlight, and they definitely shouldn’t be given a microphone to exploit their messages about women. No one is ever going to be able to convince me that Mr. Brown never laid a hand on Rihanna before that beating in the limo…that definitely was not the first time he’d ever hit her, and probably not the first time he’d ever hit a woman period. But yet we’re all going to pretend that it’s OK, that he really did his time, paid his debt to society, to Rihanna…to WOMEN (not)..and that he’s allowed back up on that stage, and people actually applaud for him to be there, including his very misguided fans – some of which openly believe that Rihanna deserved that beating. Newsflash, parents out there…TEACH YOUR GIRLS BETTER. TEACH YOUR BOYS BETTER. It’s gross. It’s demeaning. It makes people who HAVE been hit, abused, etc. feel as though their fight just doesn’t matter…that there’s no one out there fighting for them. We need to do better as humans.  I’m disgusted that this industry doesn’t give a shit,  as long as his music sells, the rest just doesn’t matter.  It’s wrong.  I will keep giving this soapbox statement every single time I see him up on an awards stage…

That is going to bring me to the best part of my Sunday night. Molly Ringwald, my leader of my (and nearly every other 80s teenage girl on the planet) “club”, stepped onto the stage and marveled over the fact that it’s been 30 years since Breakfast Club was released and Don’t You (Forget About Me) was on the Billboard charts. Despite my needing to wipe back some very happy and nostalgic tears…it was a beautiful, beautiful moment.  Yeah, she asked Taylor if she could be in her club, and that was pretty cringeworthy for me because damn it – Molly is still my leader – but aside from that, I smiled, I cheered a little, and I thanked my lucky stars that I grew up in the 80s. We really had the best music.   The video is below (it’s crappy quality – apparently Billboard didn’t care enough about this performance to make sure it was uploaded properly and I couldn’t find any better online this morning)

 

As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of newer bands that I like. Imagine Dragons is one of them…and they performed last night as well. They chose to perform Stand By Me in tribute to blues legend BB King, who died last week in Las Vegas.  His guitar, “Lucille”, was actually on display at the show as well.  Other bands have done similar things before, choosing to play in tribute to legends, and those performances tend to feel gratuitous and cheesy, but Imagine Dragons did very well. They stripped the song down, and allowed the music to speak for itself.

 

Kanye West closed the show with a huge pyrotechnic performance that most of the world never heard in it’s entirety because of the language…well done, Kanye.. (no, I’m not posting it!)  With all of the incredible music out there, this is really what sells?

Good luck, Duran Duran. You’ve got an uphill battle…and fans willing to help if you’d take them up on it.

-R

Social Media: Could Less Really Be More?

During my typical morning social media read-through, I noticed an item of interest that I thought I’d share with my fellow Duranies. AskKaty on Facebook (who actually works for more artists than just Duran Duran!) retweeted a comment from Miss Taylor Swift about her bestselling album, “1989”.

“1989 became the year’s bestselling album in the very last days of 2014, helped in part by absence from streaming services.” @taylorswift13

I thought this quote was interesting for a number of reasons, not in small part due to my lack of knowledge when it comes to streaming – I do have Spotify, but in truth I rarely have time to sit and listen (a small allowance to make when you are a homeschooling parent).  I seem to recall hearing that Taylor Swift had chosen to stop streaming her music through such services, but I don’t think I ever gave the idea much thought beyond wondering what purpose it would really serve. I have to wonder if her above statement really holds any kind of water…and assuming that yes, removing her music from streaming created huge demand…would it work for others?

Let’s be honest: Taylor Swift is a hot commodity in today’s music whether you like her or hate her. My own daughter fell in love with her writing back when Taylor was still singing about prince charming, and that hasn’t stopped. It is difficult to argue that 1989 was an unlikely success, given the sheer amount of fans that seem to be behind Swift…but even so…to go platinum four times?? If we agree that removing her music from streaming services somehow created a sense of demand that made the sales of 1989 go off the charts in an unprecedented amount of time…could it be that a similar idea is being used for Duran Duran?

Celebrities and artists today are far more accessible now than any time prior, and many believe that ease of accessibility is more harmful than helpful. I’m not sure I necessarily agree, but I’m also,not ready to cry foul just yet.  On one hand, Taylor Swift, for example, seems to love social media, Instagram and Twitter most notably. While she has removed her music from streaming – the songstress continues to remain very connected to her loyal fans, and not just while trying to sell her latest record. On the other hand, many other artists – such as Nick Rhodes, for instance, abhor social media of any kind and yet Duran Duran does allow their music to be streamed.

Sure, Duran Duran could easily remove themselves from streaming. I certainly wouldn’t notice – like most diehard or longtime fans, I already own their entire catalog and having them disappear from Spotify wouldn’t be a game changer for me. Perhaps though such a move might also cause potential fans to make a purchase rather than just stream the new album for free. Whether or not the percentage of potential “seeking” fans would prove to be large enough to make a notable difference or not is up for debate. However, if they were advised to stop engaging and connecting through social media – how might that change the overall narrative?

-R