Sunday night’s Grammy spectacle was as usual confusing to say the least. Beyonce hijacked the members of Janet Jackson’s rhythm nation to escort her to the stage for “If I Were a Boy,” which included a verse and chorus of Alanis Morrisette’s “You Oughta Know.” Between her squad and the starship trooper uniforms of Black Eyed Peas, you’d think there was some sort of military statement being made, but no – what I saw was an almost protest-free Grammy telecast.
It has now become virtually programmatic to pair new and older artists to sing a new and old song, implying that Taylor Swift fans should also be Fleetwood Mac songs and Maxwell fans should love Roberta Flack. When Green Day played “21 Guns,” it also inadvertently saluted the psychedelic folk-rock song, “San Francisco” in their song’s verse and “All the Young Dudes” in the chorus. Bottom line: the message is that if you like (Grammy’s notion of) young, upstart bands, then you’re really love and are a part of the establishment.
And as a good member of the establishment, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow reminded us that it’s our duty to buy music, not download it. Of course, the recording industry killed the single because albums are/were more profitable and tried to force people who wanted one song to buy the album it was on. It artificially established a floor for CD prices far above what was necessary and conducted business in a way that meant that bands could sell $100,000 and lose money on a CD. If that’s the establishment I’m invited to join, pass.