The Grammys (as defined by an undergraduate music student): An awards ceremony that proves you don’t know nearly as much about music as you think you do.
I turned 24 years old last December. I feel like I am still in my prime when it comes down to being “in the know” and “hip” to current pop culture, but let me tell you, my iPhone was doing some serious work last night during the Grammys as I vigorously typed “Who is. . .” every two seconds into Google. Here are some things I learned:
- Lorde is a 17 year old girl. Holy cow. She signed on with Universal Studios when she was only 13 years old and is now a Grammy award-winning artist. Young people, pursue music. If that’s your passion, then seek it out. When I was 17 years old and told my senior English teacher that I wanted to pursue music as an adult, he told me that I should major in English or literary analysis. Music would get me nowhere. Yeah, English is gonna make me the big bucks (cause I care about the big bucks, obviously).
- There are still masterful songwriters in the world. Guy Clark’s album “My Favorite Picture of You” won Best Folk Album of 2013. I feel like a failure for loving folk music and not knowing of Guy Clark- serious failure. This is such a raw, beautiful album. If you’re a sap, get your tissues out when “Heroes” comes on. I always complain about artists who oversaturate their songs with harmonies, but Clark’s got it down. Listen to it right this second.
- IT’S OK THAT TWO ROBOTS WON ALBUM OF THE YEAR. Look, music majors, I know that your inner Dvořák is telling you this is wrong. This isn’t “real” music. This isn’t original. #omgsh do you even hear how auto-tuned this is? I did some research on these Daft Punk fellas, listened to the album, and I have to admit that I have a pretty high level of respect for them. I watched a couple of videos on their website from collaborators on the album (http://www.randomaccessmemories.com) and loved what Paul Williams had to say about them in Episode 8- “As somebody who became very much addicted to the attention, I became better at showing off than showing up. I did 48 Tonight Shows, I remember six. I don’t think there’s anything more pathetic than a little old man going ‘Please sir, may I have some more fame.’ On that level, I love that they choose to be anonymous. I am deeply respectful of somebody who expresses their craft and their art without the hunger for the public attention. They disconnect who they are to allow you to experience what they create.” Paul Williams wrote the lyrics to “Touch,” which is…awesome. It’s innovative, it’s unpredictable, it stretches the bounds between genres. If you don’t listen to any other song off this album, at least give “Touch” a shot.
- The Recording Academy continues to push the bar for professionals by encouraging collaboration from artists of varying genres. Classical pianist Lang Lang performed with Metallica (by far my FAVORITE performance probably…ever), rap artist Kendrick Lamar performed with Imagine Dragons, “taking the stage by storm” according to the Huffington Post. All of the performances were stellar. Haters, there is so much talent in LA. I know people like to think pop musicians are not talented, but they are. Beyond the music and logistics of recording an album, there is talent in being an entertainer. Trust me, nobody wants to see me trying to play piano with Metallica (except my mom). I would get horrible stage fright, probably throw up, maybe cry a little bit, and then make a really cute face every time I made a mistake- and by really cute face, I mean…
- The music industry is not dying. It’s changing, as everything does. I have heard so many people talk about the struggle of being a full time musician, which is true. I have heard of several remarkable symphony orchestras going bankrupt, which is true. I have heard that it is difficult to get a job as a music teacher, which is also true. However, the Recording Academy does more for the music industry and music education than I think a lot of people realize. NPR published an article about their non-profit work, which gives a little more insight to what the Grammys are all about- http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2014/01/24/265744023/how-the-organization-behind-the-grammys-spends-the-other-364-days .
Overall, I was extremely pleased with the Grammys this year. (Side note: I totally teared up when Lang Lang performed in honor of Van Cliburn). This show is not just about pop music and giving awards to artists who need to crank up the auto-tune. This is about showcasing serious talent, rewarding dedication and passion, recognizing the legends, and encouraging the underdogs to step into the limelight. And you know, I can not wait to get people there.