The 59th Annual Grammy Awards aired last night on CBS. There are 60+ awards given out but only nine of them are awarded during the actual telecast. This is actually one of the smarter things that the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States (NARAS) has done with the ceremony. It focuses on musical performances, often combining two or three acts that you wouldn’t see together anywhere else. The Grammys and the Tonys are often the most fun award shows to watch because they’re for people that are used to performing in front of live audiences. That being said, I didn’t watch the Grammys last night because I think the Grammys, like many award shows, are often irrelevant.
This year’s Grammy eligibility period was from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013 which means that some of the nominated songs and albums were released 15 months ago. This leads to winners that seem incredibly dated. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won Best New Artist. Do Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feel like new artists to anyone anymore? I am begging the NARAS to make next year’s eligibility period October 1, 2013 to December 31, 2014 and then make all subsequent eligibility periods the year preceding the awards. This isn’t a difficult concept.
There was one award that I really cared about and that was Best Comedy Album. It seemed clear to me that Live by Tig Notaro had to win. That album is like catching lightning in a bottle. She made a year where she had pneumonia followed by C. diff. followed by her mother taking a fall that caused a fatal brain injury followed by a break up followed by breast cancer that led to a double mastectomy and made it into a set that’s funny. It’s a huge achievement. She didn’t win. Kathy Griffin did. Maybe the Kathy Griffin album was great. I’m certainly not against a woman winning a comedy award. It’s just that this felt like Tig Notaro’s year. Griffin has been nominated five previous times and and this is her first win. Maybe there was something that was better about this album compared to those previous five. Of course, the awards are primarily voted on by people in the music industry so I probably shouldn’t have expected them to get this one right.
What it comes down to is that the Grammys are not what you should rely on to introduce you to innovations in the recording awards. A lot of the awards were predictable and many of the winners were deserving. Kendrick Lamar arguably had a better hip hop album than Macklemore & Ryan Lewis but Macklemore & Ryan Lewis had a more accessible album and unsurprisingly they won some hip hop awards. I’m not a huge country fan but I do love The Civil Wars and Kasey Musgraves. This probably says that actual country fans didn’t love that they took home the country awards. Either way, that Daft Punk album was pretty great and it was an obvious winner for a reason. Congrats to Daft Punk and congrats to Pharrell Williams and his hat. At least I get to watch Stephen Colbert gleefully celebrate his win for the audiobook recording of America Again: Re-becoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t