EOTM will be live blogging the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Feb. 13. Check in to GRAMMY.com at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET sharp for a running commentary on all the color and excitement from Music’s Biggest Night. Of course, we invite you to follow along and comment on your favorite performers and GRAMMY moments. In the meantime, be sure to watch the GRAMMY Pre-Telecast Ceremony, announcing winners in approximately 100 categories, on GRAMMY Live beginning Sunday at 2 p.m. PT.
So why watch?
There are several reasons, and they probably have much to do with why viewership of last year’s show was its highest in six years.
•Something could happen. During the last telecast, it was Taylor Swift’s duet with Stevie Nicks, which gave 26 million people a glaring earful of what Swift sounds like without Autotune.
•It’s a rare opportunity to engage in an “event,” something that a large — maybe not enormous — audience will watch live, all at the same time. We live in a time where little is done momentously or in vast unison. People DVR their TV shows and watch them on their own schedules; gone are the days when 126 million people would sit down and watch the farewell episode of “M*A*S*H,” as they did in February 1983, and then talk about it all the next day.
Recorded music is released in stages; gone are the “release days,” when fans would pour into record stores and help N’ Sync sell 2.5 million copies of “No Strings Attached” in one week, as they did in March 2000.
We are now a culture niched and Balkanized. The mainstream has been piece-mealed and scattered among the so-many networks and messengers and producers of music and art. By today’s standard, an audience of 26 million is large.
•With social media at our disposal, we can watch and comment on real time, all at once. Last year, Twitter and Facebook were ablaze with Grammy updates, tweets and dialogues, thanks to a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t have watched but who like to engage in the bloodsport of ridiculing celebrities.
Swift was absolutely pilloried on the social networks after her singing debacle. Likewise, Christina Aguilera was savaged for her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl, the last annual big-event standing.
•The better side of the Grammys: Sometimes the performers live up to their reputations. Real singers like Maxwell or real musicians like Jeff Beck were widely lauded for their performances on last year’s show. And during her duet with Elton John, Lady Gaga revealed that behind the garish costumes/wardrobe and within her polythene dance-pop tunes, there resides a trained singer and musician. And the woefully underappreciated Leon Russell got some air time during his performance with the Zac Brown Band.
Another Grammy bonus: These performances typically stimulate album sales, which is good for everybody.
Nominated for Album of the Year
The Grammys have been famous for choreographing controversies, such as Eminem’s duet with Elton John at the 2001 awards show. Gay-rights activists picketed the venue and protested Eminem’s lyrics for being hateful and homophobic.
Nothing like that has been scheduled for tonight’s show, but the academy has conspicuously set itself up for a curious moment. Cee Lo Green is a nominee in two of the big three categories: song of the year (for songwriting) and record of the year (song production) for his hit “(expletive) You.” Green is scheduled to perform during the show. It seems safe to assume he will either alter the song — to “Forget You,” as Gwyneth Paltrow did on “Glee” — or be censored. The more interesting scenarios: who will read the nominations and what happens if he wins.
It may not be a sole, good reason to sit through 3.5 hours of awards, music and schmooze, but if you care about music and its place in our pop culture, you should have an interest in checking out the well-fed and well–funded side of the business — the “know your enemy” theory. An unscheduled Cee Lo f-bomb might just be nothing more than a crass bonus.
For more info on nominees visit http://www.grammy.com/nominees