Winners and losers at the Grammys

Once again the Grammys proved to be more than a music awards show. It was a cultural referendum, a PR barometer of where the public and the industry is. Who the big players are, and where music is headed next. Every year there are winners and losers. And there’s a theme, intended or not.

This year’s theme ended up being nostalgia. I don’t know that it started out that way, but music has been losing royalty all year long, and the Academy had to do more than offer a nod of acknowledgment.

Grammy producers responded to the public mood by bringing together some excellent tribute performances to honor music superstars like Glenn Frey of the Eagles and David Bowie, both died unexpectedly earlier this year.
The Eagles tribute was a no brainer. The surviving members came out and sang some of Frey’s biggest hits. The crowd loved it. This was nostalgia distilled. One of the best bands of all time singing a tribute to a guy who made significant contributions to America’s modern songbook.

When it came time to honor Ziggy Stardust, there was really only one performer who could pull it off convincingly. Lady Gaga, fresh off an incredible performance of the National Anthem at Super Bowl 50, wowed audiences as she not only performed Bowie’s music but embodied his many musical personas. According to New York Real Estate Developer Roman Temkin, “This performance proved, beyond all doubt, who the leading candidate is to fill the void left by Bowie, who was an artist in every sense of the word.”

Then it came time to honor blues legend BB King. Who would it be? In an interesting move, Grammy producers tapped country crooner Chris Stapleton. While many have already tapped Stapleton as the future of country music, who knew he had the soul of the blues hiding under that battered cowboy hat?

YouTube chanteuse Meghan Trainor took home an award for best new artist, crying on stage and affecting a perfect underdog makes good narrative.

The moment of the night, though, may have been when Taylor Swift took the stage to accept the award for album of the year. She beat some truly solid performers, cementing herself as the real deal in pop music. Then she took the stage and poked the entire cannibalistic industry in the eye. Telling up and coming artists to keep working and not let anyone take credit for your accomplishments, Swift looked nothing like the uncertain waif who was famously interrupted by Kanye West a few years back.

Speaking of losers, West, didn’t do much at the Grammys, so he tried a spectacularly misguided attempt to gain attention subsequent to the show. So far, that’s done nothing to endear him to the consumer music buying public, most of whom seem to wish West would just shut up … or get back to making music.


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