Wow, 65 years of Grammy Award shows.
Many of my pals said no way would they watch, and with great cynicism. I share some of those feelings. Admittedly, I have never listened to Doja Cat,or Bad Bunny; as well, I have a sadly poor sense of history when it comes to the 50 years of Hip Hop.
Still, curiosity wins every time. Award shows are my sports events, my Super Bowls. They happen LIVE and they bring groups of people together to eat, booze and cheer. I'd rather watch happy partying people than victims of murder, deception, and natural disaster.
And gather they did, at the Crypto.com arena, here in LA. Everyone looking very shiny and pretty. It also seemed the theme was fluid gender. That, and the exciting gathering of many hip hop stars.
Trevor Noah was the host, and clearly quite happy to be in the company of a few mega stars. Was his fawning behavior improvised or part of the script? Much attention seemed to be paid to "Queen B" breaking a record and winning more awards than anyone else in musical history. Should I care?
The regular Mega Stars were there: Jay-Z, Beyonce (albeit late) Taylor Swift, Adele, Harry Styles, Lizzo, Brandi Carlile and, aside from an emphasis on hip-hop, it seemed that the entire programme focused on them.
A panel of fans were given a lot of space to muse on their particular artist (Who each wanted to win "the big award"- album of the year) but this seemed to provide even more obsessional time to focus on a very restricted list of talent.
One looks forward to the live performances. I wondered, were they live? Were they lip-synched? Sometimes it was hard to tell.
If there was anything remarkable and exciting about this show, it was a few of the live performances.
Stevie Wonder with Chris Stapleton performing "Higher Ground" felt fresh and spontaneous. Stevie Wonder is a true genius and his voice shows no sign of age.
Brandi Carlile's gorgeous rendition of her song "Broken Horses" took your breath away with its dynamics, power and harmonies.
Sam Smith with Kim Petras delivered the perverse and exciting "Unholy" in an almost Brechtian manner, all theatrics, with powerful vocals and choreography. And Petras is transgender.
Lizzo is ALWAYS a treat, and did not disappoint.
Neither did Mary J Blige who is so sincere and so real, elegant and personal.
Seeing Bonnie Raitt and hearing her with Sheryl Crow and Mick Fleetwood, as they celebrated Christine McVie was appropriate and well executed. You wouldn't expect less.
The huge Questlove hip-hop series was breath-taking. I only wished that there had been titles of all of the rappers underneath the screen, as I just didn't recognise or know many of them.
But there were disappointments too.
If indeed we are going to honor an Iranian songwriter for writing a song for positive change, shouldn't he be on the show and not in the background on a screen as First Lady Jill Biden talks over his song?
And isn't it a bit sad that we expect those usual suspects to win everything, and that we are gobsmacked when the veteran Bonnie Raitt wins for "Just Like That," her BEST SONG of the YEAR?
Trevor Noah's constant fawning over Beyonce and then Harry Styles was obnoxious.
And there was a huge lack of acknowledgement of anyone in the rock world. Has that category just disappeared? What about folk music? Americana? Jazz?
If the Grammies really want to practice diversity, then why are so few performers over the age of 33 featured in any way?
This idea that musicians should "believe" and just stick with it, and that they will be "Successful" starts to feel very untrue and forced.
It did indeed feel like a back-patting gathering of the wealthiest and most privileged. The people with the large Spotify audiences, the most money, the most awards, the most everything.
We could say that Samara Joy who won BEST NEWCOMER was one lovely example of true talent getting a little spotlight. But we need so much more of that.
Without new winners, we're sitting at a pep rally for the predictable pop.
NARAS could do so much more, and better. If they really think that music can heal the world and make life better, start by looking at this show. With the exposure artists could get in appearing, performing, speaking on a show like this, real change in the industry could begin , if even in a small way.
I am afraid I am left with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth at the end. Despite the breath-taking performances I witnessed, I felt shut out, as a musician, a songwriter, a music teacher,, a coach, a regular performer, in short, someone who has dedicated her life to making music. There are so many of us out there, and many just tune shows like this out.
What a shame. You're either a contestant on a game-show style music program, or a wanna-be witnessing very wealthy musicians hug each other at their private but televised party.
Would it be wrong to want some other kind of televised format that lets the talent we know is out there in ?
I'm not cynical. I had fun watching. But I can't help feeling a bit conned, a bit on the outside, and a bit wondering if anything will ever change. HAs it always been this way, this 65 years?
In a world where money and sales matter most, could it ever be any different?
Maybe I just need to go to more local live shows. As well as perform in them.