Monday, February 15, 2016

The Grammys' Ugly Stepchild

Category:  Rant/Opinion

It's 7:30 p.m. eastern time, and the Grammys' annual television awards presentation is a half an hour from beginning.

So, one-half hour before the show starts, let us congratulate the country/ Americana/ bluegrass winners:  "Traveler" by Chris Stapleton winning "Best Country Solo Performance," Jason Isbell winning "Best American Roots Song" for "24 Frames" and "Best Americana Album" for Something More Than Free, Mavis Staples' "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" winning "Best American Roots Performance," and the Steeldrivers' The Muscle Shoals Recordings winning "Best Bluegrass Album."  Glen Campbell's I'll Be Me won the "Best Compilation Soundtrack" trophy.  Two other country awards went to Little Big Town.  

How do I know this?  Simple.  They've already been announced.  The one-time biggest selling genre of music in America has become the ugly stepchild of the Grammys.  

Now, to be fair, it's not just country, bluegrass, and Americana.  No jazz trophies have been presented on-air in I don't know how long.  Ditto the classical, blues, Latin, reggae, and gospel awards.  

This year there were 83 categories in which Grammys nominated recordings or videos.  According to, SEVENTY FIVE awards were presented in those infamous "ceremonies before the televised awards."  I'm pretty good at math, so that leaves EIGHT Grammys to be awarded ON AIR.

Eight Grammy awards.  In three hours.  You do the math on that part.

One country Grammy -- album of the year -- is going to be presented on air.

I've lamented for a long time that the Grammys -- the awards -- are becoming enslaved to the Grammys' -- the TV show -- quest for ratings.  Consider how Isbell wasn't even nominated for 2013's masterpiece Southeastern despite being in the top three on every year-end "best albums of the year" list (most having it at #1).  Why wasn't Isbell's album nominate?  Simple:  you're not going to get 27 million people tuning in to see him.

Apparently, with the sharp decline in popularity of country music (which is totally understandable:  eventually people are going to realize that the bro-country hick-hop is not country and stop listening) has reached the point where it cannot even be represented on the so-called "biggest night in music."  As with quality acts like Isbell (or Rosanne Cash, who received her three Grammys off-air last year, or Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, who suffered the same fate two years ago) aren't going to make people tune in.

The alternatives they're presenting on the TV show, as representatives of "the best in the year of music," is enough to make me tune out.

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