MARCH 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 3
ALSO THIS MONTH
Well, the Grammy Awards have once again made a huge joke of the music industry with their sham of a show on February 23. A committee of out-of-touch and sentimental fools nominated and cast their votes for largely undeserving and questionable artists. Their only criteria seems to be age (the older the better), making up for past neglects and volume (pile all the awards on one artist).
This time around on the merry-go-round of absurdity, the big anointed winner was Carlos Santana, a 52-year-old guitarist who left his greatest mark coming out of San Francisco's musical landscape in the early '70s. Santana arguably deserved Grammy Awards in the past for his Santana (1969) and Abraxas (1970) albums, which featured his smooth guitar work and afro-cuban rhythms, but was shut out until a token win in 1988. The committee made their amends big time in their 42nd ceremony, bestowing eight awards on Santana, which tied him with Michael Jackson (1983) for the most in a single year. He would have broken the record if he had song writing credit for "Smooth," which won for Song of the Year.
As good as his Supernatural album is -- and it is good -- Santana certainly didn't deserve this many gold phonographs. In fact, the stars aligning and his progressing age, not to mention the key work of some marketing executives, seem to have reeled in the awards for Carlos. The award committee lives approximately 20 years in the past so they are constantly playing catch-up. Hence eight awards for a smooth playing original Woodstock alum.
The executives at Arista Records, Santana's label, are very smart: they built his album to win awards by targeting songs for every conceivable category -- I'm not even sure what the Pop Collaboration category is; I think they created this one just for Carlos. Arista pulled in the marketable names from every genre of music to perform on Supernatural, creating a marketing windfall that is shamefully obvious. Are we supposed to believe that Everlast and Rob Thomas are really close personal pals with a man old enough to be their father and that they just were hanging out one day pumping out some great new tunes?
Like a great chef, Arista pulled all the right ingredients for their Grammy masterpiece: Rob Thomas (pop), Everlast (rock), Eric Clapton (instrumental). Clapton was the trump card of the entire project: another 50-year-old veteran that guarantees one win. The one shock, if that is possible at the Grammys, is that Santana didn't win best Latin performance (he did after all include Maná, a solo nominee, on his album).
I knew that the 42nd Grammy Awards would be once again disappointing as soon as Rosie O'Donnell appeared on stage to host the event. In fact, throughout the three hours, she was a constant reminder of just how uncool the Grammys are. She summarized the entire Grammy naivetée in one absurd moment following Kid Rock's show stopping performance. For the record, Kid Rock, a member of the rap/rock fusion school and one of the show's legitimate nominees (he lost), put together a powerful, textured performance that combined a soulful ballad and a roof-raising rendition of his hit "Bawitdaba" before closing with a cover of "American Band." O'Donnell barely knew who he was and expressed shock at his rowdy and authentic performance, "I'm a Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow kind of girl ... that performance just scared me."
I'm of the mind that if Rosie doesn't like it, then it must be good. Is it really a shock that the host of a conservative, unhip show like the Grammys would rather listen to Diamond and Manilow instead of modern music?
The parade of reconciliations didn't end with Santana, but continued on blissfully throughout the night. Lenny Kratiz won Best Male Rock Vocal (beating out a deserving Chris Cornell) for his cover of the Guess Who's "American Woman." The Guess Who must feel pleased given that their anthem didn't receive any recognition for them when it was originally released in 1970. Similarly, Sheryl Crow won Best Female Rock Vocal for "Sweet Child O' Mine," a cover of the 1987 Guns 'n Roses release (beating out Melissa Etheridge). Metallica won Best Hard Rock performance (over Korn and Limp Bizkit) for "Whiskey in the Jar," an old Irish standard that was recorded in 1972 by Thin Lizzy. Remember that Metallica with their original music was beaten out for best Metal Performance at one time by Jethro Tull.
[ CONTINUED: Lopez and Lip-Syncing ]
KEVIN RIDOLFI, a graphic designer and Web programmer from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, is the creator and editor of Renaissance Online Magazine.
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