Op-Ed: We Was Robbed! - By Bob Lefsetz
Jay-ZBy Rich Thane / CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Op-Ed: We Was Robbed! – By Bob Lefsetz

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The Grammys are worthless, despite what Bono extemporaneously said. Made me believe you’re better off reading the script. When you get this old you go for gravitas, you don’t show up for every photo op, but Paul didn’t get the memo, he thinks if he gets facetime his audience will care, but his audience is nearly geriatric, best to play “The Unforgettable Fire” for them, they’re done with new music.

But that’s what this show is about, and that’s where it fails.

The big winner this weekend was Chris Stapleton. Who has not only been anointed god of country music, but our single hope for rock and roll and guitar-based tunes. Not only his victories tonight, but his appearance last night on SNL, with Sturgill Simpson, he’s not afraid to share the spotlight, he got the hip-hop memo, and he’s got sales/consumption too. Stapleton is real music. And he’s the toast of Nashville. What could be wrong with that?

And despite trying to keep Ed Sheeran down, he won for Best Pop Solo Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album.

And Portugal The Man won for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

But there were so many faux pas and guffaws it was mind-bending.

Do the Foo Fighters win whenever they’re nominated? Is their retread rock the only known entity in this moribund field?

And speaking of which, what kind of bizarre world do we live in where Leonard Cohen wins the Best Rock Performance.

But the greatest crime of all was Bruno Mars’s victory for Album of the Year. 24k Magic is utterly meaningless, well-honed pop for the mindless. Not challenging, not cutting edge, not as good as what came before, but he’s safe enough to play the Super Bowl twice so let’s give it to him.

HUH??????

Talk to the NFL players, THEY ALL LISTEN TO HIP-HOP!

I would have been angry if Jay Z beat out Kendrick Lamar, but this is positively INSANE!

They’ve got a #metoo segment, the Grammys are all touchy-feely, and then they end up being RACIST???

Believe me that’s true. Its members hate hip-hop. The organization must be decimated, superseded. Come on, when comedians and Presidents win Grammys you know it’s messed up. And the endless categories which ultimately ensure too many people with their heads up their asses vote in categories they’re clueless about no wonder the awards are irrelevant and ignored by the younger generation. Time marches on, but the Grammys remain stuck in the past. Jethro Tull was not an exception. If you didn’t know that Kendrick Lamar put out the Album of the Year, then you don’t have your ear to the ground, which Grammy voters don’t.

And where’s the apology?

Get Neil Portnow on morning TV, have him explain this. How he runs a white-dominated racist organization. Hell, there’d be riots in the street if anybody thought this award meant anything.

But in a year where hip-hop dominated in a way rock hasn’t in decades, where no other sound has in decades, to shut it out and disrespect it this way is a travesty.

It’d be one thing if only the African-Americans listened to it. But the white kids eat it up, they rap in country…BUT HIP-HOP CAN’T GET ANY RESPECT!

But you’ve got white dudes saying racism is passe. Bitching about reverse racism. Saying you’ve just got to put your nose to the grindstone, anybody can succeed, and then you shut hip-hop out? What kind of message does this send? That hip-hop and African-Americans are second class citizens and no matter what they do they deserve no respect.

This is a serious issue. You may not be black, you may not like hip-hop, but the world only works when we’re united and we all get respect, we’re all treated equally. But we’ve got a government trying to jet us back two centuries, Charlottesville was not an anomaly, we’re willing to stick up for white women abused by powerful men, but when it comes to African-Americans…SCREW ‘EM!

But the joke is on the Grammys and the government. They’ve got no sense of history, they don’t know it’s about hearts and minds. That’s how North Vietnam beat the United States. You can’t break passion.

And that’s where it is in music today, hip-hop.

What doesn’t break us only makes us stronger.

This kick to the face, this spit in the eye…

Hip-hop will emerge victorious.

And should boycott next year’s Grammys completely. Hell, the show needs rappers more than rockers. Sometimes you’ve just got to say I’M MAD AS HELL AND I’M NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE!

Sometimes you have to go on strike.

Sometimes you need a new organization and new awards.

This is a black eye on the Grammys. They think they can duck and cover, push back, but that didn’t work for Harvey Weinstein and Steve Wynn and it won’t work for Neil Portnow and the Grammys.

He should step down and put an African-American in charge, he’s been in power long enough.


But no, nothing can change in the overcompensated white music business.

Same as it ever was.

DISGUSTING!!!


The Industry Responds

Thanks for this, Bob. I’m African American and a hip hop fan first and foremost, and I realize I’ve been desensitized to hip hop getting the short end of the stick from the Grammys since the 80s. It didn’t occur to me that this traditional shafting is out of step with hip hop’s newfound dominance. I appreciate the kick in the pants.

Rob Thony

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In 1980 when we did Rapture I wound up in lots of discussions with record company types about Hip Hop, then mostly referred to as Rap. I’d say ninety nine percent of these guys would tell me it, Rap, was a ‘fad’ and would soon go away.

Chris Stein

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Facts:
90% of the Grammy noms for the last 10 years have been men.
70% of the Grammy voters are men.
80% of the Billboard Power 100 List is men.
80% of radio playlists are men and controlled by men.

But Neil Portnow, tell us again about how fixing this problem BEGINS with women “stepping up” and showing some interest in being creative or being executives. He believes we would be welcomed with open arms.
Back it up, sit down. Or better yet, step down.

Sincerely,
Angelica Cob-Baehler

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Speaking of disgusting… how about Neil Portnow’s generous invitation to “step up” if women have “creativity in our hearts and souls”. Sorry sir I didn’t realize my lack of soul was the problem (how tone def in a arena full of #metoo & #timesup reminders). As for stepping up, we’d be happy to step up the only problem is we’ve been knocking on the door for so long that we’ve gone elsewhere. Perhaps you should try unlocking the door to your welcome party.

Sincerely,
A Founder Who Didn’t Wait To Get Asked To Join The Table – SHE BUILT HER OWN.

Kim Kaupe
Co-Founder, ZinePak

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I’m sorry, Bob, but Bruno Mars is the bomb and if you haven’t seen him live then you’re on the outside looking in.
You’ve just missed the entire train. We forgive you, but catch up!

David Dennard

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i did not watch last night. i am literally sitting here with my jaw dropped after reading bruno mars won album of the year. unfuckingbelieveable. we truly live in the bizarro world…he’s gotta know in his heart of hearts that his album is not a ‘winner’. w.t.f.

Denise Mello

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Bob;
U2 … BORING AND WHORING
best andrew loog oldham

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Hi Bob — I’ve been a voting member of the Academy since 1975 — but I stopped voting several years ago — I am just too far removed from the music.  That’s obvious to me.

Nothing makes NARAS the final word — just like no one anointed the R&R HOF.

If they’ve become irrelevant or worn out their welcome, there’s no reason why a new organization couldn’t be formed that speaks with a stronger voice to today’s audiences.

It takes a strong leader but in today’s social media world, getting the word out is easier than ever.

Jim Charne

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This is not a new thing — it is just one more example of what has happened far too many times in the past.

The solution is to change the voting system.

Since voters are selecting their favorite among five nominees, the winner can have the support of 21% of the voters.

The solution is to have the voters rank the nominees — or to select their first and second preferred winners.

When raised in the past, the objection has been that people will game the system by putting the most likely challenger to their favorite in the fifth position. But  would that produce a less accurate result?

And limiting to first and second would reduce that.

Roy Lott

P.S. At the same time, they should change the voting process so that there isn’t the September 30 cutoff date. How about at least November 30?

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I agree and disagree.  This is like the last election.  It’s all about the vote.  More of the hip hop community needs to sign up, pay their dues, and then actually vote.  For example, I have been a voting member since the early 2000’s and some years I forget to vote.  This year I voted in all the prelim counts, then got busy for the final round.  Now again, like years past, I wish I would have seen it through.  DESPACITO changed culture this year and proved to the word that a great song can win, regardless of language.  The is something I have been yelling for years.  That deserved at least song of the year.  If only I would have voted?

Charles Chavez

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The Grammys are voted on by the members. I’ve served on the Chicago Board, and I know first hand that when I was there we worked very hard to reflect all communities with our board members, and reach out to all for membership. If you don’t join, you can’t vote. If you can’t vote, your genre will be under-represented. You’ve opted out of the system. I’m not saying the Grammys are perfect, but in my experience the hearts of the people involved are in the right place.

Thanks for all you do. I’ll keep reading with pleasure.
Ralph Covert

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Pretty much on the nail.

My fb feed is full of people my age who have become our grandparents.

Hugo Burnham

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Completely agree.  The fact that Alessia Cara won Best New Artist (and hasn’t dropped a new album since 2015, and received the same honor from BET awards in 2016 I believe) amid Khalid, SZA and Lil Uzi Vert, is blatant in its message.   Not saying she isn’t an amazing artist, but it’s not “New”.  This shows how very out of touch the Grammy voters are to the true target market of music purchasers.

I work with many hip hop artists and am a middle aged, while woman.  We found Khalid and SZA before they even became a bleep on the E News radar, because they were oozing talent.  They more than anyone this year were robbed because of their legitimate newness and if I’m being honest, being the only competition in this category.  Lil Uzi Vert is great, but the quality of his work isn’t on the same level as these two.

Maybe it’s time for fresh blood on the voting panels?  I know I see the disconnect and hope I’m not in the minority.

Angela
Virtuosity Memphis

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The Recording Academy should swap out the word “Best” for “Safest” for each Grammy award category because that’s truly the only creative quality they ever celebrate.

Best regards,

Joe Daly

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A few points:
1) Until something changes, a Grammy’s really means nothing. Yes, I’m sure the artist appreciates it, but it doesn’t move the needle.

2) The Foo Fighters could make a record simply consisting of Dave Grohl screaming, while playing a cowbell and a bass drum. AND IT WOULD GET NOMINATED FOR A GRAMMY.

Mainstream rock has had an identity crisis for about 25 years now with no mass medium to support it. Everyone is in their own little circle making the rock categories irrelevant. I’m glad The National won, but how does that help to enlarging their fan base?

3) When it comes to the EGOT, the Tony holds the most value. If you win a Tony, things change. The shows will sell out, Broadway die hards will stand in the cancellation line to get tickets, it will spark nationwide tours. The Tony will give an actor/producer value.

Broadway is the last medium of exclusivity.

-Dan Rosenberg in Park Slope

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Thank you, Bob. I couldn’t agree more. They managed to keep rap in its own ghetto, rewarding it only in the specific rap categories. I thought Kendrick had the Best Album too but if not him surely Jay-Z or Childish Gambino. But once again the Grammys veered wildly into the middle of the road. I have nothing against Bruno Mars. I don’t listen to his music but every time he’s on TV he’s spectacular. A great performer? Yes. But Album of the Year? Please.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to see a number of older white guys I know bitching on Facebook because time has passed them by. I’m an older white guy myself. All it takes is to open your ears and your heart but they’re unwilling to do so. I love the old music like you do but there’s great new stuff too. But it’s not necessarily rock, although War on Drugs won a very well-deserved award for Best Rock Album (do these guys even know that band?), and therefore beneath their consideration. It borders on something much worse than mere musical taste.

Ken Shane

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Good post.   As far as I can tell, if you renew your membership each year you automatically stay a voting member for life.    It should be like a drivers license, come in for an eye test every 10 years.  There should be constant recertification, that your credits are real and current within the past 5 years.   Maybe even multiple choice, if you don’t know who Sza or Lorde or Juanes is – you’re out.

But how is it different from every other election?   Most people do not vote against their party line – and have no idea who half the names on the ballot are.

All the best,

Barry Ehrmann

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I love you for this.. love your position on hip hop now. You see the light brightly.

Josh Berman

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Truth.

James Topham

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And to your point, one of the high moments was Chappelle beginning his presentation of rap album nominees by CLOWNING the BORG for a conspicuous lack of nod to A Tribe Called Quest’s amazing and timely record.

Charles Raggio

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I couldn’t agree more. WFT was that? My 15 and 13 yrs old nieces were right next to me for the start of the show…ripe for the taking. They were glued to Kendrick…it was a great opening. He was about art, creativity, expression. My nieces knew that Kendrick was not doing the safe thing, they knew his album well enough to know he was being creative, pushing the envelope by not performing his music exactly as it sounds on the album. They found this ‘brave’. But it was all downhill from there. They had no idea who Sting and Shaggy were…during the skit and then again during the performance, where they tuned out…permanently. My older niece checked back in towards the end, only to see Bono…and she pronounced “he shouldn’t perform anymore, you know, so people will remember them as cool”.  It’s teens and tweens that the Grammy’s desperately need to survive. If this is any indication of their plan for “the future” they are doomed to extinction. Good riddance.

D. Cutler
Vancouver, Canada

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There are other problems with the Grammy awards.   How many songs or albums have the voters actually listened to?   The members get to vote. But who are the members?  How ethnically diverse are they?  The organization has made some attempts to modernize their procedures by limiting the umber of categories a voter can participate in.  But even within the categories, the more publicized and promoted songs or albums are the ones that the voters know about.   Someone who particularly likes one genre of music and sot of likes another one is obviously not going to be conversant with everything recorded in the second category.

Unless the voter has a really encyclopedic knowledge of what has been released in a particular year, their vote is not going to reflect excellence.  It’s most apt to reflect sales and promotion.   You’re right that people get robbed, and odd choices are made.  Are the Rolling Stones a traditional blues group?

Dick Weissman

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I’m sure many will point to the fact that Bruno Mars is Hawaiian islander, of Puerto Rican and Filipino ancestry, so he’s hardly a white guy. And he has talent.

So they’ll try to shout you down.

But we all know that Grammys did, in fact, reward toothless derivative pop over actual artistry (even though that artistry is also wildly commercial).

Of course it was all about fear of hiphop and blackness.

Having grown up in a world where Stevie Wonder would win and then Paul Simon would win, I stopped watching years and years ago.

And since I write about jazz, don’t get me started on the Grammy picks in that realm; there are roughly 12 well-connected people who seem to control that entire list.

Best,
Larry Blumenfeld

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Bravo bob

Problem is the academy is too old and young artist don’t care about voting process because it takes forever to log on and go through the pains of pre voting

Sza not winning anything was the biggest robbery of the night and Childish Gambino not taking home more than 1 was ridiculous

Jon Lieberberg

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Bob, Its a TV show that funds everything and the broader the audience the better.  Ratings down 21%?  There’s a reason, and though the Rap/Hip Hop crowd streams billions, the mainstream crowd that likes music often hates rap.  And its the mainstream crowd that gives you TV ratings. So they pander like crazy to the masses for the TV show. The only real crime was the Kesha ‘getting even’ melodrama….but the mainstream loved it right?

Bill Siddons

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I’ve never heard of Kendrick Lamar. But I’m pretty sure he can’t sing play an instrument well, write music or do much of anything that qualifies for music. A collage of samples and “beats” as a bed underneath street poetry does not qualify as music. Oh you may be a fan of it and it maybe cool but it certainly does not classically qualify as music thereby should not win a Grammy. Create something else for that form of art  but It cannot stand next to Dylan, Joni Mitchell or the Beatles. It’s just not the same thing.

And cut the shit with racist crap. It’s all the left has and it’s so tired that even you guys are tuning it out.

Sean Mormelo

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Despacito WTF-cito? Bob, I had to google (after watching the show) to understand that I didn’t miss “it” and in fact understood the alternate reality of the upside-down correctly: Despacito didn’t get a Grammy??? WTF?! Hip hop is good stuff. Ok. But reagatton has been and is the world’s most prominent genre (and maybe the second or third in the US after hip hop and country). It has been for a decade. Immigration, equality, fairness, bullshit! 4.7 billion views on a Spanish language version, and pure garbage gets the Grammys but not the real hits and popular music. Very disappointing.

Yuri Mamchur

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fuckin tell’em Bob.

Sruly Heller

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Wow! Powerful! Thank You!

Marcus Grant

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Reminder: in 1995, three years after Nirvana and alternative music took over the zeitgeist, the Grammy award for Album of the Year went to Tony Bennet Unplugged (what’s a “plugged” Bennet record sound like?)

And Leonard Cohen?  Perhaps you can recall that Bowie never won a Grammy for his music until he died.

The Grammys have systemic, long term problems that go far beyond Neil Portnoy.

Rich Costey.

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I was watching WWE Royal Rumble. I probably enjoyed that far more than the frustration I’d have had watching Grammys. Besides the big final angle was Ronda Rousey has signed with WWE and will do a WrestleMania bout. That will get mainstream pub.

Michael Tearson

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Conspiracy says Bruno won because of cbs special

Kendrick should of swept!

Amen to Stapleton the ONLY bright spot SNL was awesome

Mark DiDia

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As an African-American woman, I got only two words for you…THANK YOU.

Best,
Danielle Johnigan
Founder, Onest Homme Apparel

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Bruno sells more tickets than any rapper and is more talented. End of story my man.

Josh Humiston
APA.

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Yes!!!

jht99

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I don’t know if you noticed, but the guy with the biggest track in the streaming world right now wasn’t there tonight – DRAKE.  He boycotted, because he already knew about everything of which you speak…

Sure, Bruno’s got a great, fun record.  But until they figure out how to properly represent the actual industry in the voting, the same members vote on all the categories, and the same media metrics (Big Champagne?) are used.  Bruno – click. Bruno – click. Bruno – click. Bruno – click…

Very little joy in tonight’s broadcast, and I found the tribute to the Vegas shooting victims to be utterly disrespectful.  Show me the names.  Show me pictures.  Don’t show me a fledgling performance with blurry names on blocks!?!

And I completely agree that Leonard Cohen has no place in Rock Vocal.  Same category as Chris Cornell?  Puhleeeeze…

John ‘Beetle’ Bailey
New Hamburg, ON, CANADA

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Here is what I wonder: how come no one is talking about the fact that so very few women were even nominated (except in the Pop category)?  How come no one is talking about the fact that SZA was nominated in five categories and won exactly ZERO awards?

The music business seems to like their women performing showing cleavage or presenting with cleavage but not so much when it comes to giving them (lame) awards. And, clearly, as you have pointed out, the music business isn’t fond of blacks and especially black women unless they are presenting/performing showing cleavage.

I am almost disgusted with myself for watching except that I wanted to see Elton and Miley (poignant) and Chris and EmmyLou and SZA and Logic – these musicians are all the real deal. Too bad that the business overall doesn’t really walk Logic’s walk (re diversity message).

Pamela van Giessen
Just a music lover in Chicago

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You’re mostly right but your endless swipes at U2 have the unintended effect of making you seem just as old and irrelevant. How about noting they’re at least canny enough to be part of Kendrick’s amazing, fiery performance? Lamar is the real deal and will have a more meaningful career than Mars, who seems a couple years away from a Vegas residency. The Onion was right-Mars got Grammy for Least Threatening Performer.

Christopher Allen

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Bruno’s record was a stiff, but that’s much less  of a story than the Despacito snub. Other than being a little heavy on ballads, as Mr. Mars himself remarked, I thought the show was pretty balanced, with enough hiphop to suit me, but I’m a white boy from the midwest, what do I know, except that Latin music is an enormous market that the Grammys routinely ignore.

Mojo Bone

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Amen, Bob.

When Bruno won over Kendrick TWICE, I exclaimed both times that it was ridiculous, and my queen said, “What’s the problem? People like Bruno Mars.” My response to her was basically your sentiment: Bruno made an album that is all about dancing and shaking your body and having a good time, in his own words “pure joy.” Bruno is singing about strawberries and champagne like the world isn’t burning. Kendrick is reminding us to be humble.

Who the hell is feeling pure joy in our country right now???

Don’t get me wrong I like Bruno Mars. He’s a talented, driven, focused, successful dude. But it’s almost like the Grammys figured awarding him would be acceptable to the black community, since the Grammys probably consider Mars as a cocoa Justin Timberlake-safe, no rough edges, except the ones that get played up for sex appeal.

I think they’re afraid to recognize and crown hiphop artists as true innovators and legends because, to the Grammys, it would be equivalent to changing the regime in the public eye, anointing black people as the new kings and queens of popular music.

But they are. And they deserve to win.

I don’t hear anyone bumping Leonard Cohen when I’m at a stop light.

More like Shammys.

Best,

John Kay

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Thank you: “They’ve got a #metoo segment, the Grammys are all touchy-feely, and then they end up being RACIST???”

I watched the Granny awards tonight and saw hip hop show up as a vital throughline for humanity, vitality, and virtuosity in American music. Curious to know what the judges thought they heard.

Kenny Lee Lewis

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Oh my god.
You’re upset about the Grammies.
You have a sense of rage about the Grammies.
How you can spare any vitriol to such an unimportant fellation is astounding.
Dude, open a window; there are important things to be angry about.

Rich Zweiback

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As a old white woman with a masters degree in English literature who supports Trump wholeheartedly, I cannot for the life of me figure out why anyone would listen to “obscene nursery rhymes” or what you would call hip-hop. Every aspect of this genre is infantile, from the laughable rhyming schemes to the disgusting demands for sex, money and drugs right now. This is not art; this is a cry for therapy.

Art demands artifice – a certain disinterested distance from the facts that allows universal truths to be portrayed. True artists cannot be trusted for the facts. Entertainers cannot be trusted for the facts or the truth.

Paula Van Dellen Eastman

P.S. Hip hop is not the thing right now. Never has been and never will be.

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Bob…..Rap owns the charts and Kendrick Lamar should have won everything!….. I get it but the highlight of the show and the only great song was an almost 60 year old “Somewhere ” from West Side Story and arguably the best female performance was a 60+ year old Pattie Lapone.

The audience knew it and the music industry should learn something from it. Too many words, too much narrative, not enough music and not enough singing doesn’t make for great songs or great TV.

Randy Berswick

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Really?

Oh come on Bob. Hip-hop rules, its stop being edgy and is mainstream.

Jay Stewart

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Haha true

Die was beetje te fara

Maar dope dat Lefsetz hip hop defend en anti racist is

Gertjan Mulder

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Right fucking on!
John Brower

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Neil Portnow is a lovely, generous human being as all who know him will attest.  On the other hand, you, sir, are an injudicious asshole.

Go fuck yourself.

Regards,
Joe Hardy
Houston

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Tyler, The Creator should have won Best Rap Album!

Bryan Sanders

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I couldn’t bear all of it, but Stapleton (who’s pretty much great any time) and Harris singing Petty was moving. (Hey, I’m old.)

But did you notice there were more dead promotors, executives, marketers and whatever than gospel artists in the In Memoriam? Struck me as racist and disrespectful; glad you call it out too.

Cotty Chubb

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Another example of Lefsetz wearing hip hop knee pads. Talk about doth protesting too much!  This reeks of total falsehood re rap.  Though I agree in general with his other comments- not that I would waste one minute watching the bullshit Grammies which have been total bullshit since day one. Didn’t even know they were on tonight or last night or this month.  Like who gives a flying fuck. More record industry ass kissing.

Derek Morris

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Bravo!
I waited until this morning to read your piece because I was so simply astonished when the show was over last night. What world did the people who vote and run the recording Academy live in? Obviously a parallel universe that does not include the understanding that hip hop is King and old white guys are irrelevant.
Your piece was spot-on and should be read by everyone in the music industry because it really does give a reality check that many people involved with the Grammys, whether running the show or voting on songs that they have no familiarity with, need to read.
The Establishment trades will talk about how wonderful the show was and all the chilling moments like seeing Emmylou Harris up on stage, but you captured the real story. Again, thank you for being the voice of reason when it comes to how completely fucked up the music industry is.
Mark Edwards Edelstein

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Man Bob that’s harsh.

Some great performances tonight. The sound was improved.

I agree Kendrick should have won. I do believe that will be the album
that stands out in twenty years.

That said the level of craft and quality on all the album nominees was very high.

It’s not the end of the world. This is a business with great artists challenging ‘each
other to be better. I think it showed tonight.

Peter A. Barker

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OMG you nailed it.    Exactly what we were all watching and thinking.   I love Lenny but for him to win speaks volume.

Chris Stapleton is the future!

Start all over as You said

Richard Vogt

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Wow Bob,

Bruno Mars winning Album of the Year for “24K Magic” is a crime?  Well-honed pop for the mindless?

That’s pretty harsh.  Bruno Mars and the people who work with him create music that’s upbeat, popular and fun – and yes it is well-honed pop.

And what’s wrong with that?  In this day and age, it’s nice to see some music that makes many people happy. As someone who grew up in the era a lot of his music is inspired by, I think the homage is well-done and enjoyable.

So do a lot of other people, evidently. The best crafted pop album of the year winning a few awards seems justified to me.

As to bias against hip-hop, I think you have a point there, and that needs to change, but Kendrick Lamar did win five awards.  That counts for something.

Mark Frieser
SyncSummit

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Bob. You were never a professional musician so don’t define or pretend to understand what is musical. You have no formal training, so let me sum it up for you. Hip hop is popular, but it is not music. Rap is crap.

James Stanley

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I dig hip-hop, but you’re leaving in a dream world if you think Kendrick, or anyone else not named Bruno deserved AOTY.

“Challenging” pop? This isn’t Frank Zappa. Seems like you’ve forgotten why we’re in this, Bob. Isn’t it about the song?! Bruno is winning, and he’ll continue to win if he’s channeling the great Babyface, Jimmy Jam and Teddy Riley!  Man, you’ll really be upset next year, when ‘Finesse’ takes best song.

And what makes pop “cutting edge?” Politics? Kendrick’s stuff is limp, once you take away the political grab. Let’s be honest. Post Malone’s album delivers far more than KL, and he’ll win next year, but not because he’s white.

Whatever happened to the performance critiques? Stick to those, Bob.

I personally thought Miley was the best sounding female of the evening.

-jared

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Your note on the Grammy’s is excellent. Although this is not on the same level as your points, it does point out just how tone deaf Neil and company are. Jamie is the long time drummer for Eric Clapton and did a stint with Steve Ripley and the Tractors and a few others.

I hope you heath is improving.

Mike Busch

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“Was watching the Grammys tonight and was appalled by the so called country singer Eric Church….How dare he use a sacred song written about my longtime friend Eric Clapton’s son Conor’s tragic death…Leave it to Nashville to do something stupid  like that. Write your own song…..God bless and keep Conor Clapton….I’m sure Eric would be disappointed. Some songs are meant to be left alone….Jamie Oldaker…ps. Don’t think I will renew my voting membership with NARAS….”

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Articulate and truthful but gotta’ say, Leonard Cohen rocked!

Jonathan Brinckman

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Didn’t watch the Grammys, but your comments on Stapleton are spot on. More rocking than most rockers and more soulful than most R&B artists today.

Doug Mitchell

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like keith richards said; “rap is for tone deaf people.” he also said; “so many words, so little said.”

nuff said!!!!!!

George Monaco

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I got to say, this is the most God damn funniest thing I’ve read from you.

Mike Schwinn

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Bizarre world, indeed. They had to give Cohen *something*, he’s dead after all, and he’d already had a Lifetime Achievement Grammy. Carrie Fisher for spoken word, though, I can kind of see…

Dave O’Heare

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I agree.

Colin Boyd

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Same as it ever was indeed, Bob.
Sorta reminded of the 60’s when Henry Mancini and Andy Williams and
Herb Alpert were beating out he Beatles and Stones every year,
Or Christopher Cross winning six (6!!!) grammies in 1980.
No, I tune in each year hoping for just one performance that might be
authentic or transcendent. That’s the most you can expect.
I’ll go with Chris Stapleton and Emmylou’s version of Tom Petty’s ‘Widflowers”
as that moment this year. Jean Batiste and Gary Clark Jr. were a close second.
Can’t wait for the 61st next year!
Best,
Michael Wright

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Maybe because you wrote things things will change. It takes one white guy to tell 5 other white guys when they’re out of line. And this is the reason that many of us keep readying. Thanks for always writing from the heart and always being on the right side of history, Bob. — Monica

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No Grammy for Gregg allman???? Ruined the whole night.

Julian McIntyre

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Amen. Amen. Amen. Kendrick Lamar was robbed, but more than that, the message sent was just disgusting. Shame on the Grammys.

NR Davis

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Great letter. Thanks for speaking truth to power!!! Kendrick Lamar’s last 2 records should have been the album of the year in their respective years.

-V. Marc Fort

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Yeh. And Kesha… love that song, but my anus could have sang it better.

Lee Miles

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The Grammys always sucked.

owen

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Hip Hop has been around long enough to get the respect it deserves. Why is this still even a conversation? It’s 2018. Blech.

Joel Bornzin

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Indeed – you’re 100% right about this.

Mark Frieser

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1. I could give a fuck less about hip hop or the NFL or the NBA.
2. All black American lives matter. The crime is the black on black murders that blacks don’t care about.

All the best,
Kevin McCloskey

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Calm down.

Xavier Gonzalez, Jr.

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You watched, that is all they care about. Stop ranting about it and stop watching, that would be
something positive.

govango

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I sat there last night fast forwarding through the show and it was simply terrible.  We don’t need this show any more.

20 years ago it was how we saw the artistic we looked up to.  Today I can simply fire up Instagram or YouTube and see better content than what I saw last night.

The show is dead, not worth watching and just another way for the insiders to pat themselves on the back.

It’s time for the Spotify awards and be done with it.

Jared Polin

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Can’t agree more, great piece!!!
Michael Wijnen
Paris-FR

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OMG. Now you really have lost it. Calling Neil Portnoy’s organization racist.  I worry for you.
You’re losing your mooring.

John Barone in Hollywood

P.S. You have really lost you’re mind if you think Fox is Biased.  You should listen to Hannity every night and Rush from 9-12 on 1150 am to really know what going on .  Sorry but its true. Try it. You’ll be enlightened.

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“But the greatest crime of all was Bruno Mars’s victory for Album of the Year. “24k Magic” is utterly meaningless, well-honed pop for the mindless. Not challenging, not cutting edge, not as good as what came before, but he’s safe enough to play the Super Bowl twice so let’s give it to him.”

With all due respect, Bob, that’s absolute rubbish.

Try telling the reams of people who have been to see Bruno Mars’ sell-out 24K Magic world tour that his album means nothing. He fills his concerts with fun, joy and escapism. Something many need so badly right now.

He is an artist at the top of his game with a faultless work ethic and gives his everything when he records music and when he performs. No artist right now deserves more kudos than Bruno Mars.

Kate Allen

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But Bob… Kendrick Lamar’s record isn’t that good. It’s derivative, his voice is annoying. As an actual young person, who grew up listening to rap, I don’t believe for a second that you actually sit around listening to ‘HUMBLE.’ yourself, instead of reading all the breathless coverage it gets in the NYT, NPR, etc.

– Brian Howell

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Agreed.
I was shocked and embarrassed by the results…

Matt Gorny

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With apologies and all due respect to all who have won Grammys, the Grammys have never mattered. Listen and let live whether  you like hip hop, eay listening, jazz, classic rock, pop, folk, ska or even electronic.

Peace,
Harold Love

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Yeah, but, hip hop sucks Bob!

Agostino Sacfidi

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I guess Bruno Mars isn’t Black?

-TAL HIRSHBERG-

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I happen to be reading the publication of the Mississippi Historical Society (Volume I, 1916)…
It is a very detailed description of how the state had to deal with 300,000 “freedmen” immediately following the Civil War.

Talk about no sense of history.
It’s hard to have it in a country that needs to be so exceptional.

150 years clearly isn’t long enough to reset the bones of the country.

Peter Buffett

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Kendrick was robbed. And did Migos get a single nomination? “Culture” was awesome.

sjwilson

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Hear Him! Hear Him!
Pam Barnes

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Enough of the knocking of U2. Even their worst recordings are better than your rants about them. You’re bitter because they don’t fit your mold.

Their new recording is a fine work. No one gives a shit if it gets streamed or not. Streaming is for the top 40.

Chris Stapleton is not Sturgill Simpson, who makes the best country music with no airplay, no streams and lots of heart.

Let me know when Spotify turns a profit

Terry Maraccini

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Grammy’s Sucked Overall… but Bruno brought the ‘The Party’ back….
Keep it fly and Fun….I needed that.

catherinemary44

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Racist? Hiphop? #metoo? blah blah blah … I’m still waiting for GOOD SONG!

Bob G.

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Bob, Bob, Bob. What gave you the idea that the Grammys meant anything to the real culture in the streets? When the Grammy’s originated in 1959 they were designed to promote what their founders called “Good Music”. This was organized by a core of aging musicians & execs who were terrified musical tastes had been captured by Elvis and his co-conspirators. They were right but their efforts to hide their heads in the sands of change have continued to today and every year we hear the same complaints that the Grammys didn’t reflect current culture. We heard these complaints when Elvis’s only Grammy while he was alive was in “Gospel” for “How Great Thou Art” but nada for all those groundbreaking records that shook the world to its core. Nothing for the Beatles while they were still a group.  The Beatles!!! So rather foolish to think their ears are now attuned to the sounds of the street. They are awards for poseurs who think their in the middle of it but actually too wussy to actually dirty their noses and get into what’s really happening. I think Bruno Mars is awesome and I’m very happy to see him recognized but let’s not allow the Grammys to be our weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Clem

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Elite show for elites.  Grammys. Emmys, Tonys, SAGs, who cares.  We go to what we want.  We see what we want.  You are to entertain us, not lead us.

You miss out on the impact of Middle America, as you and the left always do, and who is really in control. Look at ratings here, NFL, elections.

As you said, Same as it ever was, occasionally one slips through by hook or by crook, but it evens out.

Wes Kelley

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Whoa, too much coffee Bob.  Music for me is about lyrics, voice quality, instruments and most important melody. None of these are present in hip hop.   Yeah, I’m a senior citizen and I admit it; but I love music. If I lived on a desert island and all I had to listen to was hip hop or rap, I would prefer silence.

Hearing geriatric Elton and former bad girl Miley duet on “Tiny Dancer”  was certainly a high light of the Grammys for me.  But you are right hip hop has captured the young of all races, but so has the drivel from Taylor Swift etc. It says more about youth and fads and trends then it does about listenable music.   Hip hop is a form of contemporary angry poetry created by predominently black artists telling the listeners we are here; this is our culture; this is our lifestyle and no amount of structural racism will keep us quiet……But it ain’t music, and the Grammys are still about music.

alan segal  san diego

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SO true. I’ve been saying that the only real music in the mainstream arena the last few years is hip hop. The Grammys are a popularity contest and false. Good article Bob

X
Melissa Evans

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Bravo Bob! What a horrific sounding evening

Buffy Visick

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The most entertaining moments of my day came during intermission of the NHL All-Star game. Yes, Kid Rock doing a real, live performance of American Rock & Roll. Another of his original songs that bring Rock and Country music together. Now that Tom Petty is gone we are down to just a handful of artists that still carry the torch. Kid Rock gets it!!!

Ted Utz

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The Grammys are disconnected from our true culture.

That’s not hyperbole. Viewership was actually down 20+ percent.

I attribute their place in my value metric similar to Billboard ratings. It’s an old guard business and interest is waning based on the separation that’s been created between ‘them’ and ‘us’.

Where’s our Spotify of contemporary music awards?

Henry Chatfield

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the grammys get more irrelevant every year and the ratings suck
you are in “the industry” so you are really honor bound to defend this shit show
but the entertainment stinks
the politics are not wanted or needed
and the music of 2018 is so far inferior to that of 1968 or even 1978 that it is laughable
and lest you think i am some moldy fig… i try to stay current and appreciate first aid kit, the avett brothers, sturgill simpson, jamey johnson, etc
rap is not music… it is misogynistic trash

Ira Transport

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“DISGUSTING!”  You sound like Donald Trump.

Matt Grandi

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Same as it ever was indeed….
….. the Grammy’s were founded to protect the Andy Williams’ of white bread America from Rock n Roll in the first place.
Missed the British Invasion to boot… but that was inspired by those black folks too.
And their devotion to #MeToo? That misogynistic set by the Latin music nomination summed up the hypocrisy nicely.

Sidney Cooke

P.S.They should have invited Melania Trump to sing “Don’t cry for me Argentina”.

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Everyone missing it. Because hip hop was finally acknowledged with the nominations there were too many hip hop albums nominated. And they split the vote. Pretty ironic. All albums better than Bruno. But he was only pop album. Even Lorde isn’t really pop anymore. Oh well. Media can still have a field day with this storyline.

David Schneiderman

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I couldn’t agree with you more but there is an even bigger problem I must take issue with when it comes to the Grammy’s, the sound! The sound quality is atrocious. You don’t have to be an expert to hear how off the mix is. The vocals for most performances were barely audible. You know what might really help turn people on to Kendrick Lamar is if they could hear a word he said! A few times the sound even cut in and out and at one point you could hear a backstage command on a stray hot mic during a performance. How is this the level of professionalism for “music’s biggest night of the year”?  My 17 year old walked in to the room while Kesha was performing and said, “This sounds awful. Is her mic even on?” A fan of the song Praying she stood there watching for another minute before saying, “My ears can’t take it” and leaving the room.
I don’t know who’s to blame: The Grammy’s, CBS, MSG, the sound company but I do know if you want to get people excited about 20+  live performances from artists who are mostly unfamiliar to them you’re gonna have to do better than that.

Take care, Carrie

Carrie Neuman
Music Director
103.1 WRNR

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heard via facebook that “tears in heaven” segment was terrible.  I didn’t watch (I think it is always terrible) so I go to youtube and I can’t hardly find the song.  Top of the search is a bunch of “news” segments about the song and finally I find it on a cellphone-recorded video.  If the people who ran the event were even working with a 20th Century paradigm they would have the top 5 videos for that search(FYI: eric church tears in heaven).  Are they nuts?

Sheesh!

Steve Bruns

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FUCKING PREACH LEFSETZ PREACHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

whoiscapital

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Holy shit, this was the best thing you’ve ever written! STANDING AND APPLAUDING!!!

Baris Ozyetis

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“Who has not only been anointed god of country music, but our single hope for rock and roll and guitar-based tunes.”

Ha! Says the rich lawyer in his ivory tower. You spend so much time claiming you’re ahead of the curve, but you’re just an old guy who gets excited about something they just heard about online (which we’ve all been aware of for years), and then speaks in ridiculous hyperbole about it to make it look like he just discovered the holy grail.

Get out of your box. Chris might be the SINGLE HOPE for guitar music for some rich, old, out of touch white guy like you. But the rest of us on the ground know that’s a load of complete horse shit.

Jon Gunton

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I love conservative Twitter’s criticisms of Jay-Z using/selling/rapping about drugs and how they think that makes him a hardened criminal. Lou Reed, Johnny Cash, David Bowie, Brian Wilson, and Jerry Garcia don’t get criticized for their drug use and aren’t labeled as hardened criminals because of it, yet Jay-Z (and essentially every other rapper) is. Just proves that in society’s view, if you’re a white artist and do drugs, then no harm no foul, but if you’re a black artist and do drugs, then you’re a bad influence and are causing a complete breakdown of social order.

No matter how conservative you are, you listen to music from people who have done or currently do drugs. If you don’t, you were probably that kid in school that got shoved into lockers.

Garrett Gravley

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Settle down, good lord, you’re screaming. 24k was a more popular song. Bruno was EVERYWHERE this year and as proof my 9 year-old (remember who drives this business??!!) was way more familiar with him that Kendrick or Gambino. The Grammys are a popularity contest and Bruno is more popular. Sorry if that hurts.

Tommy Joyner

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I agree, but…

Not one mention on “Despacito”?

I’ve only found two stories on this thus far:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/brittanyhodak/2018/01/29/despacito-snubs-among-biggest-in-grammy-history/#1fc7cc261ea3

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/grammys/8096867/despacito-grammys-loss-song-record-of-the-year-2018-snub-meaning-voters

Please don’t interpret this as hate mail, it isn’t.
I’m just putting it out there in case you haven’t seen them.

Best regards,

Pablo Duran

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Longtime reader…

You tell us nobody watches the NFL and then say we should look to NFL players for their music tastes? Hmmm…

Everyone may like hip hop but Bruno Mars is undeniably loved by many more people plus has cred for being a phenomenal singer and having a band that ACTUALLY PLAYS… Shouldn’t we reward that? Shouldn’t we also reward HAVING FUN when there’s so much BS is the news bombarding us hourly?

If Jay-Z won, would you have complained it’s all samples and to track with nobody playing “real instruments?”

Lastly how are the Grammys racist? The opening was so strongly urban with Kendrick’s extended performance featuring Chappelle that was just NEXT LEVEL…

My two cents…

Dexter Scott
Vector Management

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It seems that you worship African-Americans.  Were your parents racists, making you now go into ‘hyperdrive’ to prove that you’re NOT one?  It certainly seems so.

Black folks don’t want YOU kissing their ass any more than they want to be discriminated against.  Get some black friends.

–M. Chuma

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Yes yes yes!!!

Malcolm Levy

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…Not only that, but I think the commercial break leading into the segment “saluting” Chuck Berry and Fats Domino was longer than the tribute itself!  “Ain’t That A Shame” indeed.

Rob Drucker

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Racist? Really? Is that why Kendrick Lamar opened the show with Chapelle in what could only be described as a big bore? Racist? Then how on earth can you explain a ridiculous category such as  RAP SUNG Performance! WTF!!??!! Do you really want to tally up the race of the artists and presenters and then compare them to the percentages of those races in the general population? If you did your claims of racism would be correct. It would be reverse racism!

The Grammy voters are not racist, they’re out of step as they always have been. Rock and metal were never recognized properly during their heyday either. Why would hip/hop be any different? No matter how strong your need to virtue signal to all of your readers, it isn’t racism. Let’s stop identifying everything and everybody that we don’t agree with including a stupid awards show with labels likes this.

Tag Gross

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Bruno mars is the biggest act in the world, How does he not win? Everyone loves him. His music is infectious. Good for him.

Danny Zelisko

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Well said, Bob. There is a new day dawning.
Thanks for being brave enough to say so.
May others follow in your wake…
MKB

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As a jazz artist and music lover (and former Grammy member) I have tons of complaints about the Grammys, and I agree the show last night was a snore after Kendrick Lamar’s opening.
But I disagree when you call the Grammys racist.
They are white, and male, that is for sure. (as am I)
But I don’t think it is racist to think that rap and hip-hop is not the music that you like to listen to, or that you want to vote for.
This is not a popularity contest (that is why Despacito, a very inane song did now win anything)
Rap and Hip-hop are where the money is now, so of course the Grammys always follow the money.
But the voters get to choose the music they like and think is worthy in each category (hopefully).
And guess what?  The bar to join the Grammys is insanely low (you just have to be credited on a released music project and pay your $100 membership), so the real answer is not to fire Neil Portnow, but to have more women and people of color join the Grammys and vote!

George Kahn

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Wow. I did a celebratory lap around my apartment when Bruno won Album of the Year. 24k was one of my favorite albums of ALL TIME. Yes, right next to MJ’s Thriller. And I’m 40 years old. Bruno is incredibly talented, and he puts out hit after hit. His songs will be playing at every wedding and bar mitzvah for the next 50 years because everyone loves to get up and dance to it. YouTube his performances on the past award shows – he’s a performer with passion. That’s what people pay money to see! Jay Z, as much as I (use to) love him, has had his time. Rock will never die, but you’re right – Hip Hop is where it’s at these days. Chris Stapleton? I’m a born and raised country girl and had never even heard of him, which is strange because I knew Emmy Lou Harris. I appreciate your passion about Kendrick. He dominates and is a hell of a writer/rapper, but when you put him up against Bruno, especially this year, Bruno takes it. Too bad there aren’t awards for 2nd place.

Thanks,
Erica Schecter

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Preach it Bob.
Was watching it, and the show was so boringly pale.
Such a shame.
I really thought this would be the year an award show like that would become relevant again.
They had a shot given the nominees. Oh well..their loss.

Danny Rosario

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I worked for the producers of the Grammy Show back in the 80’s…I was a TV development exec at Pierre Cossette Productions who produces the Grammy’s.

I’m a record guy (E/A 70/80’s) who had had some hits with Delicious Vinyl and managed Tone Loc..we were among first up with Pop/RB success..#1 singles and LP’s in 89/90.

First hand accounts know the Grammys are not racist…ridiculous assumption really.

But…..as a whole… not all…. despise Hip Hop then and now…

They will never get it and that’s a good thing..it was never meant to be liked by them….quite the opposite.

Rap is was Rock once was.. in fact they borrow beats to prove that point….that’s R&R…outrageous courageous and fresh as f…..

TV says Rap just doesn’t work live…well maybe.

Jay Z gets screwed again…the most prominent and credible voice in Rap….shut out….come on.

Truth be told If Jay’s record was on all streaming outlets..he might have won.

I still haven’t heard the record…..have you?

Martin Schwartz

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Bob, I have always put the Grammy’s on my calendar as a “must watch!” No more. What really pissed me off is there is the guy talking about the music biz. Where the hell is Lefsetz? I’m done. See you in LA. tom battista

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The opening montage made me think this Grammy show might be too Hip-Hop centric. Granted, NARAS has been behind the times
and slow to acknowledge Hip-Hop’s growth and present dominance, so that wouldn’t be a bad thing. Then the show turned away
and crashed into all-too-familiar territory, as you noted. And that strange country tribute segment with-really?-“Tears in Heaven”?
Who was that to/for? Gary Clark Jr. and John Baptiste were pretty cool but Chuck Berry and Fats Domino?
Two giants who paved the way for Rock n Roll deserved more.  They didn’t even bother to scroll lists of awards handed out off-screen.

Ricky Schultz

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Absolutely correct.  A slap in the face to the innovation of music.  Bruno Mars openly admits this is a tribute album to the 90s!!

Also concerned with how little Bruno or Alessia Cara (the other huge benefactor of snub) failed to acknowledge the nominees who should have won.  Kendrick, SZA & Childish Gambino were all robbed!

#grammyssowhite

Jonathan Christiansen

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Give ’em hell, Bob! You are spot on.
Burke Long

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A friend shared your commentary on the Grammys which I found interesting and insightful. I agree with you that the selection of 24K Magic as album of the year was almost unbelievable, and I am sure Bruno Mars would agree with us. He tried acknowledge this in a respectful way in his acceptance remarks by saying how deserving of the honor the other nominees were.

I also have a suggestion re your use of “black” for your consideration.

After lamenting how badly black people are treated, and uplifting black artists and Hip Hop, you say:

This is a “black” eye on the Grammys.

I urge you not to use “black” as a pejorative when you are not viewing it as such.

Truth be told, it was a “white” eye on the Grammys.

Best regards,

Arthur T. Himmelman

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That was awesome Bob! You’re one of the best man.

Eric Spence

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Thank you for speaking the truth!

Kela Parker

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Hell, Rap & Hip-Hop remain an EXCLUSION  (or you’re charged double, triple the price) on most entertainment related insurance policies.  I’ve asked the insurance carriers for YEARS, if/when this is going to change.    No response.    But then I work in insurance, also a mostly White Male dominated business heralded over by older men.   Hip Hoppers/Rappers – Rodney Dangerfield said it best,  “No Respect, no respect”

Julie Coulter

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Where to even begin with this screed?

Grammys are racist? Maybe some voters like melody and song structure?

A rapper should never win song of the year, its a rap , not a song, Thats why a Mozart variation will never win song of the year, its classical music, not a song

The tick tick tick of trap and rap music may not appeal to all, and Im supposed to care what NFL players listen to?

So and so deserves to win just because they put some social commentary in their music or allegedly was sexually harassed ?

I checked the complete list of winners. A vast array of talented musicians, all ethnicities and gender.

Grammys mean something to these people.  A musician can charge more for an appearance if “Grammy winner” is on the marquee.

Theres more to music than just pop, rap, and guitar bands.

regards

Thaddeus Graham

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All correct, Bob, but where’s your opprobrium about Despacito?  It’s the biggest selling Latin song of all time, held the #1 spot on the Hot 100 for 16 straight weeks, and is the most streamed song (and video) ever on YouTube.  Internationally, it’s one of the most popular songs ever.

It got snubbed three – count them, three – times.  24K Magic?  What. The. Fuck.

Notwithstanding all the above, in a year in which Puerto Rico got slammed by Hurricane Maria and is still recovering, for the Grammys to snub its all-time number one export is nothing short of disgusting.

I thought the Grammys were a load of shit before last nights debacle; now I know they are.

Cheers,
AKD

PS: It’s also a scam how every song nowadays has 5-6 writers.  I get it: publishing is where the $$ is at, but you’re telling me it takes five dudes to write the four chord songs we have nowadays?  Jesus, Irving Berlin must have been a genius (he was, but you get my point).

Andy Dayes

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Bob – you are saying the grammys are racist because they gave too many awards to Bruno Mars? Someone who is Puerto Rican, Filipino and Jewish?

Lem Oppenheimer

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Come on Bob. Tell us how you really feel about the Grammy’s.  You nailed it with Chris Stapleton. And, Sturgell Simpson.  Been following Sturgell since BG (before Grammy). It’s been a slow claw up the ladder, but he’s finally getting up there. Where he belongs.

Michael Murphy

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What they really should have done is tabled the awards this year and turned the telecast into a fundraiser for victims of sexual assault and/or Puerto Rico. Wouldn’t it have been so much better for everyone if they had squeezed in some more performances and between them had celebrities making pitches for donations instead of award presentations?

You don’t hear anyone talking about any of the annual Grammy shows as a memorable moment, but we sure as hell still talk about Live Aid and the 9/11 telethon (those of us who remember them, at least). Missed opportunity to step up and do the right thing and help others out while raising awareness for a good cause or causes.

Nick Tieder

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As for the Grammy’s I left years ago. In doing so  my meaningless voting status. Portnow’s leadership is of the old guard and worse. Head of the lifeless, white, don’t rock the boat voting wing and as big a part of the regression of America as Trump TV itself…
Greg Philippi
PS
Grammy highlights; Fire & Fury book excerpts, ZELLE commercial and Kendrick Lamar’s militant opening with Chappelles commentary. Only rock artist on the show Chris Stapleton…Oh right he’s not rock. His SNL Performance sure sounded like ZZ Top.

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I can’t watch it seriously, it needs to be background TV just so I don’t kick myself for wasting so much time on crap.

Who watches this show?  It’s not Ed Sullivan time anymore, back then it worked as the parents only had to wade through a short Beatles song to get to their favorite Sr. Wences and the kids could tune out after the fab four.  Does anyone think the young music drivers are willing to wait through Patti Lupone to get to Kendrick (obviously they didn’t have to as the mucky mucks assuaged their conscious by letting him open).

Why would we want to hear Miley Virus sing Tiny Dancer instead of letting Elton start his victory lap?  Dreadful.  Lady Gaga, Pink?  These people haven’t been relevant in years.  Bruno Mars’ awards were particularly onerous and offensive.

Not that the show is worth saving but Portnow et al should be shown the door, his audience is Price Waterhouse.  You can’t be more out of touch.  Peel off Hip Hop and give them their own spot light and throw the rest away.

They even screwed up the ‘in memoriam’ by flashing through the names.  That was the most compelling thing they had going.  Just give the old guard an hour show with little tributes to the legends who are no more and forget all the pop and obscure genre recognition.  None of it will stand the test of time, so why bother.

I’m never watching another one.

John Brodey

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Bob, I don’t think I’ve ever written in before but it was time.  I like your emails (for the most part) and think you often have insightful and meaningful things for us readers to ponder.  But, I think that your note below is complete bullshit.  While the Grammys are a ridiculous spectacle and an event for the hob-knobbers to keep hob-knobbing, I just can’t digest your claim that this is all a big racist ploy.  Yeah, there is racism, sexism and other bigotry in the entertainment industry and as a guy who works in both music and film I can attest to that – – – IT’S REAL AND IT SUCKS.  That said, I ask you if the Grammys were all racist, don’t you think there would be more white folks nominated for the various categories and, in particular, General Field categories???  Album of the Year had no white nominees.  Record of the Year had one white nominee (and she’s from New Zealand).  Song of the Year was mostly non-white writers.  And, Best New Artist had only an Italian-Canadian (winner) and a white American woman.  How is that racist?  I don’t think it is and I think that it’s great to have such a diverse set of artists who truly deserve their nominations to be in those fields.  And, so many other fields too.  The live performances are very much driven towards R&B and hip hop and so are these awards.  That’s because that’s what the people seem to want to see.  Kendrick has time and time again had a platform to speak/perform at the Grammys and he damn well deserves it. He’s smart, talented, creative and people want to hear what he has to say and/or perform.  Me too and I don’t even really care about hip hop…….

I am a rock guy at heart.  And, I am a privileged white dude.  But, I know that I am the minority and I know that my kids and the youth and masses of the world don’t gravitate towards what I like.  So be it.  I am getting older and out of touch.  I’d still love to see real rock n roll hit the stage at the Grammys but that probably won’t really happen again.  Why weren’t there any rock bands on stage (U2 playing from the water doesn’t count in my mind)?  Should I call the Grammys racist for that?  Fuck no.  It’s because most people don’t want to see that these days.

Have you looked at global streaming Spotify numbers for the year of 2017?  I know it’s only one barometer, but Ed Sheeran was the top streaming artist and had the most streamed song on Spotify for the entire year (source – http://time.com/5050155/spotify-2017-most-streamed-music/).  Would you accuse the entire world of streaming users of being racist too?  No thanks……

This world needs more non-white and non-male artists, creators, entrepreneurs, executives, politicians, etc. but it doesn’t need someone with your powerful voice spewing nonsensical racist crap in a world that needs to be less racist.

Can’t we all just get along?

Brent Stiefel

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Watched Kendrick Lamar at the Halftime of the ALABAMA vs. GEORGIA College Football National Championship game.
…and then again at the start of the GRAMMY’S tonight.
I said it after the Football halftime event- and I’ll say it again:
The Worst performance I’ve ever seen at a Half-time show.
And tonight He proved Me right again.
Positively the worst performer to ever hold a microphone to his Lips.
Wretched, Unintelligible, Garbage… from a one-note, overrated, self-indulgent, joke.
Listening to the noise He makes is like being rendered unconscious by the sound of a chain-saw.
I thought My head was going to explode listening to His dreck.
FAB & ROB had more game than this I-don’t-even-know-what-to-call-him… performer.
Yet Kendrick Lamar Wins a Grammy?
Maybe they’ll take His Grammy back somewhere down the road as well… once they realize their mistake.
What I fear most is that Kendrick Lamar is about to become an impossible burr on the Ass of the music industry…
and quite possibly the entertainment Industry at large.
What’s next, a plumb movie role in a Spielberg Film?
I like a W-I-D-E variety of music Bob, but that guy is the worst I’ve ever heard.
He is as bad at what He does -as TRUMP is at pretending to be President.
And yet, they gave Kendrick Lamar a GRAMMY… Christ Almighty…
For that reason alone, I agree with you Bob:
The GRAMMYS… like one of their ‘winners’ tonight… ARE worthless.

Kevin Patrick Goulet

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oooooh & it’s because that so called rappin’ is like going to a gallery and having to read sentences in the paintings …
jeezuz bobby///you out there….on this one/// must b goodfriends with the LA LAWYERS that take most-all the hiphop money
KLaMar is outstanding, yes but …. Mars makes music…yes, it happens to be michaelJackson influenced pop,   but it’s music . theboy can sang… YO !!
sampling scavengers…  you think are relevant ? yes, important… to the lawyers that feed kanye that he is “a genius ” and get away with lion’s share
because they like dealing with the illiterate .
the grammies are silly contests for the masses …but cutout that about-racist dialectic….whateverhowthe acadamysux and is…
it’s still about music…actual music
not drum machine horseshit geared to the 15 yr old that probably has a 5th grade reading level …. sadly …
i enjoy many of your letters but had to tell you …

originalcazman  … all the best & … thanx for the funny letter thistime !!

Dan Cazio

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love you…love your podcasts…love your letters….listen to every musical choice you have given me and you have made me aware of quite a few artists I now like but I’m sorry….i like Eric Church but don’t like Luke Bryan. I am 60…and have never liked hip-hop other than the same records most of America liked….the pop cross-overs…and it’s not because i am 60….I didn’t like Tupac and Biggie…don’t like Jay-Z and Mr Lamar but..I listen to their full CDs because I respect you….just do not hear it. I am not a racist….is it POSSIBLE more people think like I do than the way you think?  Yeesh….racists???….I agree…the Bruno Mars was not very good…but my favorite album of 2017 was the live Dawes and most of my top 10 was Americana like Jason Isbell…I listen…it’s just not my cup of tea and i don’t understand the media blitz…..well..I speak English..I understand it….just don’t hear it….and I’m not a racist….then again…I’m also not a Grammy voter..maybe you can have Mike Greene or Neil Portnoy on a future podcast….?
I mean..this IS the same organization that voted  A Taste of Honey Best New Artist…
Louis Heidelmeier
worked with elektra when Tull beat Metallica and it was the best thing that ever happened to them…

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You have offered a great idea that I thought of 10 years ago. Hippity Hop & Rap should have their OWN awards.

It’s causes headaches and hurts to  listen to most of it, if your not black, poor and didn’t have a dad and your pissed off (supposedly) about life and carry a gun and run around with chains, tattoos and a bunch of thugs.

And having to listen to 2 note adult nursery rhymes ( or cheerleader patter ) at twice the speed of sound over the same sounding machine loop drums that they all use. “Y’all know what I’m saying” and ” Raise your hands in the air” ? Are you kidding? The Curtis Blow Awards gets a resounding YES!

It’s fun to be 62, and a have sweet memories when great artists wrote great SONGS. Your right, Nobody will remember anything about last nights show. It’s all about the dress and who designed your dress?

That’s why we are so grateful for SPOTIFY. Filled with back catalog of music we love & cherish. Filled w/ HIT SONGS.

Christopher Dwight Harris

P.S. You are right…

Every kid can stack bricks on a computer in protools, and auto-tune and yell fuck and hell yeah and say nigger bitch and whine and moan.
Kids are not fooled, no mystery anymore, the great Oz has left the building.

New York, LA, Chicago and Miami traveling on a subway is where earbud HipHop is what kids listen to. And Nashville is literally being run over by little rich white girls with guitars who used to wanna be actresses who couldn’t get arrested in
(used to be fun & sunny) Los Angeles.

And you are right, lawyers run the industry.
Not a pretty picture Bob. Time for some Animals and Stones and “Burning of the MidnightLamp”
Songs on Spotify.
$10 a month for the last 8 years = $960

Good day Bob

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Fuck yeah Bob. Was looking forward to reading this.

What a disappointment. Usually cynical or indifferent to the Grammys, was really hoping for better this year. Fuck ’em. Did not anticipate the Bruno Mars win until all the nominees were up on screen and then….. you just knew. Of course.

Onward and upward. Caught Stapleton on SNL while hanging out with some old punk/alternative whatever guys like myself. Wouldn’t have been on my radar except for your writing, and honestly was watching for Will Ferrell. Everybody dug it. A great is a great band. When you know you know. Getting hung up on genres is a fool’s game.

I really believe ‘rock’ killed itself. First by making it exclusively a white person’s domain (Pat Boone, calling black performers “R&B” when they did the same songs – JIMI HENDRIX was ostracized for playing “white music”), then by squeezing every dollar out while boiling it down. Re-watched “This Is Spinal Tap” recently and was struck at one point when Rob Reiner asked the band something like “your audience is primarily white. Is there anything racist about your music?” Whew! Still relevant. Works until those white kids stop listening. And again – the two best bands from my own era (IMO of course) – Kurt Cobain killed himself, Thom Yorke went crazy and stopped playing rock music. Where’s the hope for young people? For a while it looked like you could just build an alternative world, but most of those bands just got starved out. The ones who survived went so safe that even I couldn’t wait for the trend to die. And yes the Cohen win is weird here in Canada. Not only is he not “rock,” he’s dead. What does he need another award for?

Kendrick Lamar, on the other hand, is amazing. Hip Hop has been building its own infrastructure for years. I wish more people would realize that if you can just put your little allegiances aside and recognize that we live in an era where there’s loads of quality music being made, with something to say, and that you just need to be a critical listener and manage your own intake so you don’t get overwhelmed (and all of your old records STILL EXIST). Then we might not get stuck like this. Had a debate recently on the subject of “there’s no good music any more” with a friend my own age …. this is a guy whose favourite band was BLINK 182. Not exactly high art. Dude, get a Spotify account, throw on a Blink album and let it guide you from there. No, not every recommendation is a winner. But there’s more than enough out there. It’s just not going to be on MuchMusic and you’re not 16 any more.

Anyway. Maybe the big institutions just can’t be trusted to deliver the goods. That’s certainly a narrative that appeals to me as a nobody-from-nowhere punk rock motherfucker.

I will go out on that. Don’t mean to take up too much of your time. My Grammy vote can be found here: http://www.instagram.com/p/Bdegzi8HNTk/ …. and yes content ain’t shit, but i got that instagram handle before anybody else did (not that it matters right now, i kinda gave up when i realized nobody who ‘liked’ my hashtagged pics was contacting me for lessons, my actual students weren’t looking at ig and i needed money….. but once i figure out the online lesson game, look out!!)

Hahahaha. All the best.

Ryan Brown

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I can’t disagree with you about the Grammy’s being out of touch and I’d go further to suggest that when it comes to entertainment value we might have been short-changed.

But as the kind of person who’s always thought Sly and the Family Stone were wonderful and The Velvet Underground weren’t, I think you are being unfair to Bruno Mars.

Now I realize I’ve just admitted I’m old (and presumably irrelevant in my views). But I suggest the reason Bruno’s “24K Magic” is a great accomplishment is that it the most popular funk album in generations. Criticizing Bruno’s album for being shallow is like saying James Brown was light-weight because most of his lyrics weren’t socially relevant.

In some cases lyrics aren’t really the point. I’ve never been anywhere in Europe or Asia in the past 18 months where I didn’t come across music from latest album on an almost daily basis. “Hamilton – Original Cast Recording”: not so much.

It’s obvious why Kendrick Lamar is a giant in his field. Just listen to the guy! And Spotify is the best proof since Soundscan that Hip Hop is a dominant field, globally.

But I recall that you dismissed “24K Magic” when it was first released as not being a hit. I think you were wrong then and I think you are wrong again.

The good news is that you came around on Keith Urban, so there’s always hope.

Keith Brown

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The Grammys certainly feel dated and represent the lowest common denominator in listeners and often in talent. But paint NARAS, it’s entire membership, which would include me, and Neil Portnow as racist is not only bullshit but frankly whiny and juvenile.  Kendrick’s album was great but Bruno’s was ubiquitous… that’s why it won. Full stop.
Seriously Bob???

Susan L. Dodes

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Bob, it’s worse every year.   You didn’t mention Kesha, an entertaining emotive performer whose position on one side of a “he said/she said’ battle automatically wins her a rousing show of support even though thus far the only certain fact seems to be that Dr. Luke is generally disliked by those who’ve worked with him.

Paul Lanning

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We have been following you for years, and this is the best review you’ve written in years. The music industry is racist, misogynist, and as transparently egomaniacal as the republican party. When you have fluffy pop winning over Kendrick fucking Lamar, you know it’s a bust.

All I have to say is…Get Out better win best picture. At least the movie industry feels somewhat of a moral responsibility to try and represent a changing world.

-Marylouise Pels

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The silver-lining is that everything you just mentioned is part of the reason why hip-hop will and continue to dominate, and I’d rather have amazing music like the Kendrick Lamar record as a reaction to the powers that be rather than have him win a grammy for catering to their politics and ignorance.

M.Kato

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Like most people I didn’t watch!!

Doug Gillis

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