THE LEFSETZ LETTER: The Grammys

Everybody hated them.


I did not.


But there were no hooks, no moments that drove me to the computer, that made me want to write to you.


It turns out everybody's disappointed that their music wasn't featured. Or, if it was, it was featured in a bastardized way. They've had enough of the "Grammy Moments," they've had enough of the CBS promotions, and they've had enough of no-talents eclipsing legends.


Not that legends didn't appear.


What are we supposed to do? How can the Grammys compete with the "Walking Dead"?


Bob Lefsetz, Santa Monica-based industry legend, is the author of the e-mail newsletter, "The Lefsetz Letter". Famous for being beholden to no one, and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

His intense brilliance captivates readers from Steven Tyler to Rick Nielsen to Bryan Adams to Quincy Jones to music business honchos like Michael Rapino, Randy Phillips, Don Ienner, Cliff Burnstein, Irving Azoff and Tom Freston.

Never boring, always entertaining, Mr. Lefsetz's insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music's American division and consultancies to major labels.

Bob has been a weekly contributor to CelebrityAccess and Encore since 2001, and we plan many more years of partnership with him. While we here at CelebrityAccess and Encore do not necessarily agree with all of Bob's opinions, we are proud to help share them with you.

That's why ratings were off. Because television is king and you can see all of the performers on the Grammy telecast all the time, they're whoring themselves out for fame. And the more people beg, the more people sell out, the less we can identify.


The show started with AC/DC.


What kind of fucked up world do we live in where AC/DC begins "Music's Greatest Night" with a new song that doesn't qualify for an award and never needs to be heard again?


One in which Madonna loads so much crap upon one lame song you felt sad for her.


One in which Kanye gets two featured spots, as if everybody's afraid he's gonna diss them, so he gets his way. Any amateur knows Kanye was autotuned, because the man can't sing, but he gets a pass.


However the song he did with McCartney and Rihanna…


Rihanna killed! Closed me in a second. Paul's mic was nearly off and the song wasn't a hit and…


That's the problem with the whole damn show, the songs weren't hits. In an era where only the best survives, only the best gets our attention, we were subjected to B and B+ material all night long which made the show limp.


That's right, it all comes down to the song. And writing a great one is hard. Just because you diet down to nothing, spend all day in the gym, fly around Staples and are backed up by a choir and an orchestra that does not make your song good.


But I thought Jeff Lynne was pretty good. "Evil Woman" especially. And I loved seeing Paul McCartney stand and sing to "Mr. Blue Sky." He did it spontaneously. Too much of the other standing O's were herd mentality.


And the only performance I remember vividly is Dwight Yoakam's with Brandy Clark. That was music. Some picking, a song and some singing. It's easy when you know how to do it.


And I'm glad Sam Smith won all those awards.


As for Beck's… That's what happens when you have a geriatric white Academy membership. Letting these bozos vote on new music is like letting aged men vote on Oscars. Oops, that happens! But at least there are fewer movies. I guarantee you most people voting were not familiar with the material. There are a hundred categories. Name recognition is key.


Which is why the awards are worthless. If you're proud you won a Grammy I feel sorry for you. The truth is great music ascends and survives. And so much of what the Grammys honor fades in the rearview mirror.


But you know who did win? Imagine Dragons. They hijacked the whole show. Target bought an ad that looked like a performance. And they got to perform ALONE!


Who said music must be a duet? This Grammy Moment thing is out of hand.


But come on, the show is better than it used to be. It used to have an endless classical segment and way too much talking, never mind a ton of awards. You're just complaining they didn't feature your tunes.


As for Prince talking about the necessity of albums…if only he'd made a good one in a zillion years.


But he's a killer live performer. And the truth is the action has shifted from recordings to concerts, experiences. Recordings can be faked, can be canned, they're the juice that gets you going, but the action is at the show.


So I don't know where we go from here.


Kill the "Walking Dead"?


Require anybody on the Grammy telecast to not appear on TV for six months prior?


We can start by letting people only play their hits, that were nominated. We can try to restore gravitas and importance to the awards but the truth is the whole Grammy organization is whored out to CBS and is beholden to Ken Ehrlich. It's all about that network check. And networks demand ratings. So you can take no risks.


But the truth is what once was is now gone.


What once was artistry. Mystery. A magnetism that could not be denied.


What we've got now is overbaked, overdone productions. It's like the artist is begging you to like them. And that's positively creepy.


So, we need hits.


Performed by people who can play.


With little production.


But I don't think that will move the ratings needle. Because music just ain't that important. And the nominated are no longer heroes. You've got to be brain dead to look up to most of the nominees.


So when you sit home and complain that the show sucks, you're right.


But this is the best these people can do. If you want any different, you have to wipe the slate clean and go in a whole 'nother direction.


You've got to have self-respect.


That's what's wrong with music, it's lost its self respect. It's all about money and sponsors and bitching that you just can't make enough cash.


When the truth is music is more powerful than everything but sex. When done right it's a magic elixir that draws adherents and enhances life.


But little of that was on CBS's telecast.


I feel your pain.

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