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Op-Ed: The Grammy Nominations – By Bob Lefsetz

Op-Ed: The Grammy Nominations - By Bob Lefsetz
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This is not about diversity, this is about a CHANGING OF THE GUARD!

The Grammys have been out of touch since day one. They missed the Beatles and they missed Led Zeppelin, hell, the New Artist award is considered the kiss of death. So if they got it so wrong for so long how did they get it so right this time? I DON’T KNOW!

This opacity leads to the question of ultimate winners to boot. Will Jay Z eclipse Kendrick for Album of the Year? Will Jay Z also beat out “Despacito” as Record of the Year? If so, we’ll know the same Grammy organization exists, one wherein members vote upon name recognition as opposed to intrinsic value.

That’s right, the Grammys are a joke. Anybody who believes in them is delusional. The wrong people win and even worse, now the winners don’t even see a bump in consumption.


Amazing how a little dose of truth pays dividends.

I’m eager to see what kind of show they produce. Whether their usual smorgasbord of head-scratching duets or the nominees who gained attention. The truth is network television has lost touch with America. It’s playing to everybody and therefore ultimately satisfying nobody. There’s no truth, no essence, nothing you can truly relate to like on HBO or Netflix. They excised the classical performances, will they excise ROCK?


Look at the nominees for Best Rock Album. Most people have never heard Mastodon, the War On Drugs, possibly the most deserving, can’t break out of their press niche, the Queens of the Stone Age have never gone broad and no one knows who Nothing More is. So maybe you get Metallica, since they’ve got the most name recognition in a backward category.

This is the end of the baby boomer hegemony. AND THEY DON’T LIKE IT!

The boomers thought they and their sound would triumph forever. But this turned out to be wrong. Oh, they’ll go see old bands made up of one member and a bunch of youngsters, but they’re not big new music consumers, otherwise these rock acts would be big names.

And they hang on to their files and CDs when everybody knows the action is in streaming.

And I won’t say the hip-hop acts lack mainstream coverage, but they absolutely dominate streaming, which demonstrates consumption, as opposed to manipulated radio charts. The lunatics have taken over the asylum, AND IT FEELS SO GOOD!

If the Grammy show wanted to survive, they’d let it be dominated by hip-hop, swipe away the detritus of old and focus on the new, on the future, but the problem with the organization is it always looks back, and as Don Henley sang you can never look back. Which is why he is a legend and winners like the Starland Vocal Band have been forgotten. It’s all about what you’ve got to say. AND THE RAPPERS SAY IT!

If you don’t like Childish Gambino’s “Redbone,” you don’t have ears.

Then again, it was influenced by Bootsy Collins’s “I’d Rather Be With You,” then again, Zeppelin and the rest of the blues-rockers wore their influences on their sleeves, even if they may not have acknowledged them.

And “Despacito” is a grand slam. From the video to the groove to Bieber, you cannot complain. It’s a deserving winner.

So if you’ve been living in the past…

The world has just passed you by.

And speaking of passed by, the refusal to acknowledge the impact of country is reflective of the division in our society at large. It’s made for crackers in red states, or at least the Grammys think so. Then again, the CMAs is always a better show than the Grammy telecast.

As for Ed Sheeran, America has now turned into the U.K. Where they build ’em up only to tear them down. So let me get this straight, if you evidence talent in multiple genres you’re a loser?

Come on.

But not only is Sheeran a winner, but maybe even bigger is John Mayer, who gave up chasing hits and is still selling arenas solo and stadiums with the reconstituted Dead. Because he’s learned the action is not on the hit parade, but in fans’ hearts. This is what screwed up the popsters, they lived from hit to hit, there was little base.

But there’s culture in hip-hop. Something completely absent from rock.

And we don’t know whether these nominations were massaged by committees, and as was said above, we have no idea what the final vote will be, but one thing’s for sure…

Overnight, the Grammys became relevant. The winners will get airtime in a world where it’s hard to get traction, it will pay dividends.

As for those nominated in categories other than the top four, forget about it. They won’t let most of you on the telecast and the truth is you may feel good about yourself but it ain’t gonna impact your career. There are too many categories featuring music with little traction, never mind manipulated winners based on friends in the academy. If I was running it they’d eliminate all those superfluous awards. Because everybody needs to play with the big boys (and girls!) Either you make music with ubiquity and reach a large audience or you’re irrelevant. Yup, that’s the world we live in, one of winners and losers. Make your pop, jazz or rock album penetrate our consciousness, otherwise giving you an award is like giving a kid a soccer trophy for participation.

Piss you off?

I bet I did.

But you can’t handle the truth.

And the Grammys just dropped a whole bunch of it on you this week.

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