21 Grammys

Taylor Swift

Some people claim the human body loses 21 grams at the moment of death, which may or may not be caused by the soul leaving the body. Not coincidentally, some people are silly. But by the time we find out who the silly ones are in this debate, it’s too late. We’re dead.

Do you know what’s worse than being dead? Watching the Grammy Awards.

In the long season of awards shows, the Grammys are the least credible, most crassly commercial of all. The telecast is an advertisement. To get nominated, you don’t have to be good. You have to sell a lot of albums or, these days, get millions of YouTube views. If the Oscars worked like the Grammys, The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, and The Hunger Games would be vying for Best Picture, and Amour would be the odds-on favorite for Best Weird Foreign Film, Arthouse.

Taylor Swift is likable, but Record of the Year for “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”? Going up against the utterly disposable “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson? I’d like to see a new category called Record of the Year That Did Not Use Auto-Tune or Pro Tools to Make a Mediocre Talent Sound Less Mediocre. The Grammy people have to relegate rock, country, and soul albums to sub-category awards so there’s no chance that something good might usurp the throne from whatever innocuous pop tart got the most iTunes downloads that year. Remember when Hurt Locker beat Avatar? If the equivalent ever happens at the Grammy awards, there will be blood.

All right, maybe I’m being harsh. Mumford and Sons sound like something critics enjoy, which is what award nominations in other entertainment arenas are usually predicated upon. You can dislike critics for bashing your favorite guilty pleasure, but they do have a way of bringing attention to interesting musicians and filmmakers.

Mumford and Son

Mumford and Son

Frankly, I want to know who died, lost 21 grams, and left these Grammy producers in charge of giving out awards. These are not the people who should be running this thing. It’s a fraudulent show that is little more than a glorified version of Nickelodeon’s Kid’s Choice Awards. And if, on the admittedly remote chance, I ever get nominated for a Grammy, you’d better believe I’m going to march right up to those bastards and tell them that my editor James rewrote this story, which was once full of praise for their fine telecast, because he is a misanthrope. He even said so.

I can guarantee one thing about this year’s edition: A tribute to Whitney Houston will take place. Upon her tragic death exactly one year ago, the aforementioned editor asked me if I was planning to do a story on her, but I decided not to. America was still in the honeymoon phase regarding her loss. Just like newly elected presidents get a month or two of national acceptance (unless said president is black, in which case the racists get right to work in painting him as incompetent), newly dead celebrities are once again beloved. I had a few negative things to say about Houston, and I didn’t want to appear cold-hearted.

I’ve since softened my stance. Whitney Houston was a rare talent and a beautiful woman, and maybe self-destruction isn’t always a choice. Her also beautiful, also musically gifted cousin Dee Dee Warwick struggled with drug addiction for years as well, ultimately shortening her own life because of it. Sometimes these things run in the family. It’s too easy to blame the addict when you aren’t wired that way.

Whitney Houston

Whitney’s songs were occasionally sappy and melodramatic, and the sometimes tepid or generic songwriting didn’t adequately exploit her soulful side. Perhaps her inclination toward vocal pyrotechnics and away from genuine emotion had a detrimental effect on the pop-music scene, since the artists that followed (Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, et al) seemed bent on outdoing each other with razzle-dazzle singing. Or maybe I was just embarrassed to admit that, as a teenager, my bedroom walls were adorned with her posters. I mean, I was the kid who liked Rush and Kansas and all those riff-rocking, note-flurrying, time-signature-bending prog rock bands. I had imaginary street cred to consider.

That’s the past. I’m only going to be nice to Whitney going forward. Especially now that mom Cissy Houston just released a tell-all book, Remembering Whitney, that apparently digs pretty deep and is causing controversy, not to mention eliciting accusations of exploiting her daughter’s death for money.

Leading the charge is Whitney’s own daughter, Bobbi Cristina (recently photographed smoking what appears to be weed. What did we say about hardwiring a few paragraphs ago?). She recently took to Twitter, the bane of all celebrities with no impulse control, to ask people not to buy the book. At least I think that’s what she said. I have little patience for deciphering the writing of someone who types every other word in caps and borrows the rest from old-school texting abbreviations like “ur” and “2nite.”

Remembering WhitneyHmmm. You’d think that someone who grew up in the public eye would have at least some concept of marketing savvy. If there’s one surefire way to increase a book’s sales, it’s calling for a boycott. In Bobbi’s words, she “won’t tolerate it.” Short of buying every copy (which she can probably afford, come to think of it), there’s not much she can do.

I was in the presence of Cissy Houston a couple of months ago and can say with assurance that she is a sorrowful, broken woman, not a money-grubbing fiend. And, as a parent, I can assure Bobbi Cristina that no matter how much a daughter loves a mother, a mother loves her daughter more. She must realize that Cissy Houston wrote a book about her own daughter, not about Bobbi’s mother.

In other words, stop being such a brat.


Eric J Baker

Comments: 7

  • Gil Alan February 10, 201311:59 am

    Haha……. Don’t hold back Eric! You keep that broomstick striking out in all directions!

    • ericjbaker February 10, 20135:19 pm

      Gil Alan Taylor Swift’s goons are surrounding my apartment as we speak.

  • jkillough February 10, 201312:04 pm

    “No matter how much a daughter loves a mother, a mother loves a daughter more.” Aww. Got a wee lump in the throat over that one.

    • ericjbaker February 10, 20135:14 pm

      jkillough I’ll never land an interview with Oprah unless I work on tugging the old heartstrings a little bit.

      • jkillough February 10, 20137:34 pm

        ericjbaker jkillough I hear Oprah is a harder landing than you’d expect. Still don’t get how a 16-year-old Swift understood what heartbreak really was.  All pop to me. Let’s get some authenticity up in here!

        • ericjbaker February 10, 20137:54 pm

          jkillough ericjbaker Perhaps 16-year-old heartbreak makes sense to other 16-year-olds. AKA, the people who buy her music.

        • jkillough February 11, 201312:09 am

          ericjbaker jkillough I had no idea the fun. guy was Lena Dunham’s boyfriend. No wonder the music on GIRLS suddenly got so much better. Not that the fun. song didn’t drive me crazy within 48 hours of first hearing it.

Leave a Comment