God, the Grammys are so gross. I make a lot of jokes about bad award shows, but this is the worst. Not only are all the nominees just really aggressively out-of-touch and terrible, but half of this crap came out in 2009. I could swear some of this same stuff was nominated last year. Plus, there are the oddities like Arcade Fire being nominated in the Album of the Year category but not in the Best Rock Album category. I don’t even understand what the rules are here. This is either going to be a lot of fun to laugh at or one of the longest nights of my life.
As always, my wife Johanna and I will be competing in a winner-picking competition. This should be an interesting one for us, because the list of nominees is so utterly bizarre that we’re guaranteed to not do what we usually do and pick the same people in every category. I’ve got to tell you, picking winners in this disaster was painful. It upset my stomach to have to decide between, like, Neil Young and Mumford and Sons. And not because they are both so good. [Update: Turns out Mumford and Sons = Not bad!] Johanna kept saying things like “Whatever, whatever, I don’t even care,” as she went over her ballot.
To help ease us through this living nightmare Johanna has whipped up an adult beverage consisting of vodka, cranberry juice, seltzer, and lime juice. She’s calling it “The Chris Brown” because it really smacks you in the face. YOU SHOULDN’T MAKE JOKES ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, JOHANNA.
Sigh. Are you all ready to be bored by Lady Gaga’s faux-edginess? To suffer through some performances by Bruno Mars or someone? To watch your grandparents’ favorite rockers take home some awards? Then let’s do this. In the words of Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, sit back, relax, and strap it down.
The VMAs! I actually didn’t watch them live last year and then regretted it when I ended up spending the next afternoon catching up on the videos of the bonkers performances online and reading all about the Kanye backlash. I was assuming that MTV and I had mostly diverged in our musical tastes and was overlooking the fact that this isn’t really about the awards, it’s about the spectacle.
Now, with the long-running award show winner-picking competition between Johanna and me, there’s absolutely no way I could miss it. Filling out our ballots proved relatively difficult. We both employed a strategy of spreading the awards around to as many artists as possible, because we figure the whole thing is rigged and MTV is going to want to get as many people as possible up on stage. So, I basically just picked randomly.
Let’s roll. Since this is the VMAs, Johanna has tried to mix us a cocktail that a young person might enjoy. She’s combined vanilla vodka with Diet Coke, and we’re drinking it out of glasses we appropriated from our favorite bar in college, Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap. She initially wanted to call it the Sorority Slut, but we workshopped it and came up with the Mean Girl, which is more fittingly high school. As always, categories and winners in bold. Also, I unfortunately don’t have MTV in HD, so these photos look awful. Apologies.
One last thing. I’m going on record early here saying that I guarantee they have Taylor Swift “interrupt” Kanye’s performance. It’s going to be awesome.
8:19 – I have the pre-show white carpet on in the background (yes, white carpet), and all of the sudden Sway starts giving out awards! WTF?!
Last year was the first time in forever that I actually watched the Grammys. I was drawn in by the commercials advertising the killer lineup of performances, and it pretty much lived up to the hype. It was worth sitting through the whole show just to see Radiohead play with the USC marching band. Plus, there was all the Rihanna/Chris Brown drama to follow.
This year I don’t think I saw a single commercial for it. So that doesn’t bode well. Plus, I printed out the ballot, and it is just ridiculously bad. I’ll discuss in detail as we slog through this train wreck, but it almost seems like they are trying to piss people off with their nominees.
Anyway, Johanna and I will be competing again in a winner picking game. As usual, I pick who I think is going to win, not who should win (in a lot of these categories, none of the nominees deserve to win). Out of principle, I did not just pick Taylor Swift in every category, even though she’ll probably sweep the night. I did, however, pick a Marley in two separate categories. Let’s get it started. Categories and winners in bold.
8:01 – “Oh Jesus,” says Johanna as Lady Gaga kicks off the night. This is a little too Broadway for my tastes, but God bless her. She looks like a character from Tim Burton’s upcoming Alice in Wonderland. I should also say here that I’m really surprised that they didn’t start with some Michael Jackson thing. I guess MTV stole their thunder.
8:04 – “Everybody’s going googoo for Gaga,” says the weird emcee. And now here she comes on some weird double piano with Sir Elton John. WTF is going on right now? This is like if Disney Imagineers were trying to show me what an acid trip would be like. Again, God bless her. She is talented. She deserves to win in all four categories in which she’s nominated tonight, but I doubt that will happen.
I debated how to best represent the decade in music in list form. Eventually, I decided on songs over albums; it seemed more fitting in the era of iTunes.
This list shows that my musical tastes, like my politics, are pretty middle-of-the-road. I like the most mainstream and accessible indie rock and I’m a sucker for the occasional pop song.
I should also point out that I think this might be longer than anything I wrote in college. It’s entirely possible that the length of this will make it completely unreadable. But whatever, brevity has never been my strong suit. Here they are, my 150 favorite songs of the decade (music videos when I was able to easily find one that I liked that allowed embedding):
150) Cannibal Ox – “Iron Galaxy” (2001)
This album has such a singular sound that it’s weird hearing Vast Aire rapping over any other production. I think that’s why I could never really get into Look Mom…No Hands. The Vast Aire verse at the end of this song is sort of the end of the golden age of underground hip hop for me, a topic that will definitely be more thoroughly discussed if I ever do a list of my favorite songs of the 90s.
149) Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros – “Johnny Appleseed” (2001)
The best part of John from Cincinnati. Almost makes me want to check out the rest of Joe Strummer’s post-Clash career.
148) Air – “Universal Traveller” (2004)
The only song from Talkie Walkie that holds up for me. Really the only Air song that I listen to on a regular basis. Pops up on the occasional Rick Steves podcast, so that’s a plus.