The 4 Least Dignified Things About The Grammys
Let's be honest. If you're interested in keeping up with good music you're better off adopting a cool 15-year-old or inventing a time machine that perpetually holds you in Donald Glover's house than you are watching awards shows. On the other hand, if you're interested in finding out what everyone was listening to a year and a half ago, the Grammys are probably your jam.
Enjoy some new music! PSYch!
The fun things about awards shows are: A) I've never been to one and don't know anything about them, B) clothes, and C) they're hilarious if you watch for the right stuff. Among the glitzy red carpet moments and egregious displays of note runs are some truly awkward moments in humanity. Celebrities: they're just like us! Awful at social interactions and not quite comfortable outside their own homes.
Truth: Most Humans Are Terrible at Talking
In preparation for this column, I started watching live coverage of the Grammys at 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. If you're thinking, "Hey, that was waaaaaaay too early," you're wrong, but more on that in a minute. While the C-Team Grammys were underway, the B- and A-Team stars started showing up, and Grammy.com was nice enough to give losers like me live-streaming interviews as the stars arrived. I kid you not, these two adorable interviewers above interacted with as many of them as they could before the show started ... for FOUR HOURS. I don't know about you, but I devolve into the worst possible version of myself 10 seconds into a conversation, so this was an impressive display of talking skills.
It turns out Beck is a leprechaun, btw.
Eventually, professional people-talkers resort to their tried-and-true questions, like "Who are you wearing?" "Who are you excited to see tonight?" "What are the odds that you're going to win?" -- which seems like a weird fluff question in retrospect. When those questions run out and you're still 30 seconds from Reba or whoever showing up, you've got to ask something else. When talking to Malcolm-Jamal Warner about his Grammy nomination (HOLY POOPCRACKERS YOU GUYS, THEO WAS NOMINATED FOR A GRAMMY ... FOR MUSIC!), the bald guy above went for the Pulitzer.
Cosby. He asked Malcolm-Jamal Warner about Bill Cosby.
"Let me just interrupt your night of unexpected triumph to talk about your TV dad being accused of date rape."
Warner won a Grammy for best traditional R&B performance, by the way. When interviewing Jarle Bernhoft, a Norwegian R&B artist(!), the interviewers played their roles to perfection. Bernhoft, on the other hand, had no idea that his red carpet companions might not be so politically and geographically aware of his origins, which was why the sentence "Norway was an island that was progressively drifting away from the mainland" came out of his mouth and was met with blank stares.
"Totally not Elijah Wood! Why do you ask?"
These are all communication errors I make in my everyday life if the line at Starbucks is too long, so I'm not judging. I'm especially not judging when the guy interviewed a Christian band, asked who they wanted to see, and when they answered Kanye, he responded with something along the lines of, "Kanye is a Christian, but he doesn't always act like it." I can't tell you how many kids' birthday parties have ended with me standing on a cake and scream-singing that exact same sentiment to a crowd of thoroughly confused 4-year-olds. Making conversation is hard, yo.
The Photo-Op Process Is Hilarious
Here's what I've figured out from watching something like 36 hours of #Grammys2015 coverage: awards shows are kindergarten and the celebrities are the kindergartners. The teachers walk around with tiny whiteboards and earphone access to the principal, directing their children where to stand and how to act, but we all know who's running the show.
The Grammys, everybody!
Nowhere is this weird juxtaposition of talent and administration more obvious than at the official red carpet photo wall, when the world's biggest stars are carefully shepherded by nameless people who hold up whiteboards announcing the person walking the carpet. Why do they need signs? Because half of these people aren't actually famous, and because the other half are waiting in line for their turn in front of the cameras. All those fun and kooky red carpet pictures of John Mayer on your bedroom wall were orchestrated by an assembly line of workers carrying Sharpies and wearing cozy shoes.
He's just found out there's no such thing as the real world, just a lie you've got to rise above.
Again, I'm still waiting on my Grammy nomination for MANY Cracked podcasts I've joined, so I'm not 100 percent on how this works behind the scenes, but as far as I can tell, the procedure for getting to your seat at an awards show isn't much different than getting to your seat on the first day of school. You step out of your car and into the designated drop-off area, where someone either recognizes you or checks your school ID. You walk into the building where volunteers and teachers get you to the right hall and check your name to make sure you make it to the right room. If it hasn't happened by this point, someone is going to take your picture in order to document that this is, in fact, the first day of school. There's going to be a sign involved.
Pretend like this kid is holding a barista-worthy, hand-painted sign, because that's first-day-of-school protocol now.
In order for Grammy nominees to get to their seats, they've got to walk through a tunnel that has a thousand copies of the phrase "GRAMMY AWARDS" on one side and just as many copies of photographers on the other. Here's where it gets tricky: on the carpet are taped X's where the celebrity has to stand. They walk, stand on the X, smile for the pictures, then walk to the next X, and so on until they're off the carpet. It's like a cakewalk, but the prize is not being anonymous. In front of you are grunts sitting on the ground trying not to show their underwear while you look pretty for the cameras. Here's a God's-eye view of what Beyonce was seeing when she posed on the red carpet.
Sorry, "God's-eye view" and "Beyonce's view" are redundant, aren't they?
No One Watches Most of the Grammys
Look hard at the picture above. That's an image of someone walking up to the stage to get their Grammy for best American Roots performance. It's not a rehearsal, not a cute Grammy cosplay at the La Quinta, not the after-show "strike the set" session in the parlance of the theatre with an "re"; it's the freaking Grammy Awards as they were happening. And that's the audience congratulating someone who's dedicated his life to folk music telling him his hard work was worth it. "Good job on being the best in your field. All five of us are proud of you." There are bigger audiences in my panties as we speak, and I promise there is NOTHING in my panties right now. You do the math.
While the A- and B-listers were negotiating the multiple levels of security and schmoozing it took to get to their seats, other full-time working musicians were waiting to hear if they won Grammys. Or not -- it seemed like most of the names called out in the first half of the show weren't actually there. And in the absence of the winner walking up to the stage to collect their award, the person who announced the winner collects it on their behalf. Do you know who won the most Grammys in 2015? Sam Smith? No. Beck? What? No, it's not 1994. Hozier? More like "Whozier." Nope, I'm pretty sure the person who got the most awards was Gloria Gaynor, singer of the disco era anthem "I Will Survive." For every smattering of applause and unclaimed reward, Gaynor walked away with a trophy. I suspect she has dozens.
"DID YOU THINK I'D CRUMBLE? DID YOU THINK I'D LAY DOWN AND DIE? OH NO, NOT I ..."
No One Ever Remembers Chris Brown Is Coming
This year's Grammys took the noble but weirdly specific stance of speaking out against domestic violence. An abuse survivor, the president of the United States, and THE Katy Perry all coordinated to send a clear message that hitting people you love is very, very bad. I'll repeat: THE Katy Perry took a break from being whimsical and not-Missy Elliott to sing a powerful song about not hitting people, and she incorporated the president of the free world into her performance.
And someone wore their best Princess Leia dress for the occasion.
Meanwhile, in the audience ...
I'm guessing the Grammy people couldn't not invite Chris Brown to the ceremony after nominating him for 15 freaking awards over the years. He's where he is because awards show people won't stop throwing accolades at him. And remember, NO ONE SHOWED UP TO CLAP FOR THE AMERICAN FOLK WINNER. Gaynor had to hand over something like 50 trophies to the Grammy people because the people who actually won them probably couldn't afford to come to L.A. for the ceremony, meanwhile Brown is just ... there. The people behind the Grammys have created charities to help musicians who are struggling with bills, talented musicians who are living in impoverished anonymity while exactly no one had to create entire PSAs to warn their fans not to hit people. It's a cruel world, my friends. How cruel? Well, one of Bill Cosby's nine Grammys came from an album he recorded for children. An album called "Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs."
Keep on nailing it, Grammys!
Hopefully next year the Grammys will have their shit together long enough to uninvite Wynonna Judd and Randy Travis right before the anti-DUI line dance Sia has already started coordinating.
While we're on the topic, also be sure to check out 5 Unknown People Who Secretly Made All Your Favorite Music and 5 Ways Your Taste in Music Is Scientifically Programmed.