The Grammy Awards are second only to the Oscars for self-aggrandizement and clannish political overtones. They seem to exist only for Vera Wang and Marc Jacobs to stay in business. The Grammys always seem to be about five years behind pop culture, which in the past has been blamed on an aging voting pool. It's kind of hard to get a 65-year-old retired music executive to recognize Radiohead for Kid A when Steely Dan is also nominated. Hell, that suit probably did a country mile of coke with Donald Fagen backstage at the L.A. Forum in 1978.
We can admit that it's gotten a lot better, and that each year the winners are coming more into tune with the true music scene. This year, Lil Wayne stands to leave with a few new pieces of bling. But in the past, the Grammys have been a nearly three-hour-long trainwreck of drunken speeches, boob-slips and WTF Hall of Fame winners.
Sometimes it's the voters themselves who mar the show. Case in point is the 1989 snub of Metallica in favor of Jethro Tull for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance — Metallica's epic ...And Justice for All lost out to Tull's flute-tastic Crest of a Knave. Twenty years on, who is a classic-rock footnote and who has their very own version of Guitar Hero? For some reason, I don't ever see the people at Activision coming out with Flute Hero. Let's not forget, that same year the Grammys also honored DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince in the brand-new Best Rap Performance category over Public Enemy. Ouch, boyyyyeeee!
The 51st annual Grammy Awards air 7 p.m. Sunday, February 8, on CBS (KHOU-TV in Houston).
Nineteen ninety-eight was a comeback year for Bob Dylan. The summer before, he fought back against a deadly heart ailment and released the bitterly beautiful Time Out of Mind. The Grammys that year were set to honor the god-like prowess and the survivalism of Mr. Zimmerman — that is, until Michael Portnoy painted two words on his chest and joined the legend onstage.
As Dylan croaked out "Love Sick," Portnoy jumped up and began dancing like a dervish with the words "Soy Bomb" splayed across his skinny chest. Dylan clenched his jaw in nervous aggravation as a pre-picked crowd of turtle-necked yuppies looked on bewildered and confused. He was eventually hustled off the stage by security.
Some years it seems everyone is a sore loser. The same year as "Soy Bomb," Ol' Dirty Bastard stole a good minute from Song of the Year winner Shawn Colvin's acceptance speech to offer his government-funded two cents. "Wu-Tang is for the children," he exclaimed, protesting his group's snub in the Best Rap Performance category. In 2004, erstwhile shooting target 50 Cent lost out to Evanescence for Best New Artist and made sure to run up to the stage like a petulant child as the Arkansas Goth-pop group accepted its award.
Speaking of Best New Artist awards, the honor is generally seen as a death knell for the artists who receive it. The past few years, the winners have managed to stick it out and beat the odds. Hell, The Beatles won it in 1965 and did all right for themselves. But most vanish quickly back into obscurity, only to be seen again when VH-1 knocks on their door for a retrospective special that will run for eternity.
Tracy Chapman and Paula Cole are two past winners that you more than likely only see on your mom's iPod. Most infamously, the Grammys lavished Milli Vanilli with the award, only to rescind it later for obvious reasons. And name another song Marc Cohn recorded besides "Walking in Memphis" without the help of Wikipedia.
Bruce Springsteen, fresh off this weekend's Super Bowl halftime show, announced he and the E Street Band will make their second visit to Houston in a year April 8 at Toyota Center. Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Saturday at www.livenation.com and www.toyotacentertix.com...Free Press Houston announced the 100-plus artist lineup for its semiannual Westheimer Block Party March 28. Playing for free during the day will be Linus Pauling Quartet, Hell City Kings, Wild Moccasins, Sideshow Tramps, McKenzies, Tontons, Tambersauro, Western Civilization, Woozyhelmet, Flowers to Hide and just a few more. Dallas indie-rock vixen St. Vincent headlines the nighttime show at Numbers alongside metal masters Valient Thorr, expert botanist Devin the Dude and L.A.'s HEALTH, to name a few.
2110 Portsmouth, 713-526-9272
1. Andrew Bird, Noble Beast
2. Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavillion
3. Antony and the Johnsons, Crying Light
4. Bon Iver, Blood Bank
5. The Gougers, Long Day for the Weathervane
6. Dale Watson, One More, Once More
7. Jeff Beck, Performing This Week:
Live at Ronnie Scott's
8. The Gourds, Haymaker
9. Something Fierce, There Are No Answers
10. Derek Trucks, Already Free
KTRU (91.7 FM)
Most-played albums, week of January 25
1. Various Artists, Radio Myanmar
2. Golden Cities, Golden Cities
3. Free Radicals, Funk from the First 3
4. Various Artists, Calypsoul '70: Carribean Soul & Calypso Crossover 1969-1979
5. Group Doueh, Guitar Music from the Western Sahara
6. M. Fulton, Tim Clark & Tom Lopez,
2 Minute Film Noir
7. Funckarma, Vell Vagranz
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8. Antony and the Johnsons, Another World
9. Fight Bite, Emerald Eyes
10. James "Son" Thomas, Beefsteak Blues
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)