Monday, January 27, 2014

The Grammys; Designing The Music We Hear

I am 68. Watching the Grammys for the first time in a few years last night, especially after making
the transition to Country Music that I feel has a lot more "meat", was like visiting an unknown land. Oh sure, I recognized the host, L.L. Cool Jay, but as the guy catching the bad guys on NCIS: Los Angeles.  I have not a clue what records he's recorded nor do I care.

Oh sure there was homage to the band "Chicago" with a few new faces and of course they dragged out Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr so the white haired set could remember their youth. There were others but they hadn't grown up either. All in all however, it's the tribute to those youngsters who have broken through. In fact the first award for best new group was given to two young men without a record label. They self recorded and promoted. If that doesn't give heartburn to record execs I don't know what will. Getting seventy or eighty cents on iTunes per sale is more than the best artists ever got from their record companies. Trust me.

There are roughly 167,000 singers and groups in the United States as recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This figure will grow about 5% over the next decade, one of the lowest job categories in the country.  Last night there were what, 20? 30? 40? performers? And they came from Europe and Australia too. So using 40 artists, a new artist has about a .00023952% chance of making it in today's very competitive pop music world. Pretty daunting isn't it?

Watching the antics of bad boy Justin Bieber or the outrageous costumes of Lady Gaga, the twerking of Miley Cryus  who may have already peaked, I began to realize what they do is every bit as carefully organized as any painting or crafters creation. It is their way of breaking out from the herd. However, are they the best or is their spin, like rival politicos, better than the competition?

A fascinating article today compared Bieber with Frank Sinatra who after a spectacular start was written off by the early 50's.  He didn't think Bieber was much of a singer but the antics, for now anyway, gave him the bad boy image every artistic type seems to favor. And if you're my age you know who I mean. As the Bible so aptly observes, "There really is nothing new under the sun" as much as every generation thinks there is.

Sinatra's antics bothered the record execs and newer artists who toed the line replaced him. Capital Records took a chance on this washed up artist and produced some of the most iconic music ever recorded. Frankie had his moments but much was forgiven because of that voice.

This however, begs the question, how DO we stand out from the herd? Are we to take Pollack's models and have them smear paint with their nude bodies on canvas, or follow Andy Warhol where anything was okey dokey? Right now I'm not aware of anyone in the art field acting outrageously, and I say it's time. Why should we be left out? After all painters have been outrageous actors for centuries. Are we to allow these upstarts to take our mantle from us? Where is the new Dali, Picasso, Gauguin, Goya, Michelangelo, artists who took art to the next level both on a truly artistic level but whose personal antics made them noticed and influential.

I don't have the answer but obviously those "artists" did.  They were on TV last night and I'm thinkin' none of my paintings or birdhouses ever will be. However, should I ever accept an award on TV I won't have to be bleeped either.


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