Monday, January 27, 2014



A half-naked woman spreads 
her legs onstage, then 
seductively grinds and thrusts 
amid clouds of smoke and 
seizure-inducing strobe 
lights — all while lip
syncing to a vulgar backing 
track that must have had 
network censors in a frenzy
No, it wasn't a scene from a
newly-released porno flick — 
it was the prime time opening 
"performance" on last night's
Grammy Awards show.

In the '70s, Richard Pryor released a slew of top-selling audio recordings of his outrageous comedy routines. A wildly successful entertainer, Pryor never was mistaken for a musician. However, in today's super-hip iWorld, the definition of a "musician" has been expanded to encompass anybody with a microphone — including a procession of first-rate thugs, second-rate pornographers and third-rate exhibitionists. Smokey who?

Embarrassingly unscripted — yet not without a clear-cut agenda, the 56th annual Grammy Awards  telecast provided a compelling commentary on our current culture. Here we are kids — welcome to Sodom and Gomorrah 2014.

Is rock and roll truly dead? C'mon, life support plugs were pulled on that one-legged geriatric 20 some years ago. The greater and more troubling question should be, is music dead? Well, if last night's production is any indicator, the answer is a resounding, "YES!"

Artists who've paid their dues and enjoyed decades-long success were sprinkled into a sea of crunk  characters — current hipsters intoxicated by an ego-driven adolescent sense of entitlement. It was sad watching legendary musicians trying to blend in among the ushers of the apocalypse whose only accomplishments during their meteoric 18-month careers have been avoiding jail time and generating 100,000,000+ views of their syncopated debut YouTube clips depicting every type of perversion.

Clearly, the "emperor" IS, in fact, naked. I liken today's music scene to a party where the host is a rich guy with nauseating B.O. He absolutely reeks but nobody dares acknowledge his pungency because he's the guy who's renting the penthouse and holding the blow. So rather than risking expulsion, everyone simply stands around, remaining silent while holding (and wiping) their noses and enjoying the spoils.

It was downright uncomfortable to watch as a world-famous, Oscar-winning actor stood fumbling nervously, offering desperate and disconnected apologies to the hip hop mogul seated in the front row while presenting the award in the "Best Fetish" category. I mean, c'mon — the lion's share of the evening's gold phonographs were awarded to a pair of robot producers. Robots? Really? Peter Frampton, Steven Tyler, Lindsey Buckingham, two Beatles and an Eagle all were at, or on, the show, yet this morning's news headlines all seemed focused on the award-winning robots. If this was 1978, you'd think I was making this stuff up!

Leaping about the stage, navigating through a choreographed routine and balancing from the rafters while mouthing words into a headset makes you a supremely talented gymnast — not a qualified or capable musician. But today's "extreme" sensibility dictates that we must be entertained — at all times. And if you're gonna distract us from our iScreens for even a few seconds, you better darn well have something more compelling to offer than some guy playing the guitar and singing a heartfelt song about his personal life experiences.

Elton John is a prime example of a music artist of the highest order. He's a true legend and a consummate pro. While I don't endorse his whole "picture," I respect and admire his undeniable talent and ability to convey completely his convictions through his music. "Captain Fantastic" never needed a pitchman to prompt viewers to "pay attention" because "this next song is powerful" — his music spoke for itself. And he certainly never has needed to utilize an over-the-top, self-indulgent televised production as a platform to preach personal perspectives.

But the Grammy show did succeed in projecting some clear messages — THERE IS NO VALUE IN VALUES. There's no value in writing songs, no value in playing instruments, no value in singing and no value in being prepared or professional. Sensationalism is king — and if you've got a smooth move or two and a robot producer who possesses mad computer skills, you too can AND should be a "music" star — a bona fide idol to be worshiped!

-Christopher Long
(January 2014)

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1 comment:

  1. Theres not enough computer space or books in thee world to have room for my comment about Todays Popular Music .....Time to change it!! pun intended!!!God Bless!