A friend once reminded me that he would never watch an award show, that it was all self-congratulatory claptrap.
In spite of this—and in spite of the fact that he’s basically right—I do occasionally tune in just to keep up with pop culture, though it’s speeding away from me so rapidly that I can only hope to catch occasional glimpses of it.
At eight last night I caught a glimpse of Taylor Swift. No. I’d heard about her before, but her opening number was so energized, so dynamic, so nearly perfect, that I thought, well maybe this whole Grammy extravaganza won’t be so bad.
One of the reasons I made the effort was that I had the Times crossword left over from Sunday—something to distract me during the endless commercials and close-ups of audience members I didn’t know. I also had an iPad which provided a constant stream of tweets from wry and clever viewers, tweets that I kept sharing with my wife, tweets that increased in acerbity and sarcasm after Adele’s performance.
When it comes to Adele, I’m not an adoring fan. Actually I’m not a fan of too many performers born after the Korean War—but that’s just pop culture running away. Still, I’ve heard Adele sing, and her voice is crystalline. I mean really, it is just amazing. But last night—well the sound men and lighting crew that sabotaged her performance are probably scanning the want ads today, and rightly so. But I could nitpick another dozen failures and screw-ups and embarrassments; they would obscure the simple truth that the show was too damn long.
Two-hundred ten minutes plus. Plus what? I don’t know. I turned it off as Pitbull made his appearance at 11:30 (isn’t that Johnny Carson’s slot?) and watched The Talking Dead which I’d recorded the previous night—only to find Carrie Underwood on the panel. In truth she seemed happier to be on TTD than on the Grammys. And since she’s a Walking Dead fan, she gets a pass.
As does Lady Gaga. Terrific. Then again the Hollywood Vampires were just baffling, and Justin Bieber—the one Canadian that people want to deport even more than they do Ted Cruz, was actually pretty good. But the show was too long. And it wasn’t an awards show. Eight awards? That’s one every 25 minutes.
But I did learn something. Some fifty-years ago a group called Danny & the Juniors sang “Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay” and I believed it. Why would they lie? But when Alabama Shakes won the award for best Rock song, I thought, well rock and roll, you had a good run. But that pop culture thingy—it’s left you behind too.