I can scarcely imagine a more irrelevant institution than the Grammys. I suppose the classical version of the awards, which seems to exist solely in a parallel universe entirely free of television cameras is quite useful and harmless as these things go- at least it helps sell a few CDs, but the mainstream bit of the awards has always struck me as representing all the worst aspects of the music business.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I woke to find that Herbie Hancock, who would have to be near the top of any educated music-lover’s list of greatest living American musicians, actually won Album of the Year. For the record (no pun intended), this is only the second time a jazz album has won the award (the last time was 1965, when Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto’s “Getz/Gilberto” won).
I suppose it is a sign of complete lack of understanding of what is “really” important in life that I see it as a good thing that a man who has amassed one of the most jaw-droppingly amazing bodies of work of any musician in the last fifty years wins an award. Apparently members of the audience and members of the pop music critical establishment (don’t even get me started on them) are saying that Hancock’s win is an outrage and a sure sign that the Grammys are becoming irrelevant.
So, I offer some examples of past Grammy winners from more relevant years, when the Grammy voters really understood what was important about music….
The 1980’s offered an astounding run of Grammy relevance, when the back to back winners of Album of the Year were (note- classical music is not eligible for consideration in this category. We are scum and have to learn to love life in our little off-TV ghetto)….
1983- Toto- Toto IV (apparently, the Grammys met them all the way, Rosanna, yeah….)
1984 Michael Jackson- Thriller (okay, at least this one made a lot of money, but, er, ah… oh never mind….)
1985 Lionel Richie- Can’t Slow Down (Because I’m already at a full stop. The highpoint of the jheri-curl movement)
1986- Phil Collins- No Jacket Required (possibly the greatest recording of the 20th C.! This would have been the clear winner in any year)
Don’t forget, Milli Vanilli won for best new artist in 1990 before having their award revoked on the grounds that they didn’t actually sing on their album. Oh yes, Billy Ray “achy-breaky-heart” Cyrus was nominated in 1994….
Rock on, or rockit, Herbie Hancock!