So the music awards show to end all music award shows, the Grammys, were on this weekend. I watched them without my sons.
For one, they were practically in bed by the time the show started. Which is probably just as well. I don’t know that they needed to see Beyonce’s opening number, or my reaction to it, right before bed.
For two … I don’t think the boys and I would have been in very much mutual agreement on … anything.
As was the case when I was a kid and as is confirmed virtually every time I get in the car with my younger son and turn on the radio, I have found that parents and kids are not always in complete harmony on what sounds good … or looks good, or tastes good. Or is good.
And when it comes to art … sometimes we’re not even in the same ballpark. Music, movies, comedy — often not on the same page. Sometimes, but not often.
Take comedy, for example. Both my teenage sons think they are funny. And in their own ways, they are. One, in a situational, conversational way, and one in a sophomoric, bodily noise kind of way. I’m not above that kind of humor, but I usually aim a little higher. But no matter what, when they make me laugh, or even smile, I don’t try to hide it — I’m proud of their efforts.
On the other hand, for the most part they don’t think I’m funny, at all.
And I’m not talking about when I’m disciplining them, or taking away privileges, or saying no to them (though, I admit it, that can sometimes be entertaining as hell to me). I’m talking about when I’m actually trying to get a laugh out of them.
I think I’m kinda funny. I was a professional comedian for years and occasionally get paid to write jokes for TV. Recently I ran a couple of those jokes by my youngest son and he gave me a brief grin, followed by a, “not too shabby, Dad.”
That was as good as a roar of laughter from a packed comedy club. And to get even a smirk, never mind a full-fledged smile out of my older son, is like a standing ovation.
But it’s not just my jokes we disagree on. TV shows they think are funny, I think are dumb. Movies I think have no story beyond what you saw in the trailer are ones they want to buy so they can see again and again.
On the other hand, they don’t seem to understand at all my amusement with FOX “News.”
Sure, some of that is age appropriate and some of it is being open to the jewels of another generation — which, admittedly, none of us are very good at. But there can be surprises. My son, an aspiring filmmaker, has a recent appreciation for films shot in black and white — intentionally. That is, when it was a choice, not the only option. Not like, “in your days, old man.”
Yeah, the kid’s hysterical.
On music, it’s a split. My youngest son likes anything pop — rap, hip-hop, dance. Ugh. My older son is in a retro phase, actually listening to classic rock on a turntable — a little more of the psychedelic stuff than I like, but we’re close.
Still …. they both had school the next day, and I had a hunch this show would be long. So off to bed they went.
I watched the Grammys alone a little later that night. I had recorded the show, and could fast forward through the commercials, the awards I didn’t care about and the crowd shots. Unfortunately, this also put me out of sync with the snarky texts I was sending and receiving about the show from my lady friend with the Dachshund.
Eventually, I caught up to real time. Unfortunately.
While there were some really cool moments, the show was slow, and long. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like if the producers didn’t somehow find a way to keep the acceptance speeches amazingly short. I watched the West Coast edition of the show, which had been taped earlier, and obviously edited. But man, those speeches were short!
Here was most of them: “Wow, I can’t believe I won! I want to thank my …” And the music starts playing. Two seconds later, the camera cuts away, and the winner is gone.
Which was fine. It was already a long enough show. Part of the problem is that there were a LOT of awards, in a lot of categories, in a lot of genres. Solo, Duo, Group, Collaborations, and Song, Record and Albums of the year, awarded in Rock, Rap, Country, Jazz, R&B, Latin, Dance, Dance/Electronica, World Music, Engineered/Non-Classical, Remixed Recording/Non-Classical, Latin/Rock/Urban, Alternative … Wait! You mean with those many categories, there are still … alternatives?
The show ran for more than three-and-a-half hours.
Makes me wonder how the Country Music Awards can do a two or three hour show on its own. “The award for Best TITLE for a Country Song that Never Actually Got Written goes to: ‘I Don’t Want You Back, But I Sure Do Miss Your Front!’ ”
Anyway, what the Grammys lacked in speeches, they made up in LONG performance pieces. A lot of them were cool. Cool pairings — Metallica with a classical pianist. The new artist of the year, Macklemore, with Madonna. wearing a white outfit, a white cowboy hat and walking with a white cane because … she’s Madonna.
Thirty-three couples of all colors and sexual orientation getting married in the middle of that song, with the legally binding ceremonies performed by Queen Latifah — what gay couple doesn’t want to get married by a Queen?
And then there was Pink de Soleil. Pink flew high above the crowd at Staples Center, the producers smart enough to do NO close-ups on the lip-synching acrobat/singer, or her gravity-defying outfit. That one I watched.
Great performances. ALL of them long.
I skimmed through a lot. When they got to Best New Artist, I was pretty pleased that I’d at least heard of 2 of the 5, and knew one of each of their songs.
I skimmed through Katy Perry, not only because it looked like a commercial for a bad horror movie, but because I figured if there had been a wardrobe malfunction I would have heard about it already.
I skimmed through Taylor Swift, and the song still felt slow. I skimmed through rockers Imagine Dragons, even though I thought it was an interesting artistic decision to replace the traditional interminably long guitar solo with an interminably long rapper.
I thought they handled the necessary tributes to those that had died in the past year pretty well. Unlike in the heyday of Rock and Roll, most of the people who had died were actually reasonably old.
Sometimes, when the camera panned the crowd, I’d start picking out the ones I thought would be on next year’s list for the dead tribute. But I’ve been wrong before about old rock and rollers, as well as new teenage stars with millions of dollars.
Some of the outfits I saw people wearing scared me, because I think I used to have a few of them. I’m pretty sure I wore Macklemore’s green velvet tux to a junior high prom. And then promptly put a piece of oil and vinegar covered lettuce on the sleeve, so I could relax and not worry anymore about messing it up. As if a high school kid in a green velvet tux isn’t already messed up.
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr played together on stage, performing a number I had never heard before. Yoko Ono, with her son Sean looking like an Amish Rabbi meets Children of the Corn, sort of swayed along.
McCartney and Dave Grohl won for a song they apparently wrote and recorded in two hours. Led Zeppelin, a band which last released an album in 1982, won for an album somebody released last year that was recorded live in 2007 in a one-time reunion appearance.
It’s still rock and roll to me.
As opposed to …. Daft Punk: two guys in space suits and helmets. They won album of the year, record of the year, and best pop/duo performance. Mostly for singing a song that I think has three lines.
By the time they showed up onstage to collect their third award, I was dozing. I must have been (was) dreaming, because between the two helmeted heroes, I thought I saw legendary teeny tiny 1970’s songwriter Paul Williams — the guy who wrote Kermit the Frog’s “Rainbow Connection” and the theme song to The Love Boat; the guy who helped make The Carpenters pop music stars and wrote Helen Reddy’s “You and Me Against the World” — he was accepting the award, and speaking on behalf of Daft Punk, and claiming to have written some of their music.
That couldn’t have happened, could it?
An article in the paper this weekend questioned whether Rock and Roll was dead or near death. The fact that I’m still reading the printed newspaper shows I don’t give up easily. But when they brought Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac up to play with Trent Reznor and a reunited Nine Inch Nails, and then immediately pulled the camera back to show the crowd getting ready to leave, and then rolled credits and made ‘thank you announcements over the jam session, I guess the signal was that life support isn’t far away.
The next morning, I told my 14-year-old — the one who’s into all the new music — that Daft Punk won three Grammys.
“They confuse me,” he said.
I smiled. Maybe we’re on the same page after all.
All photos are screen shots from the Grammy Awards, except the Faux News pic.
Mike Brennan has been a Pulitzer Prize-nominated newspaper reporter, a magazine writer, an investigative journalist, a nationally touring stand-up comedian, a joke writer for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, a morning radio host, a professional auctioneer for numerous charities, an editor, and a film and TV script consultant. He is currently working on a romantic comedy screenplay, and a humorous book on being a father, called The Tooth Fairy Doesn’t Pay for Yellow Teeth. He has lived in the Valley for 19 years, and has two teenage sons. Contact the author.