The Grammys have found themselves in a difficult position. They’ve attempted to hold on to their traditional roots and maintain some manner of prestige and credibility. Yet, they’ve also tried to push forward and prove that they’re still culturally hip.
They’ve mostly failed.
The industry has changed. People stopped buying “records” three decades ago, and yet there is still an award for “Album of the Year” and “Record of the Year.” Songs can have a spiritual theme without being actual “Gospel Music.” Other than an episode of American Pickers, no one has actually ever seen a Gramophone in ages, yet we still hand golden ones out as awards.
Obviously, the show is in desperate need of an update. Good thing we’re here to help.
The Presenters: Currently, award presenters are typically musicians using the opportunity and screen time to promote some new album or film project (snooze). They read a few cheesy lines from a teleprompter, spout off the nominees and hand off the trophy to the winner. We got bored just typing that. In our Grammy ceremony, if the winner wants to take home the trophy they’ve won, they’re going to have to earn it—by battling last year’s winner. In most cases, this won’t involve actual hand-to-hand combat. For best rock album, the two artist will duel it out in a wicked guitar solo showdown. (This is why Lil Wayne can never win this award). For an award in a traditional genre, the two singers will see who can sustain a single note the longest, in a feat of respiratory endurance. The hip-hop award recipient will be featured in a Wild ‘N Out style rap battle with the former holder of the title. In our dream award show, this is how every award presentation with end. Or maybe this.
The Trophies: Honestly, who wants a gold-plated Gramophone? For our updated awards, we’d make the trophies items that people in this century actually use to listen to music. Like iPods. No, wait. iPhones! Our trophy will be a gold plated iPhone. Everyone will want one.
The Broadcast: Traditional television is dead. Who wants to actually have to turn on a specific channel, at a specific time, on a specific evening? No thanks, Grandpa. Our 5-hour award show would be taped in advanced, split into to two seasons and then be made available for binge-watching on-demand, like TV is intended to be. Either that, or we’ll stream it on the Internet live with almost no rehearsing or forethought given to the actual production. What could possibly go wrong?
Hosts: Choosing a host for the Grammy’s is a difficult proposition—you’ve got to find a personality that appeals to many different types of audiences. That’s why there is really only one option: Our national treasure himself, Nicolas Cage.
The Venue: We get it. Transforming LA’s Staples Center into one massive ballroom makes the Grammys feel like some sort of prestigious gala. Who are they kidding? The show is just one massive concert, so why not embrace the spirit of rock and roll and take this show outside, where it belongs. Here are some suggestions:
Live at Red Rocks: Everything that happens at Red Rocks—a mysterious canyon whose true location is still unknown—is epic. Don’t believe us? Just ask John Tesh.
The Desert at Sunset: Michael W. Smith knows what’s up.
That Church From the “November Rain” Video: Everything that happens at that church from the “November Rain” video is epic. Don’t believe us? Just ask Slash.
The Categories: Categories might be the Grammys’ most troubling issue. “Alternative Music” is separate from “Rock Music.” “R&B” is distinct from “Traditional R&B” which is distinct from “Urban Contemporary.” Most of this year’s nominees for “Best New Artist” are actually industry veterans, while Lorde—an actually new artist—doesn’t get mentioned, although her record does show up in the “Album of the Year” nominees. It’s a mess. Here’s an alternative: different categories every year. Times change, and accomplishments worth recognizing must change too. Here’s a few suggestions for this year’s categories.
Best Band Who Dresses Like O Brother Where Art Thou Extras: Mumford & Sons, Lumineers, Lord Huron
Best Pop Duo Who Look Like They’re From the Future: Daft Punk, Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga
Teen Pop Vocalist With Actually Good Lyrics: Lorde, Lorde, Lorde
The Performances: Admittedly, the performances are actually the Grammys’ strongest suit. The problem isn’t with the performances—it’s just that some of the match-ups are a little lazy. This year will feature Jay-Z and Beyonce (of course); Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age (sure); and Daft Punk and Stevie Wonder (intriguing, but still a little obvious.) For maximum impact, you’ve got to start thinking outside the box. For example, what if you grouped bands by something besides just what kind of music they made? Like …
The Royal Family: Kings of Leon, Queens of the Stone Age, Prince and Casting Crowns
Animal House: Arctic Monkeys, Fleet Foxes, Cat Power and Lionel Richie
CCM-Seeming Band Name: Lorde, Chvrches, Purity Ring and Blessid Union of Souls
Hard to Google: The Band, Postal Service, the xx and !!!
The Grammys are this Sunday. Just watch them and see if our ideas wouldn’t improve the broadcast.
Jesse Carey is a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast and member of RELEVANT's executive board. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.