Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Party’s Over

So, it’s the morning after the night before: The BRITS has been, gone and put back in its cupboard for another year.

Collectively, the UK business of music is nursing a monumental hangover; drinks were drunk, little black dresses got crushed and without a shadow of a doubt, some woke up this morning with an unfamiliar person next to them – its not always that the best fun is had in the kitchen at after-show parties.

Yet, while this is the British equivalent to The Grammys, it strikes me as being extraordinary that neither organising ‘committee’ on either side of the pond can get their own flagship ‘awards show’ anywhere near right.

The Grammy’s, for example, have in excess of one hundred categories… that’s a bit like awarding a child at school a prize for attending class; you know – the modern ‘no one is a loser’ ethic which, actually, stifles competitiveness.

It’s also a way (they would argue) of covering all the bases… when the reality is that they (the Grammy organising wallahs) are simply finding more and more genre boxes into which they can conveniently put ‘music’.

Have a look at category 108 and tell me about its relevance… please. It is: Best Long Form Music Video and subtitled (presumably for the hard of understanding) as follows – For video album packages consisting of more than one song or track. Award to the Artist and to the Video Director/Producer of at least 51% of the total playing time.

This little Voltaire out there on its windswept knoll would argue strenuously that there are only two of these cardboard boxes… one is marked good… the other is labeled bad. End.

Anyhow, as a consequence of this boxing-off of genres, The Grammys go on for… hours… really they do; quite literally from mid-afternoon to lateish in the evening. How those attending get through that without resorting to the intake of advanced pharmaceuticals to stave off the boredom of all those acceptance speeches (Mum, Dad, my Record Company, Juan Pelota my underwear stylist, my managers, the person tending my Cairn Terrier, Auntie Joan, God and, before I forget… you – the fans!!! And, Mum – this if for YOU… etc etc) is entirely beyond me.

Besides which, there are – in reality – almost two shows… the first (lengthy) segment isn’t televised… that’s when the boxes labeled ‘Best Sleeve Notes’ or Best Traditional World Music Album / Vocal or Instrumental – that being category 72 of the 108) are ticked and the (doubtless) worthy winner steps forward to thank God, his / her Mum and Dad, Lover, Dog (again), MTV, the Fans etc etc).

To underline the absurdity of all the categories, back in 1996 Eddie Veeder said, when accepting Pearl Jam’s Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance, ‘I don’t know what this means, I don’t think it means anything.’

The second part begins with the televising of the (ridiculous) parade down the blood red carpet when the interviewers ask, in the main, ‘Who are you wearing’ to each of the freshly-coiffed contestants. The answers that spill from between their professionally whitened teeth seem to (somehow) add up to enough product placement-endorsement to satisfy the likes of Armani, Malandrino, J-P Gaultier, Pucci, Cavalli, Givenchy and D&G as worn by the Beiber-ling.

After which, the main show begins with a mere twenty or so Awards… yet, this is so muddled as to make no sense… Best Recording is up against Best Song…? Errr. Hello?

The BRITS, on the other hand, only had – by comparison – a handful of trophies to give out… in which were categories described as… Best Male… Best Female… yes, but Best Male or Female what exactly…?

Well, in the former we had the likes of Paul Weller up against Robert Plant, Tiny Temper, Mark Ronson yet someone called Plan B won… other than observing that the ‘list’ is horribly mismatched, I find it hard to understand how someone like the constantly reinventing-himself Robert Plant isn’t recognised as being… the best.

As to the other ‘best’s of the evening… Adele is being lauded by the ‘real commentators’ for her performance of Someone Like You – sparse and real, just piano and vocal. Sure, it is a great song but, I couldn’t help feeling that – while great – that greatness could have been embellished with strings to turn her performance into something quite remarkable.

Money on a big string section that would, quite frankly, have been better spent by the organisers than on the horrid troops (sic) of totally unnecessary ‘dancers’ dressed up as quasi-Fascist riot police for Take That and… the aforementioned Plan B who reenacted some kind of eccentric court scene while strangling his lyrical language by rapping it at us in pure, unadulterated, estuary.

Best hair on the night belonged to uber-puppet Beiber – he turned up, looking far to fresh-faced from a transatlantic flight to be real – no dark glasses for him unlike Cee-Lo who swung very low in his.

Chaps – dark glasses indoors are a sign… a signal… of utter affectation; they’re not cool… not funny… not glamorous… they just make you look plain stupid.

And, of the acceptance speeches… Laura Marling’s was – without doubt – the most real, most normal. I admit I was rooting for Rumer in this category but, Ms Marling – who looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights – was head and shoulders (sic) over the likes of Jessie J whose crocodile tears were as false as her eyelashes. Critics’ Choice..? Well, in that respect, those critics should be lined up against a wall and… because time will out on this, as I guarantee that, in five years time, people will be asking… Jessie who? And, the song was… Do It Like A Prude..? Nah, don’t remember that one.

And… the best album… the BEST British album of the last year was… really… honestly… you’re telling me that Mumford & Sons’ record was THE BEST British album of last year… ok, I’ll accept it was better than Take T’at – who’re collectively fast becoming the Queen Mother of The Brits… I mean, they’re like a standard fixture aren’t they, rather like that bloke seen at every Rugby match, wearing a Union Jack coat and a top hat being the epitome of a British Bulldog by the touchline.

And, James Corden… well, he looked (and acted) more like a safe Vicar who’d had one too few glasses of Sherry at Christmas… bumbling and smiling inanely. Time, if ever there was, to bring back a proper presenter or to say sorry to Jarvis Cocker and acknowledge that his stage invasion whilst wacko-Jacko was acting out his Christ-like tendencies surrounded by children was a genuine act that everyone in the hall that night (including self) wished they’d have been nearer the stage and been able to protest in like manner.

Oh… and its about time that the background TV presenter stopped using the word Platinum… honestly, luv… no one out their watching from the comfort of their sofa knows what it means… neither is it impressive.

But, hey, this was all about the ‘live’ music… wasn’t it…? Maybe so – and Adele and the rather loud Arcade Fire certainly showed how it could be done… However, the Mumblefords, scored a spectacular own goal by playing like a bunch of subway-buskers who are so ordinary that one hurries by without dipping the hand in the trouser pocket.

And Rihanna… I’m told that was a medley of her hit… hmmm… clearly lip-synching, it was not far short of a total travesty; guileless style over minimal content… and with choreography (was that what it really was?) that was about as exciting as watching a parody of all those old Top Of The Pops routines. Grabbing your crotch while wearing a ?dress? that shows all and sundry that your bottom is the size of Trindad isn’t raunchy, its just plain sad.

And so… the morning after… and as much-heralded 24 hours previously, up on iTunes are the live performances from last night to download and enjoy… for as long as one likes…

Well, actually, that’s not quite correct – not all of the performances are there due to technical hitches (according to my mole); hitches like auto-tuning and lip-synching... ha ha!

Be that as it may, some are... go to The Brits site and up there on the top right hand corner a graphic shows that the Cee Lo performance with Paloma Faith is available via iTunes…

Except, its not… it is geographically challenged… meaning that if (for example) one is logging on from the US or Australia… its not available.

Brilliant… how utterly fxxxxxg dumb is that? Someone in (say, Detroit or Adelaide) wants that recording and so how do they get it..?

Here’s what they’ll do: they’ll go to YouTube, engage a gadget called AudioHiJack (a free download - about which I've written and emphasised the dangers thereof in relation to pircay before) and… press record… Four minutes and thirty-two seconds later and it’ll nestle happily within their iTunes folder.

For free… that’s zilch… nada… nothing… FREE…

Fuck me, but record companies are about as stupid as they get… one day, those that forge these licensing arrangements will actually understand that the web is a global entity… global equals worldwide…

Is it any wonder that the ‘record companies’ are losing money / the war against piracy?

And, as a final comment on the success of this year’s BRIT Awards… we need look no further than Music Week who have just announced that the 2011 awards had the lowest viewing figures for five years and was outstripped by not only the film, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding (6.5 million viewers against 4.7 for the BRITS) but also Holby City which attracted 5.6 million.

Re-make / re-model..? Yes, please.

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