The Great Divide: The Grammys Fail To Bring Together Young And Old
- February 14th, 2012
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For the past few years, the Grammys has served as a stunning example of the generational divide. This year’s show, as in years past, promised joint performances from some big names: Foster The People and Maroon 5 with the Beach Boys, Foo Fighters with Deadmau5, Tony Bennett with Carrie Underwood…
The problem with these Grammy performances is that, aside from Bennett and Underwood’s duet, they fail to be mashups or even collaborations. Instead each act is featured separately. Then at the end of the featured performance, when the acts finally do come together for a “jam session,” it doesn’t look like anyone is having fun exploring their artistic expression of a favorite song; they’re too busy trying to harmonize with the dozen or so other artists on stage.
Nothing could be further from a Millennial vibe. This generation isn’t interested in pristine, perfect sound. They want to look behind the curtain and see the artists at work, to experience a personal connection with their idols, the way they can by following them on Twitter and being a fan on Facebook.
In addition, the joint performances are homages to the older artists, focusing often entirely on their songs. It might make sense as a sign of respect, but it doesn’t allow the newer bands to flex their creative muscle. Instead, they often sing a very typical representation of the older acts’ songs. Where’s the collaboration or fun in that?
The Grammys also have a genre problem, failing to recognize new trends in music. Best Rock Song is a mainstay category, and the Grammys continue to award it even though there are few true rock bands on the charts these days. Among the nominees — Mumford & Sons, The Decemberists, Coldplay, Radiohead, and Foo Fighters — only the category winner, Foo Fighters, is really a rock band. Parents of the 50s and 60s may have cursed their children’s rock and roll music, but as the genre has softened, most parents would prefer these nominees to what their children listen to.
The Grammys are trying to add new genres that reflect young musical tastes. For the first time ever, the show included a performance from Deadmau5 and David Guetta, two nominees for Best Dance/Electronica Album, a category that has been around — and growing a young fan base — since 2005. But rather than let those artists stand on their own, David Guetta shared the stage with Chris Brown and Lil Wayne, and Deadmau5 performed with Foo Fighters. The genre is all about sampling and blending beats, and the first performance was clearly a collaboration, but the latter performance felt disjointed, particularly after Dave Grohl had just accepted an award saying music is “not about what goes on in a computer,” essentially negating the newfangled category of electronica.
All of this reminds us of stories of Millennials in the workplace; rising stars coming into an office to challenge the status quo, getting push back from the establishment. In business as in music, it is youth that generate trends and explore revolutionary new ideas, and they won’t be quieted. Hopefully, the future will hold more collaboration and mashups among generations, both at the Grammys and in day-to-day experiences.