Grammy Glitz and Gimmicks Galore: Did Kids Watch? Did You?

Feb.1, 2010 Promise I’ll leave the 52nd Annual Grammy music deconstruction to the review pros, but just wanted to comment on the media and gadgetry of 21st century events in new media style.

Where else would you see social media integration of Imogen Heap’s  Twitter Dress composed of photos sent by fans in real-time using the hashtag #twitdress?

Purpose? To let fans  “accompany me on the red carpet” (Wow. Talk about new levels of personal engagement and blurring the lines of celebs as pals; photo via Mashable)

Then there was the “You Pick It, They Play It!” Bon Jovi interactive where viewers could log on to CBS to vote in American Idol poll style (unless you’re in Ca. like me where it was already a done deal due to time slots)… And of course the Stephen Colbert iPad product placement (gotta find out the backchannel on where else iPad will iPop for an iOpp; here’s his video on TechMamas’ timely blog)

On a more mundane level, the time-shifting of media morsels points to whether (and how) kids even view events like this, and if they have become desensitized to the ‘wow’ factor. Thoughts MamaMia?! The gown parades, (5 most) outrageous costumes 3D-MJ tributes and musical hoopla of showy laser performances have become synonymous with a ‘can you top this’ feedback loop of what constitutes entertainment.

(visual credit: NYDaily News, 54 image slideshow)

It makes me wonder if perhaps this year’s style over substance didn’t perhaps trump itself with teens becoming all the more blasé; I’ll hold my tongue until I have more than a ‘focus group of one.’

Still, it merits noting: my teen was home watching a Netflix movie with her dad, had forgotten about the Grammys altogether, and though she could’ve hit ‘pause’ and watched the show, she texted me at my S.Y. outpost where I was working late:

“Award shows=boring; will catch on YouTube l8r; lemme know if Taylor wins.”

Fascinating. To me, this is more of a statement on HOW youth consume media these days, regardless of the content itself. It’s always on, always there…available when THEY are, not vice-versa.

Beyoncé and Taylor Swift scored big no doubt and there were plenty of daring divas in the running…But again, my focus turns to the insta-media real time skewering of Taylor Swift’s off-key notes in her Stevie Nicks duet (see Live Journal’s 6000+ comment forum thread) …It serves as a reminder of the power of media to tear down as well as build up.

Speaking of building up; interesting social media stats tracking music fans/marketshare on the shock artistry factor of those who are gaga over Gaga on Mashable…Anyway, barely out of her teens, Taylor Swift is the youngest award winner EVER to take home the Album of the Year prize so please be gentle, people…she may be “Fearless” but I’ve seen kids tossed into the murky media waters like chum for the sharks.

Besides, I could see Taylor Swift fiddling with her earpiece and sure know what it’s like to try to sing harmony with a mike in your ear; it can go flat fast with tone deaf reverb that can foul up the works no matter who you are. So I’m cutting the poor dear some serious slack, and hope the media will too…

As always, Mary J. Blige won my heart and my dollars with her Bridge Over Troubled Water duet to benefit Haiti with the amazing Andrea Bocelli.

I’ve already bought her “This is to Mother You” duet on GEMS Girls to empower  girls and young women (ages 12-21) who have experienced sexual exploitation and human trafficking, which deserves its own blog post, as does Mary J. Blige herself! (I also bought the GEM Girls documentary film “Very Young Girls” to use in our free house party screenings for parent/youth education as part of their Girls Are Not For Sale campaign.)

As far as all the knockout fist pumping energy and stage strutting darkness which bordered on the ‘angry’ at times, I couldn’t help but view the ‘upside down and almost nakedprowess of Pink as almost a swan-like ballet in comparative context. (AP Photo: Matt Sayles)

I had some media pals query about ‘what I thought’ of Pink’s “Glitter in the Air” body sleeve due to my VMA/Miley quote in the LATimes awhile back, but that’s a total disconnect in terms of apples/oranges to me.

Pink’s powerfully athletic Cirque de Soleil-style performance  seems more a tribute to what the body can DO in performance art style than any sexualized-contextualized stripper-sensory vibe.

My only question was whether there would be anything ‘left’ for this generation to be ‘wowed’ by…

I mean, c’mon, this lady has a serious set of pipes, the notion that she has to be dunked in water and whirled high above the crowd in a wet and wild extravaganza worthy of any world-class acrobatic act made me wonder what youth must be thinking…

What do you do for a ‘follow up’ to that act, ya know?

Creative director that I am, my production side was kicking in on the logistical dangers (microphones/water; heights/cables) and I had that little  “don’t try this at home, kiddies” reptilian voice pinging inside my head.

I shared my ‘kids thinking aloud’ moment on Twitter and was answered in real time half-way aross the country by Wisconsin-based @PigtailPals (Melissa Wardy) who runs a tee-shirt company, redefining girly

Her child’s reaction?

“Mom, that girl is going to fall on her head!” heh. (never ask what kids are thinking, unless you want a raw, real answer!)

So with that I’ll close and leave the “style over substance” debates for bigwigs and music critics and just reiterate how pleasant it was to share thoughts with new voices in the social media ‘stream’ who captured some of my own feelings eloquently causing me to hit that little ‘retweet’ button…Such as?

Twitter user @MegFowler wrote:

“Mary J. Blige always sings like her voice is almost too much for her body to hold.”

Or “Dave Matthews Band always makes me think of 1997 and being 23 and being in love with guitarists and road trips and beaded hemp necklaces.”

Yep to both.

This was my first ‘online’ Grammy experience to match my first online CNN/FB Obama election coverage prior. There IS something interesting about coming together with people all over the world to share an experience when you’re alone, working late, high atop a 10th floor outpost that doesn’t feel so isolated…pretty cool digital sense of community.

Which brings up the ‘where are we headed’ questions…

How will new media shift the music experience down the line?

Will interconnectedness of events like LiveAid or LiveEarth (7-7-07 on 7 continents) remind us of our one world underpinnings and the need for unity to create a “humanity ascending” proposition?

Will the Grammys become  virtual? (sending all of the money spent on flashy productions to Haiti instead or wherever the global crisis du’ jour might be?)

We’ve already seen how Playing For Change has shifted the music experience to global engagement blending entertainment and cause-marketing.

How is the 21st century participatory culture of fandom being altered by new media opportunities to text, chat, engage, download (wear!?) our musical experiences?

How will the ability to connect cultures and inspire youth through music take hold in alternative ways? Want a sneak peak?

Check this out: Cain Mosni’s “Jam Session 2.0” shows how 8 people with 5 instruments from 4 continents speaking 3 languages created ONE song! (thanks @threebillion)

Could this be the future of music composition and collaborative ideation? You never know…

Mary J. Blige & Andrea Bocelli Grammy Awards 2010

Bridge Over Troubled Water: Benefit for Haiti

Via Shallow Nation pop culture blog



  1. I really like the list. Keep up the recommendations.
    .-= Aaron Shaw´s last blog ..Safari Baby Animals =-.

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