Five ways to improve the Grammys
The Grammy Awards are doing fine without our help: the 2010 broadcast attracted 25.8 million viewers, which was the show’s best rating since 2004 (by comparison, last year’s Oscars drew 41 million). But we’re not above making a few suggestions about how the “Music's Biggest Night” can become even better, as well as a few ideas about the nomination process.
1) Bring back a solo host for the Grammy Awards and have the show air live on the west coast. Yes, it’s a thankless task and it’s really hard to find someone who works. But the Grammys moved to Sunday from a week night several years ago in an effort to build an Oscar-like following and make the Grammy Awards an event. They haven’t achieved that type of status yet, but given how much coverage the Oscar hosts receive and how much debate it causes after the fact, this could be a great way to make folks tune in even if they don’t care who’s up for the top awards. Last year, although not an official host, Stephen Colbert did deliver a monologue of sorts. It makes the evening feel more cohesive. We hear Ricky Gervais has an opening for an awards show host slot. Plus, it you want to be considered a real event, you should air live on the west coast not tape delayed.Hell, even the Golden Globes get that honor.
2) Revamp the Best New Artist category...again. It is easier to answer the Sphinx’s riddle than figure out Grammy voting, but we give the Recording Academy credit for its willingness to revamp eligibility requirements when appropriate. For example, last year, after Lady Gaga was deemed ineligible for Best New Artist because she had received a previous nomination for “Just Dance,” the Recording Academy changed the rules so that a previous nomination did not eliminate an artist from Best New Artist (although a win does). Now, the Recording Academy needs to get rid of the requirement that an act must have released an album to be nominated. Both Nicki Minaj and Bruno Mars, who were clear contenders, were ineligible because their debut full-length sets came out after the Sept. 30 cut-off.
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3) Cut the show back to 3 hours. Its current 3 1/2 hours is really just too much. Let’s face it, the Grammy Awards are a long concert with a handful of awards thrown in to break up the performances. There are Grammys given out in 109 categories, only 11 or so of which are handed out over the 210-minute telecast. We know it’s all about trying to create a “watercooler moment,” but you can’t plan those and more isn’t always better. No one could have ever predicted the surge that would happen after Ricky Martin’s electrifying performance of “Cup of Life” in 1999 paved the way for his crossover to the English-speaking market.
4) Eliminate live tracks from contention. It is ludicrous that live tracks contend with new studio tracks in categories. Two examples this year: Paul McCartney’s live version of “Helter Skelter” is up for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance, while Beyonce’s live rendition of “Halo” is up for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. By the way, her recorded version of “Halo” won in this category last year. It feels like a cheat. If the Grammys are so all-fired up to honor live tracks, create a Best Live Track or Best Live Album category.
5) Quit making veteran artists sing songs with younger acts when it’s so clear that the older act doesn’t know the song or ever care to sing it. Remember last year when Stevie Nicks sang “You Belong With Me” with Taylor Swift and Leon Russell pretended like he’d heard “Chicken Fried” at least once before he “sang” it with Zac Brown Band? These moments almost feel disrespectful. It works on CMT’s “Crossroads”....sometimes, but not here and it’s just cringeworthy.
Will you watch the Grammys Sunday night?
Follow Hitfix for complete coverage of the Grammys Sunday night. I’ll be live blogging the Grammy Awards starting at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST. We’ll also have red carpet photo galleries and other features for your one-stop shop for all things Grammy.