Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Loose ends- Electric Six, More Grammy Fun, Classical Music as pesticide

ELECTRIC SIX: At first, I couldn't get a handle on these guys. The music sounded good but the vocals/lyrics are just too freaking annoying. After seeing them live, I realized that they're a glam/disco version of Spinal Tap, only not as funny but as such, much easier to take. If you don't believe me, listen to their new record (out now only in the UK).

GRAMMY AWARDS ARE THE BOMB: Literally. The ratings were the lowest in years. 'Guilty pleasure' hit Desperate Housewives beat it out, reminding me of years ago when an episode of Friends trounced the Beatles Anthology special in ratings and making people make silly predictions like 'sitcoms are the new rock and roll' (mind you, this was years before sitcoms got nuked by reality TV).

Needless to say, there was no shortage of post-mortems about why they failed. Grammy Awards Get Lowest Rating Since '95 screamed a Yahoo/AP headline, coincidentally the same year that Friends beat the Beatles. The 'problems' were that a dead guy won too many awards (Ray Charles) and there wasn't enough controversy (you know, no Michael Jackson duet with R. Kelly). For Ray, unless someone knew the winners beforehand, they wouldn't have known already that he'd win that night. For the non-wardrobe-malfunction evening, I actually give NARAS credit for not zooming to the lowest common denominator: not that they'd have much choice in that any perceivable slip could get them a hefty FCC fine. It was messy, overlong evening but they did try to pull out many stops and if their worst sin is that they honored Ray and didn't parade strippers around, I say that's good for them and ratings be damned (never said I was an entrepreneur).

NARAS is definitely in a sticky situation. What are they going to try next time to recoup? The young'uns did tune in but if they're willing to give up a few ounces of hip quotient, NARAS might consider some grayer entertainment to rope in everyone else. I admit that this wouldn't thrill me next time but since when are editors/bloggers desirable demographics?

CLASSICAL MUSIC AS DDT: Interesting article in the L.A. Times: Halt, or I'll play Vivaldi, noting that the classics are now being used to clear out hoodlums from public areas. Of course, since this is classical music, it can't be considered noise pollution, right? Also, imposing the white man's burden of educating savages (note heavy sarcasm here) is kind of counter-productive, as the article notes. If the sound systems are actually scaring aware undesirables, is it really good to turn off people from classical music and reinforce bad stereotypes about it? I wonder how happy composers and musicians are to hear about this. Even if you're willing to accept the limited statistics on this being effective (I don't), who are we defining as 'undesirables' here? Does that mean that if you're not a criminal but you don't dig classical music, you're out of luck if you're around these public places? I'm not quite ready to pull out a race card on this but this does stink of some sort of slimy elitism. Should we blast death metal to break up a debutante ball gone bad? Should Celine Dion be used against out-of-control frat parties?

If we've learned anything about the rash of staph infections sweeping through major U.S. cities, isn't it that if we overuse certain cures, the viruses will develop into super-resistant strains that will be harder to fight. Won't we then be breeding a group of classical-resistant super crooks that we can't control then if we keeping using music to thwart them? I shudder to think of the consequences...


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