6 Thoughts About the Offbeat Grammys

Sunday night, while you’re watching all the one-of-a-kind Grammy Awards performances and belting a shot of tequila every time Lil Wayne’s name is mentioned, take a minute to remember the 100 or so other Grammy winners who aren’t considered important enough to appear on the Big Show (CBS, 8 p.m.).

Polka? Banda? Best Album Packaging?

Contemporary Folk? Christian Rap? Best Surround Sound Album?

What does it all mean and why should you care? Six thoughts:

1. And by “Contemporary Folk” You Mean “Old Folks”?
The average age of the contemporary folk nominees is a ripe 57.5 years. And the category would be even craggier if Alison Krauss, 37, hadn’t kindly agreed to join the AARP brigade (of course she had to bring along her dad, Robert Plant, 60). If this is “contemporary” folk then Fleet Foxes must be… from the future?

2. Christian Rap is Better Than Christian Rock
Did you know that “gospel” means music with Christian lyrics? Personally, I don’t care for Christian Rock, but Christian Rap is something entirely different. When nominee Flame spits “Picture Christ coming back like a thief in the night came / Riding a white horse with the force of a night train / Heaven’s open behold and overthrowing your dice game / With His pure and Holy vision eyes blazing just like flames,” it makes Ice-T sound like a Chihuahua with a temper. This is some seriously effective stuff.

3. An Education in Accordion vs. Tuba
The eight “Latin” categories include the genres Norteño and Banda, which are basically Mexican Polka played with a slightly different set of instruments (the former with accordion, the latter with a brass band). Learning this is definitely going help me when I try to pinpoint the types of songs blasting from cars outside my New York City window all summer long.

4. Talk to Simon Cowell About It
Jennifer Hudson’s national anthem rocked the Super Bowl (taped or not), but do we really need separate categories for Hudson’s “Spotlight” (Best Female R&B Vocal Performance) and Hudson’s featuring Fantasia “I’m His Only Woman” (Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals)? Come to think of it, Why don’t we just replace the entire Grammy Awards with the American Idol Awards? That’s one sure way to boost TV viewership for the event.

5. New Age Music Is All in the Name
Sampling the New Age nominees, I was surprised at how broad the genre boundaries seem to be. The best I can describe what “New Age” actually means is “slow-tempo ambient instrumental” But if that’s the case, why wasn’t The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid nominated? Or Aphex Twin’s Ambient albums? Then I looked at the nominated album names: Pathfinder, Peace Time, Meditations, Ambrosia, and The Scent of Light. Ah, now I get it. I feel calmer already.

6. The Best Argument for Making Wayne’s World 3…
Do you ever wonder what happened to Tia Carrere? The good news: She records Hawaiian-language folk and is nominated for a Grammy! The bad news: She records Hawaiian-language folk and is nominated for a Grammy!


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