It is impossible to watch the Grammys. I maintain that in the face of overwhelming evidence, not the least of which is the fact that I turned it on for twenty minutes last night. Not twenty sequential minutes, that would be dangerous, but enough to see backwoods bro Justin Vernon win two, to realize the Foo Fighters are still a thing, and to get totally exhausted by Nicki Minaj’s demon child gimmickry. The Grammys are objectively unentertaining, but they serve an important function, disclosing an appetite for pop that’s almost Zen in its avowal of an Eternal Now, when the only music worth listening to is playing right now on this revolution of a radio dial. The Grammys have no sense of any future except one in which Adele keeps selling a billion albums forever, and a feeling for the past so distant it has an unearthly cant, like it’s not even ours. This allows us to apply all our powers of snark towards a massive star-killer blog ray incinerating all the out of touch suits who presume to arbitrate tastes for us (we’re 16-24 DAMNIT). YEAH! Little Jimmy punts his radio and rides off, listening to some unholy Lightning Bolt CD-R, bleeding from the ears all the way.
But this is what we’re listening to, even if it won’t be a month from now. And the model of the record executive somehow young or savvy enough to find the ley lines of youth culture seems totally outdated at this point. Sure we’re bombarded with more marketing and advertising than we are stellar radiation, but we do the bulk of it ourselves. Some people out there still listen to Chris Brown (stop it by the way). For them he is an artist of great personal and musical charisma. His conduct is inexcusable and entirely his, but his career is our fault.
Beyond that, the Grammys have a necessary leveling effect on people like Nicki Minaj and Paul McCartney, whose lifestyles eat and shit out a thousand of mine in a day. At the Grammys their behavior can still seem “normal person” embarrassing; I had to flip back and forth from Nick Minaj’s performance I was wincing so hard.
I felt some affinity with the Grammys this year because I am also growing out of touch. Dubstep was the first youth oriented musical upwelling to completely confound me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. When I turned 23 I made this 100+ track mix that was a big sloppy love letter to pop music, as I was certain I would only listen to “art” music thereafter. I failed, but now I think I just started too early. After 25+ years, you’ve witnessed the cycle repeat enough to gain some perspective. Now I feel closer to 12 minute high-hat drones, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Philip Glass, The Field etc.: little afterthoughts of dynamism against an undertone of geologic insistence. The worm turning in a constant soil.
But I’ve been wrong before. What pop music knows is that the method of life is seduction, and its movement is back into the fold.
For now: a little Keith to go out on.
Keith Fullerton Whitman – Stereo Music For Yamaha Disklavier Prototype