Grammy Viewing Party 2010: Bring Back The Rock!

View from the ground floor of the Hard Rock Cafe in NYC on Grammy night, January 31, 2010.
(Photo ©2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

One of the perks of being a voting member of the Recording Academy is that I can attend special seminars and screenings, go to Q&As with major industry talent, get discounts to conventions and be part of the annual members viewing party for the Grammys in NYC. For 2010, the Recording Academy held a free event with food and drink at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square that was packed to the gills with members and governors. It was fun to watch the event on a giant video projection screen with a big sound system to outdo my big screen TV. WPLJ DJ Christine Richie hosted and gave away prizes.

As for the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards show itself, there were plenty of flashy numbers (particularly Pink’s impressive suspension act), surprise pairings and one-liners from host Stephen Colbert to keep people watching, and it was entertaining to witness the entire crowd in the Hard Rock singing along to “Livin’ On A Prayer”. Then again, we were in the NY/NJ area. But I have a complaint: While I applaud the musical diversity (especially non-pop) that the Recording Academy embraces, from blues to jazz to classical, I wish there had been more rock ‘n’ roll in the show. While Jeff Beck’s tribute to the late Les Paul was warm and heartfelt, the rest of the night was mostly powered by pop, and a lot of it bland. Bon Jovi doesn’t really count as hard rock anymore, and their choices were pretty safe. I’m not even sure that the unorthodox pairing of Jamie Foxx and Slash made a difference in the edginess department.

Slash and Jamie Foxx rock the house. Sort of.
(Photo ©2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

As a lifelong fan of metal and hard rock, I’m disappointed at how few true rock performances there have been over the past few years, and how the awards for those two aforementioned categories don’t even get mentioned during the telecast anymore. I also find it funny how groups like the Black-Eyed Peas can have a dance troupe outfitted in the most ridiculous costumes, yet many people would probably mock equally (or even less) cheesy metal attire.

Last year Kid Rock and Paul McCartney with Dave Grohl took the stage in the rock department, but admittedly the songs were crowd pleasers. It was cooler when the Foo Fighters jammed with Chick Corea a few years ago because it felt more improvised. And even if you’re not a fan of either group, Linkin Park and Nickelback sell oodles of albums and accounted for some of the biggest sellers of the ’00s. What, are they too big to play? And hey, AC/DC and Judas Priest won their first Grammys ever this year, and AC/DC’s last album Black Ice sold 2 million copies in America alone.

I say let’s bring back the rock next year. As a lark, someone I know suggested that GWAR play to stir things up. An interesting thought. I think it would be awesome to see Muse shake the Grammy rafters.

The Hard Rock marquis on Grammy night.
(Photo ©2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Inside the party on the upper level.
(Photo ©2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

WPLJ DJ Christine Richie chats up the crowd and gives away cool goodies, like $100 Master Card
gift certificates and a new iPhone.
(Photo ©2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Christine Richie during one of the commercial breaks.
(Photo ©2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Only the lucky ones, get to dine at the show.
(Photo ©2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Stealing a moment alone on the red carpet.
(Photo ©2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Monitoring the mix while host Stephen Colbert gives thanks for his award for Best Comedy Album.
(Photo ©2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

Paul McCartney's bass because, well, it's Paul McCartney's bass.
(Photo ©2010 by Bryan Reesman.)

3 Responses

  1. Dawn

    Well said. I have been saying this for years! Every year I tell my husband this is to music fans as the Super Bowl is to you football fans. And I won’t miss it for anything.
    Coincidentally, Muse is my favorite band. I was thrilled to see the nominations they finally and justly received.
    I saw them twice in Atlanta, once with U2 and once as the headliner. They really should get best live act.
    None the less your article is spot on. Not enough Rock and Roll anymore. Granted, Axl Rose’s fights back in the early 90’s and his behavior was at times out of control. But, then again we have Kayne West now. So surely that is not a factor as to why Rock and Roll has been squeezed out of the show.
    I believe the word choice you used “safe rock” was really what it is all about.
    I do notice that when we do get rock artist usually there is a rapper with them, such as when Lincoln Park and Jay Z. did “Crawling” and then Slash and Jamie Foxx, etc. etc. I feel like I must accept the rock with a side of rap or pop. And we are unable to have just a solid hard rock performance anymore. And that I find so sad. What would Elvis say? Dear Lord! lol
    Glad to see that someone out there in the voting arena notices this problem. Thank you for writing this.
    I apologize that I do not write well. I know you’re a writer and this must be awful for you. I am very sorry I do not write better. I am not expecting it posted, it would actually be embarrassing. But I just wanted to say this to you. Thank You.
    I just had to say I much appreciate what you said here, and I heard that Muse will be performing and I almost cried with joy when heard that. I was searching now to see if it is true and that is how I found your blog. If they are, perhaps it was because of you and if so thanks a million times over from all of us Muse fans.

    • Bryan Reesman

      Hi, Dawn!

      Your post is perfectly fine, and your passion comes through. 🙂

      Rock ‘n’ roll seems to be going underground again, but you know what? That might be a good thing. It’s been over 15 years since Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alanis Morissette came along, and honestly, there hasn’t been one band or artist that has turned the genre upside down on a mass level since then, even though plenty have sold well. It’s been great to see the recent metal revival, but now we’re inundated with heavy bands, even in the underground. (Of course, they’re the fans that actually still buy albums, so that’s good for the industry.) But we need something new, exciting, groundbreaking and dangerous.

      It’s been a weird time for popular music in general. The term “rock star” has become slang for someone hip, fashionable or cool. It’s also used condescendingly as well. But often its use has nothing to do with music. And commercially, music over the last decade has been about karaoke and mimicry: American Idol, Guitar Hero and Rock Band. People who have not really paid their dues, don’t have incredible talent and/or who have more personality than talent seem to win out over artists who offer something deeper. Hopefully that will change. We need more bands like Muse who put heart, soul and ingenuity into their music, and have developed on their own and put in the time to be able to evolve. David Letterman told current American Idol judge Steven Tyler that he preferred the way that Aerosmith made it; by playing out constantly for years and honing their chops. (And, I should add, developing their sound and songs organically.)

      Fingers crossed for change! Thanks for writing!

  2. Dawn

    The term ” Rock Star” is actually not only cliche’ now, but, in my opinion it is also well, perhaps antiquated.
    You make a really good point about the underground music scene. Even Matt Bellamy said once on their first trip to Atlanta in a small venue that he was surprised that it was like they had a small underground movement going on in the States. And he was right. they did.
    This does give me some hope, and I am going to certainly keep my fingers crossed. But you mentioned also that we MUST support our bands.
    It is just a given. Not only support them by paying for your C.d.’s but also teaching your kids the same thing.
    The artist cannot go out on the road and keep on if we do not support them. I have taught my daughter this. We were lucky and very fortunate to be given the chance to see Muse in concert. I am sure we wont have that chance again due to finances and all. I am so thankful for that opportunity, and we supported our band on there first American tour.
    So we were able to support them in that way as well. So important and really vital to any band that is starting out.
    You mentioned Aerosmith. Another long time favorite band of mine. They went through so many years of substance abuse, arguments, fights, and money issues. Yet, through it all they wrote the best music and sang it with soul, music that not only you can hear but you can feel in your soul. And risk takers, with the (RUN-D.M.C.) collaboration. I respect that. And it worked. It could have ruined them.
    I remember when I was about 10 yrs old and I laid in bed one night listening to the radio. I heard this new song called “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, of course, and I was just blown away by this band. No videos, just the radio. I think it is important that we listen more and not just like the video. Especially female singers, but I won’t go there. lol Point is music is to be heard and experienced, not watched. Won’t you agree? I have yet to see a Beethoven video and he seems to be doing alright.l ol I am not anti-video. I rather like them. I just want to make sure I hear the song first. as it is meant to be heard. I think sometimes that a video can make or break a song and that really shouldn’t be.

    And when you say the band paying their dues, you’re right, that is how they get to the dark places, the lonely places on the road, that inspire such great songs. Whether an artist of music, paintings, or a writer, I believe it is the harder times, or the lonelier times, that stir up our emotions, and we get disconnected from all the chaos around us and have quiet time to reflect, to think. These times are when great music is written, when the best novels are written or the best paintings are done. Art just as in life has its valleys as well as the highest mountains (success) and you can tell when one gets there, the natural way or whether or not they where fabricated by a recording studio and packaged up to sell to us. And I do not want the packaged band either. I know what I like to hear.

    I suppose I best stop. I am very passionate about music. It was the only constant in my life as a child growing up. I grew up to love and appreciate many kinds of music, and it is a part of who I am. Again, I don’t just hear music, I feel it. I experience it. Just as one would a book or a movie. Music, done correctly, is something felt and emotion is evoked.

    Warmest Regards,


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