60th Grammy Awards: The show will be a spectacle ... but the awards are meaningless: Chuck Yarborough

January 28, 2018 GMT

60th Grammy Awards: The show will be a spectacle ... but the awards are meaningless: Chuck Yarborough

CLEVELAND, Ohio – A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, a Grammy Award released something inside an artist that had always been there: success.

By success, I mean lasting fame . . . and a fair amount of moolah. But, as Han Solo would say, I have a bad feeling about this.

The idea that a Grammy means forever notoriety – or even a career lasting more than a year – is more dead than Yoda, at least for most genres.

When the lights go on at New York’s Madison Square Garden for the 60th Grammy Awards CBS special at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, we will see a heck of a piece of entertainment. Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, Chris Stapleton, Sam Smith, Childish Gambino, Pink, Little Big Town, U2 and all the rest of the performers will make it a show worth watching. James Corden’s intellect and wit make him the perfect host, too.


It will be, in those time-honored words, “good television.″ But that’s all it will be.

The Grammys, you see, are irrelevant.

Oh, there are a couple of categories where it matters, most of which won’t get airtime. Spoken word albums, folk music, contemporary Christian, Latin jazz, “regular″ jazz, classical, etc. Wins in those categories can and do launch spikes in sales.

But when Jay-Z wins album of the year for “4:44″ or Lamar’s “HUMBLE″ edges out Mars’ “24K Magic″ for record of the year, there won’t be a commensurate “bounce″ in what the industry likes to call “units moved.″

Now if Lamar outperforms Mars – honestly, an unlikely scenario, as Bruno is one of the most dynamic, invigorating artists I’ve personally ever seen – it’ll be a boon to his billfold. But not much of one.

Because – again – the Grammys are the embodiment of what Clevelander Drew Carey used to say in the opening of “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”: “Everything is made up and the points don’t matter.″

A plethora of awards shows – this really is the season, right? – has ensured that. But more to blame is technology.

When the Grammys were born in 1959, television was in its infancy. Newspapers were the primary form of information dissemination (Man, would selfish me love to see THAT again!) and radio wasn’t that far removed from Edward R. Murrow broadcasting from the rooftops of war-torn London.

A lot of people had telephones, but most who did had a version of social media we called “party lines” (go look it up, Millennials). Telegrams were still a thing, and were actually the most common method of instant news sharing.


Not like today, where you go on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter or what-have-you and two seconds after something happens, it’s around the world.

That’s not a curmudgeonly complaint, even though it may sound that way. It just is. I liken it to the automobile putting the carriage makers out of business. People still get around; it’s just the mode of transportation changed. In this case, information still gets disseminated, but the medium has morphed.

So, to put this into perspective as it relates to the Grammys, artists no longer need or even use records to share their music or determine its poularity. It’s almost an extra expense, even. Chance the Rapper became a bazillionaire based on his YouTube videos (a good thing). So did Justin Bieber (a not-good thing).

Even Billboard has added downloads and streams to its way of charting success. Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, Slacker, Apple Music, Amazon, Google Music get more of a workout than a cashier at a record store . . . if you can find a record store that doesn’t specialize in vintage vinyl.

So, with all that, you might ask, “Why bother to watch the Grammys?” Honestly, it’s a good question. Do you really need to devote 31/2 hours of your life to the show?

In a word, no, and here’s why:

Every “big″ moment will be streamable on CBS.com and will find its way to YouTube, which is how more and more people are “watching″ things. Don’t worry if you’re in the kitchen getting a brew when they first air the magic moment when 19-time Grammy winner Tony Bennett presents his pal Gaga with a best pop vocal album award (if this does NOT happen, the Grammys are irrelevant AND a sham as well). It’ll be all over the Internet, and probably part of whatever ads Live Nation and the Hard Rock Rocksino have for his show here in May.

The biggest reason to watch may be so you can join in the social media sniping that’s sure to follow. You don’t want to get left out of the online “conversation″ if Pink flubs a song and has to restart like Adele did last year, right? You have been saving up your “mean girls″ memes, right?

But if you DO decide to sacrifice 210 minutes of your life to the television gods (more if you plan to watch the red carpet blather), try to go old school. Pour your beverage of choice, don your jammies, put another watt on the fake electric fireplace and just watch. No phone. No iPad. No laptop. There will be plenty of time later to join the fray as guys like me rehash whether the right person won, who got cheated, blah, blah, blah.

Better yet, opt for the NHL All-Star game. ’Cause if you don’t, well, ice guys will finish last again. Because it’s not made up, and all the points DO matter.

60th Grammy Awards When: 7:30 to 11 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28. Who: Hosted by James Corden. Where: CBS (WOIO Channel 19 in Cleveland).