It has been quite a newsworthy week for entertainment and pop culture enthusiasts. As the cold and snow of January has turned to and even colder and snowier February, celebrations of music and sports have been joined with the loss of a legend and the cementing of a legacy.
The week kicked off as expected with the annual Grammy Awards. As usual, no one is ever content with the outcome or the stunning performances. Year to year the Grammy Foundation takes a pounding for either being a popularity contest or pandering to snobbish music critics who do not care what the public is actually listening to. This year was much more the popularity contest as Daft Punk, Lorde, and Pharell, all big-hit artists of the year, were named the big winners. On the performance side of the equation, dance-heavy lip-synced performances dominated the day. Yes, it would be hard for Pink or Katy Perry to sing live and do all of their acrobatics (and Pink obviously sang live after she got of her trapeze) but if the celebration is about music shouldn’t the public expect a live performance? There were plenty of old-school performances though, including a tepid ‘reunion’ of Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr and an awesome smash up of Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, and Dave Grohl that was so good it had commercials play over the top of it.
All of the Grammy talk ended a day later with the passing of music icon Pete Seeger. Few people have ever had as long an active career as Seeger who began performing and touring in the 1940’s and passed away late Monday at the age of 94. A victim of McCarthyism, a fixture of civil rights and anti-war protest all the way through Occupy Wall Street, and a masterful musician, Pete inspired countless musicians and activists and has had as profound an effect on 20th century America as anyone. Love or hate his politics, his motives, or his techniques, this country will always be in debt to Pete Seeger.
Finally, exactly one week later, the Super Bowl is here. The annual NFL championship game has become an international sensation and an advertising bonanza with huge TV audiences around the world. One of the moments bringing buzz to the game for music fans, other than the Bruno Mars/Red Hot Chili Peppers halftime show, is a new U2 song that will debut during the game. Invisible will be available for free on I-tunes for one day only and each download will be worth $1 to (RED), a charitable foundation in which Bono is involved. Keeping with the Pete Seeger artist/activist tradition, Bono draws his fare share of ire from the public and likely detracts from the overall perception of his band with his stances on a variety of social, economic and environmental issues. Regardless your opinion of Bono, music lovers should hope the song is good and that there is a vinyl version soon- maybe even for Record Store Day!
Keep your turntables spinning, maybe even with a new Grammy winner. Everyone bid fond farewell to Pete Seeger and enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday.