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Grammys - Not As Funny As Benny Hill Tim watches the Grammy's, so you don't have to

Grammys - Not As Funny As Benny Hill

Tim watches the Grammy's, so you don't have to

by Tim London,
first published: April, 2022

approximate reading time: minutes

every note placed out like a supermarket aisle
The winner of the Grammys for Record and Song of the Year is… a comedy tune. A pastiche. Silk Sonic’s Leave The Door Open takes elements of seventies’ soft soul (including falsetto harmonies, whispered asides) and makes something rigid and soulless from them. The admiration, the positive criticism I have read in various media for the track has been based on the ‘professionalism’, the cleverness. It’s slick. It’s self-referential. It reminds me of Lenny Henry’s Theophilus P. Wildebeeste, backed by top session musos.
The Grammy winners are voted on, after nominating themselves or being nominated by labels or management. The initial judges are people in the industry in the USA who have paid $100 to join the Recording Academy for a year. Their choices are then filtered through a mysterious, un-named committee who make sure that nothing troublesome sneaks in. The winners are overwhelmingly commercially successful recordings. The Grammys are inherently conservative.
But why a comedy record? The other big winner, Jon Baptiste, with Album of the Year (Baptiste, plus a huge list of performers, producers and engineers - 42 in total for one album, not including the individual members of the choir and marching band featured) has also crafted something sleek and painfully proper, every noise, every note placed out like a supermarket aisle. It, too, doesn’t describe the future or attempt originality. The point of both winners is, I would argue, that they reflect the music business itself. Bland, in hock to finance, an artistic joke.
Of course, the USA has an abundance of natural talent. The American accent itself is the voice of rocknroll. High school marching bands in the States are generally funkier than the funkiest British thing without even trying. And American musicians tend to have a higher technical standard, possibly because of the long tradition of bar and frat bands, knocking out three hour sets of covers night after night and the fact that jazz is the American classical. So it makes sense that they celebrate technical sophistication and financial success - American industry in full effect. The comedy is… by the way (maybe that’s why it’s not funny).
Would you call that art? I wouldn’t but late Andy Warhol might, Henry Ford might. Art is hard to count. Dollars are easy.

Tim London

Tim London is a musician, music producer and writer. Originally from a New Town in Essex he is at home amidst concrete and grand plans for the working class. Tim's latest thriller, Smith, is available now. Find out more at

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