CNN Isn’t Becoming “Fox Lite” and Don’t Become Just as Bad as the MAGA Cult

It is believed that the statement, “May you live in interesting times,” is an ode to challenge and excitement. The exact opposite is true, however; the line was originally laid at the feet of old Chinese philosophers, but further research has shown it to be more strongly associated to former British politician Joseph Chamberlain and his son, Austen. The statement is actually a curse, indicating that living in tumultuous times stresses out individuals, groups, and governments, and eventually renders all ineffective.

That has been my issue of late. There is so much that goes on that it is difficult to absorb it all and digest it appropriately. It is only through such contemplation that you can bring up solid, lucent thoughts for people to potentially learn from. There has been a couple of incidences recently that has prodded my thoughts back to life and both involve how supposed “liberals” and “progressives” perceive things.

The first thing was the changes at CNN of late.

In our current media landscape, the lines are drawn quite starkly. There is the uber-right – the Newsmax and OANN (for as long as it has left to exist). There is the not-quite uber-right but the still too damn nutbaggery whack job to take seriously Fox “News.” On the uber-left, there’s MSNBC. There is even an upstart (if you want to call them that) in NewsNation (the former WGN America), who tries to straddle the railroad tracks while the oncoming locomotive is bearing down to destroy them (here’s a note, NewsNation…when neither side believes what you are saying, who is left to listen?).

What ground does CNN have to stake itself to?

They cannot go left of MSNBC, and they certainly are not going to go right of Fox “News” nor the Fourth Reich official broadcast outlets. CNN is left trying to use their past reputation to take back that “middle ground” that NewsNation so desperately wants to stake themselves to (they fail…they have far too many former Fox “News” hosts, they are almost “Fox Lite” right now). To do that, they must anchor themselves at a point where people are going to A) trust what they are doing as factual, and B) be able to make a profit. That is the reason that they have been eliminating some of their more strident “left” voices on the network.

Look, I lament Brian Stelter’s departure from the network. I used to love watching “Reliable Sources” on Sundays because they did present a fairly balanced view of the media landscape, but even I noticed that Stelter was becoming more of the story than the stories he was covering. I am still not sure why longtime reporter John Harwood left CNN as abruptly as he did – maybe it was not abrupt, as he is not a young man? There has also been a longtime move to the center by CNN, with people like Van Jones and Rick Santorum being released from the network.

CNN is trying to be a reputable AND PROFITABLE (this cannot be emphasized enough) news company, walking a center line. What they must do in walking that center line is not succumb to “both-siderism” because there are definitive “right and wrong” situations that do occur. But if they are interested in presenting views from both the right and the left, then their current moves would be in line with that – they just have to keep their interviewed politicians from spewing the toxic bullshit that normally occurs when a substantive conversation on issues is attempted.

The other issue of late is in the discussion of the appointment of a “special master” to look over the documents that were seized during the LEGALLY EXECUTED search of the former president’s escape port at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

Let us establish this from the start. I agree with the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, and his philosophies on the Judicial Branch of government. There are NO “Bush” judges, or “Clinton” judges, “Obama” judges, or “Orange Fuckhead” judges. WITH HOPE, they abide by the law, not by who put them in their position. Because if there is one thing that is known, the fastest way to ensure you never see the next position higher is to be a partisan hack – especially in the judicial system.

Remove the emotion from the case. It is ENTIRELY appropriate that an outside individual look at the NON-GOVERNMENT OWNED documents and determine if they should be excluded from the government’s haul. From all apparent information, the intelligence trove (AKA the Top Secret/Secret/Classified information documents that numbered into the hundreds, if not thousands) were intermingled with other bullshit like photos and press clippings, making it so that the government HAD to go through tens of thousands of documents to simply FIND the classified information.

If there are any other documents that should have been left with the government (under the Presidential Records Act), then so be it. The special master has NO authority over those things. The special master also has NO authority over the intelligence information that was STOLEN, so it is not up to whoever is named to decide to return classified documents back to Orange Foolius. Those will stay with the government. However, if there are any other documents – mail exchanges with attorneys, tax information, other business or medical documents – then the government does not need those, and they should be returned.

To be honest, the entire “special master” façade is just another delaying tactic. By the end of this month, the “special master” will have found little to no documents to return to the Marmalade Menace, he/she will state that the FBI has overseen the documents correctly and without prejudice and that they are working an active CRIMINAL investigation on a civilian. And he will be charged, if not before the midterms then immediately afterwards.

Here is the issue, however. Many “progressives” are crying over the decision by the federal judge to hold up the case and appoint a special master to examine the documents. They are crying about how that judge is “incompetent,” or “a fraud,” or even “a criminal.” In doing this, these “progressives” make themselves no better than those who have swallowed the IMPOTUS 45 Kool-Aid.

This same action has become the modus operandi of the MAGA cult. If something goes against them, then it is a “criminal acting for their boss” against their Dear Leader. If there is a law that is passed, it is the “Deep State” that is coming after them. This type of psychosis is NOT something that “progressives” NOR DEMOCRATS need to feed into. Do not fall into this trap of the “they’re incompetent/a criminal/a fraud” when a judge or elected official does not do something that you approve of – it makes you no better than the cult members who follow IMPOTUS 45.

If either side is to have any credibility, that cannot happen. BOTH SIDES need to return to a FACTUAL basis and knowledge-based discussions – and sometimes that knowledge is not going to be something that you agree with. Instead of leaping to the latest conspiracy theory bullshit, try to engage some thought before you offer commentary.

100 Essential Albums of All Time – Boston, “Boston” (1976)

***WRITER’S NOTE*** I do understand that it has been over three years since this series was updated. I am back now to try to add to the legacy of this list!

There is a term in the music industry – a “one hit wonder” – for an artist or a band that has one massive hit that simply overpowers everything that the act does for the rest of their career. But there are also those that had that one massive hit and, despite their best efforts, are unable to equal the quality or success of that masterpiece. The self-titled album from the band Boston falls into this category.

Released in August of 1976, Boston was a monumental occurrence in the world of rock and roll. What makes it even more impressive is the backstory to the album. That backstory would not have been heard, however, if it weren’t for the fact that the record was an immense moment in the passage of rock and roll time, making it truly memorable and worthy of this list.

In the early 1970s, guitarist Tom Scholz and singer Brad Delp had put together several songs that made the rounds of the labels, but there were no takers for what they were offering. Their demo tape would eventually make its way to Epic Records, who took a flyer on the duo and signed them to a deal. Indicative of the upcoming history of the band, the issues started almost immediately.

Epic, having spent the money to sign the duo, naturally wanted to keep an eye on their purchase in having them record in Los Angeles. Scholz wasn’t having that, however, preferring to work in his sanctuary of a home recording studio back in Boston. Scholz was not just being a tempestuous artist – he actually had developed recording concepts, without the usage of synthesizers, keyboards storing sounds or other electronic trickery, which could only be recreated in his basement studio, thus requiring the creation of the album on the East Coast instead of the West. Using his co-producer, John Boylan, as an intermediary with Epic Records, Scholz set about recreating the demo tapes for the inaugural album.

Scholz played nearly all the instruments on that debut album, with Delp’s soaring vocals carrying the tunes to meteoric heights. There were other players who would contribute to the record and, in fact, be listed as members of the band “Boston” (including Barry Goudreau on guitar, bassist Fran Sheehan, and drummer Sib Hashian), but the original work was all Scholz.

The album was an instant success. Boston would go on to become, at the time, the biggest selling debut album in the history of the industry, eventually selling over 17 million copies. All eight of the tracks on the record were constantly played on Album Oriented Rock (AOR) radio, and three of the songs, “More Than a Feeling,” “Long Time” (often played with its intro, “Foreplay,” on AOR radio), and “Piece of Mind,” were Top 40 hits. The band Boston would become a touring force on the “arena rock” circuit, alongside such bands as Foreigner, Kansas, and REO Speedwagon.

So, what made the album so special? It is difficult to quantify this, but simply put each song on Boston was given meticulous attention by Scholz to make it as perfect as possible. Part of the charm of the album, especially in the era of disco and its overdubbed drums and bass beats, what the factor that there was no computerization or electronic effects on the record. It was purely Scholz and Delp, doing what they did best.

It certainly helped that each song would have been a singular masterpiece in its own right. “More Than a Feeling” kicks off the record, followed up by the acoustic/electric work on “Peace of Mind.” Then you had the epic “Foreplay/Long Time,” which would have been a wasteful excess in the hands of another artist but served as a triumphant and exciting close to what was just the first side of the album.

The second side of Boston could have been forgiven if it were filler, but Scholz’s meticulous nature would not allow that to happen. In fact, the second side of this album puts to shame pretty much anyone else’s FIRST side of an album. You had the dual guitar rockers “Rock & Roll Band” and “Smokin’” to lead off Side Two, before segueing in to a slowdown to the ending climax in “Hitch a Ride” and “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” (“Something About You” would have been better placed ahead of “Hitch a Ride,” but this is a quibbling point).

To put it bluntly, it was eight songs of excellence from a perfectionist (maybe two, counting Delp). But it was also unsustainable.

When you have the type of success that Boston did, it was almost automatic that you would be back in the studios to do a follow up. Scholz, Delp and Company did just that, following up this masterpiece two years later with a decent but uninspired Don’t Look Back. It had its share of success, especially with the title track, but it did not have the same cachet (or sales) that the Boston album garnered.

Then began Boston and Scholz’s Long Exodus. Frustrated with the pace that the label wanted regarding the band’s album releases and touring schedule, Scholz would enter the courtroom to battle it out with Epic (the band and Scholz would eventually win the lawsuit). A long eight years would pass before the band Boston would release another album (the intriguing Third Stage) but, by that point, the music world has passed the band by.

It would be another eight years before the final Boston album was released, 1994’s Walk On, which was empty with the lack of Delp on the vocals, and Boston was essentially over. Sure, Scholz has continued to issue albums under the Boston moniker, but they lack the same vitality that was found in the early work of him and Delp. The last album by this version of Boston, Life, Love & Hope, was released in 2013.

Here is a subject that comes up frequently when Boston, the band, is discussed. If their debut was such an impressive album, why aren’t they feted with induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? The reason is a simple one – the music that the band performed didn’t break any new ground, they were minimally influential, and they did nothing to change the direction of “rock and roll.” Boston was a good rock band, but they were far from an immortal (you could also discuss Scholz getting more attention for his production and guitar innovations, but that is a discussion for another time).

There is no shame is having one of the great albums in the history of rock and roll, however, and that is what Boston, the album, was. The record was a monumental piece of 70s arena rock folklore that deserves to be respected. It is also critical that any record collection should have the album to capture that snapshot in time.

Previous Essential Albums:

Queensrÿche, Operation: Mindcrime (1988)
Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison (1968)
The BusBoys, Minimum Wage Rock & Roll (1980)
Rockpile, Seconds of Pleasure (1980)
Metallica, …And Justice for All (1988)
Rick Wakeman, Journey to the Center of the Earth (1974)

Antonio Brown Just Retired From the NFL…For Good

Antonio Brown is "no longer a Buc": Bruce Arians said after Brown left the  game shirtless | Marca

The National Football League is not a place for soft people. To reach that high of a level in any profession, you have to have put in some serious work, physically and, perhaps most of all, mentally. Those that are not able to physically cut the mustard or aren’t able to stand to the mental challenges will not find themselves part of one of the most exclusive clubs in the world. Thus, the saga of Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown will come to an end in one of the most ignoble ways possible.

For those of you who missed it Brown, a player who helped Tom Brady win his seventh Super Bowl title in 2021 and was an integral part of the wide receiver corps for the Bucs this last season, was by most reports upset with how he was being used in a game on Sunday against the New York Jets. With several contract incentives on the line over the next couple of games, Brown was apparently railing over something he had complained about in the past – the lack of targets by his quarterback. What happened next is something that you NEVER see in the realm of professional sports and would be extremely odd for a player trying to reach contract incentives.

When Bucs head coach Bruce Arians called for Brown to reenter the game, Brown allegedly refused to abide by his coach’s wishes. Arians reportedly made another attempt to get Brown to reenter the game and, once again, Brown refused, despite having teammates try to get him to comply. At this point, Arians told Brown to get the hell off the sidelines and Brown reacted, ripping off his pads and uniform, taking off his undershirt, tossing his gloves into the stands and prancing through the end zone before exiting the field to the locker room.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has watched Brown’s career in the NFL.

Once one of the best wide receivers in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brown eventually wore thin on the nerves of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, forcing a trade to the then-Oakland Raiders. The Raiders would give Brown a contract that made him the highest paid wide receiver in the league, but he would never play a down for the team. Through several disruptions – regarding the helmet he would use, among other things – Brown was eventually released by the Raiders without ever officially making the Oakland roster and subsequently settled on the money from that contract.

Brown would then endear himself to Brady, so much so that Brady advocated for the New England Patriots to sign him to a deal. The Patriots did, for one game, before releasing him after allegations of sexual assault reared up against Brown. For the remainder of 2019 and part of the 2020 season, Brown was an expatriate from the game of football – until resolution of his legal situations and a suspension by the NFL were cleared and the Buccaneers signed him.

Which brings us to this last Sunday, and a shirtless Brown flashing peace sign as he left MetLife Stadium from what should be his last NFL game.

Don’t get me wrong. I will advocate for players in any sport more often than I will advocate for the ownership. Owning a professional sports franchise is a play toy for billionaires, using men (and women, for that matter) only to make them more money and then tossing them to the side when the decades of injuries catch up with them. One thing I will not support is players thinking that they are bigger than the game, or that they should be treated differently than the other members of their profession, let alone the “real” world, just because of their little narcissistic fantasies that they DESERVE better treatment.

Simone Biles supports Naomi Osaka on mental health: 'It's okay sometimes to  sit out the big competitions' | Lifestyle News,The Indian Express

I felt this same way in 2021 with a couple of other cases. With Naomi Osaka, her decision to suddenly not do player interviews at the French Open because of her mental health was a copout. She wanted something different than what every player at that event had to manage – dealing with the media. She finally did the right thing – admitted that playing in the French Open while she was dealing with these mental issues was not the right thing to do and stepping off to take care of her mental health – but not before making a spectacle of herself.

The same thing was apparent with gymnast Simone Biles at the 20201 Summer Olympic Games. After earning a spot on the U. S. team, Biles then went into a mental funk that prevented her from participating in all but one discipline in the competition. Called the “twisties,” it is supposedly a condition where, because of the rotations a gymnast does in the air, they lose orientation, something that is problematic when you’re ten feet off the ground. Biles, however, made it more about her mental condition and how she could not handle the pressure of competing in her CHOSEN PROFESSION.

Brown falls into this category as well, either through his own mental issues or, as some have suggested, potentially a precursor of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE (a condition prevalent among football players, boxers, or any other profession where receiving multiple concussions is common). He quit his job. But there is something that Brown, Biles and Osaka, and those that support them need to realize…there are mental stresses on everyday life for people doing normal things, and those people do not get the option of leaving their jobs or telling their bosses “I’m not doing this anymore.”

This is not meant to undermine those who have significant mental health issues because they are a serious thing. But when you have chosen a profession that requires you to interact with the media, follow the directions of a coach, or take away a position that someone else might have done a better job, then you are impacting other people also. Instead of making a spectacle of yourself and your situation, just walk away.

5 Things You Should Expect from a Manual Labor Job - Ms. Career Girl

The problem with this is that your average person does not have that same ability. They have to go to that job every day, even the days when they do not mentally feel like it, just so they can survive. They have to, for lack of a better way to put it, “suck it up” because if they don’t, they don’t earn a living, or they don’t earn a degree, they don’t put food on the table, or some other variation. It is arguable that this is exactly what Brown, Biles and Osaka had to do – overcome adversity to become the best in their given professions.

Thus, when someone like Brown does what he did on Sunday, it not only impacts his life, but that of those who cannot do what he did. Brady stated that people should have “compassion” for Brown because they do not know what he is going through. This same statement was made about Biles and Osaka, too. But what about the impact on their teams? And what does it say when they can have everyone cut them a break, but someone in a “normal world” job does not get the same break?

When your job entails you to speak with the media, to follow the instructions of your coach (or boss) or that you took a position that someone who could fully compete would have willingly taken – and you are paid millions to do these jobs – then follow the job requirements. There is absolutely no reason why any breaks should be given to these people, even if it is a mental health issue. Hell, LIFE is a tough row to hoe for most people – and they are not getting the breaks because they don’t have a “safety net” of millions of dollars to fall into.

Jingoism Versus Activism: The Difference Between Country and Rock Regarding 9/11

Rock and roll has long had a history of activism, political commentary and “calling out” those in power who are abusing their positions. Folk music was the catalyst for this, then country music somewhat picked up the banner. In the 1960s, however, political discussion in music became the domain of rock music.

The Vietnam War was the spark that lit this fire. As young men from the U. S. were sent to their potential doom in someone else’s battle, many rock artists and groups pointed out the ludicrous nature of this endeavor. Perhaps the best example of this was in the Crosby, Stills and Nash classic “Ohio,” which took on the dual tangent of the Kent State Massacre and the involvement of the U. S. military in the quagmire in Asia.

From then on, rock music took on several political targets. The birth of punk was in direct rebellion against the “corporate” nature of the music industry and government. Soul, funk, R&B and rap showed how life ACTUALLY was on the streets of inner-city America, despite the glowing terms of what the politicians said. Country, for the most part, took off into a “star-spangled” obedience of those in charge, refusing to question anything about everything.

As we approach the 20th anniversary of 9/11, this divergence has never been more apparent. While country music continues wrapping itself in the jingoism and faux patriotism that they do so well, rock music actually points out where there are problems in the system. This is pointed out in the work especially well in the music that came out from artists and groups after the attacks of that fateful day.

Many of the songs from rock musicians tried to tell the stories of those from the perspective of people who actually were in the situation that 9/11 presented. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band gave us “The Rising,” a song focused on a firefighter who attempted to rescue those in the World Trade Center after the attack. Yellowcard did the same thing in their song “Believe,” writing about the rescue workers who faced the challenges of the destruction.

Sleater-Kinney, Rush, and Paul McCartney all presented songs about the attacks of 9/11. My Chemical Romance actually was formed after the 9/11 tragedy, with their first song “Skylines and Turnstiles” written by vocalist Gerald Way after he witnessed the Twin Towers fall on that day. Rappers stepped up with their own contributions, including The Beastie Boys, Twista and Faith Evans, Eminem, and 50 Cent, while other singer/songwriters like Tori Amos, Sheryl Crow, John Hiatt, and Melissa Etheridge added in their contributions.

So, what about country music?

Toby Keith - CBS News

Much like the rest of its sophomoric output, country music wrapped itself in imagery of the flag, the “righteousness” of religion and the “kick assery” that the badass U. S. of A. was going to inflict on ANYONE (they weren’t very particular, to be honest) that crossed their path. There were several artists who epitomized this moronic, Neanderthal mindset.

Toby Keith was perhaps the worst of them all, with his idiotic “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.” The song’s subtitle is “The Angry American” and Keith brought out about every trope there was about idiotic Americans and their perceived “exceptionalism.” Keith wasn’t the only one who fell to this mindset, however. The Oak Ridge Boys, Alan Jackson, and The Charlie Daniels Band were just a few of those who chose to go uber-patriotic instead of actually caring about the people involved and what brought about the situation (and this isn’t even mentioning Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U. S. A.” and its “God only supports godly Americans” idiocy).

This perhaps is more of a demonstration of the division of the musical genres by political calling more than anything else. For the most part, those that hew conservative (or vote Republican) want to “rally around the flag” and trumpet about their patriotism rather than actually doing something about the situation. Those that hew to the liberal side (or vote Democratic) find stories in the midst of the overarching situation and choose to tell those stories in an attempt to effect change, both political and otherwise, through their musical endeavors.

Sure, there are those that don’t match up with these thoughts. In the rock world, there is Ted Nugent…no more needs to be said. Kid Rock has also shown his asshattery through his words and stances. Country is also changing, with artists such as Willie Nelson, Jason Isbell, The Chicks, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, The Highwomen and many others demonstrating with their actions that they are progressive-minded people.

Popular music and the arts as a whole are reflective of what the situation is in the country or city-state, something that has been true since the Greeks first offered their poetry, dramas and music for the citizens of Athens. This nation has been polarized since at least the day of the 9/11 attacks and, as a result, particular arenas of the arts have been “claimed” by those for their purposes. It isn’t surprising, then, that country music went to the chest-thumping, flag waving side (although Johnny Cash was reportedly quite liberal in his thought process), and that rock music went to actually trying to question why things happened the way they did.

The problem is that there won’t be a cure for this. The camps are entrenched in their beliefs, although you will have those that “rage against the machine” and demonstrate their individualism. Instead of being the unifying force that many think the attacks of 9/11 were, they have actually laid wide open the crevasse that exists between both sides – and this extends to the arts and music especially.

Thank You, Cape Cod

It is always good to step away from the world for a week. That is what vacations are for (an aside – I always liked the British term “on holiday.” It gets across that you ARE AWAY). Thus, my recent vacation to Cape Cod was not only my first time in the Northeast, but it also had a wide array of fun and excitement included that made it a very memorable trip.

First, a disclaimer. Lovely Wife and I made these plans for a week’s stay in a nice beachside cottage in Hyannis all the way back in March. At that point, people were beginning to get the COVID vaccines that were coming out, we were masking up and distancing, and the infection rate and, more pertinently, the death rate was coming down. We figured that, by August, the COVID situation would be under control, and it would not impact our travels.

Then idiocy hit…

The continued stupidity of part of the population of the States of America and their resistance to taking one of the THREE vaccines that have been created makes you wonder about the future of the human race. No, it is not there to inject some “tracking device” into your bloodstream; no, it isn’t “changing your DNA.” You have to be a special kind of stupid to believe these and many of the other idiotic conspiracy theories (“masks suffocate you” or “masks are an affront to God” are two especially moronic takes) that are floating around out there. As a final word, get the goddamn shot.

But I digress…

This is a huge “THANK YOU” to Hyannis and the Cape Cod area for a week that will be tough to top in the future. After flying into Boston’s Logan International Airport (under heavy construction but still OK), we drove to Hyannis. Now, if you do not know where this is, take your left arm and make a muscle. That point right in front of your elbow closest to your armpit is where Hyannis is located.

One thing that is important to understand is that, when driving around Hyannis and Cape Cod, the roads are VERY narrow. These are towns, villages, hamlets, and cities that have been in existence for over 400 years, and they try their best to make it safe for people and pedestrians (bicyclists? If there is not a sidewalk, I would not ride…just a suggestion) to traverse. Street names often change depending on what intersection you come to. So be on your toes if you are driving in the area.

One other thing to note about the cottages and homes in the area: do not expect a palace. The cottages are roughly 1000 square feet. Our cottage was very well divided, with three bedrooms, a small kitchen and a living room area that did not feel cramped. Do not expect a 3000-foot home in this area unless you are ready to pay a high price for it.

Now, on to the fun!

The first day of our stay was a trip to the beach near our cottage. The beaches here are not the pristine ones that we see in Florida, but they serve the purpose. They provide you access to the sound, which was quite calm during our trip. The beaches themselves had the residue of high tide but were very well taken care of by the locals and the people that visit them.

The second day was our “tourist” day, a trip out to Martha’s Vineyard. For this, you have to board one of the ferries that powers across Nantucket Sound to reach the island. For our trip, we chose Hy-Line Cruises for our purposes, and we could not have made a better choice. They were very professional and without a single issue swept us to the island in about an hour.

Once there, you are in an idyllic area. The island itself is only about one hundred square miles, but you can get to some areas that seem like they have not been touched by man (I am sure this is intentional). While there are several villages on the island, Oak Bluffs is pretty much where everything is located. All the shopping, restaurants and entertainment options seem to be in this area, and there is plenty to choose from. I was upset, however, that former President Barack Obama’s invitation to his birthday party did not get to me in time – maybe I was cut out as he reduced his 60th birthday celebration due to the influx of COVID!

For our cap of the day, we had an early dinner at the Sand Bar, located right on the harbor. The food was excellent and the service outstanding (something that would be a staple of Cape Cod), but you were paying for it (something else that would be a staple of Cape Cod). It was well worth the price paid, however, as we all had a great cap to the day.

For breakfast, the spot we kept going back to in Hyannis was The Egg and I, located on Main Street. Their service was sometimes a bit slow, but that was because it was extremely popular with both locals and visitors. They concoct various versions of an Eggs Benedict – some with sausage, some with ham, but all with the poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. They were tasty, but I found their sausage omelet to be outstanding and the fried potatoes definitely made for a hearty meal.

Another journey we took during our stay was whale watching. For those who are not aware, the North Atlantic is home to dolphins and whales during this time of the year, where they feed on the fish that populate the area (in the winter, they go to the Caribbean and do not eat at all – they breed!). The trip took an entire afternoon and was expertly run by Hyannis Whale Watching Excursions. Not only did they have a smooth trip through the seas, but they also provided excellent commentary on the animals themselves and the surrounding areas (we actually saw the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown from a distance and the skyline of Boston, an indicator of how far north we went).

If the water is not your best friend (and there were a couple of people on these ocean trips that did not like it!), then there were things to do around town. The shopping on Main Street in Hyannis was outstanding, with several boutique stores, candy shops and T-shirt stands to visit. There was also Spinnaker Records, which should be something that any music lover should stop into when in the area.

If you have read my page for any length of time, then you know my love of record stores. Spinnaker Records was right up my alley, featuring both vinyl and CDs, new and used, and a plethora of music, video game and anime T-shirts for sale. I have never gotten into the Funko figures, but there were many of those adorning the walls too. I could have spent an entire day there!

We did have one particularly rainy day, but that was easily taken care of by a trip to The Cape Codder Resort & Spa’s Water Park. With a retractable roof to block the day’s rain, you had the complete features of an outdoor water park. A nice lazy river and two water slides were in the main area, while a wave pool, another water slide and a hot tub occupied another arm of the water park. All of it was well-kept and good for several hours of enjoyment.

There was also time to spend on miniature golf. For that, the only spot to check out was Steve and Sue’s Par-Tee Freeze, which featured a fun but tough miniature golf course and a soft serve ice cream store. At this location, you have to have cash, but it was well worth hitting the ATM for.

On our final night, we had to partake of the seafood that Cape Cod is known for, and there was only one stop for that. Spanky’s Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon might not sound like a very appealing place, but it has the best seafood in Hyannis and a view of the working harbor. The seafood was fresh, tasty, and excellently prepared, while the cocktails were large, and they made sure to keep taking care of you!

Everywhere you went in Cape Cod, people were glad to see you and there is a reason for this. For six months of the year, people flock to this area of the world for relaxation, excellent food and inspiring trips that cannot be done elsewhere. These visitors are the lifeblood of this area, because the other six months of the year are the doldrums of winter. The residents of the area WANT visitors and go out of their way to be pleasant to everyone.

In my life, I had never previously been north of Westchester County, NY. I have missed out on an incredibly special place in the U. S., surprisingly fun across the board and someplace that people should see at least once in their lives. I am glad that I took this opportunity to enjoy the area with my family and I hope it is not the last time that I visit the area. For this and so much more, including one of the best family vacations of our lives, I say “thank you” to Cape Cod, and hope that we meet again!

Wolfgang Van Halen’s Mammoth WVH Effort Solid, But Questions Remain; Liz Phair as Good as Ever with First Album in a Decade

As the world seems to come out of the COVID pandemic and the shutdowns that occurred (and hope they do not return), the music world is beginning to emerge from its 18-month slumber. This means that plenty of these artists and groups are looking to get out on the road and, perhaps more importantly, release the music that they might have been sitting on for some time (Garbage, for example, was planning on releasing No Gods, No Masters in early 2020; it just came out in June).

This is a cause for celebration, because both new artists and older ones are beginning to emerge from the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Two of those artists we are going to be looking at today, the son of the late Eddie Van Halen, Wolfgang, and his “band” (more on this in a moment) and the outstanding return of everyone’s favorite alternative darling from the 1990s, Liz Phair. Both of these new releases are well worth inclusion in your CD racks (or your digital downloads), bringing some great sounds to the rock world.

To say it has been a tough year for Wolfgang Van Halen would be a massive understatement. He has had to bury his father, the iconic Eddie Van Halen, in October of 2020, and it has fallen on his shoulders to try to carry on the family name. Wolfgang has done that through the creation of a new “band,” Mammoth WVH (the “Mammoth” moniker was the original name of Van Halen), and the release of a self-titled CD.

Let us start with the good stuff from Van Halen and Mammoth WVH. The reason we have quotation marks on “band” is a simple one: Wolfgang played all the instruments on the album. Wolfgang shows that he is an excellent multi-instrumentalist, more than adequately showing his proficiency across the board, and Van Halen also wrote all 14 of the tracks that appear on the disc.

By far the best song on the record is the current release “Don’t Back Down,” which had a video that showed Van Halen playing with himself on each of the instruments on the track. The tune itself is a driving, inspired rocker that is a perfect for a summertime drive. Another excellent track is “Horribly Right,” which starts off with a chugging sound reminiscent of some older grunge acts.

The biggest thing to note about the tracks on the CD is that Wolfgang is in no way trying to use his father’s success to get a leg up (although there are plenty who will accuse him of this). Musically he stays a wide distance from the Van Halen band musical styling. If you did not know he was Van Halen’s son, many people would be crowing about how good this record is.

Here is the downside of the album, however. It is reported that Wolfgang began work on this album in 2015. That is six years to perfect the record, a luxury that many young acts do not have, and Wolfgang certainly will not have when it comes to trying to duplicate the success of this record (it is also understandable that he didn’t want to release the record while his father was going through his issues). Wolfgang’s vocals are also a bit weak; his voice is OK, but it is nothing that blows you away with quality or strength. If he is going to continue as the vocalist for the group, he would need to improve that aspect of his game.

That said, his dad did pretty well for not singing, didn’t he?

Expect to see a lot of Mammoth WVH this summer and fall, as Van Halen is putting a band around him to serve as a headlining act. It is well deserved, but I am going to be extremely interested in seeing what he does when he doesn’t have the years to work on something. Mammoth WVH is an outstanding first salvo, however…let’s see what comes next.

You can be forgiven if you do not know the name Liz Phair. After all, her last studio album Funstyle was released over a decade ago (2010). But if you ask your older sibling or perhaps your mother or father, they can regale you with the stories about the blisteringly smart work that Phair did in the 1990s, from her debut Exile in Guyville (her reply to The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street) in 1993 to her equally outstanding follow up Whip-Smart.

After drifting too close to the sun for some of her fans – or, as the case may be, trying to be too popular, in their opinions – Phair’s success began to wane. Her label at the time, Capitol Records, forced her to work with songwriters who had penned tunes for Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne, which forced a more poppy sheen to her recordings. This didn’t sit well with Phair or her audience and, after 2010’s Funstyle, Phair stepped away from the recording industry.

Phair first began to emerge from her self-imposed exile with the compilation Girly Sound to Guyville, a 2018 25th anniversary celebration of her early work. That compilation, which brought some of her straight-to-cassette work on what was called the “Girly Sound” sessions, seems to have been a spark for Phair. In June, Phair released Soberish, arguably her best work since the Guyville/Whip-Smart 1-2 in the early 90s.

Always one who had a deft turn of phrase, Phair has not lost any of her talents in the decade-plus of wandering that she has taken. One of the more charming songs from the record is “Hey Lou,” her ode to the late Lou Reed told from the angle of his wife, performance artist Laurie Anderson (the video also featured a unique interpretation of the song featuring Reed, Anderson, and Andy Warhol puppets). The lyrical storytelling of Phair is priceless in the song, touching on not only the relationship of Anderson and Reed but also Phair’s appreciation of the duo.

By far the best song off the CD is the title track, “Soberish.” It is a confession from someone who is struggling with their sobriety but is taking the big step of getting back into the dating scene. Phair’s character in the song knows that it is not the thing that she should do, but she also knows that a little something from the bar will help to quell the questions dancing around her head. It is the story of the little inner battles that we all have faced at one point or another in our lives, sometimes in a romantic situation or sometimes elsewhere.

Lyrical dexterity spreads throughout Soberish like a rich tapestry, and the disc should be something that is in every record collection. “I meant to be sober, but the bar’s so inviting…” and other jewels abound on the disc, and it leaves you wanting more by the time you reach the end. Her voice is still tremendously resilient, showing the same toughness and delicacy that drew the music world to her back in the 1990s. We can only hope that Phair does not take another decade-plus sabbatical, because that would be a waste of an incredibly special treasure.

Why Record Store Day Means Nothing to Me

I wrote this two years ago, but it still applies today. After seeing some hit from the COVID pandemic last year, you would think that the Record Store Day people would try to be a bit more inclusive…alas, they aren’t. This Saturday is the first of two Record Store Days for 2021…and I won’t be at either.

Earl Burton

rsd+date_wide_2011For the twelfth year in a row, Record Store Day has come and gone. Since 2007, there has been one day in April, usually a Saturday, when the nation’s independent record stores – you know, those dying outlets that sell CDs, DVDs and, shock of all shocks, VINYL!! – throw a big party to celebrate their industry. Normally during these special days there are special releases, discounted materials, giveaways and other fun had by all that make it one of the most special days of the year for those who frequent independent record stores.

There’s only one problem…I’ve never been to one of them.

It isn’t because I don’t like music. Quite the contrary…I LOVE MUSIC! Looking back to my youth, my best high school friend DJ and I would cut out from field trips to Champaign, IL, to peruse the stacks at the local “mom & pop” outlet…

View original post 1,071 more words

K-Pop Genre Demonstrates Problem with 21st Century “Fans”

I am normally pretty laid back when it comes to music. I’ve been known to go from ABBA to Johnny Cash to Mozart to Slipknot, sometimes within a five-minute time span. I have always prided myself on this ability to appreciate all forms of music, but there is just something about one particular genre that has come out only very recently – or, perhaps more correctly, maybe it is the fandom of the genre that has turned me against it. It is that fandom that perhaps grates my nerves more than the music itself.

Korean pop, or “K-pop” as it has become known, is not a new phenomenon, although those who consider themselves fans today think they originated the genre. It actually goes back to the 1940s and 50s, following the end of World War II and the actions in the Korean War, when U. S. and European musical stylings first came to the peninsula. There was an original rush of interlopers who took on the stylings of 40s big band music to entertain U. S. troops.

As rock and roll began to take over, these same South Koreans (by this time the Korean peninsula was divided) simply migrated over to the rock sounds, singing Beatles songs and even coming up with their own “rock” bands such as Add4 and The Key Boys. Balladeers and folk ruled from the late 60s through the 90s, leading to the changeover to today’s “K-pop” sound that has become prevalent.

Perhaps because of the 90s “boy band” acts, K-pop has been pretty much dominated by male artists and bands. Psy was one of the first to strike with this new, danceable “K-pop” sound with “Gangnam Style,” but it really seemed to take off when the “boy bands” took up the mantle. Many of those failed in capturing the attention of Europe and the U. S….that is, until BTS came along.

BTS is a SEVEN-MAN group that follows the playbook of the 90s U. S. “boy bands” like NSYNC or New Kids on the Block. They harmonize, dance and put on a show with pop pablum that is rather unremarkable in its blandness. But, if you listen to their “A.R.M.Y” (yes, stripping that title from the hard rock band KISS), they are the greatest thing to hit music since the introduction of amplification.

Now, a little disclaimer…

Today’s pop music is not supposed to cater to the taste of people over the age of 18, maybe 25 years of age tops. Pop music has always been the arena of the young and it can simultaneously be mindless drivel and serious socio-political commentary. You just have to find those tracks that do it for you, is what I am saying. Still, there is not much that happens in the pop music arena that I say “WOW!” about.

BTS is one of those things that definitely doesn’t even register on the “WOW” scale. The band has been able to make a breakthrough in the U. S. and Europe over the past few years, however. They won a Billboard Music Award in 2017 as Top Social Media Artist (a fan-based award) and became the first Korean act to score a #1 hit on the Top 200 album chart in 2018 with Love Yourself: Tear.

The band has not slowed down since then. “Dynamite” became a #1 song on the Hot 100 (and finished 2020 as the #38 song for the year) and BTS has earned acclaim by performing during this year’s Grammys program, where they were nominated for an award in Best Pop Duo or Group Performance. It was this incident that perhaps set me against the band – and their fans – permanently.

That Grammy category was arguably one of the toughest lineups for a newcomer to break through in the 2021 awards. BTS went up against J Balvin, Dua Lipa and Bad Bunny, Justin Bieber and Quavo, Taylor Swift and Bon Iver, and the eventual winners Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande. For pop music, that is a hell of a list to even be considered with…but many in the “A.R.M.Y” felt that the award had been “stolen” from the group.

Allegations of racism, anti-Korean sentiments, and other -isms flowed from the “A.R.M.Y,” despite the fact that there were only two dozen or so Grammys won by the competitors they were up against. In other words, come with quality work. “K-pop,” and especially the 21st century version of it, has not come up to speed with the quality of efforts from many other artists.

There are other things that you can ding BTS for. First off, I could not tell you who is who in the band. None of them have stepped out, such as Justin Timberlake from NSYNC or Harry Styles from One Direction, to demonstrate that they have talents as a solo artist. You can do a lot with studio stunts and sweeteners, and that is what BTS has depended on – none of their membership has shown any solo talent.

Second, when you have seven people in the group, there is an issue that something is being hidden somewhere. Maybe someone isn’t as good a singer; that can be hidden. Not a good dancer? They can be on the side singing while the rest of the group grooves. The band is just too large to take seriously.

Finally, the history of “boy bands” is not a lengthy one. The aforementioned NSYNC lasted for all of seven years. England’s “boy band” export, One Direction, made it to eight. BTS is now into their eighth year, about the time that these “boy bands” can’t survive any longer on the “pop music” dime, one of the members decides that they do not need the others, or basic internal strife takes over and detonates the group.

It is the “A.R.M.Y” and their perception of privilege that gets me more than anything else, however. All pop bands have their “fan units.” Taylor Swift has her “Swifties,” Beyonce has the “BeyHive,” even Ed Sheeran has his “Sheerios.” Even the most ardent fans of those and many other acts, however, have not demonstrated the sense of entitlement that the BTS fans have shown, and often shown in ugly ways.

There is no grand scheme against BTS in the western world, A.R.M.Y. As I stated before, do better quality work and you will be recognized for it. Trying to bring the nationality of the members of the band into the argument is a disingenuous argument when you are competing against the world. There is also not a ruthless group of record label honchos and music experts sitting in a stunning executive suite somewhere trying to keep BTS down.

For BTS to take the next step, they need to chill out their fandom. “Fan” is the shortened version of “fanatic,” and the A.R.M.Y. takes their support too far with some of their accusations. Folks may look better on BTS if their fans were not such children, for lack of a better explanation. But alas…we are talking about pop music, not the bastion of adults with critical thinking skills.

Five In, Five Out – Making Changes to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Everyone currently is ensconced in discussions about who will be the Class of 2021 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I am going to step onto a rail that I often do not like to look, however. Imagine the scenario: suddenly John Sykes, the Chairman of the Rock Hall, has become incapacitated and you have been put in charge as only the third Chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. For your first day, you can, on a ONE TIME ONLY basis, add five artists or groups to the Rock Hall. The trick is…you also must remove five artists or groups from the pantheon of rock gods.

Usually, I am not one who enjoys these mental exercises. Besides the fact that it is demeaning to an artist or group that worked their ass off to reach this pinnacle in their career, it also is a worthless use of brainpower because it isn’t going to change anything. At the end of the day, what I am thinking is not going to change what has already gone before – about the only way I am going to fix that is becoming good friends with Doctor Emmett Brown and tooling around in his DeLorean for a few hours.

It is human nature, however, to wonder about an “alternate history,” something that does fascinate me. There are plenty of books out there that offer a supposition of what the course of humanity would have been if a particular point in history changed. It is something that is also done in the military (wargaming is all about trying to deduce what would happen IF), in business and in gaming (figuring out what an opponent will do from different approaches).

One of my favorite streaming shows was The Man in the High Castle, the Amazon Video adaptation of the Philip K. Dick book. In that show, the Axis Powers won the Second World War and divvied up the States of America. A huge chunk of U. S. became a Nazi territory, the Pacific states were occupied by imperial Japan and a thin strip down the Rocky Mountains was left as an “Unclaimed Territory” that was essentially a “no man’s land” for those who looked to continue the war against the Axis. It was a terrifyingly realistic possibility, including the way that Dick saw how easy it would be for “Americans” to turn against their own, especially with a ruling Nazi Party or Imperial Japanese Army occupying the country.

What if the South had won the Civil War? What if John F. Kennedy had not been assassinated? What if 9/11 had not happened? These are things that many minds have considered, some realistically and some for dramatic effect. While it does not even come close to some of these monumental historical events in the human timeline, it is why I decided to change my mind and take on the question of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, at least on this occasion.

The only rule I held myself to is that, in my opinion, that the change I was making would be an IMPROVEMENT to the Rock Hall. I am not going to be intellectually lazy and say “(insert artist/group here) isn’t RAWK enough to be inducted” or “they don’t play RAWK music.” People who make this argument are simultaneously intellectually bereft and have no understanding of “rock and roll” history. I’ll try my best to make the argument for whoever I put in and whoever I take out – but it will not be based on the genre of music they do.

Let’s get it started, shall we?

Judas Priest IN – Bon Jovi OUT

There is plenty of other hard rock/metal bands that had much more impact and relevance on the development of the genre than Bon Jovi. A few of them are the aforementioned Judas Priest, Motorhead, Iron Maiden (on the ballot this year), Slayer, Anthrax, and Thin Lizzy, among many others. Judas Priest has, for 50 years, been the standard bearer for the music and, as such, they deserve to receive the acclaim they deserve while they all are still able to enjoy it.

Bon Jovi did little to have an impact on the genre. Basically, all Bon Jovi had was sales, which is not supposed to be a criterion for induction into the Rock Hall. It is reported that, upon hearing that the band had been nominated in 2018, Bon Jovi said “About fucking time.” That is not someone who is showing respect for the honor that induction into the Rock Hall is. If it had been my choice, they would have been waiting for a while longer, if not permanently.

Warren Zevon IN – Laura Nyro OUT

Zevon was one of the developers of the “California sound” that became prevalent in the 1970s. Many of the prominent artists from that decade – Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, The Eagles, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen and others – collaborated with him on his and their music or they performed his song. His storytelling and lyrical content were beyond compare; very few writers could come up with the twists of storytelling that Zevon could concoct.

Can you name a song that Laura Nyro had her hands on, either as a songwriter or as a performer? I know Nyro is one of those that is staked to the whipping post when it comes to inductions that the Rock Hall has made, but I have literally gone through her discography and cannot recall ever playing one of her songs or a song she wrote. It seems to me that Nyro was one of those inductions made by the Rock Hall to appear more “artistic.” That isn’t always a good idea.

Tina Turner IN – Stevie Nicks OUT

Tina Turner completely reinvented herself from her 60s image. In the 80s, she became a strong, vibrant performer who completely stunned audiences with the power of her work. It was such a departure from her previously inducted self (with Ike Turner, something that she might want to forget, too) that it more than deserves a second induction as a solo artist.

While Nicks is a tremendous performer, her solo work wasn’t that outstanding, to be honest. Already in with Fleetwood Mac, I do not believe that her solo efforts were that groundbreaking…entertaining, yes, but not groundbreaking. If you do not think Turner is a qualified choice for a second induction, then you would have to argue that Diana Ross as a solo performer was more deserving. Either Turner or Ross should have been the first female double inductee, not Nicks.

Kraftwerk IN – The Lovin’ Spoonful OUT

One of the biggest oversights by the Rock Hall has been its inability to induct the German band Kraftwerk into its hallowed halls. If there is a group that is identified with electronic rock – keyboard-based music – it would be Kraftwerk. Outside of Europe, however, the group had a difficult time finding success, especially in the U. S. This may be the exact reason that they have yet to be inducted into the Rock Hall despite being nominated six times and influencing entire generations of performers with their innovation.

The Lovin’ Spoonful were the beneficiaries of timing. Inducted in 2000, the band was around in an era when the Rock Hall voters were already through the truly immortal artists and were beginning to scramble around a bit to find qualified inductees to honor. In the years prior to the induction of The Lovin’ Spoonful, such questionable choices as Gene Vincent, Lloyd Price, Dusty Springfield, and Del Shannon were ushered into the Rock Hall. Just because you were struggling to come up with inductees should not be a reason to put someone in.

Joan Jett IN – Joan Jett OUT

I am sure that you are looking at that and saying, “How could you do that?” The simple fact is that Jett deserves to be in the Rock Hall. She was just inducted with the wrong group.

Jett’s work with The Runaways was by far more deserving of induction into the Rock Hall than Jett’s work with The Blackhearts (sure the guys in The Blackhearts enjoy hearing someone say that). The Runaways carried on the work of Fanny, The Pleasure Seekers, Janis Joplin, and Grace Slick to the next level – an all-female band that wrote their own stuff and played their own instruments. They were the forerunners to The Go-Go’s, The Bangles, The Donnas and several other all-female groups that have had great success following the glass-shattering by The Runaways.

I would rather see all those that I said should be “in” be inducted in their own right and leave the others in, too. They have earned the right to be called a “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee” regardless of my personal thoughts. But if we are going to play the “alternate reality” game, who would you put in and take out?

The Best and the Worst of the 2021 GRAMMY Awards

It is arguably the biggest night for music during the year. The 2021 GRAMMY Awards were held for the 63rd time on Sunday night in Los Angeles. The awards look to honor the best that is in the music industry over a wide array of genres – rock, pop, rap, Americana, even classical – and offer a view as to what was the best of the year. In the very-COVID inspired show – the nominees were arranged in very spaced out (physically) tables while the performers were sequestered on a special five stage circle for performances – the Recording Academy arguably came out and put on one of the best shows of the past decade or so.

But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t downsides.

I’ve remarked on this before, but there certainly wasn’t enough “rock” oriented acts that performed during the program. But that is to be expected; rock music does not drive the needle (no pun intended) for music in the 21st century. It has become very much a pop and rap dominated show because that is what the people want to see (AKA those that have the disposable income to spend on streams, streaming services and the occasional CD). This does not mean that the GRAMMY Awards show is “trash” because these are the predominance of the acts that perform – it just means that is what is driving the industry nowadays.

Furthermore, if people did not watch the program, then they shouldn’t have a view on the show itself. You usually have to see something before you make any commentary on it – not five minutes, not a half-hour, WATCHED THE ENTIRE SHOW. It went slightly over three and a half hours (think it was closer to 3:45, if my memory is correct) and there were some moments that were exceptionally good…and very bad.

Without further ado, here’s The Best and The Worst of the 2021 GRAMMY Awards!

BEST

HAIM absolutely came out in the first half-hour of the program and blew away the competition. The sisters were nominated for Album of the Year for their work Women in Music, Pt. III and, with a very subdued set, proceeded to NAIL their tune “The Steps.” When the musicians and singers that were gathered on the stage are watching your performance and jamming just as hard as the band is, you have done your job. HAIM certainly carried the banner well for rock-oriented music and it was great to have them as the representative for the genre – there were not many more that graced the stage on Sunday night.

BEST

The partnership between Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars bears watching. They came out with a very 70s R&B style (including matching leisure suits!) under the moniker “Silk Sonic.” It was good to see Mars back on stage again; it had been quite some time since he had been on the musical scene and he seemed to be in impeccable form. The duo also came out later in the show and delivered a scorching tribute to Little Richard during the “In Memoriam” segment that was outstanding.

BEST

It has been getting trashed elsewhere, but I thought that the “In Memoriam” tribute to the late Eddie Van Halen was perfect. There were many directions that they could have gone with this, but the GRAMMY producers decided that a minimalistic approach was the best one. Thus, we got a sweeping shot of Van Halen’s “Frankenhalen” guitar, on a perch in a spotlight by itself, while a video played Eddie utilizing his finger-tapping technique on a video screen behind it. It was a perfect tribute to someone who made his complicated work look oh, so simple…and it was a hell of a lot better than having Machine Gun Kelly butcher “Eruption” onstage.

BEST

I would listen to Brittany Howard, the bombastic vocalist/guitarist of Alabama Shakes, sing the damn phone book. Her take on “You’ll Never Walk Alone” during the “In Memoriam” was a soul-stirring performance. Chris Martin of Coldplay provided accompaniment on piano for the segment and the two absolutely made the song their own – exceedingly difficult to do for a song that has been made famous by a British soccer team (Liverpool FC) and as the closing song to comedian Jerry Lewis’ Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy telethon for decades.

WORST

I usually like Trevor Noah, the host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. He is extremely funny, has a great pulse on pop culture and, hey, let’s be honest…he is young, energetic and handsome. But he, on a couple of occasions, fawned a bit too much over the winners. He was nearly orgasmic when Beyonce won her first Grammy of the night, which tied her with Alison Krauss for the most Grammys won in a career. He was nearly beside himself when she broke the record later in the night.

Look, I am all for fandom. But, when you are hired to do the emcee job for a major awards show, you are supposed to put that fandom to the side and do the job. Noah failed on this account on a couple of occasions. If he hosts again next year, I certainly hope he tempers the “enthusiasm” and shows an equal appreciation to all the award winners.

WORST

While I did like the stage arrangement for the performances – five stages were arranged in a circle, with cameras in the center of that circle that could be directed at any stage chosen – you could still note the lack of audience excitement. Sure, watching Harry Styles jam to HAIM was cool, but the fans are a part of the experience. Seeing them enjoy it is more important than the artists themselves tapping their feet.

WORST

I am all for artistic expression. Having said that, I normally don’t like to see a reenactment of Thee Dollhouse in Tampa when I watch an awards show. Thus, Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B’s performance of “WAP” wasn’t exactly a highlight of the show for me. I understand that the song was a MONSTER hit for the duo, but their interpretation of the song for the GRAMMY stage was a bit over the top. Like I said, if I wanted to go to Tattletales in Atlanta, I’ll go to Tattletales in Atlanta.

WORST

In a stark contrast with 2020, it seemed that the GRAMMY voters were not quite sure who to get behind this year. The four major awards were won by four different artists – Megan Thee Stallion for Best New Artist, Taylor Swift for Album of the Year, H.E.R. for Song of the Year and Billie Eilish for Record of the Year for “everything i wanted” – and it really did not seem that the voters had a clear favorite in mind. It was also painfully apparent that the best record didn’t receive any attention from the Academy at all – The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” and album After Hours would have dominated the show.

Overall, when the good outweigh the bad, you’ve done rather good. There was much more about the 2021 GRAMMY Awards show that was enjoyable than was not. Still, would like to see a rock award actually given out during the three-plus hours of programming – maybe that’s something they will get to in 2022!