I’ll keep it brief as the Grammys are still on. I watched the first 90 or so minutes with students enrolled in my “Bebop to Hip Hop: Young America and Music” class (actually, some of them kept watching it until the end. All this after a two and a half hour class today. Way to go).
It’s something. It’s something watching the Grammys with people who are not even half your age. I’m so out of the loop on much of what is considered popular. I had to Google while we chatted via the GroupMe app (which crashed after Kendrick Lamar’s performance. He is easily the most trending performer tonight).
While I was a little concerned about whether we’d have anything to talk about as we watched various performers either give awards or perform, I was not surprised to see a general consensus that all of the black and white clothing on the presenters and performers who were either black or white was some kind of U.N.I.T.Y., or “We are the World” counterpoint/mirror to/on Lamar’s performance.
Indeed, “whoa” and “wow” were the words hurriedly typed when we saw him coming onstage in prisoner chains. “We gon’ be alright,” rapped Lamar, who has won five of 11 nominated categories so far tonight. The sounds of a saxophone spewed from a jail cell behind him.
I have asked the students all semester to pay close attention to what is happening in the background of music created in the second half of the 20th century to the present-day.
How can we find meaning in the “grand expectations” many Americans had after World War II, as presented by James Patterson? Or the anxiety some feel even now even though gas prices are dropping?
This is a good group. This was the observation made by our university’s music librarian. We visited her today. She helped them learn how to navigate through various databases as they set out on their own to begin their research projects. It will be interesting to see the degree to which our time this evening watching the Grammys will trigger new insights.
Whether they are working on the Notorious B.I.G., Janet Jackson, Lamar or Johnny Cash or something else entirely, there’s much through which to sort as I have said earlier. I will watch them sort.
P.S. Congrats to the Alabama Shakes for their Grammy win!
Another post-script. The show just ended. One of the students decided that most popular music is not very good. When told that I heard on NPR day before yesterday that it is said that the most popular music from the 1950s wasn’t very good either and then asked, “So what has changed?,” I heard, “Good point!” And then one student replied, “Maybe that means the next decade will be the 60s!”
One can only hope. Lots of good music that decade. The 70s, too.