This year marked my fourth year covering GRAMMY week as part of the Recording Academy’s Community Blogger program. With last year’s GRAMMYs being the most social event of the year, the stakes were higher for our team this year. It’s been very cool to be a part of this ongoing effort to make an awards show that was on the decline come roaring back into the public consciousness by creating conversations in social media.
This year started on Thursday night with the GRAMMY Foundation’s Music Preservation Project, deemed Play It Forward this year. I did a bunch of red carpet interviews talking to folks about what it feels like to be influenced and what the best innovation in music of the past 5 years has been.
Next would be my annual geek-out at the Social Media Rock Stars Summit. I also had a chance to speak with music/tech start ups Buddy Bounce- which can literally measures an artist’s number one fan, and Pledge Music- a fundraising platform specifically for music. And I did a little interview with Heavy Metal Hill!
Then it was off to MusiCares Person of the Year, honoring Bruce Springsteen. We watched arrivals on the red carpet, where the biggest surprise for me was seeing Gina Gershon. I blame her for causing me to be very confused for about three years of my life!
Unfortunately we didn’t get to actually see the show that night due to a credentialing mishap…life of a blogger!
On Saturday, we attended the Special Merit Awards. This is an event that really gets my wheels spinning. It’s not about one song, or even one album…it’s about an entire life’s worth of work. I sit there and watch the video introductions, listen to the speeches, and I can’t help but think about my life’s work being insignificant. It was very cool to see Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar accept for their recently passed father, Ravi Shankar. And The Temptations and the founders of Chess Records were pretty mindblowing to see as well. But still nothing will ever come close to seeing Leonard Cohen accept his.
Then we walked over to the Nominees Reception, which is essentially a room full of people that you might not recognize, but know are important. Except for Jack Black. We all recognized him.
For the past two years, I’ve been going all out for GRAMMY day. I mean, I’m not nominated, I’m not presenting, I’m not on someone’s arm….but I’m there! Every year I treat it like it might be my last. So I get hair and make up done, and this year I even had a dress custom made for me by Joseph Naranjo. It all came together very well, and made me feel special. Later on, I realized I inadvertently must have been inspired by Blade Runner!
The Pre-Telecast is always fun for us because it’s open seating, so we get there early and wind up sitting in front of most of the nominees. We had someone win who was sitting right behind us, and it was very cool to watch them break down in celebration. The big moment for me during this was when I got to “see” Trent Reznor win a GRAMMY for the soundtrack for Girl With the Dragon Tattoo…though he wasn’t there to accept it. While I was gunning for Anthrax to win the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance award, my second favorite would be Halestorm, because it’s good to watch new talent win and really appreciate it. I interviewed them back at the Revolver Golden Gods last year…nice bunch!
For this year’s telecast, I was given a very interesting opportunity: I was the only person allowed into the GRAMMY “mosh pit” to live blog for GRAMMY.com, and instagram and twitter as well. Now, I have been taking photos and tweeting since late ’08 (flips hair), so this kind of coverage has become a compulsory part of the show experience for me. In fact, it may have taken over my long form writing as what most people know of me for. So, when asked to do this, I was like…cool….no big deal….it’s just another show like the two I go to in a typical week.
Well, when I walked down into that pit, I had a weird feeling in my stomach unlike when I’ve been pressed up against a barricade with thousands of drunk, smelly, raging people behind me for shows like Slayer, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Meshuggah, and Behemoth. This was music’s biggest night, and I was practically on stage. Not to mention this was going to be broadcast live to millions of people, who would most likely see some goth looking chick intently staring at her cell phone while the world’s biggest music stars walk by.
But then the person in production escorting me in asked me which side of the pit I wanted to be stationed in, and I replied, “whichever side Jack White is on”…and I was back to normal.
I won’t bore you with details, but for that three hour show I was very in my element, snapping the first photos of the presenters, winners, and performances for the world to see. During the first commercial break, production came out and shouted at the pit people, pointing at me and telling them that I was the only one allowed to have my phone. As everyone turned to stare at me…well, it wasn’t my first time I got the stab stare from a lot of people in a room at a big show, only this was under very different circumstances. On the few days I’ve had like this, where there’s a lot of attention on my social media, with people replying that they are ‘so jealous of my job’, etc., etc….I remember that this isn’t a job (I make no money doing this), I’m not a journalist, I’m not a social media maven…I’m just a fan. And even though there were several people on that stage that everyone else knew, but I did not, I could easily convey the excitement of being able to be in my Valentino Rockstud shoes.
-Nicole Kidman was seated across from me. The Taylor Swift performance had just ended, and production was using leaf blowers to blow confetti hearts off the stage. I lifted my arms and waved them and my head around and said “I’m in an ’80s metal video!!!” (because I was delirious….actually I do this any time I stand in front of a fan) and I looked up and I swear she was laughing.
-When Jack White threw down his guitar and the loud hiss of feedback pulsated towards us from the speakers while Katy Perry walked out onstage…I felt at home….but the kids around me were so confused! After posting a photo on instagram people were commenting that they didn’t understand, that it was scary, etc….if they only knew the kind of shows I normally go to!
Jack White – Love Interruption & Freedom At 21… by IdolxMuzic
-Production would come out to give the pit a pep talk between sets (“more energy!”…”don’t look at the camera!”) and take people out across the stage who needed to go to the bathroom. Very odd experience.
-When Prince walked out onstage, I experienced a rare moment of starstruck-ness….though I have seen him play before in a pretty small venue. I thought I might feel that with Elton John, or Justin Timberlake, or Jay-Z…but it was Prince.
Prince Presents Record Of The Year – Grammys 2013 by IdolxMuzic
-The final performance featuring Tom Morello. Morello is like my rock guardian angel; he’s been at almost every crazy rock & roll moment I’ve had.
LL Cool J with Chuck D, Tom Morello & Travis… by IdolxMuzic
And then afterwards it was off to the official GRAMMY afterparty, where the B-52s played.
It’s a strange thing to have one foot in something so mainstream, and another in the underground. But I’ve never been able to commit to either direction. And that’s what makes this all so fun. The whole event gives me some sort of perspective each year: in the flurry of categories and acceptance speeches, pithy quotes and celebrations…it’s a time to step back and remember that it’s all music. It all makes us feel something. And that is what matters- not the popularity, the sales, the genre, the fame….but the journey that the notes take you on. That is why we are here.
A couple of my fellow blogger put together an inside look at our experience: