Grammy Awards or Grammy MTV

The dust has settled on the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards and the indignant shock over Jennifer Lopez‘s titillating dress and amazement over the perversely odd pairing of Macy Gray with Andy Williams (as presenters)has passed on to other more immediate concerns. From this distance, let’s hope that the Grammy judges think and listen a little harder when creating their lists of nominees and voting for winners next year, so that the award winners more accurately reflect the best, most innovative work in music over the past year, not simply the artists with the most sales. How the nearly talentless Christina Aguilera took best new artist over her more talented "bubblegum" pop rival, Britney Spears or how Santana could walk away with eight Grammy awards for doing essentially the same thing the band’s been doing for 30+ years are questions the judges should be asking themselves. (Yes, it was a good idea for Santana to pair with modern rock vocalists, but while the results were listenable, they weren’t phenomenal enough to merit a Grammy sweep.)And talk about a bad case of sympathy for the old guard — Sting was the last person in the category who should have walked away with the Best Pop Album award and Black Sabbath should have won the Best Metal Performance award for "Iron Man" 25 years ago when the song was new, not for a live reunion performance.

Let’s hope the producers of next year’s show also remember that the annual Grammy Awards show includes the word "awards." It would be nice to actually see some given out. This is not supposed to be a live concert presentation of MTV. With all the musical performance staging, many of the major pop and rock awards were given out offstage, which seems to defeat the integral purpose of watching an "awards" show. In the first hour of the telecast, only four trophies were actually presented to artists on camera (and the lightning fast text scroll naming the offstage award winners that was put on-screen whenever the show went to commercial didn’t help — the lists went by so fast they became quickly impossible to follow).

I watched the three-hour Grammy Awards show, but I had to open my newspaper the next day to find out who actually won which awards. That doesn’t seem right to me...


The Cure - Bloodflowers The Cure

After the crazily tilting emotions of the often upbeat Wild Mood Swings (1996) and Wish (1992), The Cure has returned with its 13th album to the melancholy fields of 1989’s Disintegration. Eschewing the bouncy pop single formula that created ‘90s hits for the band like "Friday, I’m In Love," "Wrong Number," "The 13th," "Mint Car" and "High," Bloodflowers is an album of long, slow jams; There are only nine tracks here, but "Watching Me Fall" is more than 11 minutes long and the titletrack runs a hefty seven and a half minutes.

"There Is No If..." is the shortest piece on the disc at just under four minutes, and it returns to the same love affair decay territory as Wild Mood Swings’ "Strange Attraction." A two-part mirror of a song, the first half recalls the "first time I told you I loved you" and the ecstatic quality of that new romance. The second half recalls the tear-stained events regarding "the last time I told you I loved you." "There Is No If"shows Robert Smith at his poetically melancholy best. Likewise, the album’s closer, "Bloodflowers," presents a poetic duality where Smith recounts a woman’s romantic promises of "‘This dream never ends,’ you said, ‘this feeling never goes - the time will never come to slip away" which he eventually answers himself by stating, "‘This dream always ends,’ " I said, ‘this feeling always goes - the time always comes to slip away."

Things "passing away" is a wellworn theme on Bloodflowers; one song remembers "The Last Day of Summer" and "39," which opens with a dark dance beat bringing to mind shades of Disintegration’s "Fascination Street"finds Smith bemoaning that "the fire is almost out/and there’s nothing left to burn."

Bloodflowers may be The Cure’s most perfect melancholic exercise. And yet, hidden in the saddened memories of "The Last Day of Summer" and the internal vision of "Watching Me Fall," Smith occasionally stumbles on a ray of light in the passing of now; in "Out of This World" he observes "When we look back at it all, as I know we will, you and me, wide-eyed. I wonder...will we really remember how it feels to be this alive?"

There are no peppy horn segments on Bloodflowers; instead, Smith and company take us sensuously to the long slow seat of sadness. In the land of The Cure, it’s OK to wallow in the purple bliss of despair and yet still romanticize the beauty of the living kiss that put you there. Bloodflowers rest in a a bittersweet vase, but their intensity puts roses to pale.