Maybe there is hope for music after all

OK - I admit it - I reneged on a vow to never again watch an award show. Last night I was very bored (and Alias hadn't come on yet) so I actually watched some of the Grammy Awards show. My conclusion? If choice in music is any indication, there might be some hope for the world yet.

While some of the Grammy festivities was the usual circus parade of drivel and underwhelming copycat-of-the-next-guy performances, those who won many of the awards were quite a different story.

Most notably was Norah Jones, a smooth, jazzy, 24 year old, alto piano player who took every award for which she was nominated. Her songs and album took yet more. I liked the song she performed on the show (Don't Know Why) so I decided to find some more of her music to see what the fuss is all about. I must say, I like what I hear so far. Hopefully, there will be more forthcoming.

The show started off with Simon & Garfunkel reuniting for a performance of Sounds of Silence. And, while not great, it sounded good. Bruce Springsteen also performed and won two awards for his album (can I still call it an "album"?), The Rising. It's nice to see that, in the age of Britney, crappy boy bands, people named after colors and people with single letters instead of first names, a guy like Bruce still gets his due when it all shakes out.

Same goes for James Taylor who was, at least, nominated. (And that's where the real honor is, right?) JT is the consummate singer/songwriter and when I see him perform he's always good.

The other bright spots for the future, however, came in the form of Vanessa Carlton, a classically trained pianist who manages to come across as both emotionally dark and rather perky and funky simultaneously, and John Mayer, a guitar playing singer/songwriter with enough texture in his sound to cut with a knife.

Granted there were some huge disappointments as well. Eminem, No Doubt and others continued to churn out the same stuff by the shovel full, and I guess they have their place, but so much of it is vitriolic, meaningless, overtly sexual or blatently violent.

These three young musicians (Jones, Carlton, Mayer), however, have given me hope that I won't be totally left in music oblivion in the future just because I can't stomach Pink and Limp Bizket. Don't get me wrong - I get into rock as well, but I don't think it's too much to ask to for a little substance and originality. (Thank you, P.O.D.)

I guess it boils down to a difference between performers and musicians. Not that musicians can't be good performers, but too much of what's been lauded in recent years has been formulaic and show-driven claptrap that holds little (if any) in the way of musical integrity. What I saw last night showed me that the musicians are getting a bigger and better voice and are coming to the forefront once again.

[Ed. Note - I'm not even going to mention the anti-war protest that Sheryl Crow attempted by having the words "No War" on her guitar strap but which backfired because her hair covered the word "No". (oops - too late) :^) ]