So far, there have been two couples in my life that have made the strongest cases for marriage: my parents, and Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
The former has been an ongoing persuasion since as long as I can remember, where I grew up watching two people as they brought out the best in each other. The latter, however, were almost as swaying in a matter of moments and in a midst of smoke at the Grammys three nights ago. Although it’s true that what they offered was still part of their public image (it was on a stage after all), it was nonetheless a product I might someday be willing to buy.
They sang Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love,” which is essentially an anthem for their fantastic and enthralling sex life. And their performance was definitely sexy – but also fun, playful, and showed a partnership that seemed adventurous and exciting and powerful. Rarely do we see a portrayal of marriage in this light. It’s often about settling down, slowing down, reorganizing priorities so you are no longer at the top, having kids, getting a mortgage, staying home from work – being responsible and respectable and wearing white.
Although there’s nothing wrong with any of those decisions, none of it seems particularly appealing to me. I found it refreshing to watch a performance celebrating marriage for the professional, sexual, and creative fulfillment it can offer.
At this year’s Grammy Awards, the only thing bigger than Pharrell Williams’ hat was the social media backlash. I didn’t watch the whole ceremony, but I was frequently checking in through Facebook, and amid the deluge of posts about the awards’ outrageous irrelevancy, one in particular caught my attention.
Aside from some grammatical polish, the comment was essentially as follows: “The music industry has changed, it’s not the 1970s anymore.” A few others echoed this sentiment, although names have been withheld to protect the innocent.
Such golden-age thinking should be familiar to anyone who has ever watched a Pink Floyd video on YouTube. Of course, the obvious rebuttal is that a lot of uninspiring music was also popular in the 70s. Over time, the chaff gets forgotten.
But this commenter’s paean to the music industry of yesteryear became especially ironic at the end of the evening, when the biggest award went to an album that sounds, for the most part, like it was recorded in 1979.
Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories won Album of the Year, and the helmeted duo shared the honour with a host of collaborators who rose to prominence four decades ago.
Before Nile Rodgers’ infectious strumming on “Get Lucky” made that song the official anthem of H&M change rooms worldwide, it could be heard on 70s disco chart-toppers by Chic and Sister Sledge.
Giorgio Moroder, in turn, was used to working with machines well before the robots recruited him. His synthesized backing tracks for Donna Summer laid the groundwork for electronic dance music in the mid-70s.
It is almost certainly true that the Grammys are irrelevant and pointless, although everybody who made this complaint online while simultaneously watching the telecast kind of undermined themselves.
But the stance that the awards somehow demonstrate the music industry’s fall from grace seems wrongheaded, especially in the year of the robots.