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Monday, February 13, 2017

Grammy Awards Show Offers a Glimpse into the Future of Music


Written by Adam Cruz — Sunday night gave rise to a lot of excitement as house music's own Louie Vega joined the list of Grammy nominees, in celebration of his 'Louie Vega Starring XXVIII' album nod. As the telecast kicked off, it was clear that the show would offer some clues about the future of music.

To get the petty out of the way and despite the technological advances that have brought us to the year 2017, The Grammy awards show was plagued with microphone mishaps, oddly-timed camera angles and cut off speeches. Even poor Shirley Caesar was "Steve Harvey'ed" as the telecast flashed a picture of gospel singer CeCe Winans with the name 'Shirley Caesar' underneath. #teamPettyLabelle

With that aside, the future of music offers further fusion of genres and styles. Even country music seems to be getting into the action with heavy-hitters Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood performing their new single "The Fighter," a clear fusion of electronic dance and country. To some, country music represents the last genre to dive into the EDM pool, but if Urban and Underwood are any indication, we might be seeing more country artists explore electronic dance in 2017.

Further to the point, Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran each performed their new songs, both of which offer a mix of rock, pop and Caribbean styles in a receptive music market. Sheeran performed the reggae flavored "Shape of You," but it was Perry that took genre-fusion even further, performing her latest "Chained to the Rhythm." To add that sure-fire credibility, she was joined on stage by Skip Marley, grandson of the late reggae great, Bob Marley. Considering last year's hits by Justin Bieber, Drake and Rihanna, it's no wonder that artists and labels in 2017 are already releasing Caribbean and reggae-inspired beats. Could reggae-meets-ragtime be in our future?

Beyond the new sounds, you can also expect to hear new politically-charged material in the New Year. From Katy Perry to A Tribe Called Quest, the industry is poised to release more political music as the Trump administration emerges amidst chants to RESIST.

During his televised speech, current National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences president Neil Portnow perhaps said it best, stating that "the Recording Academy calls on the President and Congress to help keep the music playing by updating outdated music laws, protecting music education and renewing America's commitment to the arts."

It's worth noting that at the time of Portnow's speech, new FCC chair Ajit Pai is fast at work, dismantling net neutrality norms and canceling inquiries into concerns about phone carrier T-Mobile's 'binge' data deals. Given the current political climate, anxiety is building while the U.S. Copyright Office has yet to fully address the outdated language in the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) - a point that Mr. Portnow was clearly trying to make.

Let's hope the industry and all of us can focus on remaining vocal about the causes that most concern us instead of being distracted by a pregnant belly, a profanity slip or a shout out to "black friends."