I watched the Grammys the other night, tweeted a few times and read about a billion tweets. I had the distinct feeling I was working. Watching and tweeting, and contemplating tweety little comments of my own was far more than I bargained for on a Sunday night. I had expected it to be really fun.
It was a horrible show, a kind of saturation bomb of lifeless excess, in which excess was
expected, delivered and then just proved to be excessively boring. Contemporary performers seemed just mercenary; old players just seemed old. There didn't seem to be a heartfelt note heard all night.
If Twitter and social media can be credited with starting revolutions or creating more fun and insight than the TV programs the users are commenting on, then the opposite must be true, too.
Millions of yapping tweeters can’t make something seem interesting. If the crowd on social media on Sunday were in the crowd at the Grammys, they’d all be watching something else on their smartphones, or maybe just reading a good book.
I wondered what was going on. I had just downloaded a new Chrome app, Downworthy, which is this dandy tool that, in its own words “replaces hyperbolic headlines from bombastic viral Web sites with a slightly more realistic version” so that “awesome” becomes "Probably Slightly Less Boring Than Working.” (No kidding. It works.) All of a sudden on Sunday, it was as if Downworthy had taken over real life. I was watching what should be this sexy, rebellious music awards show, and it might as well had been the Cable Operator of the Year dinner at the Hilton on Sixth Avenue.
This was, I think, the first time in history that a mass-media event designed to elicit millions and millions of excited comments and advertising tie-ins, just laid an egg. Not a great big egg, since, as Peter Kafka points out on Re/Code, the Grammys were responsible for 13.8 million Tweets on Sunday night, according to Nielsen.
But that, he says, is up “only” 8% from the year before. In digital terms, apparently (and logically) anything that registers only 8% is considered a crushing disappointment, since digital media measures itself in billions, not millions, and double-digit percentages at least, always.
And 28.4 million watched it on CBS, up just 1%. Which is
something, in its own lame way. Moments before 8 p.m., CBS was airing a “60 Minutes”interview with Jay Leno—who, after all, is being replaced on “The Tonight Show”
because, even he sort of admits, he is just too square to be there.
That interview segued into Beyonce being sexually seduced on center stage by Jay-Z, making the Leno to Beyonce hand-off a Guiness-worthy candidate for most useless program lead-in ever. But the Grammys peaked early, and from about 8:04 on, it was just musical do-re-meh, meh, meh. Maybe there was a lesson in this. You just can’t mix up all the ingredients like Social Media Shake ‘n Bake and think something tasty is going to come out of the oven.