Songs and Scenes: News and notes from a musical world

By Jonathan Hicks
Staff Writer

Gaga: Old news at the Grammys?

In an effort to make amends over the apparently tragic snubbing of Lady Gaga for the Best New Artist Award, the Grammy rules are about to change. Currently, the rule states that if an artist has been previously nominated for a Grammy, they are not eligible for the new artist award. Gaga had been nominated last year in a different category and lost. The Recording Academy—the group that determines the Grammy Award rules—has decided that beginning next year, artists may still be recognized as “new” even after being previously nominated in another category… just as long as they didn’t win.

This is likely good news for the pop star, as the Best New Artist Award is said by many to come with a curse, when considering previous winners have included one-hit wonders such as Paula Cole, Lauryn Hill, and the lip-synching Milli Vanilli.

What this story further illustrates, however, is the Grammy’s continual failure to recognize music beyond the big-record label realm. The awards themselves have become merely a salute to an industry more obsessed with marketing than true artistry. With artists more prone than ever to pursue independent means of releasing music, and the Internet having become a viable means of self-promotion, big record labels may soon be a thing of the past. I, for one, hope the Grammys go with them.

Green Day gone Broadway

As a fan of the group, when news came forward that Green Day’s 2004 hit album American Idiot was to open as a Broadway stage production, I was concerned. The album, while referred to by the band as a “punk rock opera,” still seemed far short of the Broadway standards.

Perhaps the Oakland, Calif.-based band knew what it was doing after all. With the release of the cast recording of American Idiot, my fears were put to rest. While the original album remained vital, even six years after its release, this new cast recording breathes new life into timeless ideas and poignant lyrics. For fans of the band, the cast ensemble takes the already-rich orchestration and adds layer upon new layer. For those unfamiliar with the original release, the music is accessible for a range of audiences (though by no means rated G), and the plot is cleverly crafted with themes of love, war, anger, loss and rebellion. Pick it up if you have the chance.

‘Old’ isn’t settling

Old Settler’s Days is coming up this weekend (July 15-18), and with a musical lineup of heavy hitters, it will be well worth the short drive to Rockton. While former American Idol finalist Danny Gokey and former Kid Rock DJ Uncle Kracker headline Thursday, July 15, and Friday, July 16, respectively, the real treat will come Saturday night, July 17, when California alt-rock outfit Eve 6 takes the stage. Back from a several-year hiatus, the band has returned with the crisp stage show that brought them numerous radio hits, including “Inside Out” and “Here’s to the Night.” For more information about all the weekend’s events, visit

From the July 14-20, 2010 issue

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