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i hear dead people
why dying doesn’t mean you can’t win a grammy
by michael d. driscoll

As if dead people weren’t busy enough these days, now they’re getting nominated for Grammy Awards.

Check the nomination list and you’ll find Celine Dion has resurrected Frank Sinatra for a singalong, while Lauryn Hill unearthed Bob Marley years after his mysterious death for a duet as well. At their most basic level, these recordings should be nominated for what they truly represent: best karaoke performance by an artist, group, or duo.

I’m not impressed that anyone can be dubbed over a dead artist and get nominated for an award. What makes these nominations so special and newsworthy amid hundreds of thousands of fine karaoke performances? The playing field is not level.

I get teary-eyed just thinking about all of those inebriated frat guys who were never nominated for their performance of "Louie, Louie". And what about those dear, dear girls pouring their hearts out while engaged in the gut-wrenching "Wind Beneath My Wings?" Will they ever know they are my heroes?

Behold the plight of the unknown karaoke artist.

With every problem there is someone who can be blamed. I blame Natalie Cole for starting the karaoke-equals-Grammy trend. Sure, there may have been others before her, but the recognition "Unforgettable" received in 1992 (and beyond) should be remembered as "Unforgivable". Sidebar: What was with that video? Shadows became musical instruments?

Yes, I blame Natalie for Celine Dion’s duet with the oh-so-dead Frank Sinatra. "All the Way" is an exercise in temperament alleviated only by the occasional voice of Old Blue Eyes. Besides, isn’t Celine supposed to be retired? Don’t people know that retirement means you’re done, over, through, put out to pasture? If you return from retirement I’ve got news for you. That was a vacation, not retirement.

And don’t you jump for joy when you hear Lauryn Hill’s duet with her boyfriend’s father, Bob Marley, on "Turn Your Lights Down Low?" Sure, the song rocks me, but poor Bob could have used the royalties from the new recording to get the bugs out of his dreads or buy that rare 30-foot bong. Look closely and you can find a way to blame Natalie Cole for this too.

The destruction by Natalie Cole goes one step further. Back when it was first fashionable to record songs with those now pushing up daisies, Barbra Streisand got the idea to do a duet with none other than... Barbra Streisand. What the heck is that? She resurrected old footage and recordings from Yentl, her first transgender role, and sang along to it during one of her many "I’m still here you schmuck" concerts.

So this brings us full-circle. At one time, duets required two living people. Then, in a stroke of genius by Natalie "I miss my Dad" Cole, everyone was searching for a dead person to jack up their Grammy chances. Then Barbra "Still here" Streisand opened the doors for duets performed by one artist (which used to be referred to as a "solo.")

On February 21st the Grammy Awards will seek to reward artists for Best Karaoke Performance without calling it that. Should a karaoke offender win, join me in a moment of silence for the countless frat boys left out in the cold for performances of "Louie Louie, oh yeah, weem num num, yeah yeah yeah..."


Curious about everything, Michael plans to do it all. A ruffian by day and a lover by night he's managed to go where no one else has gone. His slight forgetfulness means he is curious about everything and plans to do it all. A ruffian by day and a lover by night he's managed...

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published: 7.21.00


joe procopio
1.22.01 @ 10:54a

Speaking of duets with dead people, I hear Axl Rose has put Guns N' Roses back together. With Tommy from the Replacements too... odd.

michael driscoll
1.22.01 @ 2:01p

Axl Rose is alive? I thought he and Slash died in a freak Aqua Net accident. Hmm, maybe just wishful thinking.

michelle von euw
1.23.01 @ 2:37p

Hey, at least they aren't electing dead people.

rob stark
1.23.01 @ 4:40p

Yeah, but Natalie Cole was on crack and a prostitute. Shouldn't she win something for that? And Michael, could you please write one article NOT referencing Barbara?

roger striffler
1.24.01 @ 1:40p

Actually, you can probably back up a little and blame Linda Ronstadt. If she hadn't re-launched her musical career with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra (who play songs by dead people for almost dead people), none of this might have happened.

michael driscoll
1.24.01 @ 8:58p

Rob, I promise to discontinue writing articles referencing Barbra Streisand when you stop singing like her at home.

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