For one evening, the Grammys banished the infant boomers

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When Ringo Starr ambled onstage to current the ultimate prize at Sunday evening’s 63rd Grammy Awards, the Beatles icon with the freshly dyed hair put throughout greater than slightly little bit of where-am-I? power.

And who may blame him?

Lengthy a protected area for child boomers previous their prime, the Grammys ceremony made a tough pivot to youth in its first yr beneath 39-year-old govt producer Ben Winston, who took over when his predecessor Ken Ehrlich retired after 4 a long time on the helm of music’s most vital awards present.

In Ehrlich’s day, viewers may invariably depend on the looks of a handful of veterans to enrich the annual parade of contemporary pop stars — and possibly to steer CBS’ ageing demographic to not change the channel. He’d pair rebel younger acts with established old-timers (assume Kendrick Lamar with U2 in 2018) or devise splashy celebrations of doubtful anniversaries (like Motown’s sixtieth birthday in 2019).

Most of the time, it appeared, Ehrlich would discover a motive to have Sting on his program.

Sunday’s present on the Los Angeles Conference Heart, by comparability, was just about unrecognizable as a monument to expertise. Past Starr’s presentation and a efficiency by 71-year-old Lionel Richie, who turned up in the course of the “In Memoriam” sequence to sing his previous buddy Kenny Rogers’ “Girl,” the Grammys had been dominated by performers of their 20s and early 30s, together with Harry Types (27), Dua Lipa (25), Cardi B (28), Unhealthy Bunny (27), Lil Child (26), Maren Morris (30), Put up Malone (25), Megan Thee Stallion (26) and Taylor Swift (31).

There have been no grizzled monsters of rock; there have been no wizened Grand Ole Opry members. No jazz greats, no gospel pioneers, no elder statesmen of salsa or reggae or classical music. As a substitute, an precise teenager, 19-year-old Billie Eilish, was there, taking on distinguished area that Dave Grohl or Emmylou Harris or, as they did simply final yr, the members of Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. might need.

The youthfulness prolonged to the awards themselves. In 2010, when Swift received her first Grammy for album of the yr with “Fearless,” she turned the youngest artist ever to take the Recording Academy’s flagship prize. (Eilish set a brand new document in 2020 when she did it at 18.) A decade later, although, Swift was the oldest of the winners of the large 4 awards Sunday — older than Megan, who received finest new artist; older than Eilish, who took document of the yr with “All the pieces I Wished”; older than 23-year-old H.E.R., whose “I Can’t Breathe” was named track of the yr.

At 39, Beyoncé — who per academy custom misplaced the foremost prizes however received a number of style awards — was virtually the graybeard of the evening. (Starr clearly took beauty pains to keep away from that distinction.)

So how did this occur?

No less than partially, Winston was bowing to the requirements of our pandemic period, doing what he may to maintain older artists out of hurt’s approach. It was simply three months in the past, don’t neglect, that 86-year-old Charley Pleasure died shortly after enjoying the in-person CMA Awards in Nashville — a circumstantial hyperlink, maybe, however not one any producer needs any a part of.

COVID restrictions additionally restricted Winston’s capacity, as he instructed The Instances forward of Sunday’s present, to assemble the type of multi-generational jams for which Ehrlich was identified.

“You may’t actually combine artists very a lot,” stated Winston, a Brit finest identified within the U.S. for masterminding James Corden’s viral “Carpool Karaoke” sequence. “L.A. County guidelines — not New York guidelines, as you’ll see on ‘SNL’ each week — are that it’s a must to have an 8-foot distance between two microphones.”

However you bought the sense too that Winston was wanting to differentiate himself proper out of the gate from Ehrlich, whom a lot of individuals in showbiz describe as a legend however who additionally attracted loads of criticism from youthful artists. In 2019, Ariana Grande opted to not carry out on the Grammys, although she was nominated for a number of awards, after she stated that Ehrlich had “stifled” her “creativity & self expression.”

And differentiate himself he did: Evaluations of Winston’s debut have been virtually uniformly constructive — a lot brighter than the morning-after groans which have usually met the Grammys in latest a long time. All of the chattering-class reward may encourage him to maintain on this path, even when subsequent yr’s (hopefully) post-COVID setting means he’s in a position to e-book, say, Earth, Wind & Hearth or Starr’s former bandmate Paul McCartney, with whom Winston as soon as made a “Carpool Karaoke” of which he’s very proud.

Rankings, after all, are a distinct story. Nielsen reported the viewers for Sunday’s present dropped 53% from 2020 to a record-low 8.8 million viewers. That’s consistent with cratering awards-show numbers industry-wide, and Winston says linear-broadcast rankings are an outdated technique of measuring the success of a TV present in an period of streaming and social media. (In that approach, you may say the producer is echoing the Weeknd’s emotions on the worth of a Grammy.)

Nonetheless, CBS isn’t paying Winston to handle the business decline of one in every of its status properties, which suggests Aerosmith could but be commissioned to lure ageing viewers to the sixty fourth Grammys in 2022.

That is probably not so unhealthy. Among the many grim classes we’ve discovered within the pandemic is that we should always admire our beloved veterans whereas they’re nonetheless right here. And as Timbaland and Swizz Beatz’s smash Verzuz sequence has proven us, it’s attainable to have fun O.G. influencers — Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight, for instance — with out making everybody really feel like they’re caught in some cheesy museum.

With luck, Winston will discover a center path between shock-of-the-new and shlock-of-the-old.

Simply please no extra Sting. Not but. Give us a minute.

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