The 2014 Grammy Awards are set to go down this Sunday night, January 26, and there’s one moment on the show that people just can’t stop gossiping about. No, it’s not the reported Jay Z/Beyoné opening number, and no, it’s most certainly not which artist is going to walk away with Song, Record or Album of the Year. Rather, it’s which recently deceased star will anchor the famed In Memoriam death montage?
Like a great mixtape, a well-executed death montage has to ebb and flow just so; culturally significant losses must be properly offset with notable industry deaths (producers, label execs, promoters), names of whom the viewing public at home will not recognize, so that applause stays steady and doesn’t come to a crashing halt before ending. Putting ourselves in their shoes, we figure that you need to lead the montage off with a notable death, but not TOO notable; producers want audience members to start clapping right away, but you don’t want every other death that follows to be an emotional letdown. So, it goes without saying that video has to play well in the room AND also to the millions watching in their living rooms, which is exactly why the ANCHOR position is so important.
The anchor, as you well know, is the very last person in the In Memoriam montage. They are the last face that the audience sees and, consequently, the person with whom the audience will remember the most as representing the year that was. With that said, the anchor better DAMN well be someone who is important not just to the industry, but to the culture-at-large. So, producers find themselves asking themselves whose sepia-toned headshot BEST embodies the communal spirit of television? Which person can best warm the nation’s cathode tubes and liquid crystal displays in such a way that make tearing up inevitable? Which dead musician will keep the audience from flipping over to HBO to watch Girls?
We here at VH1 have put our collective noggins together in an attempt to answer this question. We have handicapped this make-or-break moment in the lives of some poor schlub who has been feverishly taxing the limits of Final Cut Pro without the benefit of sleep in an attempt to achieve editorial transcendence. Be sure to watch the Grammys on Sunday night to see how we all did.