Red Carpet Brain: A Journalist’s Top Three Concerns

By: Lauren Tingle

It’s Grammy time! Tonight, there will be outrageous red carpet fashions, unforgettable concert moments and hearts pounding at the sound of those life-changing little words, “And the Grammy goes to…”

I have never been to the Grammys, but all my media friends with Grammy experience tell me it can be absolute chaos.

GRAMMY winners @thebandperry out tonight to celebrate #MusiCaresPOTY #LionelRichie

A photo posted by The GRAMMY Awards (@thegrammys) on

I imagine the red carpet stretches at least a mile with the world’s major media outlets stacked from end-to-end. Within three minutes, reporters try to grab exclusive content with questions on the event, upcoming projects and “Who are you wearing?” Teams of publicists and managers wrangle their clients through a sea of talent. On television, everything looks glamorous. But trust me, red carpets can be very stressful. Here are a journalist’s top three red carpet concerns and my Grammy picks for the all genre and country categories.

Music journalists cover a lot of ground in three minutes and they go by fast. We need quotes on the event, nominations, performances, wardrobe and arm candy. If there’s extra time, we’ll try to squeeze in a question or two on upcoming projects like singles, albums and tours.

Red carpet brain is real. That’s when a journalist’s racing mind gets so overloaded with information, they completely space out. It happened to me while I quizzed Sam Hunt and songwriter Josh Osborne on the red carpet at the 2014 ASCAP Music Awards. At the time, Sam and Josh had the number-one country song in the nation with “Leave the Night On” and Montevallo had just hit stores. They were walking the red carpet together and I asked, “So how do you two know each other?” DOH!

If it’s an award show, journalists want to chat with everyone appearing on the broadcast, including nominees, presenters and performers. Again, time is precious. There isn’t much time to talk to rising acts who are there for self-promotion. Chances are they will be ignored.

Placement is everything. Usually, media outlets on the carpet are stationed by order of importance. First, there is a step-and-repeat where stars pose for photos. National outlets like Associated Press, Entertainment Tonight, E!, Access Hollywood and Ellen DeGeneres are next. Then there are there are the online and print journalists. Radio is typically last.

Most of the time, the night’s hosts, first performers and big name acts only do photos and then head inside for the party.

If we’re lucky and get stationed next to a major outlet, the opportunity to chat with big name acts will be better. But wherever we’re stationed, we hope our neighbors are nice and have gum. Space is limited and it gets cramped fast. There is no room for ego or dragon breath.

In Nashville, the best red carpets stagger outlets with the step-and-repeat in the middle, eliminating the order of importance and bottlenecking. National outlets are mixed with print, online and radio, forcing publicists to escort their clients to every journalist.

If an act is pressed for time, interviews are done in groups. When this happens, we hope our neighbors are respectful and let the talent finish each answer before moving to a new question.

Red carpet hogs are real, too. That’s when a journalist gets overzealous and hogs all the time with their questions. And it is highly unethical to steal content from another outlet by sneaking a mic into a neighbor’s interview.

Good luck tonight, everyone! I hope you grab some great content that will make the world a better place. At the end of the day, it’s all about making life better than you found it.

Album of the Year
To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar

Record of the Year
“Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

Song of the Year
“Girl Crush” – Little Big Town

Best New Artist
Sam Hunt

Best Country Solo Performance
“Traveller” – Chris Stapleton

Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“Girl Crush” – Little Big Town

Best Country Song
“Girl Crush” – Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna and Liz Rose

Best Country Album
Traveller – Chris Stapleton