YOU MUST READ THIS POST! IT IS GOING TO BE HISTORIC! EVERYONE WILL BE TALKING ABOUT IT!
I swear that every time I heard that last night during the Grammy Awards, I was certain of one thing – mediocrity was the best thing to hope for. If ‘everyone would be talking’, it would be like Nicki Minaj’s terrible performance that might signal her 15 minutes has played out with her singular stylistic droppings getting tiresome.
There are three main thoughts I have from the Grammy show last night:
- Wow, it was REALLY easy to miss the fact that this was supposed to be an AWARDS show … as the awards took up <5% of airtime. Literally.
- Safe, safe, safe. I posted that Beastie Boys clip last week saying we’d never see anything like THAT again! Oh boy was I right.
- Half of these ‘duets’ really weren’t duets at all … and the others sucked.
As for the last part, I look at the so-called ‘duet’ between Coldplay and Rihanna – it was in reality an over-long montage with a Rihanna song, Rihanna and Chris Martin swapping choruses and standing far enough apart you’d think there was a restraining order in place, and then a Coldplay song. That pretty much sums it up.
As for the safeness, there was just nothing controversial all night long, and as a result there was nothing interesting. Neil Patrick Harris – always good for a laugh or a song or both, simply did his announcement. Perhaps the most exciting announcement all night was The Civil Wars leading into Taylor Swift.
Speaking of safeness, nothing is safer than pre-recorded vocals – and they were EVERYWHERE last night … to the point where I wouldn’t have been surprised if some of the award presentations were pre-recorded … or that Taylor Swift’s faux shocked surprise was because she was replaced by an animatronic.
Speaking of whom, considering that both Taylor Swift and Katy Perry were absolute train-wrecks last year I had no idea what to expect … and while neither one will ever be confused for a good singer or be putting across complex songs (or deep emotions), they each handled themselves pretty well. Swift benefitted from great stage design and the appearance that she was playing an instrument (without the burden of doing so), whereas Perry actully moved around the stage this year. Neither was singing live … but that is for the best.
The best performers of the night included Bruno Mars as James Brown, Adele’s excellent voice powering through her recent surgery, Paul McCartney singing a soporific ballad with Joe Walsh looking awesome and Diana Krall as eye candy (you really couldn’t even hear her piano), McCartney doing some Beatles songs later on, Foster the People with the Beach Boys (the Maroon 5 part was dreary and Adam Levine proved more than ever he is useless eye candy), and the tape of Whitney Houston. Oh, and DeadMau5 was pretty cool – he even had Dave Grohl boppin’ in the aisles.
Lowlights … well, pretty much everything else was crap. Bruce Springsteen used to be a guaranteed awesome live show, but it was a snoozer. Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Foo Fighters, David Guetta, and on and on … blech.
Mega-lowlight for me was how much time was spent on the unapologetic woman-abuser Chris Brown. He is right up there in the scumbag department with Michael Vick. Sure he should get a second chance … but I don’t plan to give it to him until he is more sorry about what he did than about that he got caught.
While there weren’t many risks taken, at least there was humor. Like how they carted out Tony Bennett and tacked on Carrie Underwood for a farcical rendition of ‘It Had to be You’ before announcing best new artist. The juxtaposition of an octogenarian, a country singer without a clue how to manage the ‘Great American Songbook’ and a song that was hokey decades ago was pure brilliance, I mean …
… huh? It wasn’t a joke? Oh … never mind.
On the ‘best new artist’ category, once again we have an artist with multiple recordings who has been around for quite a while winning. I admit to pulling for Skrillex, and not just because my son is a fan. In 2011 Dubstep went from an underground movement to having top 10 iTunes album sales on the back of one person – Sonny Moore, aka Skrillex. It would have been the opportunity to tell a story of actual musical impact rather than showing just how broken the awards are … but again, that isn’t how things work.
The one thing I haven’t mentioned is how everyone spent the night falling all over themselves in tribute to Whitney Houston. As they say, death brings out all of the crazies in the family! The same people who had no use for her are now her greatest admirers; those who castigated her success by calling her ‘not black enough’ or ‘too pop’ now tout her impact on all genres. It is something doogald mentioned in the post I did on Whitney, it went from nothing to omnipresence overnight.
And while I laud Jennifer Hudson for her live singing of ‘I will always love you’, she was overshadowed by the taped version shown earlier. Could no one have coordinated that better? Also, while Hudson has a great voice, she exhibited so many of the ‘American Idol-isms’ that plague those trying to ‘be like Whitney’ that it was distracting – especially the ‘glory note’. But still – you could tell that she gave it her all, and that had an impact.
Speaking of memorials, as usual there were as many people left off the lists as were included, such as Bob Brookmeyer and Paul Motian. Even Etta James was left off – but at least she had a nice tribute from Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt.
But ultimately this was NOT an awards show – as I mention I would be surprised if there was 5 minutes of actual awards in the four hours of dreary air-time. It was clear that the industry rallied around the criticisms and made sure that awards were given as rewards, and that the top-selling artists were given plenty of air-time. Lady Gaga had an underwhelming sales year … so she got squat.
There are a total of 78 categories, less than a dozen of which were handed out live on TV, with the vast number of others given out in the ‘pre show’. Chances are if your interests are outside of the mainstream, THAT is where your award was given.
The interesting thing? It was the more genuine awards show! All focus was on the awards, no quick-cuts on acceptances, no hard focus on the ‘big names’, and it was overall a much better time. James Hale wrote asking if we REALLY want Jazz and other music back in the main show with all of the compromises that would involve … and I think he is right!
Here is the huge list of awards:
- Album of the year: Adele’s 21
- Record of the year: Adele’s Rolling the Deep
- Best Pop Vocal Album – Adele, 21
- Best pop solo performance: Adele’s Someone Like You
- Song of the year: Adele’s Rolling in the Deep
- Short-form music video: Adele’s Rolling in the Deep
- Country album: Lady Antebellum’s Own the Night
- Best new artist: Bon Iver
- Long-form music video: Foo Fighters’ Back and Forth
- Best rap performance: Otis, by Kanye West and Jay-Z
- Best rock performance: Foo Fighters’ Walk
- R&B album: Chris Brown’s F.A.M.E.
- Hard rock/metal performance: Foo Fighters’ White Limo
- Rock song: Foo Fighters’ Walk
- Rock Album: Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light
- Recording package: Caroline Robert’s Scenes from The Suburbs, for Arcade Fire
- Rap performance: Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Otis
- Pop duo/group performance: Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse’s Body and Soul
- Pop instrumental album: Booker T. Jones’ The Road from Memphis
- Dance recording: Skrillex’s Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites
- Dance/electronica album: Skrillex’s Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites
- Traditional pop vocal album: Tony Bennett and various artists’ Duets II
- Alternative music album: Bon Iver’s Bon Iver
- R&B performance: Corinne Bailey Rae’s Is This Love
- Traditional R&B performance: Cee Lo Green and Melanie Fiona’s Fool for You
- R&B song: Cee Lo Green and Co.’s Fool for You
- Rap/sung collaboration: Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi and Fergie’s All of the Lights
- Rap song: All of the Lights
- Rap album: Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
- Country solo performance: Taylor Swift’s Mean
- Country song: Taylor Swift’s Mean
- Country duo/group performance: The Civil Wars’ Barton Hollow
- Folk album: The Civil Wars’ Barton Hollow
- New age album: Pet Metheny’s What’s It All About
- Improvised jazz solo: Chick Corea’s 500 Miles High
- Jazz vocal album: Terri Lyne Carrington and various artists’ The Mosaic Project
- Jazz instrumental: Corea, Clarke and White’s Forever
- Large jazz ensemble: Christian McBride Big Band’s The Good Feeling
- Gospel/contemporary Christian music performance: Le’Andria Johnson’s Jesus
- Gospel song: Kirk Franklin’s Hello Fear
- Contemporary Christian music song: Laura Story’s Blessings
- Gospel album: Kirk Franklin’s Hello Fear
- Contemporary Christian music album: Chris Tomlin’s And If Our God Is For Us…
- Latin pop, rock or urban album: Mana’s Drama Y Luz
- Regional Mexican or Tejano album: Pepe Aguilar’s Bicentenario
- Bands or Norteno album: Los Tigres Del Norte’s Los Tigres Del Norte and Friends
- Tropical Latin album: Cachao’s The Last Mambo
- Americana album: Levon Helm’s Ramble at the Ryman
- Bluegrass album: Alison Krauss and Union Station’s Paper Airplane
- Blues album: Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Revelator
- Regional roots music album: Rebirth Brass Band’s Rebirth of New Orleans
- Reggae album: Stephen Marley’s Revelatino Pt. 1: The Root of Life
- World music album: Tinariwen’s Tassili
- Children’s album: All About Bullies… Big & Small
- Spoken world album (includes poetry, audio books and story telling): Betty White’s If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t)
- Comedy album: Louis C.K.’s Hilarious
- Musical theatre album: The Book of Mormom
- Compilation soundtrack for visual media: Boardwalk Empire: Vol. 1
- Score soundtrack for visual media: Alexandre Desplat’s The King’s Speech
- Song written for visual media: I See the Light (from Tangled)
- Instrumental composition: Bela Fleck and Howard Levy’s Life in Eleven
- Instrumental arrangement: Gordon Goodwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band
- Instrumental arrangement accompanying vocalist: Jorge Calandrelli’s Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me), for Tony Bennett and Queen Latifah
- Boxed or special limited edition package: Dave Bett and Michelle Holme’s The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town Story
- Album notes: Hear Me Howling: Blues, Ballads & Beyond as recorded by the San Francisco Bay by Chris Strachwitz in the 1960s
- Historical album: Band on the Run (Paul McCartney Archive Collection – Deluxe Edition)
- Engineered album, non-classical: Alison Krauss and Union Station’s Paper Airplane
- Producer of the year, non-classical: Paul Epworth
- Remixed recording, non-classical: Cinema (Skrillex Remix)
- Surround sound album: Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (Super Deluxe Edition)
- Engineered album, classical: Aldridge: Elmer Gantry
- Producer of the year, classical: Judith Sherman
- Orchestral performance: Brahms, Symphony No. 4 by Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel
- Opera recording: Adams: Doctor Atomic
- Choral performance: Light & Gold – Eric Whitacre, conductor (Christopher Glynn & Hila Plitmann; The King’s Singers, Laudibus, Pavão Quartet & The Eric Whitacre Singers)
- Small-ensemble performance: Mackey: Lonely Motel – Music from Slide
- Classical instrumental solo: Schwantner: Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra by Christopher Lamb, Giancarlo Guerrero conducts Nashville Symphony
- Classical vocal solo: Joyce DiDonato with Kazushi Ono and Orchestre de l’Opera National de Lyon with Choeur de l’Opera National de Lyon for Diva Divo
- Contemporary classical composition: Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein’s Elmer Gantry
Did you watch? What did you think?