People are always shocked when I tell them I managed to sit through the Grammy Awards. Hell, I’m sort of shocked, but definitely not proud, that I somehow manage to not throw my remote through my television at some point of the evening. God knows there are always plenty of moments that deserve some violent reaction.
I have my reasons for viewing the broadcast, though. Sure, I’m a bit of a sadist, but that’s another story. See, the Grammy Awards is the one day out of the year that I venture out of my self-imposed musical cocoon and allow myself to hear the garbage that the record industry forces commercial radio to play. I see pictures of idiots like the Jonas Brothers, Katy Perry, Lil’ Wayne, Chris Brown, and Rhianna, but I have no idea what they sound like. (Obviously, I still have no clue what the last two sounds like since…and I’m not sad about that fact.)
I even immersed myself in the non-televised portion of the awards, which is always the time that a few artists I enjoy nab a few minor awards. This year was no exception, as Kings of Leon, The Mars Volta, Weezer, and Radiohead were winners.
This year’s broadcast opened with the big debut of U2’s new song, “Get On Your Boots”, which clearly rips off Elvis Costello’s 1978 classic, “Pump It Up”. In other words, pretty underwhelming, but I can handle mediocre.
I can’t handle cringe-inducing, though, and that was the story of the rest of the night. Grammy producers love the idea of pairing acts for what they call “Grammy Moments”, but it’s clear that there were no thoughts to compatibility.
Jay-Z’s appearance with Coldplay was no surprise, as he also pulled the same trick on an EP the band released back in November. When I first heard the tune back then, I noted to a friend that it didn’t seem to be a natural pairing, and it was proven on the Grammy stage.
Yet that was probably the most successful pairing of the evening. A tribute to the Rat Pack called the Rap Pack? Jamie Foxx desecrating the memory of the Temptations? Lil’ Wayne paired with some fake white soul singer in a tribute to New Orleans?
I actually did mute the television at one point. Tween stars Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus were paired for a song that seemed to come straight out of a bad 80’s ABC Afterschool Special. I actually understand the appeal of Swift. She’s a likable performer who simply sings her songs without the vocal gymnastics that mars 99% of all current pop music.
Miley Cyrus, though, is a train wreck. She simply can’t sing, and attempts to hide that fact by screeching into the mic. Not only that, she goes overboard on waving her mic around like she’s reaching deep into her soul to come up her tuneless vocals. She’s got about as much soul as her talentless father.
Yet that wasn’t even the low point of the show. That moment came about halfway through the telecast, when the Jonas Brothers were paired up with Stevie Wonder. Yes, Stevie Wonder, one of the all-time greats. This is the one moment in his life where he should be happy that he’s blind, as he would have knocked every one of those mama’s boys on their asses if he could have seen them jumping all over the stage pretending to play their unplugged guitars. Thank God they’re on their 12th minute.
It was around this point of the show that it appeared that the show had run out of performers. Many “stars” ended up on stage two, sometimes three times. Al Green schooling stupid Timberlake was almost enjoyable; having him show up again later in the show was pushing my patience.
You know an awards show is in trouble when two of the best performances of the broadcast involved material that weren’t even part of the Grammy lineup. Yes, technically both Paul McCartney and Neil Diamond were nominated for their current material, but there really was no reason for them to play “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Sweet Caroline”…except they were fun moments.
The musical highlight of the evening for me should be no surprise to anybody who knows me – Radiohead. Yes, including the USC marching band was sort of gimmicky, but they were so many miles ahead of anything else that appeared on that stage. Also, it’s nice that the marching band finally has something to play other than Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk”.
As for the awards, they were actually pretty predictable. Coldplay was one of the two big winners of the evening, and they became increasingly annoying as their trophy case grew.
The Robert Plant/Allison Krauss collaboration won the majority of major awards, including Best Album. I know there’s a lot of grumbling that they didn’t deserve to win, but this really wasn’t a steal like last year’s surprise Herbie Hancock victory. Their album was a critical favorite last year, and despite zero airplay it sold well over a million albums. Krauss has also won a number of awards in the past, so she clearly sewed up the country vote, while Plant’s days with Zep nabbed him the support of music industry vets. With Radiohead and Coldplay splitting the younger, hip vote, and the belief that Lil’ Wayne is destined to be forgotten in a year, Plant and Krauss probably won with relative ease.
With the evening finally over, and these thoughts put to paper, I can now retire back to my indie rock fringes. Maybe someday my kind of music will see more than nominal, minor-category nominations. Oh, who am I kidding? That day will never come.