The Grammies

As everybody knows, the Grammies were telecast this past Sunday night. And as you may expect, I have a few opinions about those 3 ½ hours I wasted.
To be fair, I must admit that when it comes to awards shows, the Grammies are easily the most legitimate. Unlike the American Music Awards, the VMA’s, and all of the other music awards shows that plague our airwaves, the Grammies aren’t chosen by a handful of publicists and Dick Clark in a smoky conference room. Instead, the process is similar to the Oscars, where those that actually work in the industry make their choices.
Not that major label corporate weasels don’t have their faults. They tend to be reactionary instead of visionary, making their choices not on the quality of the actual song or album but by what they have overlooked in the past.
And they also have their favorites. We should be glad that Sting didn’t release anything this year, as his farts have been nominated in the past. The same with Bonnie Raitt and Bruce Springsteen, who won a Grammy this year for a bonus track added on to a greatest hits package. I love “The Boss” but “Code of Silence” was not the “Best Vocal Rock Performance”.
There were some valid choices for winners in other categories, however. Wilco won two Grammies for “A Ghost Is Born”. Green Day nabbed an award, as did Steve Earle and Loretta Lynn. The Daily Show even won for the audio version of their chart-topping America book.
Most of those awards were presented before the telecast, and that’s where my bitching begins. Let’s just put it this way – the whole show could have been narrowed down to five minutes. Green Day’s Clash-like attack of “American Idiot” and Loretta Lynn’s tipsy ramble after winning for Best Country Album were the only reason for watching. (I’m sure the folks next door at the country hick station didn’t agree with the choice of Lynn, but that album was easily the best country album of the year.)
The show began with this horrendous medley of acts that I guarantee we’ll never see again. Or at least I hope we won’t. It was centered on a group that I whined about last week – the Black Eyed Peas. You may recall that I compared them to C&C Music Factory. I’m going to retract that statement – they’re really a modern version of the Village People. Sure, they’ve got a chick…and from what I’ve heard they were forced to take her on. She apparently was sleeping with some record company executive who made her inclusion a non-negotiable part of their record deal.
Think about the comparison. Besides the hot chick, you’ve got guys who run the gamut of races – Hispanic, African-American, Native-American, and white. They have little vocal talent, and dance around in goofy choreography designed to look spontaneous. And their songs are nothing but catch phrases. Ugggghhhhh!
Then we were forced to deal with Stevie Ray Vaughan-lite…I mean Los Lonely Boys. Good God. And formally easy to deal with Gwen Stefani dressed as a tattered pirate singing some nursery rhyme with similarly talent-less Eve. And somebody please explain to me how Maroon 5 made it out of the cover band circuit. What is their appeal?
What’s sad is that this opening wasn’t the low point of the evening. It’s hard for me to pinpoint what would be the worst spot of the show. Greasy Mark Anthony and J-Ho and their obvious dislike for each other? I thought I was watching Univision. Queen-size Latifah and her lack of charisma hosting the show? You know you’re doing a bad job when you have to coax the audience to cheer.
Then there’s also that southern rock medley that came off like a Klan rally held in the hood. Really, what were all these honkies doing playing those tired tunes in from of a crowd that was primarily black? I guess the good news is that Skynyrd and their pals were rescued from the State Fair circuit for a night.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there was that extremely bizarre gospel medley. I like Kanye West, and his album definitely deserved to win for best rap album, but aren’t religious people supposed to have just a bit of modesty?
I also must rant a little bit about Jamie Foxx. Although I have purchased the Ray movie, I have yet to see it. My understanding is that he did a great job portraying the legend, but it’s time for him to retire his act. He’s not Ray. He can’t play piano like Ray, and he can’t sing like Ray. He has no business continuing to be trotted out as Ray Charles anywhere other than on the movie screen.
After lengthy consideration, I think the low point of the telecast would have to be a segment that could and should have been the best. Of course, I’m talking about the all-star benefit for tsunami relief. It was poorly conceived and even more poorly executed. “Across the Universe” is a great song; maybe one of John Lennon’s greatest pieces of lyrics. But it’s not an easy song to sing, particularly in a “We Are the World”-type group performance. It’s extremely word-y, with strung-on lyrics that even Lennon struggled to fit the melody. It’s definitely not a song for the vocal gymnastics of people like Alicia Keys and Bono. Keys wasn’t even halfway through her line before the melody reached the end. Stevie Wonder missed his cue, and Brian Wilson seemed to think he was on another planet. Which he probably was.
Notice I haven’t talked much about the actual awards. As I said before, the deserving winners were awarded their prizes before the telecast. The few awards given during the actual show were both perplexing and predictable. John Mayer has officially become the next Sheryl Crow as the undeserving Grammy darling who inexplicably wins every year. I’ve already stated my opinion of Maroon 5, and their Best New Artist prize should guarantee their quick disappearance. And as much as I appreciate Ray Charles, and from what I’ve heard and read about his last album it’s a pleasant enough release, but eight Grammies? Album of the year? C’mon.
But one great thing did happen during the course of the show. The insufferable Usher was shut out from any major awards, and from what I’ve read he was close to tears backstage. Finally, this moron has been put in his place. He’s not an artist; he’s a male model who has everybody else do his work for him and his job is to dance a little and leer at the camera. Any airbrushed pretty boy could do his job. Like Johnny Rotten once said, “come back, Milli Vanilli. All is forgiven.”

Today’s Ipod Shuffle:

1. Guided By Voices, “Hot Freaks” (Human Amusements at Hourly Rates)
2. Anders Parker, “Don’t Worry Honey, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” (Tell It To the Dust)
3. The Who, “Summertime Blues” (Odds & Sods)
4. The Jayhawks, “A Break in the Clouds” (Smile)
5. My Morning Jacket, “A Break in the Clouds” (It Still Moves)
6. The Jam, “Here Comes the Weekend” (Direction, Reaction, Creation)
7. Tom Petty, “American Girl” (The Big Jangle)
8. Golden Smog, “Jennifer Save Me” (Weird Tales)
9. Bruce Springsteen, “Hearts of Stone” (Tracks)
10. Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter” (Let It Bleed)
11. The Smiths, “William, It Was Really Nothing” (Louder Than Bombs)
12. Neil Young, “Lookin’ For a Love” (Zuma)
13. The Church, “Under the Milky Way” (Left of the Dial)
14. Bettie Serveert, “The Love In” (Log 22)
15. The Smiths, “Never Had No One Ever” (The Queen is Dead)
16. Guided By Voices, “Twilight Campfighter” (Human Amusements at Hourly Rates)
17. Weezer, “Across the Sea” (Pinkerton)
18. Paul Westerberg, “Self-Defense” (Suicaine Gratifaction)
19. The Fall, “Green Eyed Loco-Man” (50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong)
20. Camper Van Beethoven, “Skinhead Stomp” (Telephone Free Landslide Victory)
21. Magnolia Electric Co, “Such Pretty Eyes For a Snake” (Trials & Errors)
22. The Brian Jonestown Massacre, “Straight Up And Down” (A Retrospective)
23. Tom Petty, “Think About Me” (Playback)
24. Replacements, “Someone Take the Wheel” (All Shook Down)
25. Uncle Tupelo, “Take My Word” (March 16-20 1992)
26. My Bloody Valentine, “I Only Said” (Loveless)
27. Replacements, “Dose of Thunder” (Tim)
28. The Jam, “The Dreams of Children” (Direction, Reaction, Creation)


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