Monday, February 1, 2010
2010 Grammys: What We Learned
"This is useless." - Anonymous Poster commenting on my Golden Globes Live Blog post.
Ahh, the Grammys. Proof that musicians can put on an even more tedious awards ceremony than their celebrity movie star counterparts. I had no interest in live-blogging this show or commenting on it, but just to stick it to whoever hated my Globes Post, here are some things I learned from watching this year's Grammys.
Lesson #1 - This shit goes on forever. I don't even know if they bothered to establish an end time prior to the start of the event. Perhaps they figured they'd just keep going until everyone involved had lost interest or was totally plastered or both. I would say about an hour in, it felt like there was never a time when I wasn't watching this show and that in would continue to go on for all eternity. I abandoned all hope. It was going to last longer than Doppelganger Week on Facebook. What didn't help matter was how at the commercial breaks the announcer lady would remind viewers at home that the next big act was only 50 MINUTES AWAY. BFF and I were astounded. We finished dinner and dessert long before this thing was half over. And they only presented like 8 awards in the live show. Everything else was just performances "which I'll get to later." The grammys give out awards in roughly 3,000 categories. I know they all can't make it to the main show. But come on. Plus, I love a Colbert win for best comedy album, but you show us 8 awards and one of them is BEST COMEDY ALBUM?? Who the eff cares?
Lesson #2 - Song of the Year? Record of the Year? Album of the Year? Let's call the whole thing off. In case you get confused by some of the similar sounding categories let me and wikipedia break it down for you:
Record of the Year is awarded for a single or for one track from an album. This award goes to the performing artist, the producer, recording engineer, and/or mixer for that song. In this sense, "record" means a recording of one song, not the composition or an album of songs. Often, the nominees and winners of this song represent the most successful songs of the year.
Song of the Year is also awarded for a single or individual track, but the recipient of this award is the songwriter who actually created the song in the first place. Thus, "song" in this context means the song as written, not its recording.
Album of the Year is awarded for a whole album, and the award is presented to the artist, producer, recording engineer, and mastering engineer for that album. So, in this context, "album" means a recorded collection of songs (a multi-track LP, CD, or download package), not the individual songs or their compositions.
Lesson #3 - Not all Grammy performances are created equal. The subsequent lesson is if you front load all the crazy performances at the beginning of your show, the second half looks kinda listless. A quick overview of the performances:
Lady Gaga & Sir Elton John. - This was a good crazy way to start the show. Poker Face is not really my Gaga cup of tea, but once her dancers threw her in an incinerator and she came out playing a double piano with Sir Elton (both covered in chimney swept ash), in a mash-up of her Go-To Ballad "Speechless" and his classic "Your Song," things had gone to a nice place indeed.
Beyonce played Sasha Fierce and delivered a manic rendition of "If I Were A Boy" and a Don't-Forget-The-Lyrics version of "You Oughta Know." Beyonce looked hot whipping her hair around like a crazy woman and she sounded good, but it was all a little too much crazy eyes for my taste. And there was an extended crotch grab moment that I thought lingered in an uncomfortable way.
P!nk went cirque de soleil on all our asses, spinning like an acrobat way up in the air and singing a tune the whole time. She did a similar routine at the VMA's but she looks hotter than ever and gets bonus points for dunking herself in water and then spinning like a helicopter and spraying everyone down below. Gotta love P!nk.
Green Day and Company came out to sing 21 Guns and cross promote American Idiot on Broadway. I really liked the arrangement of the vocals and it made me very excited for the stage show (moreso than the ads for American Idiot that played during the commercial breaks. I thought those sounded a little wonky.)
I don't know who Lady Antebellum is/are. I know that I would prefer their name to be Lady Cerebellum because that's what comes to my mind regardless. Lesson 3.1 should be that if you use a scrim in your act that looks like it's out of a high school musical, don't be surprised when it hits you in the head mid-performance. The falling curtain was then yanked off stage in a not-so-delicate fashion. I have no idea what song these kids were singing.
The Black Eyed Peas showed up to sing that commercial hit that is used in tons of commercials :I Got A Feelin'." They were dressed kinda like Destro and The Baroness and had dancers dressed like Vipers in the background and then later on they had some transformer-ish dudes come out to dance as well. Lesson 3.2 is that 2 of the 4 black eyed peas are totally unnecessary. You've got Fergie and Will.i.am and then those other 2 who stand there and shout. Eh. I wasn't feeling them.
Jamie Foxx tried to cram the stage with some awesome people during his song, but it didn't make any sense. It was a jumble. I am moving on.
Zach Brown Band won best new artist and then came out and sang Best Old Song "America The Beautiful." They have a nice sound.
Bon Jovi showed up to play the Grammys for the first time ever (really? EVER???) and they of course sound great and don't look as old as they have to be at this point. There was some pointless online vote to see if they would perform Livin' On A Prayer, but of course they did and it sounded good, but they might have gotten tired or bored because they only did one verse and then they were done.
Andrea Boccelli and Mary J. Blige came out to sing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" to great effect. There was one point when MJB looked like she might literally explode as the music came forth from her, but she kept it together and the two of them had a very moving duet.
DMB was on the scene and I listened to the song, but I honestly have no memory of what it was or how well they did. If i had to take a guess I'd say it was a very long performance as all the performances tended to last a little longer than necessary.
Maxwell and Roberta Flack sang a duet... I thought Roberta sounded pretty good, though perhaps she looked a little... reanimated. Where is the love? Well, obviously it isn't coming from me.
Jeff Beck paid tribute to deceased Les Paul, alongside Imelda May (I had no idea who it was, I had to look her up) on ''How High the Moon.'' It was a weird kinda vocal performance and I couldn't tell if she was singing live, but JB was cool.
the other acts deserve their own lessons:
Lesson 4: Bitch can't sing live. Taylor Swift won a bunch of grammys including Female Country Album of the Year and (Overall) Album of the Year, but her vocal performance at the Grammys was terrible. She had no breath support and was flat almost the whole time. I've never seen Taylor pull off a live performance. They even brought out Stevie Nicks to try and compensate, but there was nothing she could do. Swift sings all her e vowels through her nose. It does not sound pretty. It in fact sounds really bad. In the plus column, she was wearing one of the only dresses I liked last night, so that's something in her favor.
Lesson 5: Don't ask someone to perform a song if you're going to mute 53% of the performance. Lil Wayne, Eminem and Drake came out to performs some songs, but instead of being able to admire their rapping ability, we were left to wonder what Standards and Practices felt was so inappropriate in the lyrics for entire phrases at a time. It was disconcerting. Plus it was already like 4am by the time they made it on stage and all the young impressionable grammy viewers had gone to bed hours earlier so i'm sure they could've just let us adults hear the lyrics and no damage would've been done.
Lesson 6: If your Grammy telecast has a 3D Michael Jackson sequence planned, maybe you should tell somebody. So, a bunch of times I heard the Grammys were doing a Michael Jackson tribute with a bunch of different singers including Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson and a couple others. Nowhere had I heard that this thing was going to be in 3D, as if that was somehow standard in awards shows. But then as the awards show gets under way the announcer starts talking about it. Excuse me, who was supposed to supply me this glasses? Even had I stolen a set from Avatar or broke out my Coraline Blu Ray it wouldn’t have helped, because they are new age 3-D glasses and this tribute was filmed in old school red lens blue lens glasses as Beyonce and other audience members demonstrated from their seats in the stadium. I took to the internets to see if I was the only one who somehow missed the memo, but Facebook friends across the country agreed that this was a surprise move and a quite unwelcome one at that. Watching the screen without 3D glasses is rather nauseating. The color is intense and off from what it should be. At times it looks like a glowing moving Magic Eye poster. Does the tribute require soft focus or deep focus? I don’t know, but the whole sequence was wasted on the many of us who didn’t have special 3-D glasses readily handy. Next time give a guy a little notice.
Well, those are the lessons learned from the Grammys this year. I never understand the nominating process for what songs and albums are included. So I learned no lessons in that regard. I know that my favorite album from last year, Kelly Clarkson’s All I Ever Wanted, was sorely overlooked. As was Empire State of Mind. Maybe that one missed the release cut off and will be up for something in next year’s 4 hour saga? I guess I’ll tune in to find out.