Reflections on the Grammy’s that I Didn’t Plan on Watching

Grammys. Don’t like ’em.

Usually because they’re meaningless.

Por ejemplo: Milli Vanilli winning Best New Artist leading to the lip sync controversy heard around the world. Legendary guitarist Carlos Santana finally winning a Grammy in the 1990s after cramming an album full of the youngest talent he could find. Canadian indie rocker Feist in the running for Best New Artist for 2007 even though there was nothing new about her. The death of the female hip hop performance category. Stevie Wonder not winning a Grammy until the 1980s when he’d been kicking around the hits since 1963. And Fountains of Wayne, up for best new artist a few years back when they too, had been around for more than a decade.

The Grammy’s are often not cutting edge. They tend to not award innovation and creativity, but record sales and longevity. Watching the Grammy’s is like witnessing this giant orgy of self-fellation being thrown by the same industry that caused the current sorry state of the music industry. Afraid of being ahead of the curve, they are perennially playing catch up. And I’ve never understood the significance Kanye West puts on these kinds of awards when the Grammy’s attained joke status long ago. Any music academy that could blatantly ignore the contributions of rock ‘n roll pioneer Little Richard for so long that he had brow beat his way into recognition is not credible. That said, I still watched all that starfucking for the 50th Anniversary of the awards show.

The old/young mashups. I was excited to see The Time together again. Not excited to see Rhianna skipping in there. I mean, does she even know who Morris Day, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are?

And Beyonce, who despite how you feel about her is the go-to girl for these such mashups as she understands the hard work and showmanship that go into paying proper tribute, but still giving the oldersters a chance to throw down. She paraded out in her glittery mini skirt/mini shorts with Tina Turner (who I adore) and tore their way through “Rolling on the River.” I was amazed that Tina could still negotiate a slightly truncated version of her classic moves in three-inch heels, let alone able to bust a little karate chop for punctuation. For ol’ times sake.

That, along with a lively, impassioned rendition of “Rhapsody in Blue” featuring Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang, a gigantic Aretha Franklin in yellow bustin’ out the gospel with Bebe Winans, and Kanye’s ability to perform a tron/amine inspired version of “Stronger” (light up futuristic shades included) tossed with a poignant solo version of “Hey Mama,” made some of the better performances.

Other observations:

I usually don’t get into the “are they/aren’t they doin’ it” discussions, especially those swirling around Jay Z and Rhianna, mostly because my reaction is “gross.” Isn’t she a teenager? And not to make Beyonce’s head any bigger, she is the more attractive of the two (whether the two is her versus Jigga man, or her versus Rhianna. Beyonce, for what it’s worth, is hot.) That said, between the hold my hand, don’t hold my hand awkwardness and the filial teasing with him “interpreting” her statements on stage for “Umbrella” something a lot like nothing was definitely going on there.

It could be a whole lot of nothing as Rhianna is dramatically younger than Jay-Z and their goofiness fell somewhere along the longitude/latitude of a brother-sister relationship. Not to mention Jay-Z trying to mitigate the heat rays he would get from Beyonce if he held some other girl’s hand on stage. Interpret at will! I’m going with it was innocent and he didn’t want to set off Beyonce until Joe Camel proves me otherwise.

I’d rather hear anyone sing a version of Alicia Keyes hit “No One.” Online I heard a folk version of it that made me realize that the words took on a whole new meaning with a different style of singing. Then Stevie Wonder sang a cord or two before introducing Alicia, and that sounded amazing. Her version just leaves me flat. I think it’s because she’s shouting, rather than singing. I keep expecting her to burst a vein.

Also, after that manimal print nightmare she wore for a pre-Super Bowl performance and now this at the Grammy’s, Alicia’s batting 0 for 2 in performance outfits this year.

Kanye barking down the “wrap it up” music while he tried to get out how significant this win was for him in light of his mother’s sudden death last year. Given what he went through in 2007 and his past history as the enfant terrible of award shows, this was merely a category one. And I was glad he won. “Graduation” was a good album, but I also didn’t want to hear him pulling any classic Ol’ Dirty Bastard jack moves, shouting Wu-Tang is for the children.

My father really hated the Foo Fighters and Amy Winehouse. He’s old.

Despite being scary skinny, Winehouse had a successful live satellite performance. And by successful, I mean she stayed upright. The situation was ripe for cringe inducing horribleness, but turned out to be only mildly embarrassing as she mimed sexually suggestive moves that were just flat out gross in light of her skinny, trashy look. Vocally she was all over the place. And I still don’t know why they had her sing at all considering the fragile state of her life right now. But her back up dancers/singers were on point.

6 thoughts on “Reflections on the Grammy’s that I Didn’t Plan on Watching

  1. Well, now I’m intrigued…you HAVE TO share the link to that “online folk version” of Alicia’s song! See, generally speaking, I like Alicia Keys, I buy all her albums – but there is something about that song that sets my teeth on edge. If it is simply the delivery, I’d be happy to know that!

  2. I was tooling around on Songza where a guy and a guitar is doing a mashup of Alicia’s “No One” with a track by Jordin Sparks and a touch of Black Eyed Peas “Where is the love.”I don’t like any of those songs, but smooshing Jordin’s lyrics with Alicia’s chorus and adding some Fregie actually made it a much more emotionally compelling song.<A HREF="“ REL=”nofollow”>No OneBut the sing/shouting Alicia does on “No One” is incredibly grating. I hated it from first listen.

  3. Wow – that is REALLY a different take on it. Thanks! On the “Where is the Love” part, does the singer sound almost Tracy Chapmanesque? Or is it just me? For me, the song just always sounded boring. Trite, you know? Like “Here Is The Formula For A Pop Song”. I was shocked when it hit all the Top 10 lists all around. (But maybe that was more about the video…which I did kinda dig.)

  4. I think the video does have a lot to do with it. For Alicia, the song’s pretty pedestrian compared with some of the tracks on her last album. They don’t have to be all home runs, but I feel like “No One” could have been an outtake or a bonus track.Or she could just stop screaming every word like she’s going hoarse.But that acoustic version was very different. I didn’t even recognize any of the songs at first. And the singer does kind of invoke “Fast Car” over “Where is the Love.” It was interesting the way it was layered.

  5. alicia keys makes songs hard for herself. she sounded better on the sinatra tribute than she did on ‘no one’. my friend is going to see her in concert in london next week. her review should be interesting to say the least.

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