Sunday, February 13, 2011
2011 Grammy Award Recap
Well, to preface this...it seems typical of award shows that there are less artist nominated for more awards. Its like 20 artist compete over 50 awards... no one leaves empty handed. somehow rappers are in 10 categories cuz they're all pop acts now, these are all signs of a dark day in music. but nonetheless here is my recap of the show...
it kicks off with a tribute to Aretha Franklin, done by Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Martina Mcbride, Florence (without The Machine) and Yolanda Adams others singing some Aretha songs. As the tears pour down Christina's face she belts out for redemption for her super-bowl performance. A Personal favorite though, Jennifer Hudson proves that although she may have shrank, her voice just grows bigger and bigger, she might be able to tour her next album without a microphone.
...Side note: They mention its Mick Jagger's first time on the Grammy stage, I didn't know the grammy's alway had a No british coke head policy, I figured it was put in effect just for Amy Winehouse.
The first televised award of the night is Pop Duo, A Glee song is nominated which now makes it so songs can win grammy's over and over now. The winner though, is Train.. "Hey Soul Sister", the ukulele ballad that brought back there career, which they are being most appreciative of. The speech cut short though by the music coming in cueing Lady Gaga's highly Anticipated Performance of "Born This Way"
The Gaga Freak show starts with her coming outta an updated Egg from the Bad Romance Video, accompanied by backup dancers all sporting yellowish see-thru garbs, To match her own of course. I really don't get this song, or her comparing it to Thriller... But if resembling the Michael Jackson video where he's like dancing in Egypt, that she's accomplished. The songs bridge had a short break where she climbs to an organ to slow the pace of the song for a second, then jumps back down to her dancers who all rip off their clothes and they continue celebrating the fact that their born whatever way they were blah blah blah...
I really hope this first single is not setting the tone of her upcoming album, or upcoming musical trends.
The show comes back with Miranda Lambert, who I'm unfamiliar with. She's got a nomination for the song she's preforming tonight. She's a country starlit who's probably standing in the shadow of Taylor Swift. She though, is singing country about her dog being buried in her back yard and forgetting her roots, while baby pictures are displayed in the background. Not as pretty as taylor swift, which is probably why she opts towards singing genuine country songs rather than about fairly tale high school love.
Lenny Kravitz then comes to the stage briefly to introduce Muse, The show at this point has been 1 award and 3 performances. The Muse preform that single of there's that has taken off...I don't know the name... i just identify it by the "BOW-WOW" noise that abruptly goes through it. The performance has videos of banks falling and a riot going on beneath the artists. The Muse maybe one of the only groups at this event with a message, or a worthwhile message. There performers was pretty awesome overall.
The next performance is to showcase new artist, Bruno Mars, B.O.B, & Janelle Mone. All of which are nominated tonight and have joined forces for a medley starting with "Nothing On You", The rendition is just piano and strings, and is much more appeasing than the original. Then it cuts to a 1950's Black & White T.V interlude to introduce Bruno Mars, preforming a doo-whop version of "Grenade", also better than the original. I do find it really obnoxious for live performances when the camera is set to Black & White though, I understand why they artistically do it...but come'on. It's not the 50's dude, my Tv is color and I prefer it that way. Janelle's part of the set is a lot more animated including her stage diving, and not missing a beat while being carried by the fans.
Finally, an award segment...
Female vocal country up for grabs between Miranda Lambert, Jewel, Leann Rimes, Carrie Underwood, & Gretchen Wilson. (WOW, maybe the industry doesn't recognize taylor swifts latest album as country.) Either way, these country singers are beautiful. I thought Shania Twain was hot 10 years ago...but now country music is just outright sexy. weird. Miranda Lambert won the award though for the song she preformed earlier in the evening.
The show comes back from a commercial break with another performance, this time from Justin Bieber, Usher, & Jaden Smith. They start with Usher & Justin talking about the first time they met and how he got to where he is. Bieber then breaks into preforming "Baby" with just his acoustic guitar. I have to say, I do really admire this kid. he has accomplished a lot at such a young age, and i'm left wondering how much creativity he possesses that isn't being utilized because it may not fit his marketing scheme.
Although, this has completely turned corny with the "Never Say Never" karate kid chinese motif.
Usher then resurfaces to put the nail in the coffin with a performance of "O.M.G", he's been doing the same routine of this track at every award show in the past year, this is when a good manager should tell him this "oh..oh..oh..ohoh...oh oh oh.." while dancing shit isn't cutting it anymore.
Best Rock album is the next award, which of course goes to The Muse, who had some decent competition in the form of Neil Young, Jeff Beck, Tom Petty, & Pearl Jam. It's pretty much assumed though the performers will be the winners. The award show functions more like a showcase nowadays.
They get all the Top 40 radio artist together, with a handful of the greats, have them all preform the songs you've heard all year long and let them thank people. The awards serve as a front for a who's who on the radio concert at this rate.
The award for best pop album of course went to Lady Gaga, the reigning queen of pop music. Gaga now wearing a black outfit making her look like some sort of superhero, who ends her thank you's by thanking Whitney Houston who she says was the inspiring voice for "Born This Way" because she couldn't imagine herself singing it.
Mumford & Sons follow with a performance of banjo rock, that's surprisingly awesome. There was a small bluegrass set up backing them with a horn section. They then go to another band...this must be the solemn rock section of the show. I didn't catch their name, but they aren't as impressive. The legend Bob Dylan comes though to save the day, with both bands backing him up on "Maggie's Farm". Dylan sounds really rough though, like his throat is made of tree bark.
Lady Antebellum pays tribute covering "If You Don't Know Me By Now" before breaking into "American Honey". These guys are one of the best groups to come out recently. There is something really refreshing, honest, and simple about their music. They follow by going into "Need You Now" which was the breakout single that right after won them their first grammy award.
Jamie Foxx comes out to introduce grammy award winner Cee-Lo Green to preform "F*** You", censored of course to "Forget You"... Cee-Lo, taking an outfit from George Clinton has an entourage of muppet like puppets on stage with him. Gwyneth Paltrow joins him on stage in the later part of the song considering her performance of it on Glee was a huge hit. Paltrow who's day job is actress, is upstaging a handful of the actual singers in the room. Maybe her and Chris Martin duet lullabies for Apple & Mosses at night.
Katy Perry who in my opinion had one of the best albums of 2010 with Teenage Dream, starts her performance of "Not Like The Movies" on a swing set, looking beautiful as always. The swing lifts her up as video of her and Russell Brands wedding play in the back. Perry's guest of honor for the night was her grandmother for her 90th birthday who came in matching Armani attire with a bedazzled diamond cane holding her up. Perry then broke into "Teenage Dream" with a very valentines day in vegas-esque set behind her.
Eminem took the stage with Rihanna, Adam Lavine (of Maroon 5), & Dr.Dre. Eminem is the greatest example of an artist having to adjust himself to fit in with an ever changing industry. the new Eminem is pro-collaborating, pro-endorsements, pro-selling out. Not as if Eminem wasn't huge before his hiatus, and he was always a sell-out star. who at least seemed to have a firm stance on what he'd do and wouldn't. Since Rap died, and this bubble gum hip hop took over Eminem had to soften his image. Also the image of his mentor Dr.Dre who joined for "I Need a Doctor" with Skylar Grey. which is the first lead single of the Detox, the doc's long awaited upcoming album. The song is lack-luster and sounds like what it is, an Alex da kid track...Airplanes, Love the way you lie, ect. All over again though.
The award for best new artist goes to Esmeralda Spalding, A Jazz bassist and singer who defeated Justin Bieber for the award. Proving that real music is still recognized over cookie cutter pop. I personally don't like when artist from different genres are pitted against each other. Each genre has its own time, place, & fans, but when they face off I do think the more "musical" compositions should be regarded higher.
John Mayer, Norah Jones, & Keith Urban preformed "Jolene" and announced Dolly Parton's induction into the hall of fame. Then they proceeded to present the song of the year, which again was another score for country music with Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" winning it's second award.
The most comedic part of the show is the head honcho of the Grammy's talking about their foundation and the work they do,the musicians, free speech, pirating music, and such while a background band of jazz musicians play in the back. Then the music cuts, while he starts talking about the economy being horrible but that music will keep going (no, it stopped when you got to the negative stuff). They then go into a video montonge of the musicians and other key players in the industry who have passed in the last year. There unfortunately were too many too count.
This long list of the deceased though was the intro to a man that may live forever Mick Jagger, paying tribute to Solomon Burke. He preformed "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love". Which managed to get the crowd going like he was closing out the show.
I prefer seeing the youngsters honor the legends, granted Jagger is moving' around like he's in his 20's. Legends honoring other legends though always seems a little odd to me. Especially because these seems to be the performances that i'd guess are some network executive's ideas.
Babs, Better known as Barbra Streisand was presented an artist of the year, or lifetime regeconition something or other. They didn't make it too clear, although Stresiand's age now, 68 was clear. She is finally starting to age but manages to retain the voice of an angel.
To follow that up, the bring out two of the shows biggest weirdos Nicki Minaj & Will.I.Am to present best Rap Album of the year. Minaj & Will were just a few of the artist decked out in cheetah print for the ceremony. The winner though, Eminem for his Recovery album. Em, who comes out and thanks the usual suspects Jimmy Iovine, Dr.Dre, and everyone at Interscope for making the record as big as it is.
Rihanna and Drake took the stage together to preform "What's My Name". Rihanna as usual is having her pitch problems. Also known as her real voice, considering most of her recordings she's digitized to perfection. The set on the stage is some sort of weird bond fire with rihanna dressed like a tribal cowgirl.
The Latino super couple Marc Anthony & J.Lo presented record of the year to Lady Antebellum, another one for "Need you Now". This goes to prove you can have a huge cross over single that can go from Top 40, country, rock, & even get played on more urban stations. Its the songs like this one that end up being timeless classics. Although a song like this can cross over into urban music and gain acceptance. An urban song though is less likely cross so many boundaries and still stand the test of time.
Arcade Fire makes their Grammy debut with a performance towards at the end of the show. The Arcade Fire is one of those groups that's hit or miss, like Broken Social Scene. Like all art, some times the more you add to it, the bigger mess your gonna end up with. Artists need to know when enough is enough, and not to noises in there music just because.
I believe all sounds have there place in musical compositions of all sorts. Although some musicians will put stuff into songs that there is no place for, just because they felt like it...not because it improves there creation. Just because they can, this is a typical artistic flaw caused by ego.
Album of the year is the final award, being up for grabs between Katy Perry, Arcade Fire, Eminem, Lady Antebellum, & Lady Gaga. The Arcade Fire won the award and closed the show with an encore. They also pointed out they are from Canada...when Canadians became such a musical force, that i don't know. Between Bieber, Drake, Arcade Fire, and all the other Canadian acts it really makes you wonder what's gonna be the Next Big Thing and where will it come from. Maybe this surge in Canadian artists is like the Brit Rock Invasions, or just coincidence. Who knows.
In closing, the music industry sucks. It wears it on it's sleeve at this point. There's some good mixed in there, and the good got the recognition it deserved. I'm glad to see if there was one act that cleaned house so to speak it was Lady Antebellum.