Last night I parked myself in front of my television to watch all three and half hours of the 54th Grammy Awards. Overall, it was…. meh, with only a few shining moments of brilliance. To me, it seems that every year the producers of the show find it necessary to bring out the oldest and most tired greats of the music industry. Now, I’m not one to deny Paul McCartney’s greatness or Springsteen’s, or Glen Campbell’s, or Tony Bennett’s, or The Beach Boys’, but seriously? If the show wants to stay fresh, they’re going to have to leave the old folks in their homes. Onto the performances….
Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band opened the show with a brand new song of theirs called “We Take Care of Our Own”. Now, I appreciate The Boss on occasion (I’ve been known to rock out to a little “Born in the USA”) but playing a song I’ve never heard of, the aging rocker looked just that, aged. It was boring and felt completely irrelevant.
Bruno Mars was up next with a rousing rendition of his throwback tune “Runaway Baby”. I must say that I loved this performance even though it wasn’t one of his huge hits (Grenade, Just the Way You Are, etc.) The dude can put on a show. His voice sounded crisp and his dancing was sharp (especially loved the mini James Brown tribute). I loved the solid gold set and the shout for everyone to “get off their rich asses” and dance. Bruno had a monster year, and this was a fitting way to cap it.
Next up was the return of Chris Brown. Now I’m not going to sit here and say that we should forget what he did 3 years ago, or that spew that “everybody makes mistakes” crap. But I do believe that Brown will never harm another woman again. I do believe that he paid his debt to society. I do believe that he has an enormous amount of talent and that he is a good thing for the music industry. Chris is perhaps the best dancer in the pop circuit right now. I also happen to love the songs he put out last year. This performance was fine. It was uncontroversial and straightforward. He did what he always does. I would have loved a little more pizazz, but I’ll take it.
Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson performed a duet of “Don’t You Wanna Stay”. To answer, no, I do not. This number pissed me off for multiple reasons. One: I love both of these guys. Aldean has one of the biggest if not the biggest country hit last year with “Dirt Road Anthem“. Clarkson’s song “Stronger” is currently the number one song in the nation. Why the hell are they singing this clunker? Two: the potential here was so, so high. We could have gotten two stand out numbers from two industry veterans who know how to put on a show. Instead, we get the most forgettable performance of the night from two artists who, frankly, deserve better. Shame on you Grammy producers, SHAME!
The Foo Fighters were next with a rendition of their hit “Walk”. I generally like the Foo Fighters; I appreciate their authenticity in an industry that lacks it. I’m not a huge rock person, but I must say that I always tend to enjoy their performances. It was like they were just playing in their garage. Not much else to say…
Rihanna and Coldplay were next up. Rihanna started off singing the biggest hit of 2012 so far, “We Found Love”. I absolutely adore this song and the Barbados beauty did not let me down. I loved the haunting opening and the rousing dance portion. I thought she sounded and looked great. Well done. Next, she joined Chris Martin to sing a little bit of their collaboration called “Princess of China”. I happen to really enjoy the song and I understand why they did it together, but it just didn’t seem right for the venue. In that same vein, after the duet, Martin joined his band to perform “Paradise”. What a bad choice by the band. This was not the place for that song. I was praying they would do “Every Tear Drop is a Waterfall“. That is a song for the Grammy stage. This fell flat.
The Beach Boys Tribute was up next. First, let me just say that The Beach Boys are one of my all-time favorite bands. I grew up listening to “California Girls” and “Surfin’ USA” on the way to summer camp, so the nostalgia factor here is super high. I think that Maroon 5 and Foster the People did an admirable job. I thought they sounded great but that their choice of song let them down. The Beach Boys songbook is chock full of hits, and the two bands chose two low tempo, forgettable tunes. But when the band themselves came on stage to perform “Good Vibrations”, I couldn’t have cared less about the others on that stage
It was Taylor Swift‘s turn next. She was introduced by the folk duo The Civil Wars, who happen to collaborate with Taylor on a song for The Hunger Games soundtrack called “Safe and Sound“. The song is one of my current favorites and all of you guys need to check it out. Onto the performance. Taylor did her rendition of “Mean”, a song she wrote after her Grammy performance in 2010 with Stevie Nicks was ripped apart by a journalist who, up until then, had praised her. The critic was unnecessarily harsh and at times downright cruel. To see Taylor up on the stage again signing her heart out was sweet vindication. I will be a Swift fan until I die, and in my books, she can do no wrong.
Katy Perry took the stage next, to perform what seemed, at first, to be her hit “E.T.” But then the music stopped and the real Katy Perry descended from the rafters to sing her brand new song “Part of Me”. So, um, her hair was really blue, and her costume was really tight… Yeah, I got nothing. Cookie Cutter Pop.
Yet another tribute was next. This time to the country music legend Glen Campbell. The two acts on hand were Best New Artist nominee The Band Perry and current judge on The Voice, Blake Shelton. Again, disappointment abounds for me because this year was an absolute break out year for both artists, especially The Band Perry and their huge crossover hit, “If I Die Young“. I was praying they would be able to perform it, but, alas, no. They were forced to do a dreary cover of some long-forgotten hillbilly ditty. The same could be said for Shelton. The most enjoyable part of the performance was actually when the man himself came out to sing “Rhinestone Cowboy”. The guy knows how to work a room. The other acts were not necessary, and should have gotten a performance of their own.
Last night was worth it for one reason and one reason only, we witnessed the emergence of the next Queen of music. As the music world mourned the loss of Whitney Houston, it seemed like Adele was primed and ready to take her place. This performance was iconic. A couple of months ago, Adele was faced with the very real possibility that she would never sing again. But after risky throat surgery and weeks upon weeks of silence, Adele finally let it rip on the biggest stage in the world. And boy was it magnificent. This performance will be remembered for years and years to come. The standing ovation was never-ending and the young star looked into the vast crowd with amazement. The industry has found their next titan.
This one hurt. Why, Nicki, why? After the amazing year she had, Minaj chooses to celebrate it like this? This lame GaGa ripoff, this pathetic attempt at controversy, this desperate cry for attention, this self-indulgent crap? Really?!? Ugh. “Romans Revenge” is a song no one knows other than her die hard fans, and, it isn’t mainstream enough to be a hit, so why bother? She should have gone up there with some cute back up dancers and rapped her heart out to “Super Bass“, then maybe Rihanna could have joined her for a bit of “Fly“. Nicki Minaj‘s album is full of catchy and infectious rap tunes that show off her considerable talent. Nicki beat the boys this year and promoted girl power and fun. Her perfomance as her male alter-ego Roman was a slap in the face to fans like me. She doesn’t need the spectacle and the gimmicks, her rapping skills are incredibly impressive. I hope the backlash to this performance reaches her ears and she never attempts something like this again.
Jennifer Hudson did her idol proud last night. That was simply beautiful. Other than Adele, this was the highlight of the night. Hudson may not have the same chops as Whitney, but she re-imagined the song in her own way and it was a fitting tribute. I think it was a smart decision for her not to attempt the key change, that belongs to Whitney, but Jennifer nonetheless smacked it out of the park and got a well-deserved standing ovation.
P.S. I’m not going to comment on Paul McCartney’s two performances because, well, I fell asleep during the first one. Seriously, I have no idea what happened… and the second one was, well, I don’t want to incur the wrath of a billion Beatles fans today. Lets just say that he is a legend, I forever love the Beatles, but next year do us all a favor and stay home.
P.P.S. That dance music number…. still not over it. *Grabs more tissues*