The Grammy’s happened on Sunday night. In terms of awards shows, The Grammys actually rank fairly low. I mean, some people live and die by the Oscars, and every fan of The Great White Way believes in the power of the Tony, but most music heads look at the Grammys with (at best) slight curiosity and indifference, and (at worst) outright scorn. So let’s kick off with seeing how I did on my predictions.
Short answer: I did just as well as Eminem did. Horribly.
My gravest miscalculation was the complete and utter lack of faith I have in Lady Antebellum’s tear in the beer “Need You Now”, which took home Record and Song of the Year. Best New Artist went to Esperanza “Not Justin Goddamn Bieber” Spalding, who is apparently a capable jazz musician. Outside Lady Antebellum, there weren’t many repeat winners, save The Black Keys, who won Best Rock Performance, Best Alternative Album, and Best Recording Package. I was able to call Lady Gaga’s two wins; Best Short Form Music Video and Best Pop Album with Vocals for The Fame Monster, so that’s consoling.
Then there’s the big’un, Album of the Year. This year’s AOTY nominees were a pretty interesting snapshot of the big guy’s perspective on modern music. You have the “Aw, shucks” earnest group of Nashville country kids (Lady Antebellum), the out of this world megastar (Lady Gaga), the shoe-in “This is what’s cool, right?” indie rock band (Arcade Fire), the #1 hitmaker (Katy Perry), and the veteran staging a comeback (Eminem). A gross oversimplification, but interesting none the less. And I could have seen anyone with this one; Lady Gaga or Eminem if the Grammy voters wanted to give an artist “their due” from prior snubs, Arcade Fire getting it to “validate” indie’s place in music, Lady Antebellum just to diffuse everybody, or Katy Perry just to give us all the finger for piracy. Then this happened.
In a moment that the usually uber-detached and snarky Pitchfork accurately described as “Holy shit!”, Arcade Fire walked away with Album of the Year for The Suburbs (which also got my #1 spot for top albums of the year). Congrats, guys. Even if no one knows who you are.
Sunday’s broadcast dedicated most of its airtime to live performances from artists across the spectrum. The most colorful (no pun intended) performance was Cee-lo Green decked out in a full Elton John meets the chicken coop outfit with Jim Henson puppets for a crazy awesome “Fuck You!” that even Gwneth Paltrow could ruin. B.o.B, Bruno Mars, and Janelle Monae went in on an awesome medley of “Nothin’ On You”, “Grenade”, and “Cold War”, proving that each of these up and coming stars are filled with potential.
Other standouts were more surprising. This year’s “what the hell?” collaboration of
a pirate John Mayer, Norah Jones, and Keith Urban on Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” went better than it ever had the right to. Mumford and Sons and The Avett Brothers had surprisingly solid performances before wetting themselves while on-stage with Bob Dylan for “Maggie’s Farm”. And Mick Jagger got to parade all over “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” as a tribute to the late Solomon Burke.
But it wasn’t roses for everyone. Katy Perry went through a limp performance of “Not Like the Movies”, a song so empty and boring I’m surprised it’s not called “Jar of Hearts”. Justin Bieber’s finally getting too old looking for this his marketed image, and putting him on stage against Usher did the kid no favors in terms of stage presence or dance steps (although Bieber does show promise in those areas). Barbra Streisand’s performance was the extended pee break of the night. Also, Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” performance felt eerily run of the mill.
Overall, this year’s Grammy show was a fairly entertaining (and finally fulfilling) night. Even if I did guess damn near everything wrong.