If you are like most Americans, then you probably didn’t watch the 49th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday evening. So, here is a wrap-up of all the self-congratulations you missed.
The show opened on a promising note when the heavily pre-publicized Police reunion rocked “Roxanne”â€”only to be ruined by Jamie Foxx’s horrible jokes and ego before going on to give Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder the Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration. A shocker came when the legend that is Tony Bennett thanked Target Superstores in his acceptance speech. This actually got me thinking about the wonderful songs that were going to be ruined tonight, not on the stage, but in the products being forced on me during the commercials. So, here is my 2007 Grammy Commercial Song Brutalization Sub-Wrap-Up:
* Beatles sold me Target
* Iron Butterfly let me know about Fidelity Investments
* Jimi Hendrix pushed a Verizon phone on me
* Iggy Pop wanted me to take a cruise
* A bizarre rewrite of â€œWraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Gamesâ€ by Of Montreal told me to go to Outback Steakhouse tonight
* Squeeze â€œtemptedâ€ me to drink Heineken
* The Spencer Davis Group and Dennis Hopper explained retirement opportunities in an Ameriprise commercial
* And a perfect prophetic bookend, Barry Mann’s â€œShape of Things to Comeâ€ was brought to me by Target
Back to the show, I was almost done with my first Fat Tire Beer, I don’t recommend watching award shows without strong drink, when the Dixie Chicks took the stage and performed well. Nothing I couldn’t see anywhere else.
Prince then got paid way too much and I am sure was given a very ample presenter’s swag basket for saying the one word: BeyoncÃ©. She was very boring, except for the sheer backlit dress she wore, in what one could call a Steven Spielberg-directed songâ€”as in, you saw it coming from a mile away, it built to a predictable climax, and it left the viewer pretty hohum.
The Black Eyed Peas sauntered on-stage, Fergie’s face looked like it had been pulverized by a meat tenderizer and, in a show of just how quickly Hollywood is running out of unique fashion ideas, one of the members of BEP painted his right ear a silver diamond shimmer. Booker T. and the MG’s won a lifetime achievement award, one of many lifetime achievement awards to be handed out that night. Mary J. Blige won for Best Breakthrough R&B Performance and gave a rambling acceptance speech.
Queen Latifah came out and let us know that the Grammys had been turned into a reality TV show by having three â€œunknownsâ€ compete to perform with Justin Timberlake. The viewers at home were going to vote on who they think should win. We were given a one second sound bit of each girl and were somehow suppose to decipher their talents based on that. Yet, we saw their pictures while the voice over explained what was going on. Therefore, proving once again it ain’t your voice they’re looking for.
Justin Timberlake then introduced himself, in what seemed like the first of eight times he would perform that night. Which was kind of ironic that he was the star of the Grammys, yet he didn’t win a single televised Grammy. In Justin’s pre-taped introduction of himself he explained how the song he was about to sing is his best and most personal BECAUSE A FRIEND OF HIS WENT THROUGH THE THEMES THE SONG TALKS ABOUT. And no, it’s not a death of a loved one, the political turmoil in Africa, or even stolen credit card identity. It was about losing a girl. For his second songâ€”yes, the Police got one and J.T. got twoâ€”Justin sang to himself through the fish-eye lens of a digital camera, making him look more like a strung-out teenager than his character in Alpha Dog ever could.
Pink and T.I. let us know that The Doors won a lifetime achievement award. And then Mary J. Blige won again for Female R&B artist and kept her speech very short, making up for her last one. Stevie Wonder then introduced a three way between John Legend, John Mayer and Corinne Bailey Rae. He did point out the fact that they were competing against one another yet playing together. What kind of a business is this where special attention has to be made when three people can set their egos aside and play together? I, and most of America, have to set my ego aside everyday when I go to work. Corinne Bailey Rae performed well, and so did John Legend. John Mayer, on a very perverse other hand, looked like he was physically masturbating on stage. He is a breathtaking guitar player, but he knows it and it makes me sick. I can type 80 words a minute when I am in the groove, but I don’t make orgasmic faces when I do it. Lo and behold, he wins the Best Pop Vocal Album and comes on stage looking like Edward Scissorhands. He mumbles a few words and walks away. Thanks for that, John.
Finally, an actual highlight. Shakira and Wyclef Jean performed â€œHips Don’t Lieâ€ and, God forbid, actually looked like they were enjoying themselves. Shakira had an honest smile on her face as she hula-ed all over the stage and she was having fun. Wyclef resembled a drunken uncle at the family picnic when the kids put on music.
Seal and the corpse of Burt Bacharach (I spelled that right on the first try, no foolin’) gave the Industry Icons Award to Jerry Moss and Herb Alpertâ€”the Tijuana Brass will have to wait. Then, as a sign of things to come, the Dixie Chicks won their first award for Song of the Year. They had a small percentage of America watching, the floor was theirs, and they blew it. I didn’t expect them to say anything about Bush but they just giggled and tossed their hair. It was a very empty speech.
In a CBS plug, the gals from How I Met Your Mother gave The Grateful Dead a lifetime achievement award. I’m pretty sure I won a Lifetime Achievement Award at some point in the night. This brings me to a point. These artists like The Doors (most of whom are alive) and The Grateful Dead (most of whom are alive) and the others who won lifetime awards didn’t perform. Shouldn’t they be honored by playing for all of America? Then Gnarls Barkley played “Crazy” in the subdued manner I have seen seven other times. For once in my life, I would like a curtain to drop and NOT have a choir hidden behind it.
Common and Kayne West had a bit about Kanye’s ego then gave Ludacris Rap Album of the Year. Terrence Howard, who sounds like he is perpetually about to cry, gave Maria Callas a Lifetime Achievement Award and introduced Mary J. Blige. She was unbelievable, blowing away BeyoncÃ©’s performance; few would challenge the soul and emotion that she released on the stage that night.
Mandy Moore, Luke Wilson and LeAnn Rimes gave The Dixie Chicks their next award. Again, they just thanked Rick Rubinâ€”who, if I am not mistake, produced every album recorded last yearâ€”and giggled. The short, chubby one did Nelson’s laugh from The Simpsons, I guess in response to everyone who burned their CD, but the joke was lost. The tall one said she has no regrets, but still, they had a forum to perhaps change the minds of the old fans and decided not to use it.
Carrie Underwood and Rascal Flatts performed a tribute to Bob Wills and the Eagles. Carrie kept it very simple, singing a wonderful version of “Rose of San Antonio”. Rascal Flatts decided to kill “Hotel California” and “Life in the Fast Lane”. Carrie carried the performance with “Desperado”.
Ornette Coleman was given a Lifetime Achievement Award and Carrie Underwood won Best New Artist. Then a perfect metaphor for what is wrong in music today came on stage. Smokey Robinson performed “Take a Good Look at My Face”, which I did, and it scared me. His face was pulled so tight he constantly looked surprised and/or possessed. His voice, however, was perfect. Then Lionel Richie sang “Hello”, just alone at a piano. Two wonderful masters of music singing their best songs. To end this musical montage of greatness, Chris Brown charged on stage in a plume of smoke, glided down a slide, â€œstomped the yardâ€, and jumped on a trampoline. He sang for less than a minute. He had a gaggle of friends on stage jumping around, the stairs were flashing, and smoke bombs were going off; music was the background noise of this performance.
An orange Christina Aguilera, and I can’t believe I am saying this, stole the show with a passionate “It’s a Man’s World”, James Brown tribute. I was honestly speechless, she was honoring before parodying, and making a tribute not a comparison. She still looks like a transvestite though.
Moving on, there was the In Memory list were you find out how successful you were in life by a simple equation of If They Used A Sound Clip + Length of Screen Time + Placement Near End Of Montage. This year’s winner was James Brown and in a goose bump moment, a tuxedoed man came on stage and placed the glittered cape over a solitary microphone.
Ludacris performed “Runaway Love” with Mary J. Blige and Earth, Wind and Fire. I was blown away. I had never heard this song before, so I may be biased, but it was past the time for a male rapper to sing a song about the need for females to get strong; to not be objects any longer.
James Blunt then performed and sucked any life Ludacris may have breathed into the auditorium. During the commercial break, Prince thanked America for watching him perform at the Super Bowl. I am so confused, a joke can’t even form.
Robin won the silly little contest and performed with Justin Timberlake. She was talented, but there was too much confidence and stage presence to make me believe that she was just some unknown. The only unprofessional part about her was that she didn’t take into account that she would be singing on a catwalk in such a short skirt. The miscreants pressed against the stage tried their best for a good look.
The Dixie Chicks won Record of the Year and then they went to commercial promising a Chili Peppers performance everyone would be talking about tomorrow. If by talking about how lame it was, then they were right. One of the most hard-rocking, senseless, passionate bands in history plays a slow ballad and at the end a lot of ticker tape falls from the sky.
The ceremony is slowly deflating as the Red Hot Chili Peppers win for Best Rock Album. Don Henley’s hair and Scarlett Johansson’s cleavage gave the Dixie Chicks Album of the Year. But do not fret, for Scarlett Johansson is in studio creating her first masterpiece.
How do I wrap this up? The actual awards were boring, the live performances were above average if not actually entertaining, but there were no surprises. Television award shows are safe now. Short of The Police, no classic musicians played, the classics were covered and destroyed, but why not just have the greats perform? Why not bring on Neil Young or Elvis Costello? They were, in fact, both nominated. The producers can’t understand why no one watches these self-congratulatory ceremonies and it is because I can go on YouTube and watch Carrie Underwood sing her song in the same manner and style she did tonight without the filler. What we need is the inimitable moments of musical realization that only a live performance can offer. We need a reason to tune in and this year, as with most award shows in most years past, did not provide us with one. I will not accept the fact that just because they are performing I should tune in. I will also not consent to paying fifty dollars to see them, barely, in concert and have them stand on stage for an hour playing worse than their album sounds. I’ll save what that is for my next article.