Ding! Your popcorn is ready. You pull it out of the microwave (too soon, apparently, because now your fingers have suffered third-degree burns), grab your blanket (or Snuggie – I won’t judge …OK, I might be judging a little), and curl up on the couch. You flick on the TV and—dear God, what is that? Is that a live taping of an exorcism? Why are those half-naked dancers grinding on alter boys? Oh wait, that’s just Nicki Minaj’s new ploy to get people talking.
Whew. I guess pop culture’s unfortunate fascination with strangeness is the price to pay for my eyes now being in as much pain as my fingers.
In case you haven’t guessed, I’m talking about the Grammy Awards. In the past, I used to get so excited to watch the Grammys because I knew how talented all the musicians and singers were, so I knew I was in for a good show. Their talent and stage presence drove the entertainment of the evening, and that was more than sufficient for viewers nationally.
Now, I hold my channel changer at the ready in case Lady Gaga is going to do some weird new blood-spouting, air-spinning, robot-resembling performance that frankly I don’t give an (insert expletive here) about.
I have always had enormous respect for country singers especially, since their songs never fail to tell actual heartfelt stories rather than just blabbing about cars, clubs, and girls, which has been all the rage in the past few years. The 2012 Grammys reaffirmed my love for country music. I was quite happy to see The Band, Perry and Blake Shelton perform with Glen Campbell; music seemed to be a sort of therapy for Campbell’s unfortunate bout with Alzheimer’s, which made for a touching performance. Just when I had thought all emotion was struck from pop music, country singers renewed my faith in humanity. Thank you, country music, for never letting me down.
I was also very pleased to see Carrie Underwood on stage with Tony Bennett. They are both class acts and very well-respected performers, so I was satisfied with the choice to have such a polished country singer perform with such a well-liked and charming crooner. I would have liked to have heard Underwood sing something on her own — perhaps “Remind Me,” her duet with Brad Paisley — since the song “It Had To Be You” isn’t exactly what she’s used to singing. Still, I think she did a great job. And even after all these years, Tony Bennett’s still got it!
Adele was the clear winner of the night, happily running away with six Grammys, including the big three: Best Song and Record of the Year for “Rolling in the Deep,” and Album of the Year for “21.” During her performance of “Rolling in the Deep,” I could hear the difference in her voice since her recovery from surgery on her hemorrhaged vocal cord. And even though her voice was a bit raspy and rang a deeper tone than usual, she still is more talented than 75 percent of the so-called artists out there today. The fact that she came out on stage with just a microphone and sang simply and honestly, barely even gesturing with her hands, speaks volumes about her class and skill.
Bravo, Adele. Keep chasing those pavements, girl, because they’re leading you directly into the hearts of all your listeners.
Adele probably met, or even exceeded, many people’s expectations; other artists, however, did not. Take Rihanna, for example. Her music is very popular across clubs and tops the billboards, which, though I am not the hugest fan of hers, is fine — people can listen to whatever music they want. But if I’m going to be brutally honest, I’ll have to say that at the 54th annual Grammy Awards, she sounded atrocious. I thought someone was strangling a cat outside my window. I literally was seconds away from calling PETA. And I won’t even mention that she looked like Calypso from “Pirates of the Caribbean” (oops, too late).
So Rihanna, with great power comes great responsibility; people are going to be expecting a great performance from you, so please try to polish up before you take the stage at the biggest music award show in America. It’s not exactly a diss, but maybe some advice to heed. So please do.
Because I do not enjoy being negative, I will end this on a high note, both literally and figuratively. First, let me guess: All you’ve been hearing about lately is pop icon Whitney Houston’s untimely death. Sure, towards the end of her career, she wasn’t what she used to be, but in the 1980s, when she was at her peak, she was unbelievably talented. That is the Whitney Houston we should remember today.
I must admit that Jennifer Hudson succeeded at giving an appropriate tribute to Houston in her flawless rendition of “I Will Always Love You.” I had begun to grow quite sick of Hudson after hearing her shriek about suns in the sky on her Weight Watchers commercial, but her beautiful performance permanently struck her from my “Please Shut Up And Sit Down” list. I appreciated how she did not do the song exactly in Houston’s style, but that she also did not go the other extreme by getting too fancy. I hate when people try to color their performances with random high notes and vocal runs, because they usually end up drowning out the true meaning of the song. Luckily, Hudson did not do that. Her performance was tasteful and classy, and I respect her so much more now for that.
Speaking of respect, my opinions of certain people changed or intensified over the course of the evening. Take Dave Grohl, for example. It is very difficult to say something unique in an acceptance speech, but what Grohl stated after Foo Fighters won the Grammy for Best Rock Album for “Wasting Light” had me clapping and cheering from my couch. He said:
“This is a great honor, because this record was a special record for our band. Rather than go to the best studio in the world down the street in Hollywood and rather than use all of the fanciest computers that money can buy, we made this one in my garage with some microphones and a tape machine. To me this award means a lot because it shows that the human element of music is what’s important. Singing into a microphone and learning to play an instrument and learning to do your craft—that’s the most important thing for people to do. It’s not about being perfect, it’s not about sounding absolutely correct, it’s not about what goes on in a computer. It’s about what goes on in here (your heart) and what goes on in here (your head).”
Amen, Dave Grohl. Amen.
But my favorite part of the entire night came after all the awards had been given out. Can you guess what I’m talking about? You’ve got it – Paul McCartney. Sir Paul McCartney, I should say.
His closing performance of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” from the Abbey Road album was just amazing. He has still got his charm, and though he is beginning to sound his age, he still has his pipes! He is the gold standard of songwriting, singing, performing, and showing sheer character that everyone should strive to live up to.
I was so happy to see Joe Walsh, Bruce Springsteen, and Dave Grohl join him on stage to play some hot guitar riffs during the Beatles’ song “The End.” That performance is what the Grammys is all about — amazing performers getting together to have some fun while sharing their talent with each other and the world.
And yes, Chris Farley, it is true: In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make