The Screeching Cat has been on a 2 week hiatus after a near death illness and a short vacation with kids that would have killed a lesser woman. Ok, perhaps I’m exaggerating the deadly parts, but it sure felt like I was knocking on death’s door. Thank goodness he wasn’t home.
I watched the Grammys (shouldn’t that technically be “Grammies”?) last night from start to finish for the first time in my life, and I can pretty much sum up my impressions in one word: “Yawn”. Strange, but awkward staging coupled with strange and awkward pairings of mediocre performances by entertainers who looked like even they were bored with themselves made for a disappointing showing. Even Elton John, the king of showmanship in my opinion, could barely be bothered to put on a sequin jacket and colored sunglasses for either of the performances he was a part of. Yes, I said it…a part of. He accompanied others on their own songs, while Colombian artist Juanes sang one of Elton’s standards; “Your Song” partially in Spanish.
Conspicuously absent from the event was Justin Babyer…err Bieber, who rather than celebrate his fellow artists and their moment in the sun, elected instead to attempt to thwart the Grammy syndication by doing a live streaming show of his own. His attempts to divert the Grammy audience failed miserably as both LiveStream and UStream went over capacity and he ended up posting a partial video instead. I never held the boy in much esteem before, but this little hissy fit over not being nominated for his over-AutoTuned album really shows his true colors, and they are not pretty ones.
Taylor Swift “We Are Never Getting Back Together”
The night started off with the Taylor Swift hit, We Are Never Getting Back Together. It was a lavish production in red and white reminiscent of an Alice in Wonderland/Queen of Hearts extravaganza. Quite a departure from the “girl and her guitar” performance types we are used to seeing from her. From a vocal standpoint, it was ok, a couple of wobbles, but nothing to get snarky about. Of course, the big talk around town is the apparent diss to ex-boyfriend Harry Styles from One Direction when at one point she spoke in a British accent. I like TayTay’s music in general, and this is a fun song to be sure. What I find confusing is that she doesn’t seem to know what kind of artist she wants to be. Country or Pop? Simple singer/songwriter or show-woman extraordinaire?
Ed Sheeran with Elton John “The A Team”
Elton John’s first collaboration of the evening was with up and coming British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran on “The A Team”. Of course, Elton and Ed being the “E” team, singing about the “A” team was a bit ironic or weird. The song came out just fine. Ed and Elton really meshed well vocally, switching places on the melody and harmony fluidly. To me, Elton just looked like he wished he was anywhere else in the world, he seemed so bored.
fun. “Carry On”
Next up was the band fun. with “Carry On” That’s not a typo…that’s how they spell it…small case with a period at the end. I was a little distracted by lead singer, Nate Ruess’s outfit. It wasn’t crazy, but the rubber shirt and seemingly too large shoes paired with what later we understood to be “floods” (look that one up kids), was really distracting. The mid-song rain storm distracted me even further as I waited for the inevitable spark and lighting on fire of one or more band members from the combination of water and electrical equipment. All’s well that ends well. The group survived and went on to take home the Best New Artist award.
Miranda Lambert “Over You” / Dierks Bentley “Home”
The first awkward pairing of the evening came with two artists who I absolutely adore, but…not together. Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley sang their respective hits, “Over You” and “Home” together. While I can appreciate time constraints, these two songs really deserved separate showcases. I’m not sure who was working the sound board, but you could barely hear Miranda’s powerful voice over the music, and Dierks completely drowned her out when he jumped in.
Miguel feat. Wiz Khalifa “Adorn”
I found myself enjoying “Adorn” by Miguel and Wiz Khalifa. I’m not a fan of the genre, but Miguel definitely has some beautiful tones, and the pairing seemed to be genuine and friendly between the two. I know nothing about rap, so I will assume that Wiz did an incredible job, as everyone seemed to enjoy it. It sounded like it worked to me.
Mumford & Sons “I Will Wait”
I found myself almost snoozing through Mumford and Sons’ performance of “I Will Wait”. What I really want to know is who the stage director was for this. Close ups went whizzing by with little to no direction other than left to right, and when they pulled back, I was momentarily blinded by the million watt backdrop unable to see any of the performers. Snore fest for me.
Justin Timberlake “Suit and Tie” / “Pusher Love Girl”
Justin Timberlake was back onstage with two songs from his upcoming album, and they sure didn’t bring sexy back. I love JT, and I’m all for artists stretching themselves, but we have enough Bubles and and Robin Thickes, don’t we? Justin is extraordinary in his niche, and love him to pieces, but he should stay there.
Maroon 5 “Daylight” / Alicia Keys “Girl On Fire”
Someone help me remove this knife from my heart. My beloved Maroon 5 and front man Adam Levine pulled off a very uninspiring and seemingly uninspired version of “Daylight”. It seemed robotic and they appeared bored out of their skulls. Then came the shock and awe. Alicia Keys came in battling some drums for the start to her portion of this “duet?” with “Girl On Fire”. Really? Daylight and Girl On Fire? Together? I don’t know if Alicia was nervous or was vamping, or what, but she seemed extraordinarily awkward. At one point, it seemed that Adam Levine was trying to coach her out of her weirdness. I don’t think she got the memo from the network about covering up, as I was waiting for one of the “ladies” to slip below the black strip covering them at any moment.
Rihanna was up next with “Stay”. I am not shy about my feelings on Rihanna. I don’t like her. I don’t like that she is back with her abuser. I don’t think she can sing. She’s gorgeous, I’ll give her that. However…I will be the first to admit that she did a really solid job on this performance. Maybe with all her kajillions of bucks, she can afford voice lessons now and ease up on the Auto Tune.
The Black Keys “Lonely Boy”
The Black Keys were like a breath of fresh air. Literally. They teamed up with Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Dr. John with an outstanding performance of “Lonely Boy”. I loved, loved loved this, and I had never heard the song before. It’s on my iPod now!
Kelly Clarkson “Tennessee Waltz” / “Natural Woman”
Kelly Clarkson paid tribute to female legends Patti Page and Carole King with “Tennessee Waltz” and “Natural Woman”. Kelly proved she wasn’t just a Simon Cowell manufactured pop diva, giving a stellar vocal on both parts of the combination song. The girl can sing, and sing well!
Bruno Mars, Sting, Ziggy Marley, Rihanna, Damian Marley “Tribute to Bob Marley”
Another tribute, this time to Bob Marley was ushered in by Bruno Mars’ island-ish sounding “Locked Out of Heaven”, ushering in musical heavy weight Sting who basically stood to the side and mumbled the words. I think any of his early Police songs would have been more fitting sound-wise to a Bob Marley tribute than Bruno Mars’ song. Just because the man is from Hawaii, it doesn’t make him from the island. FINALLY some throwback to actual Marley tunes as both Ziggy and Damian Marley joined Rihanna on stage for “Walking On The Moon” and “Could You Be Loved”. It definitely ended better than it started.
The Lumineers “Ho Hey”
I died a thousand deaths when they announced that The Lumineers would be playing. I am so over “Ho Hey”. I would have even preferred Carly Rae Jepsen’s ear worm to this. I don’t know how they did. I assume well. I fast forwarded through it.
Jack White “Love Interruption” / “Freedom at 21″
Jack White. A+ performance all the way. Teaming up with Ruby Amanfu and an all-girl band on “Love Interruption” was stellar..but..wait for it…”Freedom at 21″ blew the roof off the sedate proceedings. The man can rock.
Carrie Underwood “Blown Away” / “Two Black Cadillacs”
Hunter Hayes got to sing about 30 seconds of his song before introducing his headliner, Carrie Underwood. On his performance? It was adequate. But let’s get to the heart of the matter. Carrie. She was flawless on both “Blown Away” and “Two Black Cadillacs”. Simply flawless. My problem with this performance? She seemed stiff, and it wasn’t until about 1/4 way through that we found out why. She had to stand stock still from the bottom down so that roses and butterflies and all manner of things were projected onto her dress. I think someone was channeling their inner Cinna on this one, and not quite coming up to the task.
Zac Brown, Elton John, Mumford & Sons, T Bone Burnett, Brittany Howard, & Mavis Staples “The Weight”
So, the In Memoriam section comes up with a bad PowerPoint presentation of singers, songwriters, producers and attorneys who passed in 2012. Um, did someone forget to mention to the slide maker that Whitney Houston passed last year on the EVE OF THE GRAMMYS??? Barely a mention was made of her passing other than a quick snippet at the front end of the program by host LL Cool J who merely mentioned a “tragedy”. She was not included in the slide show at all, and an all star tribute was given to The Band’s late vocalist and drummer, Levon Helm. It was cool…Elton back looking bored again and mentioning Sandy Hook Elementary more as a “we have to do this because every other award show has done it” attitude than sincerity, but the song was cool. Then came Juanes singing Elton’s “Your Song” as I mentioned earlier. Blah and Blah again.
Frank Ocean “Forrest Gump”
Frank Ocean. Can someone please explain the appeal of this guy to me please? I do NOT get it. His performance of “Forrest Gump” was just plain weird, and maybe I don’t have an ear for “Urban Contemporary” (the new award this year), but honestly…he sounds average at best to me. I am very excited that someone other than Chris Brown won the award, but I think this category seems to be a little underwhelmingly served right now.
LL Cool J with Chuck D, Tom Morello, Travis Barker, and Z-Trip “Whaddup”
Ahhhhhhhh….at last. The end of the show! I can tear myself away from this train wreck now, but not before mentioning a bright note at the end of the dark tunnel. LL Cool J doing his grandpa rap, but doing it soooo well along with Chuck D, Tom Morello, Travis Barker and Z-Trip. Great end to a mediocre show.
I don’t know about you, but after 55 years, you’d think they would get it right.