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Monday, February 11, 2008

Jill Does the Grammys: An Exhaustive, Painstakingly Long Recap

Dear Grammys,

It was your 50th birthday last night and you decided to celebrate. You prettied up the Staples Center, you filled a lot of the seats with your brethren from the WGA, and you started a show that had I not been watching with someone else, I would have avoided all together. Not because I don't like you. No, not true. I don't really like you. You have a tendency to pick the obvious, popular choices, rather than dig really deep for things of quality. You gave Ludacris a Grammy when it should have gone to Lupe Fiasco. You keep on nominating American Idol winners. I don't have a love affair with you the way I do the Oscars, so I avoid you like the plague because a girl can only watch Maroon 5 win for a really old album so many times. I avoid because you don't really "know" the music of your industry; it seems to have moved on without you and I'm sorry it has, because there's nothing worse than being behind the times.

You showed a little promise there at the beginning, starting with Frank Sinatra talking about how "a record can do anything." It was a nice start; who doesn't love (or at least appreciate) The Chairman of the Board?

Then you have you go and ruin it with Alicia Keys. Doing a video duet. With Sinatra.

"Oh god. Oh. God."
"Is that Alicia Keys?"
"Forward. Forward."

Thanks for the really bad flashbacks of Nat King and Natalie Cole doing "Unforgettable", Grammy Academy. I thought I'd burned that from my memory.

The mission remains the same, you tell me, Grammy Academy. Your mission remains the same: to keep on giving us the more popular, sometimes horrible music, vote as a guidepost to our listening needs. Thanks for that. I don't follow it, but lots of people do.

It's all personal opinion, Grammy Academy. Some of it isn't nice. A lot of it is funny. I amuse myself, what can I say? A lot of my comments are deserved. You can weather it...


On with it...

"Hey. It's Carrie Underwood and Stomp. Or Stomp wannabes." It's the paranoid girl song! Nothing says love and trust like destroying someone's car for no reason just because you're positive he's going to cheat on you. I really want Carrie Underwood to trip coming down those stairs. I thought she was wearing a wig but was informed that "That's how Country hair looks." Here's the best thing about "Before He Cheats": while it's supposed to be this girl-power, take charge anthem for the modern women in a redneck kind of way, it was written by two men.

The announcer comes on and declares Prince a winner of the Male R&B Vocal Performance. Wait. Shouldn't that be nominee? We think this is a mistake on her part. About an hour later we realized that it wasn't a mistake, it just wasn't an award they chose to broadcast. If I wanted to know who won what, I realized, I'd have to pay attention to the poorly put together ticker that zipped through awards going into commercial breaks. How do you skip Male R&B and give us Female R&B?

Prince comes out to give the award for Female R&B Vocal Performance and let me just say, the color red works for him. The winner: Alicia Keys for "No One". And there she is, still backstage after her duet with The Chairman of the Board, throwing the fake "Oh. Did I win?" look to the camera.

Jimmy Jam. Jimmy Jimmy Jam. Striding up on stage looking like a mobster of some sort. Chairman of the board for the Recording Academy. You're going to launch into a speech, aren't you? My finger is poised to forward but...but...Oh. HELLO. It's Morris Day and the Time. Do you think they had to rehearse those moves? I bet they didn't. I bet Morris Day has those down for life. What an unexpected surprise, Morris Day and the Time...oh. Jeez. Loud sigh. Why do you have to ruin Morris Day and The Time with Rhianna? WHY? "Ella, ella, ella, ella..." the woman drags out the word umbrella like there's no tomorrow. It's a crime against humanity.

Tom Hanks. Why is Tom Hanks at the Grammys? Oh. Right. The Recording Academy supports their brothers in the WGA and actors were given permission to cross the picket line to attend. The Band. Getting a Life Time Achievement Award. Only Forrest Gump would get excited about The Band; "The Band" he points. He keeps pointing. What's he pointing at? It's not like they're there. Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm HATE each other; there's no way they're there to accept an award together. Not only that, they aren't letting Lifetime winners give speeches this time around, which I'm not opposed to. It just cuts down on the unnecessary chatter.

Still with Tom Hanks. Moving on to The Beatles. Blah blah blah. Love Yoko Ono's top hat. Could Forrest Gump use any more Beatles song titles in a clever way? "Their music sparked a Revolution." Seriously, knock it off, Tom. More groaning on my part; I'm not a Beatles fan. They're on my overrated list. But the crowd? And Forrest Gump? They're ALL OVER the Beatles. Maybe they're bored like I am.

It's been like 20 minutes and I'm ready to watch the newest episode of House I've been saving on my Tivo. (What? Wilson is dating Cutthroat Bitch. This is monumental.)

Does anyone like Cirque de Soleil anymore? Isn't that strictly a Vegas thing now? I'm annoyed. I want to forward. "No. I like it. It's very calming." Cancel the forwarding. How very Wizard of Oz house swirling in a tornado. I'm blocking out the music but I'm watching the action. I'm mesmerized. This is worse than Carrie Underwood and Rihanna combined. You know what would be fantastic? If there was a malfunction and that VW Bug just lurched forward and killed people.

Pity. It wasn't even a real car. It was people disguised as a car. It was a nice fantasy while it lasted.

ITS NOT OVER. STILL MORE BEATLES. "Would you rather listen to The Wall?" Good point. "Let It Be" is so painful. What is that kid? Like 12? Man, I was looking forward to some Gospel. It's a Gospel choir. I didn't know it was going to be "Let It Be."

"She looks like the lady from the Guiness Book of World Records that could shoot her eyes out like 8 milimeters. I swear."

Comic relief. It helps. I. Wanted. Gospel. Not some circus freaks and the eye lady. Peace signs? I'm shocked. Cue the Obligatory Standing Ovation. (OSO count: 1)

OMG! It's Hannah Montana! Hannah! Is she going to be in 3D? That would be cool. And Cyndi Lauper. Is that her real hair color? I know that's not Hannah Montana's real hair color. Leather? Lace? Isn't she like 50 something? And clearly, she loves Hannah Montana. Best New Artist Awarded: Amy Winehouse. I am SHOCKED.

I'm not, really. Bring back Hannah Montanna. It doesn't demand rocket science to figure out Amy Winehouse was going to be crowned the Best New Artist. Of her competition, she was clearly the best and Paramore had no chance.

"Jason Bateman? What?" He's really not that funny. "Greatest band in the land?" The Foo Fighters? Really, Jason Bateman? Let me get this straight. The Foo Fighters + John Paul Jones + the My Grammy people? In a collaborative effort outside the Staples? With voting?

Favorite Grammy moment 1: "Lazy over here in the chair." Tara Klein with her Cello. Jason Bateman was funny! I'm texting 3 right now.

Ooh. It's Kanye West time. Those sunglasses? Fresh. (Yes, fresh.) The beginning of "Stronger" is like a Goth remix. I like it. In the dark, those things behind him look like Kryponite, lending a Superman-esque air to Kanye West suggesting that he can in fact do anything. Kanye West performance irritation: Why edit a song. Aren't you supposed to embrace and support your artists? Aren't you supposed to be against censorship of any sort? I like the "blonde dyke" line. I didn't really realize it at first, but halfway through the song it occured to me Daft Punk was in that Pyramid. Compared the last few performances that Pyramid looks quaint and inviting. More live acts should wear helmets. The song about Kanye's mother is so very sweet but bring Daft Punk. Didn't she die from a Lipo treatment? Or during one?

OSO count: 2 (because of course you're going to give a standing O after a song about someone's mother like that.)

And we fast forward through Fergie and John Legend. I'm going to guess this is a really good idea. John Legend is okay, but I do try to avoid Fergie when at all possible. There isn't an expensive enough dress in the world to make her look good. Compilation Soundtrack Album for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media, the award. Dreamgirls? Really? Didn't she win an Oscar for that like 2 years ago? Why did they even put Dreamgirls in there? And Hairspray? (Group singalong to the Hairspray clip, because you know, you can't stop the beat.) They put the Beatles in there so you know nothing else had the chance of winning, not even a soundtrack from a movie made 2 years ago.

(And if you're wondering, Dreamgirls did actually win a Grammy. Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. I guess there wasn't a Beatles song on that list they could give it to.)

Cher? That's Cher??

Beyonce and Tina Turner. Teaming up for "Proud Mary." I wish I had Beyonce's legs. "I hope Tina doesn't fall and break her hip." Do you notice they don't really show Tina dancing with Beyonce? Watching Tina is painful, almost like watching Axl Rose now. It's like Beyonce is doing the classic "Proud Mary" performance with the short dress, the legs, the dance moves and Tina is doing the karaoke version. I was really hoping the word "upgrade" would come into play when Beyonce was on stage. Oh, and thank you Beyonce for clearly lip-syncing. I knew you couldn't dance and sing like that at the same time.

Why did they bring the chick from CSI onto the stage with Andy Williams and Nelly Furtado if they weren't going to let her speak?

OSO count: 3

Song of the Year: "Rehab". Again, are you shocked? I'm not. It's a great song. It's better than The Foo Fighters and we all know it's better than "Umbrella." I like Justin Timberlake but "Rehab" really is the best out of all of them. She's a total trainwreck, but she can sing. Also, I just realized, that by the way they are hyping Amy Winehouse's upcoming performance, she'd had better kill someone or shoot up or have a nervous breakdown right there on stage.

The Eagles? Country? Really? Since when? Brooks and Dunn, Emerson Drive, The Time Jumpers. Montgomery Gentry. All Country. The Eagles? Not so much. Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals for those of you who are wondering.

3 didn't win. Darn. I would have watched had 3 won, but it's the Foo Fighters. It's an instant fast forward.

George Lopez. Oh. That's right. The picket line thing. What a lame political joke. And thanks, George, for pointing out that everyone is a Grammy winner tonight. Being nominated is an honor and while techinically, in some sense, that does make you a winner, but if you aren't going home with a statue, winner you aren't.

Could Brad Paisley have his shirt unbuttoned any more than he does? Whoah. Let's back up here. Am I hearing this right? These are the best lyrics ever.

cause I'd like to see you out in the moonlight
I'd like to kiss you way back in the sticks
I'd like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
and I'd like to check you for ticks
I'll keep you safe you wait and see

the only thing allowed to crawl all over you

when we get there is me

you know every guy in here tonight

would like to take you home but
I've got way more class than them

Wanting to check a girl for Ticks really doesn't say classy, does it?

Chris Brown: Prince could do red. You can't. Please don't talk Akon, please. Your voice pains me. Wow. I actually like all the albums this year. Who's doing that obnoxious Indian wild call in the audience? Best Rap Album: Kanye West's Graduation. What's his head say? Oh. Mama. You know, I like Kanye West. I really do. I think he's a genius when it comes to producing. I think he's so far out of the reach of other rappers in terms of some of the things he comes up with. I can pretty much not pay attention to his ego...but...come on. "I told Common you can't drop an album the same year as me. This is my award." How obnoxious can you get?

Come on, Grammy Academy orchestra. You have that "stop talking and take your exit music" for a reason. Just because Kanye West was going on about his mother doesn't mean you have to stop playing it when he throws out a comment about your being disrepectful. Not once, but twice. It's your job to cut those speeches down. You totally blow by caving and stopping so he could prattle on; I would have paid you to increase the sound until he left the stage. "We run this." When did he turn into a Black Panther?

Luda can dress. I appreciate this. Finally some Gospel. I've edited out a comment that made me laugh so hard I got dizzy. Boring Gospel. Moving on...but, Aretha, that dress? NO.

Hey. It's Carol King. She's super short. Again with an outfit that's too young for her. All kinds of Lifetime winners. Can I just point out that that's about the 50th flash of Carrie Underwood in the audience and she looks bored? Can I point out she's not the only one? Seems to be there's an awful lot of Lifetime winners...I thought the Grammy's was an awards show and not a tribute show.

"1234". Feist. NO. I can't watch her. It's something about her mouth. I almost missed Keely Smith forwarding through Feist. (I will be honest...I really was only watching for Keely Smith.) Keely Smith is a Jazz icon and one of my favorites, what can I say? Um. Oh man. Why do you do this, Recording Academy, why? Keely Smith with Kid Rock? WHY WHY WHY? Is he flirting with her? You know, dude could have learned the lyrics to "That Old Black Magic." Seriously. It wouldn't have been difficult.

You know, you let Alicia perform with Frank via video, why couldn't you let Keely perform with her husband, the late great Louis Prima, via video? At least then someone would have gotten the lyrics correct.

"Hey. It shows diversity."
"Dude could have learned the lyrics."

Poor Keely. She looks so uncomfortable standing there with The Foo Fighters, winners of Best Rock Album for Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace. Why do the wives/girlfriends/mothers/sisters/escorts always look so shocked when there's a win? More so than the people who actually win? While I was surprised to Wilco on that list, did they or anyone else really expect them to win? Daughtry is a joke, Springsteen is just a sentimental favorite. John Fogerty had no chance as did Wilco. Echoes wasn't really an album I enjoyed (clearly) but of the ones it was up against, it was clearly the best.

Do you realize that Stevie Wonder does a better Alicia Keys than Alicia Keys does? And does she really have to perform again? With John Mayer? Couldn't we let Stevie Wonder sing "No One" instead?

Dave Stewart and Ringo Star? They love Country music. I'm just not buying that. I'm not speaking for them, but I venture to guess they like some Country songs and artists, but have the love for Country they're proclaiming? I bet not. This turns out to be my second favorite part of the entire broadcast. Vince Gill wins the Best Country Album award. "I just got an award given to me by a Beatle. Have you had that happen yet, Kanye? ... Just kidding."

I had to rewind that. Did I just hear that? I did. Let me repeat it: "I just got an award given to me by a Beatle. Have you had that happen yet, Kanye? ... Just kidding." That has to be the best diss on Kanye West ever. And on live television to boot. You should have ditched the golf shirt, Vince, but I can let that go because you just made me laugh really hard.

Hey. It's Joan of Arcadia's dad. We're heavy on the Jazz this evening and the Lifetime awards. I am a Jazz fan, so I'm enjoying it. It's really quite a nice break from the monotomy that is the Grammy's. Really, though, with the Lifetime awards. Have a seperate show for that and show us some of those categories you missed in favor of short, uninsightful blurbs about your Lifetime winnes.

Another whoah moment. My third favorite moment of the entire show. "Rhapsody in Blue." Really? I'm so shocked/excited I can't even come up with commentary. I just have to watch. Lang Lang and Herbie Hancock? I'm hyperventilating here.

"Beef. It's what's for dinner."
"That's Aaron Copeland."
"What was this? Cheese?"
"No. It was American Airlines."

Because, clearly, we only know our classical pieces by food and airline commercials.

OSO: 4. I wanted to give it one but I couldn't bring myself to get up off the floor.

Rap/Sung Collaboration: "Umbrella" Rihanna with Jay-Z. She really bugs me. That song isn't that great and it's certainly overplayed. Even she should recognize that. And did she really just put her hand in Jay-Z's face to silence him? Who does that? And we're off to London. Hey, Jericho is back. Good to know. "We didn't know if this person would be available..." Cuba Gooding Jr, you are the master of the unintentional comedy. Truly. Snickering on my part.

I'll just say this. Amy Winehouse? Total trainwreck. Her Grammy performance? One of the best damn live performances of that song I have ever seen. EVER.

Natalie Cole is huge, Tony Bennett for some reason lost his ability to read, and there's a group sing along in my living room with Doris Day doing "Que Sera Sera". Pan out to Usher with the "Doris Day who?" look. Amy Winehouse takes Record of the Year and she honestly looks like she has no clue what's going on. It's kind of endearing. Let's all chant "Amy! Amy! Amy!" while she tries to figure out what's going on because that's not going to confuse her even more. There's a lot of genuine happiness on that stage. "She looks like a missing Spice Girl."

Eldar? El Dar? Elder? What? Is he a magician? A little Oscar Peterson never hurt anyone, especially since we're on the cusp of the Dead People Montage and Oscar Peterson is in it. The kid's striped tie made him look like he came straight from prep school. Why didn't anyone tell me Don Ho died? And shock...Pimp C made the Dead People Montage. It was kind of sad, that uncomfortable silence, when they flashed on Ike Turner. Sure, the man wasn't the greatest human being ever (to put it lightly) but he did contribute a lot to music.

Forward forward forward. Josh Groban and the blind whats-his-name is a big NO. Does Bonnie Raitt ever not wear a yellow coat of some sort? John Fogetry's dentures look like they're about to fly out. Mute. Little Richard never looks old and Jerry Lee Lewis' hand looks so artrithic its making my hands hurt watching him play the piano.

Sighs all around. Will.I.Am. I hate you. Was there some kind of issue that they needed a filler? He looks like he shouldn't even be out there and he doesn't make much sense. He scares me. Please get him off that weird little stage out there in the middle of the audience. It's time for this show to be over and you bring out a song that makes little sense and probably would have been better suited for the beginning. You could have done it as a Billy Crystal opening the Oscars kind of thing. A parody of your nominees, as it were. I'm clearly confused by this, as are several other people in the audience, with the exception of one woman right near the stage that is clearly enjoying the beat.

Is Usher going to dance? Why did they pick Usher? He hasn't had an album in years. Quincy Jones I get because he's an icon, but Usher? And what's up with the sunglasses? It certainly can't be that bright in Staples. I've been in there for basketball games. A concert or two. None of them so bright I needed sunglasses. Yet every other person tonight is wearing them. Maybe that's how they mask they're boredom.

Unbelievable is right. Let's talk about this, the last award of the night. The Album of the Year: “River: The Joni Letters” by Herbie Hancock.

1. It's Herbie Hancock, who is such a fine Jazz artist and a lot of people don't realize is a Jazz artist.
2. It's not a Joni Mitchell tribute album like everyone keeps calling it.
3. It was favored 5:1 to win.
4. It's a Jazz artist up against Amy Winehouse and Kanye West. I couldn't pick which one would win but I was certain one of them would. I knew Vince Gill didn't have a chance and neither did the Foo Fighters. I completely wrote off the Herbie Hancock album because it was such a laugh to see it there. (And I liked it quite a bit.) It felt a little bit obligatory, to be honest. While surprising to see it on the list of nominees, it still had the feeling that it was there out of respect or something. This isn't Susan Lucci never winning a Daytime Emmy. This is Herbie Hancock who's won several Grammys in the past, so it isn't like they nominated him because it was time to recognize his work.
5. It's not a Joni Mitchell tribute's just an album inspired by some of the work of Joni Mitchell, who, for as much as I hate to say it, is really rather a prolific singer/songwriter. While Herbie Hancock is a fine Jazz artist, this isn't, by far, his best or most impressive work ever.

To quote Herbie Hancock: "I'd like to thank the Academy for couragously breaking the mold this time." I would too. We can complain all we want about how the Academy doesn't pick the right things. You can complain all you want about Herbie Hancock getting the Album of the Year nod but at the same time you can't. People have been calling for a change to who gets nominated, who wins what, and the quality of music that's supposed to be the "best." Herbie Hancock is certainly the out-of-left field, different choice, the most surprising choice. He's exactly the kind of change people have been calling for, yet so few people seem to be willing to embrace it. Pick one, people, you can't have it both ways. You can't call for change yet not accept it when it isn't the kind of change you were looking for.

With that, the Grammy's were finally over. The Obligatory Standing Ovation count rounded out to a 5 and there were some pleasant surprises through out the night. There was also some seriously epic failures and some unintentional comedic moments. There were way too many Lifetime Acheivement Award winners and I just read that the viewing audience only totalled 17.5 million, making the 50th Grammy Awards the 3rd least watched broadcast in it's history. That's really too bad because the Grammy's are a musical institution but at the same time, it's expected. Who wants to watch a failing academy who's so behind the rest of the music world struggle to put together nominees that are sub-par?


Anonymous said...

Wow, what a ride. Makes me wish I had watched it. Too bad you can't release an edited "Jill" version for our viewing pleasure.

The Claire said...

Okay. Totally bummed you left out the "Aretha be big" comment. Come on. 17.5 million people saw how big Aretha was and I really did think we were going to pass out from laughing so hard.

You fail.

Chris said...

"Aretha be big"? Epic.

Where's the "eat that cake, Tina, eat it now" comment? I know you said it. How could you not? The woman started her set with "What's Love Got To Do With It" after all.

If you thought you were bored at home, you should have been there. Sure, there was uncomfortable silence on that flash of Ike, but you the viewing audience missed the awful silence during Keely Smith and Kid Rock. Lots of "What the hell is he doing?" going on.

Oh. And I feel for anyone who didn't get to see Herbie Hancock and Ling Ling...and thank you for making that point at the end there about how people can't have it both ways.

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