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The annual Grammy Awards, honoring the best in popular music has rebounded as a television awards show in the past few years, showcasing the best and most popular music of each previous year. It’s definitely the most lively show of awards season with pop stars and alternative icons getting a chance to, literally in some cases, strut their stuff.
Having tuned back in in the last few years after a decade long vacation, here’s what left me cold, medium and hot during last night’s show.
By getting a one hour jump on us in the mountain region, my New York colleague Joann, The Lunch Lady, reported in that Springsteen rocked the opening, McCartney had some trouble, and the Beach Boys 50 year reunion was worth waiting for.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN only brought half the E Street Band out to L.A. for the show and his new tune, augmented by a spring section, was a show opener and show stopper all in one.
LL COOL J was an enthusiastic host and with numerous prayers and shout-outs through the evening from musicians for the recently departed Whitney Houston, helped make her the story of the show, although she hasn’t really been relevant in the last 20 years.
CBS, runs a promo for a creative contest, touting their giveaway of a free colonoscopy.
THE FOO FIGHTERS kept real rock spirit alive, with an emphasis on licks not spectacle. I did giggle when his acceptance speech about honest musicianship was cutoff midstream for Ryan Seacrest to be introduced.
TONY BENNETT, a genuinely nice man, performing ‘It Had To Be You”
THE CIVIL WARS, recipient of the same bump that catapulted Mumford & Sons last year, thanked “their opening acts” after following Paul McCartney, Bruce and others. Then they tore it up, proving there’s a lot of life left for acoustic instruments.
As much as I’d like to dismiss the calculated starpop of KATY PERRY, dang if she didn’t deliver the goods with her pulsing beat and energetic dancing.
TAYLOR SWIFT, showing a distinct talent for songwriting and a variety of uptown and down home looks, delivered the goods with ‘Mean”.
JENNIFER HUDSON’s “I Will Always Love You” (nice, but I was hoping Dolly Parton might sing it).
THE BEACH BOYS 50th Anniversary reunion was sentimental (although I was hoping for “I Get Around”), highlighted by a spot-on performance of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (not an easy song to ape) by FOSTER THE PEOPLE, and the GLEN CAMPBELL tribute was touching (but “Southern Nights” instead of a Jimmy Webb masterpiece? An “AV Club” reviewer mentioned Adele would have ruled the night had she performed ‘Wichita Lineman)
While ADELE’s wailing performance ranked in the HOT category, her sweep of awards contributed to a lack of drama in the variety of presentations and acceptance speeches
Paul McCartney debuts his ‘Rod Stewart-style Great American Songbook album” with a new song and performs a lackluster Abbey Road medley that evolves into a blazing shred with every guitarist on hand.
I may be going against the grain but I find COLDPLAY’s new music trailing behind their last album in electric grandeur. Their performance of ‘Paradise” was a yawner to me.
The WTF? Moment of the show was the ill-advised electronic mashup, bringing Foo Fighters back to preside over a musical mess
CHRIS BROWN performed against a chorus of ‘Who let him in here? Didn’t he beat up Rihanna?” musings and, along with Nicki Minaj, showed contemporary spectacle still needs strong hooks and a strong vocalist out front.
There are always some surprises during the MUSICAL OBITUARIES segment and Chris “Toast” Diestler was surprised to see blues guitarist Gary Moore’s name on the list, while I was surprised by Bill Morrisey’s name, the East Cast folkie. I was also hoping to hear a name drop of John Hartford (who passed away in 2001) who wrote “Gentle On My Mind”, which opened the Glen Campbell tribute.
I was also a little shocked not to witness a Madonna performance, figuring after the good notices she received for her Superbowl Halftime Show, she could have delivered a devastating one-two punch to the charts. But with her new set coming in March I’m sure she’s figured she will be a mainstay of next year’s Grammys, performing and accepting statuettes. While the Grammys rocked into history, it’s time to bring on the more staid Academy Awards next!