Monday, February 12, 2007

2007 Grammy Wrap: Is it over yet?!

After watching last night's 49th edition of the music industry's equivalent of the Oscars it's no wonder the show has been derisively nicknamed "The Grannys". Many of the performers & presenters were ancient enough to be popular back when Grandma was prom queen .

All together now: how bad was it?

Check out this list of fossils, and their ages, who made appearances on the lavish red stage of the Staples Center:

-Tony Bennett (80)
-Don Henley (59)
-Smokey Robinson (66)
-Burt Bacharach (78)
-Stevie Wonder (56)
-Lionel Richie (57)
-Al Gore (58)

Word has it that they tried to get The Stones, Genesis, The Who and the remaining Beatles to show up, but the combined age of all those stars present at one time would have catapulted the telecast into a multi-dimensional space/time vortex.

The night started out well enough when '80s supergroup The Police reunited to sing their hit "Roxanne"; too bad Sting's voice is so shot from years of scream /singing "Raaaaaaxxxxxaaaannnne" and copious amounts of rock superstar partying that he just couldn't get it up there for the "you don't have to put on a red light" chorus. Instead he kept his voice low & mellow, as if to say "hey, this is how I sing it now and it's still cool." He's right.
(Two asides to the Police reunion: 1. did anyone on the planet NOT own a cassette or album of "Synchronicity"? I challenge you to find someone who wasn't constantly playing that album front to back every week during the early '80s. The freaking thing was so good they had two tunes called Synchronicity on it (BTW, Part II far superior to Pt. I- "we had to SHOUT above the din of our Rice Krispies...") 2. I broke Cardinal Rule #1 of important television viewing- NEVER let the wife operate the remote right before the start of the show. She was still fast-forwarding through paused commercials on the E! pre-show and we nearly missed the Police performance. Not your fault, honey. I totally blame myself.)

Too bad soon after the Police left the stage the show immediately began to go downhill.

Recently ostracised country stars the Dixie Chicks won all 5 awards they were nominated for (Best Record, Song, Album, Country Group, Country Album), proving that in America you are only hated as long as the public is against you; once the masses & pundits come over to your side you can be hailed as trailblazers. Three years ago these Chicks couldn't have won American Karaoke after lead singer Natalie Maines infamously declared that the girls were embarrassed to be from the same state as George W. Bush. Now they have been feted as musical heroes for their freedom of speech-inspired song "Not Gonna Make Nice".

Whatever. Besides being the Everybody Loves the Chicks show, other familiar faces garnered awards, as well as a few fresh stars who somehow snuck into the mix:

-Awards staple Mary J. Blige took home 3 of the Grammy-high 8 awards she was nominated for, Best R&B Female, R&B Song ("Be Without You") and R&B Album ("The Breakthrough").

-John Mayer won for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album and Least Likely Pairing (with Jessica Simpson) since Julia Roberts & Lyle Lovett.

-Red Hot Chili Peppers took home the Best Rock Group & Album ("Stadium Arcadium") awards, and then could be overheard on the stage exclaiming "can you f**king believe they gave us these things at our age. We once performed wearing nothing but strategically-placed socks!"

-Beyonce finally won something that Jennifer Hudson couldn't steal away from her- Best Contemporary R&B Album ("B-Day")

-In the conspicuously lightly covered rap categories Ludacris won three trophies, for Best Rap Album (Release Therapy), Song ("Money Maker") and Rap Star Most Likely to Make the Jay Z-like Boardroom Jump.

-Alt rap/rockers Gnarls Barkley not only took home 2 awards (Best Alt Song & Album) but gave one of the best performances of the evening, an odd but compelling rendition of "Crazy."

-The ubiquitous Carrie Underwood won for Best Newcomer. No truth to the rumor that she shared the award with a still-crest-fallen Tony Romo.

Not exactly ground-breaking entertainment folks. In fact I had to bow out a number of times for fear of either falling asleep or poking my eardrums out with an ice pick.

Let's take a look at the high and low points of the interminable 3 1/2 hour broadcast:

Five Worst Moments:

5.) Unlikely pairings cause numerous 'WTF?!' moments
Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder made for a cute couple, winning the Best Pop Collaboration Grammy for their rendition of "For Once in My Life", but it was more than a tad awkward when they were called up to present an award earlier in the telecast; Tony FORGOT STEVIE WAS BLIND and took off for the podium without him, leaving Stevie to spin and grope for someone to lead him on stage. Classy, Tony.

Those two were nothing compared to the odd couples that followed: Seal and Burt Bacharach stroked each other for a while; Quentin Tarantino took his turn with Bennett and told him he'd love to do a song with him (huh?); Queen Latifah and Al Gore came out near the end and had heads spinning and looked to be the sure winners of the Unlikeliest Pairing of Grammy Presenters Award until... the final award of the night was presented by Scarlett Johannson and Don Henley. Yup nothing says great casting like the hottest starlet on the planet matched up with a grey-haired musical dinosaur. Henley even had the nerve to diss ScarJo when she asked for advice for her upcoming album. Bad move, dude.

4.) Carrie Underwood and Rascal Flatts do a tribute to the Eagles

3.)Corrinne Bailey Rae, John Legend and John Mayer perform
This performance brought to you by the makers of Sominex

2.) Smokey Robinson & Lionel Richie performances
Guys, its 2000 and freaking 7. Retire already! Isn't Lionel just riding on his train wreck of a daughter's coattails right now? Would someone eject him from the music scene, please.

1.) The Dixie Chicks accept 5 awards and perform
Causing millions of Americans to exclaim "I don't care if they were right about W., I still hate them!

Honorable mention: Justin Timberlake's mini-cam performance; Mary J's 35 minute acceptance speech; Tony Bennett's shout out to Target!

Five Best Moments:

5.) Tarantino screaming out the nominees like an arena announcer on speed
This guy had no business being anywhere near the joint yet livened up the festivities more than any of the music-related presenters. So what if he was probably coked up?

4.) Blacks not afraid to crack back
-Right after the Police performed Jamie Foxx, clad in a garish silver suit, made the comment "there was a misunderstanding when it was announced that The Police would be opening the Grammy's- Snoop left."

-After winning for best Rap Album, a nattily-attired and newly-sheared Ludacris blasted "all I had to do was cut my hair to get my hands on one of these things?!" He then proceeded to thank Oprah & Bill O'Reilly, two notorious targets of his. Clever, Luda.

-Chris Rock, introducing the Chili Peppers' performance: "this next band had their jocks in socks way before Justin put his "D**k In a Box!" Leave it to Rock to nail the line of the night!

3.)Gnarls Barkley's original rendition of "Crazy"
How do you freshen up a song that's so overplayed the singers themselves appear to be sick of performing it? By dressing up as airline pilots, bringing an orchestra & choir on stage and doing an a Capella version of your tired hit. Then when you knock it out of the park people like your song again. Brilliant!

2.) Shakira performing "Hips Don't Lie"
Ah, no they don't. And those hips are saying "I've got every heterosexual male in the world under my swivelling, gyrating, smooth, bronzed spell." Thank you Shakira, and Grammy organizers.

1.) The Police reunion
What better way to start off a show than with a monumental re-teaming of a band that has been split up for over 23 years? They brought down the house and truly had everyone wrapped around their fingers (sorry).

Too bad the rest of the show couldn't do the same.

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