Babs, Mick and The Man From Space
The Grammy Awards were once about music. As last night’s extravaganza showed, they are now much more about Las Vegas, about entertaining than playing music; than songwriting, singing and learning to play an instrument. But then again it’s TV folks! Glitter and massive multimedia now reign supreme. Oh yeah, and there was music too. Give the Academy credit though, they saw to it that many famous names from the past were dropped or trotted out on stage (more on that soon).
Much as country radio is on a mission to kill it by playing it every 15 minutes, the now ubiquitous Lady A tune, “Need You Now,” (which the three band members co-wrote with Josh Kear and undoubtedly shaped in the studio by producer Paul Worley) does have a great hook and the two voices do a good job of selling it.
Babs and Mick. These would be the two biggest oldsters who actually appeared on the broadcast. Babs, looking suitably grand in a maroon dress, wound her careful way through her biggest hit, “Evergreen,” avoiding the high sweeping modulations that she used to effortlessly nail. But all in all she did okay. Jagger on the other hand has become a living cartoon character at this point, an impossibly skinny cartoon character, but one that can’t fail to make you smile and shake your head. He pranced out and did his usual egomaniacal thing with all its attendant skipping, hopping, pleading and pointing. His front man lessons during the rock and roll fantasy camp episode of The Simpsons kept popping into my head: “Now, the School Marm!” (index finger sticking up, wagging). But the guy is indomitable and looked incredibly fit at 67 in his little quilted jacket that was an exquisite shade of green and the little matching shirt. My God that man has no ass!
I was all for the Black Keys picking up, Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with vocals and Best Alternative Album. I also liked Neil Young’s win for Best Rock Song for “Angry World.” Best of all, was Esperanza Spalding beating out that nauseating, Canadian haircut putz, Justin Beiber for Best New Artist.
Keith Urban and Miranda Lambert winning best country vocalist, male and female—awards drew a collective yawn. And Mavis Staples beating out Los Lobos for best Americana? Finally, Buddy Guy’s win for Best Contemporary Blues Album over Bettye LaVette, Dr John and the recently deceased (and extremely deserving) Solomon Burke is complete and utter bullshit, not to mention a classic example of the Academy voters checking the first name, and in this case the only name, they knew in that category. Talk about someone living on their laurels!!!
As for the show itself, Las Vegas ruled the night. Gaga needs to stop the pseudo mystery nonsense and Eminem is perhaps the tensest man on the planet. Eyes bugged out, face and neck rigid, no smilehe looks ready to blow. Maybe that’s just his shtick.
And then there’s the strange case of one Robert Zimmerman. Given Bobby’s strange history of Grammy involvement (remember Soy Bomb?), this one, with the clearly jazzed Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers strumming away in the background, was pretty unremarkable, at least until the end when he began gazing around and smiling an unhinged smile. I love and respect the man immensely, I’m just not sure that somewhere in his family lineage, an alien didn’t slip in there.