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 multi–media 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 smile—he 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.

John Atkinson's picture
She rocks. And her winning Best New Artist over Bieber is an example of musical talent outclassing cutesy teenybopper appeal.
Metalhead's picture

Been waiting for your write up Robert.

Have to say that I usually view it for the spectacle factor and the character flaw of watching the tripe to be mildly bemused and repelled.

Although I did not see it all I was rather taken with Mick. I get where your coming from but Man the guy can still rock and belt it out. I also am surprised you did not mention Arcade Fire. I have two of their albums Funeral and Neon Bible and they are a pretty good band. Don't get the bicycles but I am a dinosaur so I guess it's cool if your the normal age category for the fans of the band.

I dug Dylan but prefer Maggies Farm from his Live at Budokan album.

In any event the stuff I watched I admit being pleasantly surprised and even enjoyed. Glad you made it through the whole show.

smittyman's picture

I thought their number totally rocked, the stupid dancers running around in some kind of 'rebellion' notwithstanding.

volvic's picture

Highlight of the night for me.

jrmandude's picture

I kept waiting for Oscar the Grouch to pop up during Cee Lo & Gwyneth's thing and say C is for Crap.

Bubbamike's picture

I'm happy for Ms Spaulding. She is a very talented lady. I stopped paying attention to Brother Bob and Mick many years ago. The more I learn about either of them the less I like them.

desperaudio's picture

A musician I've only recently become aware of and I echo JA's comments. It may be a very short time indeed before anyone that still wants to see the likes of Bieber and Ms. Swift may need to take the bus tour to Branson.

eegreg's picture

Dylan's smile was the highlight, matched by the beaming Mr. Young in the audience.


Bluesbob's picture

Another +1 for Esperanza. Nothing against Beiber, but Spalding is a really talented bassist. And I play bass, although not that well.

tmsorosk's picture

Ms Spalding .. Finally some music to get excited about .

Janelle H's picture

There were lots of unexpected happenings happened in this year's Grammy Awards. If you're into music in any way, the Grammy Awards are for you. This year's Grammys were especially surprising. Esperanza Spalding ended up being the greatest surprise of the 2011 Grammy awards. The jazz artist took home the Best New Artist award. The routines were as surprising as the awards in the 2011 Grammy performance.

JasonVSerinus's picture

Hey Robert. You really got Babs and Mick down cold. Not that many of us don't love them regardless. As for all the glitz, ridiculous.


KevO's picture

The Grammys always deliver unexpected discoveries, esp Esperanza. However, upon hearing "Need You Now" for the first time, I recognized a blatant rip! I had to wait for the tune to end, in the muted commercial break, to hum the hook thru, to exclaim "Eye in the Sky: Alan Parsons Project!" And not just the melody, but same key (within a semitone) & time signature!
Turns out it has already been outed in the blogosphere!
A tear of joy for Richie Hayward, among others.
Good to see Arcade & Muse featured; now to check out Cindy Lauper's BLUES (!?!) nomination.