2 Brief Notes before getting started: 1) Just to clarify, my predictions from last Friday should have been understood to be an expectation of the Academy’s voting based on previous patterns – not my thoughts on who should win or who I wanted to win. 2) This is less of a re-cap and more of a commentary. It basically reads as though I’m “live-tweeting”, so if you didn’t see the show, it may not make complete sense.
Opening (Taylor Swift): Uhm, what? Is this an Alice in Wonderland/Clockwork Orange mashup? So, here’s the deal: Becoming the de facto Pop Princess by being a solid singer-songwriter is cool. Telling the world that you’re the Pop Princess by staging your own Cirque du Soleil routine, not so cool.
Ed Sheeran / Elton John: Elton’s voice has faltered a good bit over the last decade, but his piano style is so beautiful. He’s one of those musicians that you can identify simply by hearing them play. Sheeran was solid and it was a great introduction to the American audience, but the arrangement was rough.
Pop Solo Performance: Adele – it was a great track, but I hate seeing “live” versions of last year’s songs getting nominated alongside this year’s songs.
fun.: I love them playing with the track that mentions, “the sound of silence” (didn’t someone make mention of a Paul Simon connection just last week?). Hopefully the performance will help propel the track to greater social awareness and keep their train rolling.
John Mayer: I’m glad to see him back on a stage. If you missed the Rolling Stone article last June (this appears to be a complete transcription), you should really give it a read. May change your perception – maybe not. Someone needs to do for John what Robert Downey Jr. did for Mel Gibson.
Song of the Year: fun. (Prediction Counter: 0/1). Great first time winner acceptance.
Mumford: Johnny Depp (?) I’m not going to say anything about the actual performance. But consider this – fun. has had 2 hit songs and on the biggest stage they’ve ever played, they roll out the new single that the average listener hasn’t heard, yet Mumford rolls out the big (only?) single from their album (that was nominated for Album of the Year).
Justin Timberlake: I remember Justin’s (I’m not trying to be Michael Jackson) solo debut at the VMAs over a decade ago. Who would have figured that he’d be making a re-debut on the Grammys with anything like this? I’m not a huge fan of the “Suit and Tie” track but the Jay-Z walk-on from the audience was golden. The 20/20 Experience is one of my most anticipated albums of not just this year but of the last 5 years, and even more so since hearing more in this performance. If he continues to channel Eddie Kendricks, I’m on board. Ok, I’ll stop talking now because I could give you an entire post about it.
Urban Contemporary Album: A new category because they knew that Frank wasn’t going to win album of the year (?)
Rock Performance: Black Keys, eh, ok.
Pop Vocal Album: Kelly Clarkson is awesome and I’m glad she won because she made for good TV. Wins like this make me doubt my predictions, but I’ve learned that these things rarely make any logical sense.
Rhianna: I think Rhianna’s problem is that talent and looks come so natural for her. Something like that, oddly, can make you lack self-respect because it’s a grace more than a personal development/skill. Glad to see Mikky Ekko (who I just discovered this week) on stage with her.
Rap/Sung Collaboration: Jay-Z, Kanye, Frank Ocean, The Dream. I didn’t know this was a category and I guess that it does defy other categories, but maybe it’s a bit too specific? Jay is just too cool for school.
The Black Keys: Again, I’m just, eh. It’s not bad. It’s not great. Maybe I just don’t get it.
Kelly Clarkson: She needs to bust out a full-on country record. I’d be completely happy if it was all old-time covers. She’s got a life-long welcome to Branson when she retires, but she very well could rejuvenate her career 5 or 6 from now by pulling a a Darius Rucker. Also, that was a wicked electric guitar/piano combo.
Country Album: Zac, thanks for losing the beanie. Didn’t realize that Kevin Smith was in the band. P.S. – Hunter Hayes, if you can’t pick up a genre category award, how the heck can you hope to pick up a general category award?
Marley Tribute: How is the Bruno Mars song a Marley tribute? (I honestly looked it up to make sure that it wasn’t a cover.) Is it that maybe Bob Marley’s influence on other musicians is better than his actual music? (Aside: I still have trouble looking at Nicole Kidman without Tom Cruise.) Wait, so Damien “Jr. Gong” Marley sounds like Matisyahu? I could be into that.
Lumineers: I’ve never seen the “mic-stand-2-inches-too-high” look before. I’ll be interested to see if they can keep it all together in the wake of fame.
Jack White: That first song is a great track and it’s going to sell some records tomorrow. Unfortunately, the rest of the album doesn’t sound anything like that. Homegirl was rocking that double-bass, though. Second track, eh.
New Artist: fun. (Prediction Counter: 0/2) I don’t know that I have anything to say about it, they were my #2 guess and probably my fave from the pack.
Hunter Hayes: I hate the Nashville sound and that vocal, but props for playing piano.
Carrie Underwood: Projecting visuals onto her dress – interesting, but a little kitschy. Great performance, but does she really need two revenge songs?
Prince: I wish I got as much recognition for what I did 20 years ago as he does.
Record of the Year: Gotye. (Prediction Counter: 0/3) Ok, so I was waaay off on this one. I’ll tell the truth, though, I always love seeing unexpected winners make acceptance speeches.
Dave Brubek Tribute: How do you play “Take Five” without a drummer? Felt weak to me, but ok.
In Memoriam: I’m still in denial about Davy Jones. I can only hope that JT can return as the ghost of Robin Gibb on The Barry Gibb talk show. Great group of artists on “The Weight”. Perfect song choice for a group number.
Juanes: Holy Crap. I’d buy that.
Frank Ocean: Ok, I’ll just say it: I don’t like him. It’s not personal. It’s totally musical. I don’t know if the singing off-key is a schtick or what. I just don’t get it.
Album of the Year: Mumford (Prediction Counter: 0/4) All I can say is that it must be a retroactive win for their debut album.
LL Cool J: I don’t know what that’s all about. I guess he must be releasing an album or something. Tom Morello was the best thing going. The Beastie Boys shoutout was pandering.
All in all, I enjoyed the show and thought that there were some great performances. I think they could be a bit less self-referential with all the talk of the “big Grammy moments”. It’s a radio-driven program, so there will always be a ton of great artists who are overlooked or who never reach the Grammy stage. That’s why you have me.