I’m liveblogging the 2013 Grammy Awards for your blog-reading enjoyment. Liveblogging is a stretch…I simply dvr-ed it, am re-watching it, and sharing my comments as it goes. Anything underlined is a link.
Point of note: I tend to be very, very opinionated about these kinds of things, so I mean no offense to you or anyone you may or may not like. I’m going to comment on everything worth commenting on, so if you think there’s something noteworthy on which I did not comment, we simply disagree on the concept of noteworthiness. For example, JLo’s leg: not noteworthy. The afro next to Jay-Z: noteworthy. Here goes:
Taylor Swift: I feel bad for Taylor Swift. I get the feeling that she really wants to be an artist, but has been forced to fit the mold of a pop star. She seems to have a good voice, some musical chops and songwriting ability, but all that has been covered over with this teeny-bopper, sex-symbol, gaudy art schtick that sucks. Bummer for her.
LL Cool J: Is awesome. As a child of the 90’s I love LL. His unplugged version of “Mama Said Knock You Out” is one of my favorite rap jams of all time. But as a Grammy Awards host, I’m not sold.
Elton John and some other guy: Best concert I’ve ever been to was with my buddy Jimmi when we went to see Elton John and Billy Joel in Kansas City. Have no idea who this other guy is, but I don’t recognize the song as being Elton’s, so I guess it’s his. If so, he writes a nice song. Regardless, I’d rather hear “Rocket Man“, “Saturday Night” or “Tiny Dancer” any day. Seems like a perfectly good waste of an Elton John. Yes, I know he is technically “Sir” Elton John, but I’m an American and we kicked their butts 230-some years ago, so if a knight is anywhere other than British soil, in my opinion, it doesn’t count. Also, my twelve-year old made me feel old when he asked who the guy playing the piano was.
Best Pop Solo Performance: I think it’s cool that all the nominees in this category are women. I’m not sure I’d call Adele a pop performer though. I wish there was a category for fantastic singing; she could win that one.
FUN.: Made it rain inside, which is pretty wild. My kids are big fans of FUN. and I like the way this guys sings, really expressive like a storyteller. On the other hand, I am not a fan of his man capris and white shoes.
Country Music: Already has the Country Music Association Awards so I can’t figure out why they heck there are any country categories or performances on the Grammys at all. Drives me nuts. On the other hand, Carrie Underwood is coming up and she and her band blew my mind, but I don’t think she’s country. I watched that season of American Idol and she can sing anything.
Dick Clark: American BandStand was awesome. Glad they recognized him.
Miguel and Wiz Khalifa: I dig it. I admire artists — especially rappers — who can totally strip a song down, make it minimal and simple, and make it great.
Song of the Year: Let me take this opportunity to go off for a bit about the whole concept of the Grammy Awards. Granted, there are some great artists that are rewarded at the Grammys and some great musicians that perform there, but seriously…song of the year? Record of the year? Best new artist? Album of the year? Do you have any idea how many incredible songs, records, artists and albums are made every year by millions of musicians all around the world? The Grammys pretty much represent musicians and work that can make money and possibly have mass appeal, but no committee of people could possibly begin to even think of or consider all the great music and musicians that work tirelessly creating beautiful art. Props to them — the hard-working unsung and unheralded — thanks for your hard work in bringing beauty to us.
Johnny Depp: A fifty-something walking Hot Topic accessory rack. Kind of sad.
Justin Timberlake: For some reason, got to perform two songs. I’ve never been a fan of Justin Timberlake except when he does the foam beer can sketch on SNL. Anyway, he ends his first song by bringing Jay-Z on stage who blows the roof off the place, and then JT tries to perform another song without Hova and there is zero energy on the stage, in the room or on the TV screen. Lousy.
Urban Contemporary: R&B is now Urban Contemporary? That’s dumb.
The Black Keys: Totally right for the rock Grammy. Love the Black Keys and their upcoming performance with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (which I rank as third best performance of the evening). I think they showed up for the Grammys just to make a statement for good rock ‘n roll, cause it felt to me like they hated being there. And they had a guy dressed as an American Indian playing the organ who I’m positive was tripping on something very special.
Maroon 5 & Alicia Keyes: This was a tough one for me. I hate Maroon 5 and love Alicia Keyes. I think every Maroon 5 song is the same, and I don’t think their lead guy is that great a singer, definitely not good enough to tell other truly great singers how to be better singers on The Voice. Alicia Keyes, on the other hand, is one of the best female R&B singers around, a really gifted classically trained pianist, and has an unreal voice. I’d listen to her sing the phone book.
The girl sitting next to Jay-Z: Has a great afro.
Rap Collaboration: How does anyone compete with Jay-Z and Kanye?
Kelly Clarkson: Can really, really sing. Did Carole King proud.
Bob Marley: Was offered a tribute by Ziggy, Damian, Sting, and Bruno Mars. I’m pretty impressed with this Bruno Mars kid. His song “Grenade” sucks, but his Grammy performances last year and this year caused me to pick up his album and he’s got some serious talent and skill (and a really great band). When Sting came on stage, that was cool, but when Ziggy and Damian hit the stage it got real. Also, Damian has the most serious dreds I’ve ever seen.
The Lumineers: Best performance of the night.
Jack White: Second best performance of the night. A close second. This dude is so weird, so smart and so white. He is that rare mix of brilliant poet and sensational musician. I could’ve done without his mic-mate on the first song. She made me very uncomfortable, which was probably his point. On the second song, his bass player was playing a chrome stand-up, which is pretty awesome, and the blues-rock was incredible. Could’ve listened to that all night.
Carrie Underwood: Again, I hate country music, but this Carrie Underwood performance was not country, it was art. Maybe folk art, but art nonetheless (she does use the words “Oklahoma”, “whiskey”, “Mama” and such). She has a one-in-a-million voice, and they used her princess dress as a screen to do art with lights, which was wild. Have no idea who the band was that backed her, but they were really great. Skip to 0:55 of the video, the kid at the beginning who introduces her is no good.
Prince: Presented Gotye with record of the year for “Somebody That I Used To Know”. Prince is such an enigma, which I think is exactly what he wants. Did you know though that Prince is one of the best guitarists around? For real…he can shred.
Dave Brubeck: That was a great cover of Take Five.
Levon Helm: Wow…what a great collaboration to honor a great artist. Zac Brown, Elton John, Mavis Staples, Mumford and Sons, T-Bone Burnett, and Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes. A few things about this performance: 1) The Band was awesome. If you don’t have their stuff on your ipod, you’re missing out. 2) I’ve never heard anything by Alabama Shakes, but after hearing Brittany Howard sing, I’m checking them out. 3) The highlight of this performance — in my mind — is the piano-playing by Elton John. He is so freaking good. It’s better than honky-tonk or soul or rock…it’s some beautiful hybrid of those three that only he and possibly Billy Joel can pull off. 4) I’m amazed by the ability of great musicians to find, understand and compliment one another even when they don’t regularly play together. A spiritual understanding.
Frank Ocean: This performance sucked. How this guy got nominated for album of the year is beyond me.
Album of the Year: I love Mumford and Sons, and I really like the album Babel, but how Mumford and Sons beat Jack White or the Black Keys is beyond me. Blunderbuss is unreal, I’ve never heard anything like it. Jack White just keeps growing, expanding and getting better. I like Babel a lot, but I’ve heard it before: it was their album “Sigh No More” from last year. And the Black Keys are so good, a reinvention of blues rock that is really original. I can’t think of anyone who sounds like the Black Keys. Sorry, Mumford and Sons, but this wasn’t yours to win this year.
LL Cool J, Chuck D, Tom Morello and Travis Barker: Great performance. I mean, I’ve heard way better rock/rap performances, but this was just great. I have no idea what they were talking about, may as well have been gibberish, but LL and Chuck D have great flow and energy. It doesn’t hurt to have the best drummer and the most innovative guitarist around backing you up. Loved and appreciated the shoutout to MCA of the Beastie Boys.
So that’s it….my experience of the 2013 Grammy Awards. There’s no way I’d call it Music’s biggest night, but it was something.