I’m certainly no Charlie Curtis. He’s like Einstein; can do super-advanced math, but can’t handle basic arithmetic. In full view of his genius, here is my annual liveblog of this year’s 2014 Grammy Awards, the great night of pop music. In actuality, I dvr-ed this and am watching it later, but whatever.
Opening Performance: Beyonce/Jay-Z…a man uncovers his wife for the whole world to see. What an interesting way to begin the Grammys. I wonder what this going to lead to.
Best New Artist: Seriously? Macklemore and Lewis beat Kendrick Lamar?
Royals: First of all, how did Lorde — the winner of record of the year and song of the year — not get nominated for Best New Artist? Second, is that some strange form of epilepsy she has while performing this song? My wife’s not sure that lipstick is working, but she is a fan of all of her fingertips being blackened.
Blind Optimism: So this kid Hunter Hayes is singing a profound song of individualism and optimism, complete with dreamy good looks and bold quotes about seizing life and not letting anyone tell you who you are from wise sages such as Lady Gaga and Johnny Depp. There is a major difference between bold faith in God and blind optimism. I wish the Church would catch on to that.
Best Pop Group Performance: Went to Daft Punk and Pharell Williams for “Get Lucky”. Daft Punk is pretty cool with the helmets and all. I like their French-ified statement of isolation and exclusionism while making music that’s incredibly accessible and understandable. Good stuff.
Katy Perry: Like I said, I watched the Grammys on my dvr a week after they actually aired, so I heard about the Katy Perry performance beforehand. Christians all over the internet have been freaking out about it cause she voiced it artistically in a sort of dark magic motif. I gotta say, this was a bit of an over-reaction. This is nothing as bad as “I Kissed A Girl”. I know Katy is a pastor’s kid who is running from or maybe never met Jesus — I don’t know, I don’t know her personally — but I can say that this performance was full of light compared to what’s coming.
Performances: I heard the Grammys trimmed the amount of award presentations to ten in order to make the night more about live performances, which is very valuable and a good stewardship of the time, in my opinion.
Chicago and Robin Thicke: Chicago is awesome. Robin Thicke is so bad, he can even make Chicago suck, that’s how bad he is. He should still be in inpatient moral recovery from that Miley Cyrus debacle.
Keith Urban: I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: country music has the Country Music Awards. I do not understand why the Grammys waste time with pop country on any level. On the other hand, Keith Urban can shred. Blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr stooped to joining him on stage, I’m sure just to offer a better name for the blues.
John Legend: Writes beautifully simple music, and sings it with a beautiful soul. “your perfect imperfections…” May his tribe increase.
Kevin Hart: This guy is awful. He’s like Chris Rock without the intelligence, humor or quick wit. The fact hat he’s the most popular comedian around right now is sad for really smart humorists like Lewis Black, John Mulaney, Mitch Hedberg and Louis CK.
Best Rock Song: Who’s that guy with Dave Grohl? Oh…it’s Paul McCartney. Dave Grohl rules.
Taylor Swift: Is going to break her neck. Easy, kiddo. There’s an artist in there; so please slowly back away from the pop music. Maybe collaborate with Damien Rice, Josh Ritter, Janelle Monae or something.
Pink: One of my favorite Philly artists. This song “Try” is really moving. The first time I saw the video for this song, it moved me to tears. Anyone who lives an honest marriage can feel that video. She is an artist who understands not only the power of music, but the power of movement and the dynamism of the two when they are joined together rightly. Second best performance of the night. I don’t know why I couldn’t find a good youtube clip of this performance.
Lorde: I’m a big fan of the song “Royals”, as everyone is, I guess. The song is just great. It’s one of those songs that can get stuck in your head all day and you don’t mind that it’s there. Brilliant.
“The Beatles”: Do not exist without John and George. Just cause Ringo played drums for the artist that was John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney doesn’t mean he has the right to come out from behind the drums and act like them. Awkward and stilted.
Jay-Z: Is one of the most powerful people in the whole world. He doesn’t do much wrong, except for uncovering his wife for the world.
Kendrick Lamar & Imagine Dragons: Best performance of the night.
Kacey Musgrave: Is wearing cowboy boots with lights on them and is singing a stupid song. See my previous comments about the necessity of the Country Music Awards to save the rest of us from this insanity.
Sir Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr: Sir Paul can write a great song. One of the great tragedies of much of the current music scene is the inability for normal people to sing the songs that are written. Rarely is there a story holding them together and too often they are simply bad art paraded around as “accessible”. I’ve always admired McCartney’s ability to keep it real and make truly accessible music.
Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggert, et al: This might be an appropriate point to note the difference between country music and country western music, yea, even western folk music. Country music is simply today’s southern pop. All twang, no soul. See Exhibit A: Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Garth Brooks, Toby Keith, Shania Twain, etc. Country western music on the other hand is part story, part emotion, part grit and all heart & soul. Equally at home in the Grand Ole Opry or around a campfire. All soul, maybe twang. See Exhibit B: Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, etc.
Daft Punk, Pharell, Stevie Wonder: I’m not sure what to make of this song by Daft Punk. Super catchy, really fun, but really…meh. I don’t know what it is. I like the anti-establishment robot heads and whatnot, that’s cool. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like there’s kids at our local high school that can make this kind of music. I could very well just be cynical. Stevie’s still pretty awesome though.
Song of the Year: Royals by Lorde. This song is so great. I have such respect for artists who can strip things down, keep it crazy simple and make really powerful music. This song has all those components and I think it’s beautiful too. Her voice is so mature for how young she is, and it really shines on this record.
Award Intros: When introducing the nominees for the various awards, they are showing video of other, even small-time, artists doing covers of the nominee’s songs. That’s pretty awesome.
Jared Leto: Is not only an amazing actor, but a great singer and songwriter. If you like rock music, check out 30 Seconds To Mars.
Metallica and Lang Lang: Third best performance of the night. Talk about mastery of your craft…the stage had it in spades with these artists performing. Lars Ulrich is still a tool.
Record of the Year: Allow me at this point to again wax eloquently about the stupidity of these types of shows. Seriously, do you have any idea how many incredible musicians and great music there is in the world? It is unreal. A blog I glanced at the other day put it like this (my paraphrase): “…this is how bad awards shows are: in 1989 “Dances With Wolves” beat “Goodfellas” for the Academy Award for Best Picture. That’s all you need to know.” Great point. It’s so very arrogant to think of art in terms of competition. Critique, yes, absolutely. Art is meant to be engaged, felt, critiqued, worn, eaten, heard, seen, read, touched. But competed against? It’s sad. In my opinion, that’s the beauty of the music or art festival. No competition (hopefully not, anyway), just a lot of artists making art.
Set Design: Whoever the artists were making the various set designs and media backdrops for the performers, they should get a Grammy because they are fantastic.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis: This song and performance of “Same Love” was super interesting and potentially very dangerous. Homosexuality and gay marriage are important topics, don’t get me wrong, but I think the Church or popular culture at large is misguided at this point to make sticking points out of them. Especially the Church, though, since we lack ludicrous amounts of credibility on the love front in regard to human sexuality (not just homosexuality). Two things stick out to me about this performance, first is the song’s declaration that “I can’t change/even if I wanted to”. That is a potentially very destructive statement. Start applying that principle across the moral board of your life (not just your sexuality) and things go bad fast. Secondly, the assertion of the Grammys to take an institution as important as marriage and make a pseudo-political — even more so, a spiritual statement — about what it is or is not with such brash and broad brushstrokes about what should or should not be, is arrogance of the highest order. This whole conversation — from all sides of the issue — is deeply, deeply broken. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
Miranda Lambert & Billy Joe Armstrong: Cool tribute to The Everly Brothers. Billy Joe Armstrong is great; Dookie was awesome.
Trent Reznor, Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl: This was a very cool way to end the show. Sorry they got cut off by the stupid ending.
So there it is, “music’s” great night of award and pomp. Certainly, there were some great artists honored and some great music performed. But here’s to the unsung, unheralded, unknown, under-appreciated musicians out there, working on their craft and pushing their and our boundaries to think, feel, remember and worship in ways we have not yet experienced. May their tribe increase.