Since Television’s default position is “EXCESS”, the annual Grammy Awards telecast offers an unparalleled opportunity to display some of the best, and some of the worst, that the music world has to offer.
The show opened with Bruce Springsteen, and I’m sorry – I never “got” Bruce, and don’t own a single recording of his. I love seeing Stevie VanZandt bounce around on the stage in his do-rag, but his whole music thing was spoiled for me by The Sopranos. He’s Silvio Dante to me now. And talk about awkward – Bruce’s “are you alive, America?” at the end of his song, on a night when obviously much of the focus would be on the death of Whitney Houston.
I was aware of who Bruno Mars is, but had no idea the kid could rock it as hard and as good as he did when he and his band performed “Runaway” about 15 minutes into the show. I’ll be downloading a bunch of his stuff.
I had no idea LL Cool J could be so suave and polished as an emcee – I’ve seen him act, and he’s quite good; I’ve heard his songs, and some of them are quite good; but I had no clue he could so seamlessly hold a show together. Major props to Cool James.
Butch Vig made a cameo; anybody from Madison should recognize him. And there was the puzzling young man from Eau Claire, Justin Vernon, who named his band “Bon Iver” and beat some tough competition for best new group – and who obviously holds the Grammys in low esteem.
It’s a difficult task to decide who is, and who is not, featured on the Grammys telecast. On the one hand, you have established mega-stars like Tony Bennett and Glen Campbell and the Beach Boys; and on the other, you’ll have artists whose names and songs will soon be forgotten. Finding the right mix isn’t easy.
While nowhere near as outrageous as the MTV Awards show, the clothing many of the younger artists choose to wear is…..well, puzzling to an old fart like me. What’s with the majorette baton that Lady Gaga dragged along with her? And the lady with the unusual nun-like outfit, in fire-engine-red, accompanied by a man dressed as the pope? And Katy Perry’s blue hair? Or, for that matter, the tattered sport jacket and tired tie that Justin Vernon wore.
While many Grammys are passed out each year, only a handful are highlighted in the annual telecast. There’s not a word (or song) about Jazz, Classical, or even (hey, this is Wisconsin) polka music – all of them categories that represent huge amounts of money spent by music lovers, and all of them categories which are recognized and awarded each year by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the president of which gives a speech on the telecast every year about stealing music).
There was plenty of tribute to Whitney Houston, tastefully done, realistically prominent. If only she could be allowed to rest in peace, while billions of people are able to continue to enjoy the stunning body of work that is her legacy.
But, since television’s default position is excess…..expect weeks of breathless reports about the latest bit of private minutia unearthed about her death by a relentless corps of “journalists”.