Last night’s Grammy awards show bored many viewers. Maybe it’s because there was very little controversy (Hi, Kanye! You’re back!) and few bizarre performances. It was just a straight-up pop music show, interspersed with Sam Smith and Beck going onstage to accept awards every 15 minutes.
Yes, many of the songs performed were low-key, but who cares? They were still full of power and emotion, and for a few exceptions, the musicianship was better than any Grammy show I’ve seen in a while.
1. Poor Hozier. The emerging artist from the UK performed his song “Take Me to Church” and was doing, well, okay – until Annie Lennox joined him onstage and stole the song away from him, bringing it new life before launching into her cover of “I Put a Spell on You.” It was indeed spellbinding, with her theatrical crazed looks interspersed with her amazing contralto voice. It brought the house down.
2. I don’t know why I like them – everyone told me when I was younger that AC/DC worshiped Satan! – but the aging Australian rockers set the place ablaze – literally – with a couple of fiery openers that had the crowd wearing devil horns. They had the whole show heading down the Highway to Hell, and it was classic.
3. Jeff Lynne is the most underrated musician on the planet. To see him take the stage and perform two of his many hit singles – and to see Paul McCartney dancing to them – gave me a bit of satisfaction and introduced his music to a whole new generation.
4. Brandy Clark and Dwight Yoakam performed Clark’s song “Hold My Hand” with a tenderness and honesty that is missing from much of country music today. It’s good to see Yoakam again, too.
5. Beck looking stunned at the announcement that his LP “Morning Phase” had won album of the year was priceless. And to have it be announced by Prince was icing on the cake. Too bad he almost got upstaged by Kanye (Yes, we know you’re back.)
1. In sharp contrast to Clark and Yoakam was Eric Church, whose off-key whining is what makes so much of country music a joke to people – rhyming “up” with Pizza Hut, talkin’ about football on a Friday night and putting as much of a Southern drawl into his singing as possible – all while wearing aviator shades. Because that’s what country music is all about, right?
2. I didn’t get Sia at all. If you had never caught her video before (Nope, never seen it), you were lost during this act, which featured her facing the wall the entire time while Kristen Wiig and Maddie Ziegler acted out the weirdest performance since the two amorphous blobs slapped each other in New Order’s “True Faith” 25 years ago. Performance art,? Yes. Weird? Uh huh.
3. Speaking of Kanye…Which part of his appearance should we diss – his lame attempts to sing – first with Auto-Tune, then without (and showing his total lack of talent)? His attempt to steal the spotlight from Beck during Beck’s shining moment? Or his remarks afterwards in which he said Beck needed to “respect artistry” and give his Grammy to Beyonce? Oh let’s pick all of them. What do you know about artistry, Kanye, besides rhyming? Leave and don’t come back.