Monday, January 27, 2014

Grammy Awards 2014

by Bill Holmes

This is not your father's Grammy Awards Show, in fact it's not my show anymore either. What was once an awards show with a few performances is now a performance show with a few awards. The program ran about four hours and gave out fewer than a dozen statues.

The show started with an overproduced Beyonce number. A little Flashdance takeoff. She was joined part way into the song by Jay Z for some rap. It seems that a rap verse is now mandatory for many songs. Not my favorite trend. It looked to me like at least part of Beyonce's performance was lip synced.

LL Cool J was the MC. He didn't add anything to the proceedings in my opinion. When they finally did get to the first award, 30 minutes in, it was the same lame fake chit chat that was supposed to be funny. It wasn't. Just read the nominees names and announce the winner. At least they kept the acceptance speeches short.

The first few performances were big productions with dancers, backup singers, big bands, flashy costumes, elaborate sets and special effects. I remember when singers or groups would walk out on to a bare stage and sing. Another Grammy tradition is to pair artists who don't normally perform together. Sometimes it's the old with the new, sometimes it's two big stars, sometimes it's artists from different genres, sometimes it's a new artist with their mentor or inspiration other times it makes no sense. Sometimes it works, many times it doesn't. One of the pairings was Chicago with Robin Thicke for a medley. Robin ruined the Chicago hits with oversinging and Chicago didn't add anything to the one Robin song they did. This was a bust.

Just when I was getting tired of the overblown performances, a great artist saved the day. John Legend performed All of Me with just him, a piano and a spotlight. Perfect. Then another pleasant surprise, Paul McCartney won a Grammy for Best Rock Song, Cut Me Some Slack. He along with three other guys wrote and recorded the song. I think this McCartney kid might have a future in the music business.
John Legend performing All of Me
 Of course Taylor Swift had to perform. She too sat at a piano but also had four backup singers and a big band. She also was over dramatic and proved once again that her voice is mediocre at best. I am not a fan and have no idea how she got or stays popular. She also was shown doing some over exaggerated dancing in the aisles during some rap performances. She is ultrahip you know.

Pink then did an outstanding aerial silks and acrobatic performance. I don't even know what song she sang, or lip synced, but it was pretty amazing. She has done this before. If the singing career ever tanks, she can join Cirque du Soleil. Enjoyable.

Ozzy Osbourne introduced Ringo Starr who performed Photograph. Ringo had a lot of help including Peter Frampton. Ringo is certainly not a good singer, but he is fun. Ozzy proved once again that he speaks a completely different language.

There were a few other performances and awards and then Paul and Ringo performed together. This is the 50th anniversary of the Beatle invasion. There will be a special commemorating their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show next month. It was a new McCartney song, Queenie Eye, and not an old Beatles tune. It was still nice to see the old lads together. They hugged and took a bow together after the song. Yoko Ono was there too.

Another highlight was when Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and Blake Shelton performed a Highwaymen, Merle, Willie & Waylon medley. 

Stevie Wonder and Carol King were paired with contemporary artists. Nothing spectacular but not terrible either. Steven Tyler and Smokey Robinson were paired as presenters. Tyler tried to sing a little bit of You Really Got a Hold on Me. That was not a good idea. Leave that song to Smokey.

Then there was the hot mess of 33 couples being married in the aisles while Madonna and others sang. The couples were of all varieties which was to show support of same sex and interracial marriage. That's great, but it was a pretty awkward moment. Not helping at all was Madonna who looked like hell and had no energy or enthusiasm. Isn't it past time for her to retire and fade away?

They tried to do a Phil Everly tribute with Miranda Lambert and Billie Joe Armstrong singing When Will I Be Loved. Nice try, but they didn't have very good harmony, the one thing the Everly Brothers excelled at. I will say that Miranda looked way better than Don or Phil ever did.

I didn't pay a lot of attention to the actual awards. There were several categories that I didn't recognize any of the songs/albums or the artists. I am glad Bruno Mars won for Best Pop Album and that Sir Paul won again. You can find all the 2014 Grammy Winners here.

I guess I need to listen to some Daft Punk because they seemed to be the big winners along with Pharrell Williams. Robots are taking over our music world too.
Daft Punk
Besides winning several awards, Pharrell Williams made the fashion statement of the evening according to Twitter. Apparently there is no dress code at the Grammy's. Nice Hat.
Pharrell Williams
So, some good, some bad. Way too many commercials and BS filler. They could have easily cut out an hour of the show. What did you think of this year's Grammy's? I give it a B-.


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