Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Grammys - 2016

The 2016 Grammy Awards were presented Monday night, February 15th in a marathon 3½ hour TV show. According to my count, they only presented eight awards during the show although I may have missed some. They did recognize some others who had received their trophy earlier. Here is my review of the show and a comment or two about some winners. LL Cool J was the host once again although he really didn't have much to do. This is a list of winners if you really care.

Full disclosure here. Most music today is not aimed at my demographic and I can't stand some of it. Still, I have been listening to music since the days of AM radio and 45's. You kids can ask your parents or grandparents what those things are. I also try to keep up with the current music and at least sample the new stuff. I have a very eclectic and varied music library of over 6,000 songs plus Pandora, Spotify and other streaming services. So, let the review begin.

I almost changed the channel right off the bat but decided to power through. The reason is that one of my least favorite performers (I refuse to refer to her as a singer) opened the show. That would be Taylor Swift and she lived up to my expectations. I wasn't sure if there was a problem with the sound or just a lack of talent. Turns out that it was the latter. Even with all of today's audio technology, Swift still sounds off key and weak-voiced. At least, the show had nowhere to go but up.

Next was a duet by Country singers Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt. Not great, but OK. She was better than him and their voices didn't really compliment each other.

Then The Weeknd did a fair job although his falsetto doesn't sound that great to me. I'm probably spoiled by Brian Wilson, Frankie Valli and Smokey Robinson.

The show improved with a duet by Ellie Goulding and Andra Day. Followed by the presentation of the first Grammy 40 minutes into the show, no rush.

Next up was a tribute to Lionel Richie who received some kind of lifetime achievement thing. It was pretty good. John Legend kicked it off with Easy, then was joined by Demi Lovato, Luke Bryan, Meghan Trainor, Tyrese and eventually Lionel himself. It was enjoyable, of course, they had good songs to work with.
Little Big Town performed their hit song Girl Crush. I'm a fan of LBT and they did their usual stellar performance.

Another tribute was for the late Maurice White, founder of Earth Wind & Fire. This one was done by Stevie Wonder and a bunch of others doing an a capella version of That's The Way Of The World. Always good to see Stevie.

Following another award presentation, the remaining Eagles and Jackson Browne sang Take It Easy in tribute to recently deceased Eagle founding member Glenn Frey. Browne's inclusion was appropriate since he co-wrote that song with Glenn and was a friend even before there was an Eagles band. Good song, good group.

Tori Kelly and James Bay did yet another duet. Not bad, she was the better half of this effort.

Switch to New York for a performance by the cast of the Broadway musical Hamilton. This was OK, but I don't think excerpts of plays translate very well to TV. This musical is also mostly rap which is not my favorite.

Unfortunately, that was followed by more rap crap from Kendrick Lamar. That was two too many rap numbers in a row for me. 

Miguel and Greg Phillinganes did a Michael Jackson song. It wasn't really a tribute since Michael has been dead for some time. They did mention something about 35 years since his first Grammy. OK. Then another award presentation, I think the fifth of the evening.

It was then time for one of the performances I was looking forward to. That would be Adele singing All I Ask. So of course her mic crapped out at the beginning of the song. They seemed to fix it, but I still thought the sound was somewhat off for the whole song. I don't know if it was all technical or whether Adele was a little off. Either way, it was not her best performance. Of course even when Adele isn't at her best, she is far above most singers.

Then we went from the sublime to the ridiculous. It was time for Justin Bieber. I put him in the same category as Taylor Swift although he does sing a little better. To make it even worse, he sang (kinda) two songs. Actually he mostly ran around the stage and posed. There was also a large contingent of frantic extras on the stage. At this point, Justin is mostly famous for being famous. After another award, it got better again.

Lady Gaga did her tribute to recently departed David Bowie. It was a near perfect choice. David and Gaga both pushed the boundaries and played characters. She had the outrageous hair and outfit plus some strange stage props. Carlos Alomar, a longtime contributor with Bowie, joined Gaga on stage. I am often at a loss about some of Lady Gaga's choices, but she does have talent. Listen to her duets with Tony Bennett or her rendition of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. This was a fitting tribute to David Bowie.

The enjoyment continued with a tribute to B. B. King. Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark, Jr. and the great Bonnie Raitt sang The Thrill Is Gone. Good guitar work and vocals. Bonnie and Gary are excellent blues artists, Chris a little more country.

Alabama Shakes was up next. Some of their music is OK with me, but I find it hard to watch lead singer Brittany Howard perform. Some of her facial and body movements look painful.

Time for a downer. In a sort of tribute to Motorhead and the late Lemmy Kilmister we got the manufactured group, Hollywood Vampires. It consists of that famous rock star Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Joe Perry from Aerosmith. Terrible. I don't much like hard metal rock, too much screaming and noise. Alice Cooper did his normal solo shtick with the makeup and cane, Perry played loudly and Depp proved that he can't sing and is a pretend rocker.

The seventh (I think) award of the night was for Album of the Year and unfortunately it went to Taylor Swift's 1989. Then she gave some BS acceptance speech. This was a low point in the proceedings. There was one more award and then the finale, finally.

The last act was Pit Bull and Robin Thicke. It was more rap stuff with many dancers backing up the singers. Sofia Vergara was a surprise dancer. It was a lame segment to end the up and down presentation.

Like most of these type shows there were highs and lows. This one seemed very heavy on tributes. I will never like rap or most of hip hop so those segments will never get my vote. I also don't have much use for performers who don't have any real talent. I already named two, but there were others. I'll give this particular program about a 50-50, kind of a middle C.
So enjoy the music you like and in another year we'll see how the music industry rated your choices at the 2017 Grammys.


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