The Grammys are more of an all-star concert event and a marketing vehicle for the recording industry than an awards show, and that’s part of what makes them so fun. This year’s show didn’t have many particularly memorable moments but it did manage to entertain and sometimes infuriate.
* Right after I go on record saying I prefer Lady GaGa to Madonna, she puts out a song that sounds like a watered down version of ‘Express Yourself.’ ‘Born This Way’ might be a new gay anthem but it’s certainly a tired old song. I’m sure GaGa spent more time affixing her shoulder implants than writing this track. I hope the new album features songs with the flair of ‘Paparazzi,’ ‘Poker Face’ and ‘Telephone’ and not more of this.
* Mumford and Sons and The Avett Brothers made the biggest impression on me, and apparently on others as well. When I looked them up on Amazon and iTunes the following morning, the Mumford and Sons album was #1 in sales on both sites. I’ve bought that album as well as the Avett Brothers CD. (I enjoyed their rendition of ‘Maggie’s Farm’ as well, even though Dylan’s voice is comically ravaged)
* Cee-Lo Green is having more fun than anybody on the planet, and it’s infectious. His performance of ‘Forget You,’ accompanied by Gwyneth Paltrow, was the highlight of the night. Muppets!
* Great performance by B.o.B., Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae. Nice to see young talent that can nod to history while forging out in new directions.
* I’m sick to death of Lady Antebellum winning so many awards for ‘Need You Now.’ Eminem or Cee-Lo should have taken home the Best Song and Best Record Grammys. And their defeat of Miranda Lambert’s Revolution for Best Country Album is a travesty.
* Speaking of Eminem, it seems rap will forever be ghettoized at the Grammys. If ever there was a chance for a rap album to take the top prize, it was this year. But Eminem had to settle for another Best Rap Album award (his fifth). It’s the animated film of the music industry. [Note: I see that Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below took the top prize in 2004, making it the only hip-hop album to do so, but it’s far from a traditional rap record]
* I like that the Grammys have an element of surprise that’s lacking in the Oscars. I’m 95% certain who the winners will be in the top Oscar categories, but nobody has a clue who’ll take home the top Grammys. Esperanza Spalding for Best New Artist? Arcade Fire for Best Album?
* I like that the Album of the Year award went to the one nominee that was conceived and presented as a true album and not just a collection of singles. So often this award goes to a soundtrack or compilation. Arcade Fire built The Suburbs around a consistent theme and worldview, and I’d like to think that’s why they were honored. After all, in the age of iTunes the album is a dying art. Let’s celebrate those who continue fighting for it.
* Beyoncé was there, but no Jay-Z. Do I sense a rift?!