It’s taken one week for me to muster up the motivation to write about this year’s Grammy Awards. And its memory has already faded so much, its bland entries and uninspired performances leaving me wondering, “This is the best in modern music?”
Previous years showed some innovation, trying to tie today’s rising stars to rock’s past royalty. But the only example this year was a duet between Elton John and Ed Sheeran (who?).
The show opened with America’s darling Taylor Swift, singing her “crossover” hit “We Are Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Getting Back Together Again, Ever”. Looking like a cross between the Mad Hatter and a burlesque lion tamer, Swift once again proved that she has no live chops, sounding like a drunk co-ed at karaoke night.
There were other desperate props and attempts to excite the audience with anything besides the music. Fun. (Yes, it has a period at the end) made it rain on their performance (That isn’t fun!), hoping that the precipitation would flatten lead singer Nate Ruess’ constantly sharp shrieks. It didn’t work. Justin Timberlake saw how Bruno Mars had his performance de-colorized last year to add to his retro feel and decided to do the exact. Same. Thing. Only, he’s JT so he decided to add the ever-retro rapper Jay-Z to add some zing to his uninspired song.
In fact, the only real life and energy came from a tribute to the late Levon Helm of The Band. An all-star band featuring Mavis Staples, Elton John, and members of the Zac Brown Band, Mumford and Sons and Alabama Shakes blew the top off “The Weight.” It took a 40-year-old song to revive the Grammys.
My second favorite moment? Believe it or not, it involved hip hop. The show concluded with host LL Cool J and Chuck D from Public Enemy rockin’ some old school rap – which was the last time I actually paid attention to the genre.
Today’s popular music is missing something: it’s the ability to elicit any emotional response from the listener. Simon and Garfunkel and Joni Mitchell managed to recite poetry to pleasant music. Springsteen sang heartfelt lyrics to rock n roll music. Hell, even U2, with their overbearing pomposity, managed to deliver some message in a simple, roots-driven arrangement.
I didn’t see much to get excited about last week. Granted, it could have been worse: too often the gimmicks on awards shows turn outrageous, or someone tries to be controversial to get attention. At least that would have been something to write about.