As I watched the 2014 Grammy Awards telecast unfold Monday evening, I finally realized that I’m getting old.
I scoffed at the trickery that acts employed to wow audiences, screaming for substance over style (Fire! Pole dancing! Cirque du Soleil style acrobatics!). I watched the duets only to recognize the older talent over the popular young prodigy. I almost cried when two 70-somethings stole the entire show.
And Madonna was off key and walking with a cane.
The biggest realization, though, was that I don’t really listen to popular music anymore. I had never heard of many of the big winners that night (Lorde? Macklemore? Imagine Dragons?). Rap’s popularity continues to baffle me. And my God, Taylor Swift, please go away.
The night had a few highlights. Sara Bareilles played piano with songwriting goddess Carole King, and you had to marvel at the similarities between the two’s styles. Robin Thicke showed style and substance, playing with Chicago in recreating some old (really old) Chicago classics along with his hit “Blurred Lines.” It was much better without Miley Cyrus twerking in his face. And Daft Punk, the big winners of the evening, led a jam session with Pharrell and Stevie Wonder that, if anything, showed us how deeply rooted “Get Lucky” is in 70s disco.
The highlight of the evening, of course, was the surviving Beatles onstage together performing Paul McCartney’s “Queenie Eye.” The two septuagenarians showed class, talent and an innate ability to entertain, 50 years after their appearance at the “Ed Sullivan Show.” Then there were the lowlights, the moments that just made me cringe and wonder why I continue to watch this show:
- The weddings. I’m a big supporter of gay rights, and the concept seemed okay, but the ceremony uniting 34 couples (some were same-sex couples) onstage came across as a gimmick, like something you’d see on The Bachelor – especially when Madonna came out with her men’s suit and cane to sing an off-key version of “Open Your Heart.”
- Speaking of off-key voices…They were everywhere, from fun. (to be expected) to most of the Highwaymen (Blake Shelton proved that he was a good singer, twang and all, by being the only one on key).
- Metallica. Yes, you’ve always been angry, but now you’re old and angry. Like grumpy old men.
- Taylor Swift’s hair banging. I guess she thought it was theatrical, and most rockers bang their heads right? But her motions to the song “All Too Well” came across as being a “hair bang” – part rock, part orgasm and part seizure.
- Pink. I really thought that there was a blackout of the 2014 Grammys and they were replaying last year’s performance. And there is no way she was singing live. No way.
- Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar, “Radioactive” & “M.A.A.D. City”: This performance garnered high praise from critics, but with all the bleeped out profanities, the frenzied running around by Imagine Dragons, who looked like an albino offspring of the Blue Man Group and Arcade Fire, only on crack. It was a spectacle worthy of a circus, not the Grammys (see Pink above).
- Watching Ringo dance. His performance of his #1 hit “Photograph” was great, but he looked like Lawrence Welk trying to sway to the bubbles.
- Taylor Swift in general. Her fake pleasantness, public love life (and subsequent songs about it) and her apparent plateauing of songwriting at 16 makes me hope she is on her way out.