The annual Grammys: annual display of crass commercialism or America's best given due recognition?
I am truly curmudgeonly when it comes to any discussion of the Grammys. Truth is, the Glammys are a hit-and-miss and very uneven theatrical event. This is more about what someone wears than the content of the music.
However, there are moments when the Grammys almost redeem themselves. Then there are moments when....eh...er...what?
The list of nominees. Here's my list:
1. Beck wins for Morning Phase. Beck is no poser, neophyte or fake mystic. He delivers excellent songs with beauty and clarity. A complete joy.
2. Kanye makes an idiot of himself. Kanye has become so delusional about his self-importance that he is now truly entertaining. You can't make this stuff up. At first, people suggested he was kidding. Later, Kanye delivered a rant against Beck. Uncool, very uncool, dude.
3. ACDC delivers the goods. Back in my prog rock days, I hated their raw, unsophisticated brand of hard rock. I have softened my view of these hard-working Aussies and no matter the trends, ACDC have remained true to their fist-in-your-face rock-n-roll.
4. Pharrell. Great voice, great tune, great performance: so why does Pharrell catch so much flack over his outfits (hats) or for writing a joyous anthem like Happy?
5. Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. Why didn't they perform something from their upcoming tour? Answer: because awesomely talented cats like that take a backseat to Beyonce and McDonna.
6. John Mayer and Taylor Swift. Why? Why? Why won't they please go away?
7. Sia. Ok, Sia's presentation was appreciatively different and the dancers (SNL's Kristen Wiig and Dance Mom's Maddie Ziegler) did nothing but distract from the music from this curmudgeons' perspective. I couldn't make head or tail of the song either. I am truly grumpy.
8. No classical performers for the past couple Grammys. There have been past performances of Yo Yo Ma, Perlman and other classical artists, but none to be seen in the last few years. Lang Lang did perform with Pharrell, but was not introduced. I know prime time audiences have short attention spans, but can't we squeeze a little awesomeness in between all the glitter, glam and fashion?
9. Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. CBS Sunday Morning did an excellent piece on the "why" of this unlikely duet. Gaga was on the fast track to burnout and destruction by endless touring and pressures placed on her by her record company. Ms. Germanotta sought the company of the elder Bennett as counselor, mentor, shelter and friend. Who better to help you ride out the rougher waves of a spiraling career than one of the coolest cats on the planet? Jazz snobs would hate her before she sang a note for her "day time" gig as pop dance oddity, but I see her work in this genre as sincere. It's not bad either. Honestly, I find most jazz singers really annoying and way too mannered.
10. Beyonce. This star doesn't need the awkward help of Mr. West, she's already a superstar. For me, I am bored by her music. It's flat, predictable and sounds like too many suits are involved in its creation. Dull, dull, dull.
11. Saul Goodman. The rest of the acts I fast forwarded through because I wanted to watch the premiere of AMC's Better Call Saul. There! You happy?