Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Off-Key: The 2012 Grammy Awards Show
Was I the only one who felt the 2012 Grammy Awards Show was seriously uneven and off-balance? Granted, I'm no professional music critic nor do I fall in the 16-24 age demographic, but this is an event that I enjoy every year. And this year's show had more minuses than plusses IMHO.
I'm sure there was a lot of shuffling to include the last-minute tribute to Whitney Houston, beautifully performed by Jennifer Hudson, but did anyone else notice that there was no mention of Soul Train's Don Cornelius or Etta James during the "In Memorium" segment?
If you are over 30, do you find yourself wondering who more and more of the "celebrities" are that make their way down the red carpet? And why does the media continue to give air time to such wannabees as Amber Rose, whose only claim to fame is that she dated Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa?
I'm not a fan of singer Chris Brown, but I found myself laughing at the outfits that his back-up dancers wore. My daughter aptly characterized them as flying squirrels. And, please, I don't need two performances by Brown when so many others could have been included.
Is anyone else convinced that male country singers who always wear cowboy hats are doing so to cover their balding heads?
Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt joined for a lovely tribute to Etta James, but the transition from Raitt's naturally aging face to Reba McEntire's Gelfling stretched smile was unsettling.
Some of the older stars had supporting acts to bolster their failing voices. Tony Bennett certainly needed help, and Paul McCartney could have used some for his "My Valentine", a sweet song that he wrote for his new wife, Nancy Shevell. He managed to redeem himself mightily, however, when he closed out the show with a dead-on performance of "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End" with Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh providing the guitar shredding. I guess the lack of celebrity recognition works in reverse too, as droves of clueless young viewers revealed their ignorance by asking "Who's Paul McCartney?" on Twitter. Last year's tribe of the musically uninformed tweeted, "Who's Arcade Fire?"
It was fortunate that the show ended on such a high note. The lows included Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj, who both failed to impress despite the blue raspberry hair and the aren't-I-shocking Roman Holiday number. It felt like Minaj was trying to out-Gaga the curiously understated Lady Gaga.
Aside from Hudson's tribute performance, one of the most enjoyable segments was the robust farewell performance of Glen Campbell who is retiring due to the progression of Alzheimer's disease. A showman to the end, he was rewarded with a standing ovation after he ended with, "Now I'm going to go somewhere and shut up."
Also remarkable was the 50th anniversary tribute by the surviving members of The Beach Boys. Despite Brian Wilson's disturbing what-am-I-doing-here facial expressions, the segment was impressively supported by Maroon Five and Foster The People.
I'm hoping next year's show won't have the notes of desperation that surfaced frequently, perhaps as performers watched songstress Adele collect SIX Grammies. The strobe-lit efforts to make the show appear to be taking place in a club, complete with Dangermouse and light stick-waving fans fell flat. So for 2013, please, less we're-so-trendy and more of the awesome mix of music that the show exists for in the first place.