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Monday, February 12, 2007

And the Grammy goes to......

Every year, I look forward to watching the Grammy awards to see if music justice is served. The performances are usually mediocre at best, but seeing some of my favorite acts get the recognition they deserve is what I'm really after.

The night started with a very brief performance from the reunited Police. Before starting "Roxanne", Sting shouted "Ladies and gentlemen, we are the Police and we're back!" After such a long absence I must say I felt a bit short-handed. We waited for more than 20 years and got about 3 minutes worth of "Roxanne", and much of it was just an improv jam. Aside from a brief reunion for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they had not played together in more than a decade. A tour has been set starting at the end of May, which the band has described as "three guys on stage, that's all". What I can say about The Police is that after so long apart, they really looked excited to play together. If that holds up, their tour will easily be among the best of the year.

In terms of musical justice, last night the Dixie Chicks got justice handed to them five times.
They performed their song "Not Ready To Make Nice" which was a defiant stance against those who turned on them for their political beliefs. Back in 2003, vocalist Natalie Maines shamed President Bush regarding the war in Iraq and their careers and lives were threatened. Radio wouldn't play them and it seemed that the world was all done with the Chicks.....until now. They won for record and song of the year, as well as best country album beating out American Idol winner Carrie Underwood. The top Grammy prize, Album of the Year, was announced and once again the Chicks took the stage as Natalie declared peace by saying "we're ready to make nice."

Mary J. Blige, known as the queen of hip hop soul, took home the awards for Best R&B album for her multiplatinum-selling "The Breakthrough" and best R&B song for "Without You". Mary was rudely interrupted during her acceptance speech for Best R&B Album, which was the first Grammy win of her career. As the "finish your speech" music was cued, Mary started name-dropping as fast as she could and some internet sites claim a total of 55 names were mentioned.
As far as I'm concerned, the evening is all about giving musical credit where it is due, so each recipient should be given the opportunity to thank the people who helped them to acheive their award, without fear of being rushed. Mary performed twice during the show, first with an orchestrated take on "Without You" and then joining Ludacris on their collaboration "Runaway Love" from his Best Rap Album winner "Release Therapy".

As Ludacris took hold of his Grammy for Best Rap Album, he shouted "so y'all are telling me all I had to do was cut my hair to win a Grammy?" and was later heard saying "today is pretty much the best day of my life."

John Legend, newcomer Corinne Bailey Rae, and John Mayer shared the stage as they took turns during one of the more memorable performances of the night. Both Legend and Mayer took home Grammy awards as Legend got Best Male Vocal performance for "Heaven" while Mayer took Best Pop Vocal Album for "Continuum" and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Waiting On The World To Change".

This is the point where the Grammy awards took a wrong turn for me. John Mayer beat out both Justin Timberlake's album "Futuresex/Lovesounds" and Christina Aguilera's "Back To Basics", two albums which boast significantly greater vocal ability than Mayer could ever conjure up. Aguilera's album was a huge change in direction for her as she channeled the jazz siren within. Justin's cd is the modern day equivalent of Michael Jackson's "Thriller", and they were beat out by the whining, constipated sound of John Mayer. What's done is done I suppose and my gripe is only partial being that Justin and Christina both won a Grammy, as Christina took Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Ain't No Other Man" and Justin got Best Dance Recording for "SexyBack" and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "My Love" featuring T.I.

On the Rock front, Red Hot Chili Peppers took awards for Best Rock Performance by a Group and Best Rock Song for "Dani California" as well as Best Rock Album for their double-cd release "Stadium Arcadium". For Best Hard Rock Performance, Wolfmother took the award for "Woman", a huge upset as Tool lost out for "Vicarious". For the Rock category, my biggest confusion is the absense of Pearl Jam's eponymous 2006 release, which is the first album since their debut "Ten" which critics didn't completely rip to shreds. In fact, most critics' reviews gave high praise for the new album. Pearl Jam even created videos for a few of the album's tracks after releasing 5 albums without videos to support them. Of course, since MTV has moved to reality shows for the majority of their schedule, I doubt anyone even noticed.

Of course, no one can forget the infectious "Crazy" by Gnarles Barkley. They were rewarded with a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album for "St. Elsewhere".

All things considered, I think the industry got things right this year with the few exceptions I mentioned above. With 2007 shaping up as the year of reunions, I'm hoping that next year's Grammys showcase what we've been missing.

1 comment:

Pamm said...

It's funny - as I sat and watched the Grammys I was thinking the same thing when John Mayer won. While I haven't heard the Christina Aguliera CD, I own the Justin Timberlake CD and absolutely love it. The fact that John Mayer won (which - by the way - I own that album as well) escapes me.

And the Dixie Chicks...I think the did the equivalent of giving the nation the middle finger by winning every category that they were nominated in. Much love to the Chicks!