A review of the Grammy Award show – and here’s my disclaimer. I am not a regular pop music fan. I put on the country channel once in a while, and I know so very little of what’s getting radio play these days. However, I do have some musical training and I appreciate the entertainment world … so here goes… and like the title says, I remember when the Beatles were new, so…
.I found I enjoyed those who did their music without the flash and ‘production value’ of costuming and visual effects. (Are you listening, Taylor Swift? Just sing your song – we didn’t need your Alice in Wonderland baloney. That song – and you – are good enough to stand on your own qualities.)
Those that succeeded for me: Elton John and Ed Sheeron did a nice job. Kelly Clarkson showed some interesting vocal chops on her tribute to Patti Page and Carole King … to the point that I would like to see her put together an album of old standards as in the tradition of Linda Ronstadt. Ms. Clarkson, I think, would do a very solid job. Mr.Timberlake – acceptable, but I would rather you stick to your film career. His music was a bit like a cross between a 1970s George Benson song and a Michael Jackson ballad. Maroon Five/Alicia Keys were enjoyable… I have little exposure to the Five … and more, please, of Ms. Keys. I plead little exposure to the Lumineers as well – and they were fun …and so was Fun. – but again, the ‘rain effect’ was a bit much. Carrie Underwood did her usual nice job but didn’t hit it out of the park for me – more like a double legged out into a triple. The Black Keys and the Preservation Hall group was probably the most interesting pairing of the night – the old with the new.
Those that left me thinking that I could even have a career as a pop musician despite my limited skills: Bentley/Lambert. She seemed so unsure of herself…. Nerves? Rihanna – enunciation is important in music. And so is pitch, for that matter. She also looked like she’d rather be somewhere else. She was better in the MARLEY tribute, but not by much. More enunciation problems with Mr. Hayes as well. …. and Jack White got introduced as the GREAT Jack White. No one is great until they’ve been around a long time… like the GREAT Johnny Cash, the GREAT Elton John…. But here we have the GREAT Jack White – great, that is, at bad enunciation as well. I could have done without the guy (I didn’t catch his name) who did YOUR SONG in other languages.
As for any of the rap – sorry, but I have trouble calling this any kind of music. I can see that it is an art from of sound, but I can’t accept it as music. If rap is music, then so are the Cheerleader routines I heard for 34 years of pep bands at athletic events. I was VERY disappointed in Frank Ocean… musically, he was the worst of the bunch with his enunciation, his pitch, and his stage presence…. And then he won his Grammy, which shows you exactly how much I don’t know about pop music.
The Marley stuff was a great deal of fun. The Dave Brubeck segment could have been scheduled for more time… and I suppose by saying so I’m revealing my preferences. I mentioned my strong favor of Kelly Clarkson’s work – and reiterate my hope that she does an ‘oldies’ album someday. The Levon Helm tribute was energetic – I could have used more of this plain straightforward music, let me tell you. I always am interested in the ‘In Memoriam” spot in these awards shows. More could have been said about Dick Clark, who more or less brought pop music to television.
THE SHOW ITSELF
LL Cool J was a warm host – well spoken and friendly. His opening speech about how much he appreciated being host was well taken. I don’t get why some of the presenters were selected – their speaking habits were unworthy of national television; to many mumblers, too many yups and yos… This is national television folks, show some class. It also took me awhile to figure out the various TV celebrities who presented, but then the light bulb hit. They are all CBS stars – and guess who aired the show? CBS. Guess who, therefore, selected a bunch of those presenters? CBS. I enjoyed seeing some of the performers who presented – Bonnie Raitt, J-Lo, Hill and McGraw. I didn’t necessarily need to see Prince or Johnny Depp present anything.
As a retired music teacher, I am glad to see this idea out there – awarding the music teachers who have brought music to the lives of so many. This reminds me some of the old VH-1 SAVE THE MUSIC effort, and the Mr. Holland’s Opus foundation – not as well known, but aims at the same ideas of promoting music in our public schools.
Did I waste my time? I don’t think so. Was it worth it? Maybe. I was glad to hear some of the groups of the day, and glad to hear some of the tribute music. Will I watch again? Maybe – I’m glad to see that the music industry honors its past, and I look forward to seeing where the future of pop music is going…. and oh yes, I know the Grammy awards go to classcial music, children’s music — but remember this is a review about the show, not the awards themselves.