Thursday, February 09, 2006

The 2006 Grammy Awards

Well, it was definitely U2's night, but I felt bad for Mariah Carey. True, she broke her 16-year Grammy drought, but all in the non-televised pre-show, only in the R&B category, and not in any of the major categories in which she was nominated. Plus, the Academy dissed her by letting Madonna (nominated for zero Grammys) open the show. Then her stylist must have been annoyed with her, as she put her in a knock-out gown which was largely covered by Mariah's unruly and in-need-of-a-trim-or-style-hair. But, damn, she sounded good.

It was also mainly about the music, which was great (and something I've been complaining about regarding the Oscar ceremonies). CELEBRATE YOUR INDUSTRY! Some of the musical pairings were dynamite, others less so. I was saddened to see that Sly Stone appears to be funk's version of Brian Wilson, but pumped up by the performances of his classic songs. (I later dove into my CD collection to retrieve his 'Greatest Hits" for my car stereo.) Faith Hill and Keith Urban were great. The mash-up between Jay-Z, Linkin Park, and (surprise) Paul McCartney was terrific. Herbie Hancock and Christina Aguilera reminded me of how much I love Leon Russell. Solo Paul McCartney reminded me how I prefer his older music to his latest CD, and I don't mean his music dating back to "Helter Skelter" -- a great song -- but some of his recent CDs ("Flaming Pie," "Run Devil Run") were, in my opinion, far better than the one nominated last night. I also question the choice of "Helter Skelter" for Paul to rock out on. Lyrically, it's not one of the best he could have pulled out of his massive catalog. I guess he's tired of playing "Live And Let Die," but I might have chosen "Lucille," "Get Back," "Coming Up," "Drive My Car," or any number of ravers. (And, no, I don't believe he should refrain from playing "Helter Skelter" in the Los Angeles area due to past association between that song and a series of sick murders in the late '60s -- that would be taking political correctness to a crazy extreme.)

U2 was, as always, great, and so was Mary J. Blige. I am about to go buy the John Legend CD; he reminds me of a young Marvin Gaye, back when he would accompany himself on piano. Classy guy, and very talented. On the other end of the spectrum, I am now totally confused as to why Coldplay is "all that." Um, EWWW? And who told the scruffy, skinny, non-charismatic guy with weird hand tattoos and adornments that he was Bono? I was hoping that security would knock him back onto the stage. Gwyneth Paltrow married THAT? Has birthed his child and is pregnant with a second one? Will they name this one "Pear?" No accounting for taste, I suppose, but there will not be anything from Coldplay joining my collection.

I was disappointed, too, that the Legendary and Trustee's Awards were given out so quickly. Perhaps they could have cut Coldplay's performance back a little and devoted a few minutes to each honoree, without their music drowning out the inductor's speech. Also disappointed that the New Orleans tribute petered out with sponsor's ads covering the last moments of the performance. The NARAS president's long and overblown speech leading up to that tribute could have been trimmed (or covered with sponsor's ads) for all the interest it held compared to the performance by such greats as Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Irma Thomas, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, The Edge, and others.

Last year's performance by Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone remains number one on my list of all-time great Grammy moments. This year had some good stuff (Sly Stone tribute, Jay-Z/Linkin Park/Paul McCartney), but Melissa and Joss set the standard. It has not yet been touched.

When I saw Springsteen take the stage with his acoustic guitar and harmonica rig, I knew it was a good time for a bathroom break. Thanks, Boss!