Sunday, February 12, 2012

Liveblogging The 2012 Grammys

6:54 So I'm back to liveblogging the Grammys this year. Just a quick update on my predictions. I totally whiffed on the R&B and dance categories. Skrillex is now a two-time Grammy winner and I don't think it's too farfetched for him to take Best New Artist. I know Bon Iver has the nods in Record and Song of the Year, but they still don't seem well known to me. The ceremony is starting in a few minutes and I'll be here for the whole show.

7:03 Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band are starting off the show. The new song is a typical Bruce anthem and this is the first performance I've seen them without Clarence Clemmons. Keep in mind he's got an album coming out next year and if touches at all on the loss, I could easily see them being an Album of the Year contender much like Dave Matthews Band when they lost a member.

7:06 LL Cool J just led the Staples Center in a prayer in remembrance of Whitney Houston. I have to admit that I was trying to spot any atheists who didn't have their head down. It is Los Angeles, after all.

7:11 How lucky were the Grammys to have a host this year with the unexpected death of Whitney Houston? I thought LL did a good job of paying respect to Houston without keeping things somber. The program is going to need that steady presence under these circumstances.

7:14 Very lively performance from Bruno Mars, with a split to top it all off. I think he probably turned a few detractors into fans after that performance, although I wonder how long he's going to ride this whole retro sound. It's fun for the moment, so no complaints.

7:22 Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt perform Etta James' "Sunday Kind of Love with just piano and guitar. It's a nice restrained performance, but I kind of wish they did something more for Etta.

7:24 Nearly a half-hour into the show, the first award of the evening is given out. Best Pop Solo Performance goes to Adele and I think I just saw Bruno Mars throw a tantrum backstage. Either that or he was really happy for her.

7:29 Chris Brown gives a visually impressive performance that bears more than a slight resemblance to Q*bert. I don't think it had enough force for the redemption tour to end though.

7:42 Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson sing their big hit, "Don't You Wanna Stay." I dig the song in the sense that it has the typical traits of a power ballad that sneak up on you. There didn't seem to be too much chemistry between the two of them though, which is disappointing considering how popular the song was.

7:47 Really Jack Black? Foo Fighters have indie cred? Maybe he doesn't quite get what that term means.

7:51 Aside from Jack Black's confusion, Foo Fighters are still a pretty decent band and the more hear I "Walk," I feel that it might be one of their best singles. Good ol' crunchy modern rock that makes you forget about indie cred for about three minutes.

7:52 I am honestly so scared for this Beach Boys, Foster The People and Maroon 5 performance. Nothing about it says that it's going to work because when I think of those two bands, The Beach Boys do not come to mind. Fleet Foxes would have been a slightly better choice if mainstream America cared about them. I'm hoping that it will be great since Beach Boys are one of my favorite groups of all-time.

8:02 While I'm not big on Rihanna's performance of "We Found Love," I liked that it had a dramatic feel to it. Reminded ,e of a Madonna show in the way that she always treated pop so seriously. I think Rihanna does this in a way that's effortless, unlike Lady Gaga who has to hammer you over the head with it. Both approaches are enjoyable, but I don't think Rihanna gets enough credit for really being at the forefront at mixing style and music. The transition from Rihanna into Coldplay had to be one of the most awkward things I have seen. It stopped whatever energy there was cold in its tracks and it made no sense thematically. I could not find any thread that would make sense to do such a thing. Were the organizers worried they would be pressed for time? I'm really trying to understand this collaboration, but I'm coming up empty so far. Thumbs down to whoever had this idea.

8:14 Foo Fighters win Best Rock Performance, which is no surprise. And dear Lord, here comes The Beach Boys performance...

Maroon 5 did a solid job with "Surfer Girl," but Mark Forster looks incredibly terrified even though the texture of his voice fits "Wouldn't It Be Nice," oddly enough.

8:20 So yeah, Foster The People are not ready for prime-time.

8:23 The Beach Boys finally take over with "Good Vibrations." The harmonies are better than I expected. Actually, they are close to amazing. Great to see Brian Wilson performing with them again.

8:37 Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh and Diana Krall take the stage for the segment of the show dedicated to those who've longed stopped paying attention to the pop charts. It's a snoozy performance, but I have to give him credit for not doing an obvious Beatles song.

8:45 Gotta admit that I'm pretty impressed with this Taylor Swift performance of "Mean." I think this is her third time at the Grammys and this is the best she's sounded. Very rootsy and I think she probably earned some cool points by rocking the banjo. Also, The Civil Wars were solid as well. Glad to see them with some Grammys under their belt.

8:55 Adele wins Song of the Year. She's still on track to take Album of the Year. Nothing so far to suggest she'll be upset.

9:00 Katy Perry had a nice little switch up at the beginning of her performance with everyone thinking there were technical problems. It led to some tension but ultimately didn't deliver. At the end, it just felt like a cheap surprise since the performance did little more than dazzle. The biggest upset of the night so far goes to Lady Antebellum winning Best Country Album, a category that I figured Taylor Swift to be heavily favored in. The consensus was that Own The Night didn't get the attention that their previous one did, so they've been an afterthought for this year's Grammys. You have to ask the question whether Swift is no longer a Grammy favorite after losing to an album that wasn't exactly high-profile.

9:10 Adele gave a blistering performance of "Rolling In The Deep" and received a standing ovation. Her vocals sound just as strong as they've ever had and there is no fear in her eyes. This will probably be the moment that gets people talking in the morning.

9:28 Glen Campbell tribute included The Band Perry and Blake Shelton. Both acts looked like they were enjoying themselves and their joy caught on. It was also refreshing to see Glen Campbell get up there and just rely on his song. No extra frills or light show needed. Some of the heavily produced records that have been performed tonight are having difficulty translating to television and thus need an extravagant stage show.

9:31 Best New Artist is coming up, but first a duet between Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood doing "It Had To Be You." It's as classy as it sounds. As far as Best New Artist, my money is still on The Band Perry, but Skrillex feels like the wildcard here. Either way, without a Nicki or J. Cole win, the majority of America will be confused.

9:36 Bon Iver takes Best New Artist, which was widely expected. This is epic in so many ways because it is another step forward for indie rock becoming the new modern rock. The perception of the country as a whole might be different (after all, Foo Fighters won Best Rock Performance tonight), but the shift in culture is becoming harder and harder to ignore, especially with Arcade Fire's big win last year.

9:46 Jennifer Hudson's Whitney tribute consisted of "I Will Always Love You" with minimal accompaniment on piano. It was nice, simple and respectful and considering how little time they must have had to prepare, it was the right move.

9:55 I appreciate that the Grammys wanted to pay tribute to Don Cornelius and dance music, but having the Foo Fighters perform twice hardly seems apt.

9:58 Actually, having Chris Brown perform twice is questionable as well, even though I enjoyed it much more than his first time up. I just feel like with a show such as the Grammys that you should try to include as many talented people as you can. To be honest, I'm feeling fatigued with all the performances right now. What happened to the awards? Anyone remember those?

10:06 Call me traditional, but I really don't want pre-recorded videos on the Grammys. Takes too much time away from the actual performing. Strike one, Nicki.

10:12 Nicki Minaj gave what has to be one of the weirdest performances on the Grammys in recent memory. Appropriating religious imagery for pop music, levitation, pre-recorded video. It was overkill. Just too many ideas going unchecked that the actual performance suffered. I can't imagine anyone being excited for the new album after that.

10:33 Adele sweeps all of her categories with a win for Album of the Year. I could have told you this was going to happen last spring or summer. 21 has been a force for that long, so no surprise there. The show ended with Paul McCartney doing "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End" and Dave Grohl, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Walsh and a few other rockers joining him for the solos during "The End." At first it felt anti-climatic to have Macca end the show, but ultimately it was saved by the dueling guitars. I do appreciate some of the steps that the NARAS has taken to make a Grammy award feel important, but the ceremony itself says otherwise. I can't remember a year where fewer awards were given out during the telecast and not having the show end with the night's most prestigious award is a sign that they're being downplayed. There's a reason why an Oscar or an Emmy is held in higher esteem. It's simply because it's treated with reverence and respect. The Grammy itself seemed like an afterthought tonight. It's understandable that the producers would stack the show with performances in order to increase viewership, but at the same time it tells the audience that the Grammy is secondary to the show.

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