Monday, February 13, 2012

10 Things: the 2012 Grammy Performances

My relationship with the music industry is about an inch deep and a mile wide, so I don't usually get excited about the Grammy awards.  But, after the untimely passing of Whitney Houston, I sat down for the show just to see Jennifer Hudson's tribute - and got sucked into the entire show.

Really, the Grammys aren't truly an awards show.  Yes, they hand out awards, but at essence: they are the coolest concert you could possibly go to in the current year.  They stage performance after performance, that compile old acts and new, honoring music history as well as indulging in the jams that fancy today's populace.  For that reason, they are actually entertaining to watch, and I found myself glad I tuned in.  So, let's talk ten of the acts from last night:

I. Jennifer Hudson honoring Whitney Houston
This was the reason I was there, and it did not disappoint.  It was a touching tribute by one of the only women today who can rival Whitney's vocals - but the best part about it was that she didn't try and imitate Ms. Houston in the slightest.  Instead, every note resonated simply, and hung heavy in the air with gravitas.  Even Whitney's big vocal moments translated to a gravelly crying out of pain, and watching Jennifer Hudson summon all her resolve to not break down on stage was heartbreaking.  This was basically a perfect tribute, and kudos to J. Hud for not only the vocal but for also making it through without crying.  A+ 

II. Coldplay and Rihanna
When you hear that Coldplay and Rihanna are teaming up, it's an immediate hook, line, and sinker.  These are two different genres, two different kinds of musicians - what sort of amazing synthesis are they going to create?  Well, they only overlapped a little with a stripped-down performance of "Princess of China," and it all kind of blew away anyways with Rihanna tearing up "We Found Love."  It still boggles my mind how anthemic that song is, and I'm pretty sure you could've powered the Staples Center on the amount of electricity the performance generated.  As for Coldplay, they delivered a predictable piece of sublime melancholy, and I confess that my attention wandered.  B+

III. Nicki Minaj and the exorcism of Roman
Oh, Nicki.  This, of course, is the one everyone's talking about - and not in a good way.  Bogged down with overt Catholic symbolism and an unnecessary narrative, "Roman Holiday" left a sour taste in most people's mouths, and I can't say I'm not one of them.  Obvious comparisons between this inflated showmanship with Adele's stripped-down tour de force don't help the matter.  I love Nicki, but I love her for her talent first - especially when she's such a rarity in the music industry.  She's a successful lady rapper!  I wish she had just gone up there and torn a song apart the way she's clearly capable of, without any of the controversial distractions.  Curse you, Roman!  D 

IV. Glen Campbell and "Rhinestone Cowboy" 
This performance came on the heels of the Band Perry and Blake Shelton paying homage to the legendary Glen Campbell, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, and dedicated himself to living out the rest of his days performing for as long as he can.  It wasn't hard to forgo tissues, though, seeing how joyful a performance "Rhinestone Cowboy" was.  Perhaps the best tribute was seeing everyone onstage singing along, because they loved the song and knew all the words.  A 

V. Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean
First things first: I love this duet!  It's a nice break from the anthemic girl power tracks that load Kelly Clarkson's album (although I love those too) and even better to hear Kelly's voice showcased in a different genre.  Confining her to pop/rock is a disservice to her abilities!  That being said, the sound guys had it in for this one, as Kelly's mic messed up at the beginning, and Jason Aldean's cut out completely during the climax of the song.   Even despite that, the harmonies alone were worth the listen.  Also, Jason Aldean's hat was intenseB+

VI. Adele's return
This, alongside the Whitney tribute, was what everyone was waiting for.  We all knew the story: Adele had to be silenced earlier this year and have surgery to remove a benign but hemorrhaging polyp on her vocal chords.  And the 2012 Grammys would be her first live performance since the successful surgery.  Oh, the anticipation!  In the end, she delivered a fantastic rendition of "Rolling in the Deep," and even though she seemed hesitant to strain herself at the start, she loosened up towards the end, and everyone in the audience gave a collective sigh of relief that the most compelling voice to emerge in recent history wouldn't be deprived a future.  (They threw in six Grammys for good measure.)  A+

VII. Chris Brown did something presumably less offensive than physical abuse
Yeah, I'm including him just to make the point that I didn't watch it.  Putting Chris Brown onstage for people to cheer for him is just not something I want to witness, or support.  So, I turned it to Rush Hour 3 and chuckled at Chris Tucker for a few minutes.  F    

VIII. Katy Perry
Katy Perry doubled up with two songs last night: "E.T." and "Part of Me."  Vocally, she sounded great, and I loved that she put two of her songs into the same piece, but I didn't really understand what the intention was with the set performance.  It attempted to be pyrotechnic, but stripped down, but with backup dancers, but with elaborate staging - and somehow didn't really achieve a cohesive version of any of those things.  Mostly, it left me confused.  Maybe singing two songs was therefore both the strength and weakness of this attempt.  C

IX. Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt honoring Etta James
This is what I love to see at the Grammys: two artists from different backgrounds coming together in one single performance.  Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt did a solid tribute to Etta James, equipped only with one piano, one guitar, and two great voices.  "Sunday Kind of Love" only sounds better when Etta's singing it, and that's how it should have been.  A

X. Bruno Mars
I confess, I'm not the biggest fan of Bruno Mars.  It's not that I don't like, I just don't really listen.  So I wasn't entirely sure what to expect with him last night.  But damn, did that man put on a show!  With a James Brown pompadour and moves like Elvis, his performance jump-started the Grammys and provided a great contemporary performance that tipped a hat to the past, showed off the present, and most of all - didn't overwork itself trying to show up Lady Gaga.  Of course, I couldn't tell you for the life of me what song Bruno sang, but I am happy to report that I was completely entertained for the duration of it.  A

1 comment:

  1. At least she was able to recover and came up with an amazing performance. It helps to maintain your dental health with dentist concord.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...