Worst Song of the Evening – Is there any competition here? “My Valentine” by Paul McCartney is a gigantic piece of tripe not even worthy of an early 60’s “Top of the Pops” show. Encompassing all of Sir Paul’s worst musical inclinations in one wretched little ditty, I have rarely heard a song as spinelessly awful. Even Deadmaus’ electronic burbling’s were better, much better.
Fortunately McCartney came back to demonstrate why he was allowed on the stage in the first place with his Abbey Road medley. The guitar jam at the end was a cautionary tale of how not to take a break by Bruce Springsteen. Past Grammy “Guitar Jams” featuring the likes of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Elvis Costello (who got a brief cameo while he was in the audience, looking like it was well past his nap time) made this years’ attempt to rock out seem even lamer by comparison.
Twice Is NOT Better – The Foo Fighters weren’t any better the second time they played than the first. Love their drummer though. Also I really liked Dave Grohl’s new Gibson DG-335 signature model, which closely resembles a Gibson Trini Lopez guitar. Fifteen years ago Dave and I were in competition for the same mint cherry-red 1959 Gibson ES-355. He had the next best offer.
Lost on Stage – This year we had a dead heat between Glen Campbell and Brian Wilson. Wilson managed to forget the lyrics from his own song and look as if he had been dropped out of an alien spaceship. Campbell used the same throwaway line about the Norman Luboff choir twice. The Luboff group was popular so many years ago that I suspect all its members have already joined that great choir in the sky. I also LOVED Campbell’s last line on stage – “Where do I go NOW? Out to pasture I’m afraid…
Best Book to Read Before or During the Show – The Grammys by Thomas O’Neil. Perhaps the reason this book is hard to find, and expensive when found, is that it tells the unvarnished truth about the Grammys – they began as a PR weapon to blunt the power of Elvis and the demons of rock and roll – at which they fortunately failed miserably. Of course Mitch Miller would have LOVED McCartney’s “My Valentine”…
Best Live Performance – If by “performance” we mean stage show, then undoubtedly Nicki Minaj’s “Possession” and her subsequent inquisition on stage took the honors as most vibrant performance. If we use musical metrics to award a winner, both Jennifer Hudson and Adele left most performers in the dust with their impeccable performances. Great singers only need a song worthy of their gifts to make a lasting impression. Even McCartney’s fetching white double-breasted dinner jacket didn’t save “My Valentine” from sucking.
Worst Live Performance – Yeah, I know I’ve done enough Sir Paul bashing already, but his rendition of his new iTunes hit was completely putrid.
Best Acceptance Speech – Adele, who managed not to drop any F bombs this year, looked genuinely happy and nonplussed by her final win of the night. I loved her comment that “Rick Rubin taught me about quality…”
The Pall of Whitney Houston – Imagine, if you will, what the Grammys would have been like if Houston had passed away 24 or 48 hours later. Whether Houston’s death was any more “untimely” than Hank Williams, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, or Jim Morrison, is up for debate.
Most Surprising Win – I never realized that Pat Metheny was a new age artist, but his What’s It All About won in this category. Another surprise is that Linda Chorney did not win in the Americana Album category, given her lobbying for the award. Instead a musician who along with the other members of The Band virtually invented the genre, Levon Helm, took away the trophy.
Most Boring Performance – The most bathroom-break-worthy performance – by now you must have guessed – “My Valentine” – Sir Paul’s tribute to fluff; followed closely in second by Bruce Springsteen’s going-through-the-motions nod to populist politics, “We Take Care of Our Own” which opened the show.
Fun with Building Blocks Award – The choreography during Chris Brown’s performance was impressive. No one fell. Which given the lighting and complexity of the dance moves, was in itself nothing short of a miracle.
Hearty Congratulations – To Telarc for winning the “Best Instrumental Arrangement” for Gordon Goodwin and his Big Phat Band on “Rhapsody in Blue.” And kudos to Neal Cappellino, Mike Shipley, Brad Blackwood, Neal Cappellino, Mike Shipley, and Brad Blackwood, for winning “Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical” for their work on Alison Krauss’s Paper Airplane album.
So, till next year…or till the next awards show, the CMAs. For those who did not get enough of Taylor Swift at the Grammys (she was disarmingly good despite the hokey concept)…