Review: The Grammys 2012

bill bodkin learned some things from this years Grammy Awards …

1. The awards really didn’t matter … and I blame Twitter

No one seemed to care about the awards themselves — not even the producers. What makes me say this? If you remember host LL Cool J’s opening monologue, he emphasized the importance of creating new classic Grammy moments. Much like the MTV VMAs, the Grammys were all about capturing “moments.” And by God, they were going to create them even if they gave out 90 percent of the awards before the show even started and then dedicated about 20 minutes of the three-hour broadcast to the actual reading of the nominees and acceptance speeches.

No, “music’s biggest night” wasn’t about honoring the year’s best artists. It was about high-gloss, poorly performed, over-the-top stage shows and forced multi-generational/cross-genre performances. They dedicated more time to the absolute train wreck that was Nicki Minaj’s performance than to celebrating who the record of the year and song of the year combined. Yes, the same person won those awards, but you get what I mean.

And in the end, I blame Twitter. The Grammys were obsessed with creating moments that would become the stuff of instantaneous hash tag fame, that were worthy of all your 140 characters. And by doing this, worrying about creating an immediate reaction, they killed any long-lasting moments. As soon as one “moment” was created and started filling up Twitter feeds, they were off to the races desperately trying to create another. This caused the awards to seem like filler as if it were “… And the winner is … hurry up we need to get Chris Brown back out there!”

And it also made for nonsensical live collaborations. I mean who thought Foster The People and Maroon 5 performing with The Beach Boys was brilliant? Or an acoustic duet between Rihanna and Chris Martin, right after Rihanna just did a high-energy dance number? Or that Foo Fighters and DeadMau5 would mesh well?

But thought and reason didn’t matter, they wanted to clog Twitter with nothing but Grammy talk. And in the long run, did these “moments” have a lasting impact? No, they faded into the ether of the internet as the audience tuned into The Walking Dead and tweets about zombies became the hot hash tag.

2. Who f**k is Bon Iver … Blame Kanye!

A lot of people wondered just who the f**k the winner for Best New Artist was. He kinda looked like a dude you’d see at a used book store in Williamsburg or hanging at a dive bar in the same section of Brooklyn drinking an extremely obscure craft beer. Yet, for all of you wondering who the F he is, Bon Iver is the hand-picked indie music god of Kanye West. Yup, Kanye friggin’ loves this dude, had him on his last record and no doubt had a hand in getting this shaggy dog of a band into the limelight.

 

But in all seriousness, Bon Iver — who I personally am not a fan of — created the most interesting and creative music of his fellow nominees. Seriously, are J. Cole or Nicki Minaj really the “best” new artists of the year? Minaj has proven herself a one-trick pony with her machine-gun staccato rap, and how has J. Cole distinguished himself from any one else in the hip-hop world? Fellow nominees The Band Perry, who were impressive in their performance with Glenn Campbell, didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel with their country-rock sound.

Bon’s real competition, and the person who I thought was going to take the Grammy, was Skrillex. I’m also no fan of dubstep, but the dude is the face of the electronic dance movement, which is absolutely Godzilla huge right now, so one could’ve easily made the argument he deserved the win.

But in the end, it seems like this win was a choice to honor a creative indie voice, who basically gave the Grammys the metaphoric finger. And let’s face it, if the Grammys were looking for a “moment,” they did so with this Arcade Fire-esque winner.

3. Is this The Aristocrats? Because Nicki Minaj just took a steaming shit on stage.

This is a direct quote from Pop-Break’s Kimberlee Rossi-Fuchs Facebook feed. And frankly, truer words were never spoken. This performance was absolutely horrific, and I honestly think this could be a career-sinker for Minaj. I mean, we’re talking Mariah Carey in Glitter bad. Combine the random mini-movie, with the dancing priest, the random overdubbed vocals and its abrupt ending, and the result was worse watching than experimental college theater.

This performance was so awful, so wretched, I don’t even want to talk about it any further … so instead I posted this video from the Simon Pegg series Spaced to show you what was running through my head during the entire performance.

4. Less definitely equaled more …

To me, the true “moments” on the Grammys came from simple, well-executed performances. The most striking performance of the night, to no one’s surprise, was Jennifer Hudson’s tribute to Whitney Houston. If there’s any singer who could do “I Will Always Love You” any justice, it’s J-Hud. The song was simple, classy and elegant. For all the glitz and glamor of the night, Hudson — with a single spotlight on her, dressed in a simple black dress — blew minds and induced a lot of tears. To me, if there’s a moment of the night, it was this.

 

I was also impressed with the duo The Civil Wars. While they did have a brief performance, it was really, really good. Their bluegrass-meets-Jack White-blues was fantastic. It’s the kind of country rock ‘n’ roll fans can really get into.

Speaking of rock ‘n’ roll, it has to be said: the Foo Fighters are the elite, cream-of-the-crop, true kings of rock ‘n’ roll. They sound exactly the same way they do live as they do on record, if not better — gritty, passionate, ferocious and melodic. Their longevity and their near unmatched continuing commercial success make them the most important band in the last two decades of rock ‘n’ roll.

And while the Grammys were about creating moments and celebrating the best in modern music, don’t you find it funny they open and close the show with two of the biggest classic rock names out there? Bruce was Bruce, as always. The man is always solid, consistently giving that big arena show with the passion and fire of a show club show. It’s hands-a-clappin’, toe-tappin’, soul-stirrin’ good time when The Boss hits the stage. And while his middle-of-the-show performance was a complete sleepwalk, Sir Paul McCartney knows how to “get back” into our hearts with the medley that closes out The Beatles’ Abbey Road. Throw in cameos from Joe Walsh, Bruce and Dave Grohl, and you’ve got one hell of a way to close a show.

5. You may be tired of her, but you have to give her her due …

This year’s Grammy awards were all about British singing sensation Adele. And rightfully so. You might be tired of hearing her on the radio, but by the Power of Grey Skull, this girl is flat-out fantastic. Her voice is soulful, powerful and intoxicating. The production on her record 21 could’ve easily been plucked out a time capsule from the height of ’60s soul music. It’s rich with rhythm, soul, harmony. It’s a gorgeous collection of deliciously tragic ballads of heartbreak. And if we’re just talking about shear popularity, 21, was head and shoulders above the rest of the pack in terms of sales.

 

And then she performed live. While it wasn’t a perfect performance, it was powerful. Her VMA performance earlier this year was impressive, but this performance was the icing on the cake for her year. It cemented in my mind that Adele is not just some flash in the pan — this is a performer of great merit. She’s no longer the young girl we threw in the same boat as Amy Winehouse and Duffy. Adele is a star all on her own. She proved that with a voice, a soul and a song you can inspire people to buy records. No auto-tune, no guest vocals, just a voice. And that’s something special.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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