OK, maybe I was a little harsh before but let’s face it- even most music fans reluctantly watch the Grammys. If you’re a pop music junkie, you need to see it or maybe you need to root for your favorite artist but otherwise, you probably have better things to do with a few hours of your life.
Looking back, last year’s broadcast was actually pretty good (not great though). But this year? The Foo Fighters were good though that orchestra part and the American Idol rip-off were tacked on pretty clumsily. Amy Wino deserved the kudos (even if the State Dept won’t have her) and she actually delivered a good performance which means that she should stop saying no, no, no to rehab. Aretha sounded in good voice though it seemed like they were trying to shove as many gospel acts on stage as they could after a while. Other than Kanye (the tribute to his mom was moving and you gotta love the Daft Punk pyramid), Fogerty/Little Richard (though not poor Jerry Lee) and Tina/Beyonce (who tipped their hat to Ike whether they like it or not), the other performances were pretty snoozy. It was nice to see Prince and Stevie up there but it would have been even better to have them perform instead of just presenting.
The real news was Herbie Hancock upsetting not just Wino but also Kanye (can’t wait to hear his rants) and snagging the big prize- he looked genuinely surprised (as I’m sure most people were). It’s a nice album and Herbie’s always been a great musician (for proof, check out not just Headhunters material but also his 70’s sessions with Miles and his early album Maiden Voyage, not to mention his early/mid 80’s hip-hop phase with “Rockit”- quite a varied career). This particular album, his tribute to Joni Mitchell with guest shots by Nora Jones, Tina Turner, Leonard Cohen and JM herself, seemed OK to me when I first heard it but not extraordinary- basically, it’s good lounge jazz record aimed at the adult contemporary market. Listening to it again, I still think the same way but I don’t see how it adds a lot to any of the original material. Yet because it serves the AC market so well, it probably snagged enough votes from the Grammy constituency’s older crowd to beat Kanye and Wino, both of whom made better albums. Which is not to take anything away from Herbie- I think it’s great that he nabbed a big award and certainly deserves the recognition (not to mention the inevitable sales boost he’ll get). It makes me wonder about the academy voters though and when a younger (and MAYBE hipper) demographic will dominate there and be reflected in the voting choices.
Otherwise, it was actually a little more boring than I feared and longer than I thought but at least, it’ll be another 12 months before it comes back…
// Notes from the Road
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