Grammy thoughts, nothing more, nothing less

I rarely listen to the radio. I don’t often have knowledge of the popular songs of the day; I typically remain holed up in my iTunes library and keep it at that. Not the healthiest thing for someone who would like to be a part of the music industry, but it’s just what has happened.

This year has been slightly different because, under various circumstances over the past few months, I have been enlightened to the pop music of today.  I had a particular interests in the 54th Grammy Awards because the nominees/songs that I’ve heard of and actively listened to were not just Mumford & Sons or Bon Iver. Thanks to a friend from college, I heard of Adele over a year ago, so at least I can say I’m not jumping on her bandwagon just now, after her fantastic night. I knew the catchy Rihanna and Katy Perry and Bruno Mars  songs, I’d already heard of Foster the People. Not large accomplishments, yes, but for me this was something new.

So, I watched the 54th Grammy Awards with a new perspective last night. And with that, I bring you some of my thoughts. That’s all they are- just thoughts. I’ll leave it at that.

Bruno Mars put on a killer performance. Catchy song, catchy dance moves, catchy  costumes. He may just have my bid for best performance of the night. And I may have to check out his other music now, just to see what else he can do.

Ok, Best Rock Performance? That was a joke, right? My ranking order for the five bands nominated, top to bottom: Mumford & Sons, Radiohead/Coldplay, Decemberists, Foo Fighters. How do Foo Fighters even belong in that group? I would have been much happier with any of the others winning that one. And their live performance(s)? Where was the musicality? Where was the show? Standing there nailing a guitar and screaming something senseless into the mic doesn’t constitute music. Can someone tell me what the big deal is with them? Please?

Chris Martin. Oh, Chris Martin. You used to be so good. I’ve no doubt you still are, but that was rather disappointing. You looked a little lost up there, buddy. I hope for your sake that it was just an off night, and I’m sorry that the off night had to happen at the biggest musical event of the year. Keep writing. You’re talented. I’m not sure what happened up there, but go ahead and try again. You’ll come back, I hope.

Foster the People did a fantastic job with their cover of Wouldn’t It Be Nice. Low key and just how it should have sounded. They upstaged Maroon 5 who shouldn’t have been asked to sing a song with so many harmonies. Maroon 5 is a solo Adam Levine with a backing band. You can’t do Beach Boys with an all-star solo vocalist and sub-par backing vocals. You CAN do a Beach Boys reunion. Those guys will never lose it! They will also always be allowed to wear ball caps that say Beach Boys. They can do whatever they want. It was a fantastic performance.

Carrie Underwood and Tony Bennett rocked it. She totally deserves the stage and is an example of what should happen after American Idol. I will say the same for Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean.

Paul McCartney the first time around was a great listen, and then a great disappointment after realizing he was done after one song that I didn’t even know. I wanted the token Beatles song! We all did! …. so some two or three or however many hours later when we got the Beatles medley, I couldn’t have been happier. A great way to end the show.

Adele‘s performance was incredible, naturally. Starting out with no accompaniment zero use of auto tune is the sign of a naturally talented musician. I really respect Adele because she sings because she loves it. She deserved every bit of recognition gained last evening. She’s a natural, she’s laid back, she’s thankful, she’s an example of the standard that should be set in the music industry.

Taylor Swift continually reminds me every time I’ve seen her live on TV that her vocal talent is sub-par. If you know me at all, you know I have a vendetta against her. Let the record show that I appreciate her in some regards. She writes her own songs. She has yet to be a bad example to the younger generation that loves her. She knows her demographic and knows how to keep them interested. I respect all of that. HOWEVER. She does not have the musical/vocal talent to back all the recognition and awards she has received. She wanted to be famous and make it in the music business, and her Dad happened to have enough money and connections to make it happen. Her performance at the Grammys was laughable- straining her voice, not singing in tune, pretending to play the banjo. If she wants to play music, that’s fine. But maybe she should leave the big performances to people who have genuine vocal talent. Lady Antebellum winning  Best Country Album over Taylor Swift was one of my favorite parts of the night. There’s a lady who knows how to sing.

Jennifer Hudson‘s performance was spot on even while she was holding back tears. It was soulful, it had meaning, the performance was breathtaking. There was something different in the air while she was singing.

Where to start with Nicki Minaj? Two weeks ago I didn’t actually know who she was or what she sang. I vaguely knew her name. Then I saw her perform alongside Madonna at the Super Bowl and was impressed with her rapping. Highly impressed. She has talent. However, the spectacle that we watched last night did not showcase a single ounce of that talent. I really can’t even say what it is that I watched. I suppose she’s trying to make a big deal out of things and get people talking, but the way to do that is to showcase your talent while you’re your putting on a show. And make it tasteful. Nicki Minaj could have put on a fantastic performance last night. Instead she just made me (and others, I assume) shake my head in bewilderment. This is the Grammys. Play your music Nicki.

The Band Perry and Blake Shelton played Glen Campbell‘s music well and as it should be. That was country music at its finest, which is something we’re not able to hear from the country singers on the radio today.

Bon Iver winning best new artist was very deserved. (Despite the fact that he’s been making music for well over six years.) He also got Best Alternative Music Album. Also very deserved. His acceptance speech for Best New Artist made up, a little bit, for the language he decided to use when asked about turning down performing live at the Grammys. I feel a bit torn about his decision- sure it would be nice for him to play his own music. But hey- the Grammys are trying to recognize a musician who has made it on talent and heart instead of money and over production. If you play music because you love it, wouldn’t it make sense to play anywhere, anytime, if you had the opportunity to? Playing alongside other musicians is one of my favorite parts of having the ability to play music. Turning down that opportunity makes Bon Iver seem a tad pretentious. It’s a bit upsetting.

Chris Brown. Performing at the Grammys. Winning awards. This article sums up exactly what I think about that.

In other news, Allison Krauss & Union Station won Best Bluegrass Album very deservingly and their engineers got some credit with Best Engineered Album Non Classical. The Civil Wars brought home Best Folk Album and Best Country Duo. They should have been given more than one minute to perform and completely outstaged Taylor Swift with their pure talent. It was a great minute on television.

Thoughts? Throw them together like I did and let me hear them!

Also, if you’re interested in good, passionate music and learning about where the industry is headed, check out Broke*. If you’re in LA, there’s a screening in Santa Monica on March 1st and you can bet I’ll be there!