The 2013 Grammy Awards

This time last year, I decided to start my blog up again by writing my thoughts on the 2012 Grammy Awards. You can find that post here. I did a pretty good job of keeping up with this blog after that for quite some time, but I’ve waned over the past few months. The 2013 Grammys are on tonight, and I aim to start this blog again the same way I did last year.

I’ve been enjoying the popular music of 2012 over the course of the year. I’ve been listening to the radio much more often that I have in the past, I’ll surf the radio and stop on anything catchy. I’ve found myself enjoying the occasional Katy Perry, or Carly Rae Jepsen, or sometimes Rhianna. I skip the diamond song and anything by Taylor Swift and the rap and R&B stations. Most else is fair game. There are plenty of nominations tonight that I wholeheartedly agree with. Mumford and Sons, Fun., The Lumineers, Maroon 5, The Black Keys, and Adele all hopefully have good things happening for them this evening. Without further ado, let the games begin!

And, we’re off with a bang, Taylor Swift is serenading us with those vocal chords that don’t deserve fame and recognition. I hope some day people might understand her un-talent.

“He looks like an old grandma.” -my brother on Elton John. 

To be completely honest, Ed Sheeran’s “A Team” is one of the songs I tend to skip on the radio. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it all the way through until tonight. He seems like a nice guy, at the least. I’m not sure it’s working too well as a duet.

And Adele wins, naturally, in the one category she’s nominated in this year. Well done, lady, for winning Best Pop Solo Performance for a live version of “Set Fire To The Rain.”  Completely deserved!

I’ve never seen Fun. play live. Nate Ruess is having a few pitch difficulties, poor guy. “Carry On” does seem to be the best song choice, however, for a live performance. “Some Nights” and “We Are Young” have so many tight harmonies that perhaps it would not have gone well, given how this one is going.

Miguel – who is this guy? I’m not so much into R&B, please don’t mind my ignorance. He has quite the wonderful voice.

So happy to see Carrie Underwood winning an award. Best Country Solo Performance is well deserved. I do wonder how many more years she’ll be able to call herself “country,” her songs are starting to feel like crossovers.

We Are Young! Fun.! Song of the Year! They beat Kelly Clarkson AND Call Me Maybe!

Mumford and Sons! I’ve seen these guys live three times and I can attest to their live performance talent. I love how their song lyrics are thoughtful and well-written. They have only gotten better as they’ve become more well-known. Read this past post for a long write up on my love of Mumford and Sons, from when I saw them perform in Monterey.

Kudos to Justin Timberlake for going from “Bye Bye Bye” to so much more. I don’t like him, but I don’t hate him. His music bores me though. However, if I were asked to be a part of that strings section, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I thoroughly miss performing and of those musicians look like they are having a GREAT time!

I think I’ve come across a Frank Ocean song once or twice. He seems like a decent guy. As long as Chris Brown goes home with zero awards, I’m happy. Behavior like his does not deserve awards.

Best Rock Performance- The Black Keys, “Lonely Boy.” Makes me a bit sad that Mumford lost out on it, but they’ve more to come I believe. The Black Keys are quality musicians who deserve any recognition they get.

I think I’ve finally been caught by Adam Levine’s spell (Jeremy, you’re the only one for me though, I know that for sure!) I’ve been a fan of Maroon 5 for many years, “Songs About Jane” was all I listened to the year it came out. Their new music has been consistently well done and catchy (a must for me these days); I may have to actually purchase his most recent CD. I did already tell Jeremy that “Moves Like Jagger” is a must for our wedding reception. Levine and Alicia Keys are putting on an amazing performance, the best one of the night so far, that’s for sure.

Best Pop Vocal Album is filled with some great nominees. I’m fairly surprised Kelly Clarkson won, particularly against Maroon 5 (given my obvious love for them). 

Rhianna’s starting off her performance extremely strong, she may convert me yet. That diamond song is SO annoying, but this ballad is out of this world beautiful. She has obvious talent. She looks beautiful, too. A slow, quiet song as an understated performance, not making a big spectacle- THIS is what I love about music. Showcasing REAL talent. She is BRINGING it!

Carly Rae Jepsen and my sister Emili look remarkably similar. That is all.

Kelly Clarkson is singing the Tennessee Waltz, this makes my heart so happy. I grew up playing this melody on my violin with Dad. I never actually heard the recorded version of the song until years later; this melody will forever be with me. What a beautiful voice Miss Clarkson has. Another spot on, incredibly beautiful performance.

Ah, the Zac Brown Band. What fun music they play! Well done, Best Country Album!

Bruno Mars! I have been looking forward to seeing him perform again since his performance at last year’s Grammys. I had no idea who he was last year, and now if I hear “Locked Out of Heaven” on my way to or from work, it’s definitely a good day. I love the Police-esque vibe, how fitting Sting is up on stage right next to him! This song sounds just as good live as it does mastered. As for the next song- who doesn’t love Bob Marley? This performance is definitely meeting my year-long expectations.

SO glad The Lumineers are being showcased tonight. They were nowhere to be found a year ago, and sure, I’ve known of “Ho Hey” for much longer than radio listeners have, but does it really matter? It’s clearly a great, catchy song, and it makes me so happy to see small folk bands get good recognition. (Perhaps it’s because I would love to someday be in one of those unknown folk bands that gain enough recognition to perform at something as large as the Grammys. I’ll just take it one step at a time …)

Jack White is putting on a nice performance, I was unaware that this folky sound is his current endeavor. I’ll have to look into his newer stuff to see if it’s as enjoyable as this. Anything with a violin is fair game in my book. Sure, there he goes with his more “interesting” stuff, but it’s still well done for the genre (whatever it is) and a good, solid performance. I enjoy music best when the music is showcased, rather than making such a spectacle of the performance that the quality of the music takes a backseat.

And Best New Artist goes to … (Katy Perry put on some clothes!) … Fun.!!! I just put two and two together and realized that Lena Dunham is the girl they keep showing with Jack Antonoff of Fun. To get this point across to my mom, all I had to do was mention “the girl at the Golden Globes with all the tattoos who couldn’t walk in her heels.” I’m happy for Fun. for getting this award, they’ve all been playing music for so long (Steel Train, The Format, Anathallo), it’s great that they’re getting some solid recognition for the years they’ve put in to the industry.

Carrie Underwood- how does one go about getting into the string sections of these epic performances? And those butterflies! That performance was a great example of putting on a show and still focusing on quality music.

Oh, Gotye! Record of the Year! Anyone who says they don’t like “Somebody That I Used To Know” is just being pretentious. How precious are Gotye and Kimbra up there on stage.  Truly thankful for being recognized, truly happy to be doing what they are doing. (And anyone who beats Taylor Swift is good with me.)

And the performance I really have been waiting for all night … “The Weight,” written by Robbie Robertson of The Band. What a great compilation of musicians on stage- Sir Elton John, Mumford and Sons, Mavis Staples, T Bone Burnett, Zac Brown, and others- what a great song, and a great tribute to Levon Helm (of The Band) and all the other music industry persons who have passed this year. I LOVE this song, my first introduction to it was actually through a cover done by John Denver. I’ve heard The Band’s songs live by Glen Hansard and Mumford and Sons. Mr. Helm has clearly left a mark on the music industry for many of the greats, and it will hopefully remain for years to come.

Mumford and Sons win album of the year! Bonnie Raitt approves … did anyone else see that head nod? These guys deserve it. See aforementioned blog posts about them if you need anymore convincing on why I love them so much.

I’m headed to bed in a minute, the Grammys are so much easier to watch when living on the west coast, next year I won’t have to stay up until 11:30 to see everything. It’s pretty amazing that I agree with mostly all of the awards that I saw given out tonight. Credit has been given where credit was due, and Taylor Swift won nothing. What a great night!

Let me know your thoughts on this year’s Grammys. Where did they go wrong? Where did they go right? Who do I need to find an appreciation for? Thanks for reading!

40th Annual American Music Awards: Live Thoughts

Usher’s opening performance is entirely unappetizing. Awkward choreography, bad live singing. What is with all those green lasers? Usher, I know you have talent hidden away there somewhere … ?

12 minutes in and these AMA’s are already/still not impressing me. Justin Bieber’s acceptance speech for Pop/Rock Male Artist is ridiculously cocky. “I want to say this is for all the haters who thought I was here for one or two years. I feel like I’m going to be here for a very long time.” And only after that does he reference his mother? What a terrible attitude he has!

18 minutes in and Taylor Swift just won an award. I should turn this off now, shouldn’t I? It was obvious she’d win it, but I’d rather hear Carrie Underwood give a genuine acceptance speech for something she deserves based off of talent than watch Taylor Swift botch her way through a “thank you” speech that clearly displays she’s bored with all the (undeserved) awards she’s gotten over the past few years.

The Wanted. Can actually sing live. Please get those female dancers off the stage. Who are these guys, anyway?

“Call Me Maybe” live is worse than the produced version. I didn’t realize that is possible.

Kelly Clarkson … I was actually looking forward to her, but now she’s singing Miss Independent? Please stop. I’m so ready for this to be over, Kelly. My little brother- “It’s like someone threw a bottle at her – her make up is horrible!” Hahaha. Ah, a montage of her songs through the one that’s popular today? Of course. What’s with the straining in her voice? These songs were not made for live performance. That’s the problem with pop music today. These songs are all too over-produced in the studio to the point that the singers can’t  capture the same intensity when they’re attempted live.

***

A personal intermission while I switched TVs. Had to reprogram the universal remote. Had to figure out the digital stream box. (We’re so high tech here in our household.) What did I miss? I’m sure nothing much.

A performance by No Doubt is where I’m picking this up.

Aaaaand okay I’ve got to turn this off now. What is she wearing? The sound quality on this TV is terrible … though I almost feel like Gwen’s singing well.

Ah, the Black Keys are nominated for Alternative Rock. At least there’s someone good showcased tonight. But … of course Linkin Park takes it. One could only hope. Oh, and their fifth win? That explains it.

Taylor Swift’s live performance! I was SO waiting for this!!!!! Not.

I wish that someday she could learn that she doesn’t know how to sing. Why has no one told her yet? That eye make up makes her look like she has tears streaming down the sides of her face. Oooh tricky costume change. Not particularly enjoying the theatrical aspect of this performance either. At least she’s yet to over-sexualize herself, I’ll give her that. But please, Taylor, get some voice lessons to back up all those vocal awards you’ve won. (For more ranting on Taylor Swift, please see my post on the Grammys from earlier this year.)

Flashback to Sarah McLaughlin and Cyndi Lauper singing Time After Time. That was when pop music was good. When singers had to be talented to gain recognition. I’d pay to see that performance in its full.

Skipping ahead … I’m actually pleased to see Nicki Minaj is sticking to what she’s good at. After that ridiculous performance at the Grammys earlier this year, she’s back to rapping. I’ll ignore the costume and focus on how she’s properly displaying her talent instead of making a fool out of herself with some sort of spectacle of a performance. Again, see that Grammy post.

You know, I really can’t spend any more time on this. I’ve lasted an hour and a half. I’d love to see Fun. win Best New Artist. I’d love to see some good performances. I’ve a feeling the rest of the AMA’s are going to be full of what this first half was full of. Cocky attitudes, bad live performances, the wrong artists winning awards because people these days do not recognize talent. I’ll conclude this post prematurely and turn off the TV. I really was just hoping to be entertained. Someone please regale me later with what I (don’t care about) miss(ing)!

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!