I watched as much of the Grammys as I could, and I was… bored silly. With no Golden Globes this year and the possibility of no Oscars (though with the writer’s strike over, that possibility is gone now), the Grammys would have planned to step up their game, particularly since this was their 50th Anniversary show, and they’d put out a very extensive, costly ad campaign starting months prior. But instead we got a bunch of quavery-voiced senior citizens doing medleys – just like every other Grammy award show. Even with every other TV show in repeat, this was the lowest-viewed Grammys in 16 years, and outside of Kanye performing with Daft Punk, had virtually no highlights. However, it certainly wasn't without spectacle...
A Top Ten List of Things You Could Only See On The Grammys:
1. A very, very creepy duet between 1958 winner Keely Smith and Kid Rock with Dave Koz playing sax alongside. Neither one remembered the lyrics but did remember to have an uncomfortable old lady-dirty middle aged man flirtation. I felt so uncomfortable just watching them that I had to go make a trip to the kitchen just to get away from the television.
2. The idea of putting John Fogerty, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Lionel Richie on the same stage, at the same time, on primetime television. The Grammys 2008 - 50 years of excitement!
3. George Lopez coming out onto stage to tell one single, solitary joke that he falls all over. Here’s an exact quotation, I gleefully wrote it down as soon as he finished: “America! The only place where a white woman and a black man can run for President of the United States of America!” Why yes, George, that is correct. Did you see he also did not win Best Comedy Album? Best moment of the night for me.
4. Amy Winehouse giving a shoutout in her Record of the Year acceptance speech to her jailed boyfriend that explained that this was “for my Blake incarcerated. And to London, this is for London because Camden Town is burning down!” Which made her sound weirdly like a cross between Samuel Coleridge and Mick Jagger after a bad night.
5. A long and completely uninspiring gospel showcase featuring Aretha Frankin, the Clark Sisters, and one of the Winans that simply killed the limping show for good. If anyone kept watching after that, it was to see if Winehouse was gonna pass out on stage or not. I got killed in the Gospel section this year because I didn’t realize that a lot of Grammy voters are apparently old-school gospel fans. I can understand Aretha and the Clark Sisters taking home the prize, but Israel and New Breed beating out Casting Crowns? Incredible. It was nice to see Ashley Cleveland win, though.
6. After months of ads promoting the show being about “The Next 50 Years,” the show started with a laughably inept duet between Alicia Keys and Frank Sinatra and proceeded to spend the rest of the show following suit. Absolutely no artist with even the hint of being around for any of the next 50 years was particularly honored, with the exception Kanye and Winehouse, the latter of whom stakes her claim as a 60's-era classically-styled singer and tore up the Grammys accordingly. For pity’s sake, Herbie Hancock won Album of the Year! (Not that I have a problem with that, it’s just that it proves my point)
7. I know that I can go to Vegas and see Cirque de Soleil perform the Beatles “A Day In The Life,” but now I also know, just as much, that I don’t want to. That was bizarre, and the guy playing Sgt. Pepper is gonna give me nightmares the next time I eat pizza too soon before bed.
8. Jason Bateman, squinting confusedly at the teleprompter and looking like he’s hating himself for even being there, introduces a contest where accomplished violinists and cellists play for exactly six seconds and then viewers vote for which one gets to play with the Foo Fighters by texting. I’m sure Juilliard will be following suit in their application processes next year. The most attractive girl ends up winning the competition and is given a three-second solo early in the song.
9. Carrie Underwood has emerged as the only American Idol artist (with the possible exception of Jennifer Hudson) who now operates completely free of its stigma, but her performance was… Idol-like. Gyrating awkwardly (though, attractively) in black catsuit as TV screens showing digital flames looped in the background and what looked like the crew from “Stomp” performed a color guard routine around her. This is a girl who’s trying to gain country cred. Really.
10. The Academy CEO, three and a half hours into the show, gives a long and boring speech interrupted midway through by a video clip of him giving a longer and even more boring speech while wandering through the Grammy building that’s under construction, and finishes with him introducing a yet another piano player who plays a lively tune that, since it happened at 11:30 on the East Coast, utterly fails to wake anyone up.
Alright, it’s late, so let me wrap up with the results of my predictions. Out of 110 categories, I got 47 right, 62 wrong, and one category where I can’t really tell from my writing on the last post exactly who I picked (I'm sure lots of good writers have this problem), for a success rate of 43%, slightly better than I predicted. Of course, lessee, I missed Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year, so let’s not get carried away with platitudes.
Losers: I’m a glass half-empty guy, and the glass is only 43% full anyway, so let’s cover the screw-ups. I failed to see Herbie Hancock win (though, really, who saw that coming? Kanye West sold 2 million albums last year, Hancock sold 55,000 and I’d never heard of the record until I saw it was nominated), failed to see Winehouse’s complete domination, and failed to dominate most of the categories I thought I had locked up, like Pop and Gospel. What’s more, a good number of the groups where I promised no one would ever vote for them? Well, a lot of those groups won, including, obviously, Herbie Hancock, plus Paquito D’Rivera Quintet? and Chaka Kahn’s “Funk This,” in addition to assuming that Blanton Aspaugh was a classical music superproducer (he had no wins in any of his categories). And that’s not counting the amount of times I picked the nominee with the funniest-sounding title, which turned out to be a very bad strategy indeed. I don’t think anything that had an exclamation point at the end of it ended up winning, unfortunately.
Winners: Alright, sure, 43% is nothing to be too proud of, but I thought I made a number of very good calls. For example, I correctly predicted:
- seven out of eight of the Rock categories, and the one I missed I pointed out who was going to win, I just voted for a band I was a fan of.
- That both polka and bluegrass had some dignity left in them (though it turned out that blues did not, as they gave the award to two guys named Pinetop and Honeyboy. Not kidding here.)
- That jazz voters would go with an album named “Pilgrimage” over one named “Kids: Live At Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola”
- That jazz voters would also vote for an album with “Katrina” in the title.
- That a guy named “Marley” would win best Reggae Album
- That Flight of the Conchords would kick George Lopez’s unfunny fanny
- That the White Stripes, Springsteen, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, and the Foo Fighters would all dominate.
- That I probably wouldn’t get that last post done until the Grammys had started, and believe me, I barely made it.
- And finally, and most impressively, that people love the Beatles. I’ve got my finger on the pulse of the nation.
All in all, a good year, and a great lead-in to this year’s Oscars, which I plan to do better on than I did last year. Though last year, you might remember, I kicked everybody’s tail who competed against me in the Oscar pool. Anyone up for it this year or are you all scared little whiners (or, as our pastor puts it, “tittiebabies,” which is apparently a common phrase down here, though that’ll be the last time I use it) who don't have the guts to give it another shot? I'm now accepting all comers.
Until next year, remember: people don’t like to see young, fresh acts on primetime, they want to see Cher introduce Beyonce, who then will do a dance routine in order to introduce a still sequined, still catsuited Tina Turner, who will then perform a three-song medley while trying desperately to keep up with her backup dancers. That’s what television is all about. Before television, we would just have had to do without.