28 January, 2014

The Grammy Awards - a (delayed) live ’blog

Let's be honest: awards nights are just an irrelevant circle-jerk and music awards shows are doubly so. The Grammy Awards perhaps have the advantage over plethora of other music awards shows if only because they're the original irrelevant circle-jerk. Having said that, with so few opportunities to present musical performances to a mass television audience these days, perhaps they're a little less pointless than they used to be.

This is actually the first time I've even been moved enough to watch the Grammy Awards since 2006. Since I couldn't watch them live, it's a bit pointless to live tweet so here, in real time but delayed, are my thoughts and observations.

(By the way, I am aware of the irony of writing about something I consider to be mostly pointless and irrelevant, but it's all about the bitching, innit?)

0:25 They're listing performances and collaborations from previous shows "That make history." No pressure, then.

2:20 Live from Beyonce's dressing room?

3:47 This is where I begin to wonder if there will be any female performers wearing pants. I have skipped forward and confirmed that there are.
4:40 I'm getting dizzy. One can only wonder about Beyonce, but at least neither of us is epileptic.

5:15 Hey, how come Jay-Z gets to wear clothes?

5:45 Can't a woman even sing a song without her husband coming in shouting over it?

6:30 I have no idea what that song was about.

7:10 Wonder if LL Cool J is going to apologise for Accidental Racist.

8:45 Isn't it a bit sad to have to remind the crowd of your hits?

9:00 Um, What?? Taylor Swift made is okay for young women to write about what happened to them and how they're dealing with it? I'm hearing generations of writers from Joni Mitchell to Ani Di Franco saying, "Oh PLEASE!"

9:30 The word 'daft' just sounds wrong in an American accent.

10:00 "Four young men from Liverpool." Whoever could he mean? Barbara looks great.

11:45 First awkward scripted joke of the evening.

13:10 Ed Sheerin is still a new artist?

13:30 The grab they played of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis sounded pretty good.

13:50 First speech beginning with, "Whooo!" I bet it won't be the last. Things look pretty chaotic in the audience.

14:50 "We made this album without a record company..." and immediately the 'get off' music begins. Hmm...

15:30 I've heard a lot of good things about Lorde but this is the first time I've heard her music.

17:30 It would have been better if they had live backing singers. It would seem less pre-recorded. I'm sure she's probably singing live but it feels less like it when there are voices coming out of nowhere.

19:40 Apart from the invisible backing singers, that was really good. Extra points for letting the musical performance stand on its own without feeling the need to wow people with a production number. Bonus points for wearing clothes.

21:20 Hunter Hayes. Apparently this is a brand new song.

24:20 Hmm, nice sentiment but not particularly different. Bit of a motivational talk set to MOR music. Sorry.

24:50 "Music is a universal language." Everybody drink!

25:30 A category for collaborations. That makes sense. I like that.

27:30 Good thing Get Lucky was a collaboration with Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers so the robots had someone to speak for them.

28:00 Steve Coogan: "What an honour it is to be in the same room and Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney." Yes, it is, and I strongly suspect that's the draw for many of the other guests. Goes and ruins it by talking about reuniting two of the Beatles, but recovers by using it to diss the Jonas Brothers. Macca does self-deprecating finger-point. Drink!

29:00 Katy Perry. Oh shit, they're playing the tape at the wrong speed.

29:30 Okay, if this were Eurovision, we'd be laughing our arses off at this point.

32:15 Somewhere in here, there's a decent song but both the arrangement and performance are trying too hard to make it epic.
33:40 Shout out for Phil Ramone. Nice touch and thoroughly merited.

35:15 Robin Thicke is the one Miley Cyrus was rubbing her arse against, isn't he?

35:30 Oh dear, it's a medley. I hate medleys. If a song is worth singing, it's worth singing all of.

38:00 They're doing it well though. Robin Thicke's voice fits in nicely. He's so much better when he's just singing the song though. There's no need for the melisma.

39:00 Going straight into another performance after Chicago. It seems like they think the actual awards are secondary. They're right.

39:40 Valve lights. Nice. There's something not right about the most Serthern American sounding voice so far coming out of someone from Queensland.

43:00 Nice guitar duet. I'm not a fan of Keith Urban but the boy can play.

43:30 O hai social media reporter! You know we don't need tv to tell us what's on the internet?

48:00 John Legend. Standard romantic song but a lovely simple performance.

51:00 Best Rock Song: Cut Me Some Slack. Look, I love Paul McCartney like a favourite uncle and I love Dave Grohl just for looking as happy as a man with his life ought to be, but this is bullshit. Both the Grammys and the Oscars have a long standing habit of awarding people instead of quality. It's clear that this award was simply for being Paul McCartney and the remains of Nirvana, who never won a Grammy in their day but probably would have if the academy had their time over. Aside from that, Cut Me Some Slack is a dog of a song. It wasn't even the best song on Sound City. It probably also didn't hurt that they premiered the song at the 12 12 12 concert for Sandy relief but that doesn't stop Cut Me Some Sack being a riff in search of a song.

[Aside: The concert in aid of a hurricane striking New York had Paul McCartney, three quarters of Nirvana, Roger Waters, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and a dozen or so other A-listers, all introduced by a whole bunch of movie and tv stars. The Concert for the Philippines had Linkin Park (who organised it), The Offspring and Bad Religion. Think about that for a moment. And I'm not bagging the latter three bands. More power to them.]

Kudos to Krist Novoselic for breaking into the Grohl/McCartney mutual appreciation society and mentioning that for Nirvana's part, fellow nominees Black Sabbath and The Rolling Stones were just as important.

54:30 Taylor Swift. Was thinking this was a bit brave being the second piano ballad in a row, but they've gone the power ballad formula on this one with the fully rocking third verse, then going quiet again. Not my bag, but nicely done.

58:00 If they ever remake The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Bruno Mars could totally star in it

1:01:00 Pink is the latest victim of the great American skirt shortage of 14.
1:01:45 Seriously though, Pink's performance was amazing but it just leaves me wondering, 'Why?' The song became a soundtrack to her acrobatics, which were brilliant in their own right, but only took away from the music.

1:02:30 Oh good, she's found one.
1:04:30 That became an epic in the style of Jim Steinman. It's just a pity I've forgotten how it started because I was looking at what an amazing acrobat Pink is - and she undoubtedly is.

1:05:00 It's over an hour into the show and we're only up to the fourth award.

1:08:15 Black Sabbath: "The Beatles didn't really become The Beatles until they found Ringo." Yep. That's the truth.

1:09:30 Why have they buried his vocal in the mix?

1:10:30 Seems to be a special All-Starr band here. There's Steve Lukather on 12-string and that looks like Don Was on bass...

1:12:30 Peace and Love, Ringo!

1:13:00 Jamie Foxx, you can't do a Liverpool accent. Not even close.

1:14:00 Oh, how dare you ad lib!

1:17:00 Nice acknowledgement of Def Jam.

1:18:30 This is getting a bit Eurovision again - stylistically if not musically.

1:20:30 Jay-Z seems to be into this, but I can't help wondering if he's thinking, "Yeah, did it."

1:21:00 Jazzmaster/Jaguar tremolo yet doesn't appear to be a Fender. I've never seen this before. Has Jazzmaster-looking pickups but likely twin coil. Interesting...
1:23:10 Full points for energy.

1:26:30 That was... interesting.

1:28:20 Wouldn't it have been great if Ennio Morricone had played something. With anyone.

1:29:30 "Changed history forever." Um, that's redundant.

1:30:30 Queenie Eye. Awesome! This walks all over Cut Me Some Slack.

1:33:20 Yoko Dancing to Paul. Beautiful.

1:34:30 One of the saddest things about John and George no longer being with us (apart from John and George no longer being with us, obviously) is that it means Paul and Ringo can't just play together the way they regularly did throughout the 80s and 90s without idiots in the media screaming "surviving Beatles reunion." It makes it so much harder for them.

1:35:00 They didn't even include Best Producer in the telecast? Would they leave out Best Director from the Oscars?

1:38:45 The Lifetime Achievement Award (or, the 'We really should have given you this years ago' award) is being given to The Beatles this year?? I bet they're glad they've finally made it. What was it Stella McCartney said?
The Isley Brothers and Kraftwerk - ditto.

1:41:30 Nice recovery on Highwayman. Now you know it's live. Well done.

1:43:30 Sean Lennon caught in a bit of ironic dancing.

1:55:00 Daft Punk. Brilliant!

1:59:00 Great duet from Sarah Bareilles and Carole King. Interestingly, it follows similar motivational themes to several previous songs tonight, but this is the first one that has really convinced me.

2:04:30 Metallica the greatest example of a band staying true to themselves? Yeah, um, nah.

2:07:00 Kirk Hammet in a Lou Reed t-shirt. Nice.

2:09:15 Lang Lang is going off! This is pretty good.

2:09:45 Oh, they're still doing the Duggada-duggada-CHUNK! bit. Oh well.

2:11:45 Steven Tyler: "Paul, you ought to cover that song." Cute.

2:15:00 Grammy Camp? Egads!

2:16:00 Trombone Shorty. Cool!

2:20:30 Wow!

2:23:00 Okay that was brilliant. I get the feeling there might be a 50th anniversary commemoration of that performance too. Never mind universal languages, let's talk about music as an agent of change!

2:25:00 A music educator award? Excellent idea.

2:43:00 Cutting off the closing act was ridiculous. So they were running over time, so what? Of course that's going to happen in a 3-hour live broadcast. Is this rock and roll or what? It left a sour taste at the end of what was an excellent show.

Yes, I started off snarky, but it won me over. I can't believe I'm saying this, but the Grammy Awards were great. Not a completely irrelevant circle-jerk after all. They got it right. And I'm glad Blurred Lines didn't win anything.

One last observation: I spotted in the credits a "Most pit coordinator." That's a contradiction in terms, friends!

I might even watch next year.


  1. Magnificently entertaining as always, Bill.

  2. This is probably funny, but having seen none of the awards show it makes no sense to me.