We have this conversation every year: Why do the Grammys exist anymore? Who is the awards show even for? It seems designed to bore younger viewers and confuse older ones. How many Justin Bieber fans know who Jeff Beck is? What did your mom think about Lady Gaga's vacuum-formed butt plate? Do these millionaires really need another pointless statuette to put in their statuette rooms? Oh well, maybe we should just skip that conversation this year and just accept it: The Grammys are like wisdom teeth—we don't need them anymore, but they'll always be an annoying thing we have to deal with.
Like some sea creature out of Planet Earth, last night the Grammy's washed up on shore for three-and-a-half hours of bleating and sputtering before triumphantly rolling back into the ocean; it could have been so sad except for the scattered moments of beauty. There were some honest-to-goodness, actual flashes of excellence mixed in with the mostly reprehensible happenings. Here's how it went down.
The show opened with a video tribute to Aretha Franklin, replaying many of her best Grammy moments. These included that time she was blonde, and also the time when she was joined onstage by the cast of Blues Brothers 2000, and who could forget the opera incident?
Then we were treated to five of the loudest singers in pop just yelling at us one at a time. Of course nobody could match Christina Aguilera's shouting—the magic of high-definition television made it seem like she was shouting at me personally. Why is she so mad at me lately? She shouted at me all during Burlesque, and now this. It's really starting to hurt my feelings.
Also, how weird was it to see that Florence + The Machine lady up there like she's some huge star? I mean, she has one song and it's in every commercial, but how many records has she sold? I sort of feel bad for her, like she was just trying to be some quirky weirdo but now the Eat Pray Love crowd has propelled her into the stratosphere. Anyway, she also yelled a ton.
Aretha Franklin appeared via satellite to thank everyone for thinking of her. I know she's been battling some pretty tough health problems lately, but I guess it's not so serious that she can't attend quinceañeras? Anyway, seriously, she's looking pretty good all things considered. Get better, Aretha!
Quick, can you spot three horrible things in this picture? So, Train won a Grammy for "Hey Soul Sister." Howie Mandel looked happy but exhausted.
Haha, okay. In the first truly weird moment of the night, Lady Gaga was rolled onstage in a glowing egg. It made me laugh how she was just chillin' in there, and then when she actually stood up to climb out it was all slow and awkward.
The new song is fine, but the whole spectacle was not terribly memorable. Sure, the prosthetic humps and horns added a subtle spookiness, but the big picture was pretty beige.
I DID love the part where she quickly ran upstairs and played that weird organ solo in the middle of her song. What was THAT? Awesome, is what.
Try harder, Lenny! People might not know you're edgy. So then Muse performed. Glad they're getting recognition from The Recording Academy two albums too late. It's also too bad they sang this song. I know not everything can be "Starlight," but I just miss the days when Muse wasn't a self-parody.
You know what was GREAT though? Like, the first excellent moment of the night? This triple combo of Bruno Mars, Janelle Monae and B.O.B. Holy jeez, this is what music should be. I really liked B.O.B.'s monacle and how Monae accompanied him on synths. Honestly, it was so effortlessly cool and the musicianship was incredible.
It was a little on-the-nose to broadcast the Bruno Mars segment in black and white, but he did a great job. I still object to the terrible lyrics of "Grenade," but man can he sell 'em.
The best part (of the night?) was Janelle Monae's performance of "Cold War." She absolutely destroyed the stage. They should've ended the show afterward. Everyone should've just gone home while the Staples Center was disassembled and buried in the desert. Music is done for a while. Everything about Janelle Monae is perfect.
This lady sang and then won some stuff. Miranda Lambert seemed pretty proud of her song, which had some simple ABAB rhymes and no hooks. I'm not the biggest country fan, but I'm pretty sure you can do better than this, country music. Anyway, I bet millions of moms all over the country were like, "She'd be so pretty if only she'd stand up straight."
Usher and Justin Bieber are the romance of the century. Not only was the story of their love-at-first-sight meeting told by TWO different people, we also got to see grainy video footage of the incident. Then we were treated to what felt like thirty minutes of maddeningly terrible entertainment.
After a quick acoustic bit, Justin Bieber found himself accompanied by the fighters from Mortal Kombat. Now, I don't want to incur the wrath of legions of Justin Bieber fanatics, but—oh, who cares? Justin Bieber is not a great singer or entertainer and those of you who love him will be a laughingstock in the future. Remember Clay Aiken? Jesse McCartney? Aaron Carter? Immature? Lil' Romeo? I mean, it's a free country and you can like any teen idol you want to, but just be honest with yourself and admit that you have bad taste in music and you like embarrassing things. I mean EMBARRASSING. I'm blushing right now just thinking about your taste. No offense.
As if to prove me right x infinity, Jaden Smith popped up for a "surprise" duet. It was a truly great moment where two visionary artists at the the height of their abilities came together to really reinvent the genre. Of children rapping.
These people must be stopped. In VERY unrelated news, did you enjoy that lovely Scientology ad during the commercial break immediately preceding this segment? Coincidence? Or COINCIDENCE?
Okay, the dance between Usher and Justin Bieber was sort of great. I mean, it was awful, but I was laughing and that counts for a lot in my book.
You could even see it in Usher's eyes. "What am I doing in life?"
But they got a STANDING OVATION anyway. It included NEIL YOUNG.
Haha remember when Paramore's guitarist left and was basically like, "Yeah, we were originally assembled by a music label." Of course you were. Everyone knew this. Did anyone actually think Paramore was a real band? Anyway, here they are with Pauley Perrette from CBS's very own NCIS! Look, I don't have a problem with Pauley Perrette. She seems like a nice, talented lady. But I think she and we all know that her mansion is built on a foundation of mediocrity. Wow, I am in a mood! Sorry, everyone. I'm sure I like tons of stuff that you think is garbage. Fair enough.
I'm with this guy.
Muse won an item. They reminded me a lot of Driveshaft, the fictional band from Lost. Also it was kind of gross when the lead singer smugly thanked his pregnant girlfriend and we all know that she is KATE HUDSON. Gosh, I need to cheer up. Hold on, let me put on "Starlight." Ah. Better. What a good song. Congratulations, Muse!
The best thing about Lady Gaga is not her music (definitely not), but what a weirdo she is. When she won this Grammy, the gist of her speech was that she's too shy to be a superstar, so she pretended to be Whitney Houston while recording it. Whitney Houston!
Bob Dylan performed, accompanied by an army of scruffy DREAMBOATS.
See what I mean?
Actually, Mumford & Sons did a killer job. They are a terrific band, it was so weird seeing them on the Grammys. Bob Dylan was fine, but he should watch out that Tom Waits doesn't sue him for this performance. That voice!
J. Lo looked absolutely pissed off when Bob Dylan was done. Hilarious.
The real star of the night was this lady hanging out in a pre-taped, super fake sound booth who would take us out to commercial by pawing around at her HP tablet. It was very natural, very cool.
Oh, THIS I understand. Miley Cyrus sharing the stage with Kings of Leon. Perfect.
Lady Antebellum won a ton of awards for a very ordinary sounding song. One thing I noticed is that several of the country performers came off as kind of defensive about their genre, repeatedly thanking "country radio" and implied that they don't get respect. What does that mean? Doesn't country sell way more albums than the other genres? What is it with people in majorities who pretend to be underdogs? Quit it! You have your own awards shows. This lady looked like Cat Power though, so she's got that going for her.
Oh, Cee-Lo. Classic Cee-Lo! Although I'm not thrilled with the "radio edit" of his song (which they hilariously referred to as "The Song Otherwise Known as 'Forget You'"), I definitely, thoroughly enjoyed his puppet-filled, Elton John acid trip of a performance.
I mean, WHAT? Did I dream this? This happened?
You know what should have been terrible but WAS NOT terrible? THIS THING! John Mayer, Norah Jones, and Keith Urban, three people who have struggled to overcome the Music-For-Moms stigma, absolutely nailed this quick-n-dirty rendition of Dolly Parton's "Jolene." I mean, credit where credit's due. I always forget how great Norah Jones' voice is. It is great! I got chills here. I don't know what's happening to me.
This lady, Ezmeralda Spalding, won Best New Artist, and I immediately felt bad for her. She beat Justin Bieber. As Best New Artist. Do you think she'll be okay? Is she surrounded by people who will protect her? I'm worried about her safety. Anyway, she seems lovely. I really liked how she thanked her teachers. Unlike everyone else, she did not thank a ton of industry insiders and executives. It was just a great acceptance speech in general.
Mick Jagger is definitely still alive, and he definitely can prance around a stage. I'm not sure the song he sang (in tribute to the late Solomon Burke) was particularly amazing, but he's still got it. There is a slight chance that Mick Jagger is actually Iggy Pop with a shirt on. I'm not sure yet.
And then, because America demanded it, out came Barbra Streisand. Were your kids in bed yet? Or did this performance make them BEG to go to bed?
Nicki Minaj and will.i.am presented Best Rap Album. I really can't get enough of Nicki Minaj. I don't even know that much of her music. I just think she is so funny and weird. Didn't you love how she announced Eminem's name? She is the best. I want to be her friend. Also, I am tempted to say that will.i.am should be thrown in the ocean, but I still sort of like "Boom Boom Pow." Oh, well. Objection: WHY DIDN'T NICKI MINAJ PERFORM? Sustained!
It's official: P. Diddy is slowly morphing into Biz Markie.
Whose job was it to Bedazzle Rihanna's crotch??
Okay, these two weirdos. What was going ON here? Obviously Mark Anthony was high, no need to mention that. Why was J. Lo being both uptight and giggly at the same time? But anyway, yeah. These two are a classic comedy duo in the music industry. I would love to see their lounge act.
Like I said, all's well that ends well. There was some truly appalling B.S. we had to endure to get here, but Arcade Fire not only performed but then won the Grammy for Album of the Year. THEN they went back over and played A SECOND song! I do love me some Arcade Fire, but it still makes no sense in my brain that Arcade Fire won a Grammy. The MAIN Grammy. And they also rocked out the STAPLES CENTER. Man oh man. It almost made this whole ordeal worth it. Almost.
... Did you find Lady Gaga disappointing?
... Who was the blonde lady in all the Lady Antebellum videos?
... Are you going to marry Justin Bieber?
... Has Nicole Kidman lost her damn mind?