2012 Grammy Wrap-up

Last year I gave my HIGHS, LOWS, and DISAPPOINTMENTS from the 2011 Grammy's. Not one to walk away from an obvious tradition, I again offer you my assessment of last night's Biggest Night in Music.

I'd like to reiterate my appreciation for how the Grammy's have evolved: more performances and more action, with only the "biggest and awesomest" awards being handed out live (I'm talking to YOU, Short-Film Animated, Short-Film Live, Documentary Short, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. #oscars).

Breaking the night up in to 3 Acts, with a Postlude, here's my awards for the 2012 Grammy Performances.

Act I

"Worst Song to be Performed Well by an Old Timer" Bruce Springsteen can still rock it, of that there is no doubt. He looks good and sounds good (although when you sing a song with only a four note range, it's kind of hard NOT to). My issue was with the song, "We Take Care of Our Own." Call it my aversion-to-USA-thinking-they're-better-than-anyone-else syndrome, fine. But I just don't resonate with the message "wherever our flag is flown / we take care of our own."

"Best Collaboration Between Newbie and Old Timer" Last night gave us quite a few of these mashups, but I thought that Alica Keyes and Bonnie Raitt's, who was the first collaboration of the evening, was also the best. I loved the simple guitar/keys combo, and their tribute to Etta James was simply beautiful. They blended perfectly.

"Best Tribute to Classic 80's Toys" Did anyone else think Chris Brown's bland and uninteresting performance of "Turn up the Music/Beautiful People" looked like he was a failed Cirque du Soleil auditioner who was prancing around on a giant Rubik's Cube in an eerily similar way to that classic NES game, Bubble Bobble? Well, if not, then you probably do now.

"Still Doesn't Work, Award" Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson tried this duet last year on American Idol, and it just doesn't work for them. Their chemistry is awkward and their blending is bad. The best part? When Jason's mic went out and it was just Kelly.

"Most Underwhelming" Sorry, I just could not get in to the Foo Fighter's "Walk." It sounded like the B-side track to almost any given garage band in the Pacific Northwest. I'm just not tracking with they hype on that one.

"Best Performance by a Mile" Without question, Bruno Mars' "Runaway Baby" was hands down the best performance of the first hour. And would eventually prove to be (in my opinion) the clear winner for Best Performance of the Night. Last year, if you recall, his performance was uber-cool, but his vocals (which are normally pitch perfect) were a bit harsh. But last night he absolutely killed it! It was fun, it was engaging, it was interesting... but more importantly, it was GOOD. And where did he find such talented Doo-Wop horn players who could also dance? I'm a big Bruno fan, and so I was thrilled that although he didn't walk away with any hardware, he DID walk away knowing that he easily had the best performance at the 2012 Grammy's. Harder to put on a mantle, but more fun to show your friends at your next Cranium party.

Act II

"Biggest Surprise" For the first time ever, I enjoyed  a live performance of Taylor Swift! The song is great, but she finally put together a live performance worth remembering. I loved the set and costumes, and how cool that Taylor rocked out on a banjo?! All around a great little number.

"Best Reminder that Not all Great Singers Can Sing (or OUGHT Sing) Other Styles" Adam Levine has an incredible voice. I love it. But there was nothing incredible about his cover of the Beach Boys' "Surfer Girl." It was kind of embarrassing. Foster the People did a slightly better cover when it was their turn. Ultimately, the moment was saved when the real, live (barely) Beach Boys took the stage! They might not be able to move anymore, but they can still harmonize nicely.

"Lamest Song of the Night" Really? Please, don't argue. There's no grounds to say that Sir Paul McCartney's song, "My Valentine," was anything other than lame. Okay, it was also boring.

"Most Disappointing" The idea of Rihanna and Coldplay sharing the stage sounds really good on paper. And it SHOULD have rocked. But, it didn't. Neither one seemed to know what the other was supposed to be singing. They were unison at times when they probably were supposed to be harmonizing, but neither seemed confident to go off melody. It looked as awkward as it sounded, too. Their individual performances were unimpressive, too. As my wife said, "I've never NOT enjoyed hearing Coldplay live before. Weird."

"The Mumford and Sons Moment of 2012" Remember last year when Mumford and Sons, relative unknowns for most of the populace, took the stage and blew everyone away? Well, Civil Wars came awfully close to accomplishing the same feat last night. They showed a couple things: 1) In light of all the terrible vocal blending happening all night long, Civil Wars showed you how it OUGHT to sound. And it was amazing. 2) In light of all the over-the-top performances, Civil Wars showed you how the "music" is still the most important aspect. 3) They showed that people who follow Jesus DON'T HAVE TO MAKE JESUS-Y TYPE SONGS ALL THE TIME! For heaven's sake, sometimes just focus on making GOOD music, and don't get bogged down with whether or not it's GOD music. Civil Wars possibly stole the show last night.

"Best Use of Blue" Katy Perry, bravely offering a new song, looked good. That counts for something. Can't say I dug the song (anyone else thinking, "ouch, sucks to be Russell!"). And the bait-and-switch trickery at the beginning was unfulfilling.  I like Katy, but last night didn't impress.


"Best Old Timer of the Night" Of all the oldie's that took the stage, I think the overall best performance was Glen Campbell, featuring The Band Perry and Blake Shelton. Glen still has range (unlike Bruce), can still move around (unlike Beach Boys) and sang a good song (unlike Sir Paul). And The Band Perry and Shelton didn't screw it up (unlike Maroon 5). All around enjoyable moment, especially when at the end Glen closed with "and rhinestone cow-GIRLS." #adaptingtothetimes

The "That Was Nice" Moment Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood? That was nice.

"Biggest Sigh of Relief" Phew... everybody can breath again. Adele still has pipes! The artists who single-handedly elevated and carried the music industry in 2011, and then went and got everyone FREAKED out with vocal chord surgery, came back last night and threw down her mega-hit, "Rolling in the Deep." Now, it wasn't perfect. It wasn't the Live-Adele that we're accustomed to. She missed some notes and pushed others. But I expected that, seeing as how this was her first moment back and all. Nonetheless, she proved once again why she was oh-so-deserving of completely sweeping the statues last night. Well done, Adele!

"Best Tribute (and also), Best Cover" Jennifer Hudson, thank you for doing justice to Whitney Houston's "I WIll Always Love You." Although you probably would have been loved and hailed no matter how you sang it, simply because of the moment of it all, you actually earned the standing ovation (yes, I'm sure they stood for Whitney... but jHud made the moment that much better). The music industry lost a Great over the weekend, and from LL's opening prayer to Jennifer's moving ballad, it was a great night of celebrating Whitney Houston that didn't also lose the fact that it is, still, the Grammys.

"Worst Re-Appearance" I wish the producers would have allowed people to text in, throughout the show, to vote on who got to come back and perform again. Because certainly it would not have been Chris Brown or the Foo Fighters. But, alas, we had to sit through them again. This time they were accompanied by DJ's David Guetta and Deadmau5. And during the whole "wait, is this really what's so exciting?" performance by Deadmau5, I couldn't help but wonder: "how do we know that he's not just doing the DJ equivalent of lip-synching? What if he just pushed PLAY on his iPod up there on that giant cube, and is now just dancing, flailing his right arm, and lighting up his high-as-a-kite techno Mickey head?" I'm not convinced otherwise...

"Best Excuse to Own a DVR" Nicki Minaj. Don't get it. Don't want to get it. The word that kept coming to mind during her "performance" (I use that term lightly) was: unfortunate. It's unfortunate we had to watch that. It's unfortunate we had to listen to that. It's unfortunate that the Grammys semi-ended with that. It's unfortunate that some people call that "music." Like my buddy Zach Lind from Jimmy Eat World tweeted, "Congrats to this Nikki Minaj person. She's reached a point where no one will tell her "no." That's not easy." #unfortunate


So there you have it.

The best moments of the night: Act I - Bruno Mars Act II - Civil Wars Act III - Adele

Do you think I got something wrong?

Did you love something that I dismissed?

Did you loath something that I praised?

What were your favorite moments (or most cringe-worthy) from last night?

I welcome your comments.