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Before we get started, you'll have to excuse me if my musings are bit more maladroit than usual this morning: I watched the Grammys last night. With weather conditions bringing Nashville to its knees this weekend, I, like most of you, was forced into cabin-fever inducing hibernation over the course of the last three days. Naturally, the inability to pursue an active lifestyle led to me to spend some quality time with my friends, the two Ws: weed and whiskey. Of course, my other two friends cable and Internet were there to keep me company as well. As if a shiftless three-day stretch of bone-roastin' and absorbing useless information wasn't enough to cast me into Larry the Cable Guy's demographic, I -- being the kind of person unable to look away from a train wreck -- found myself watching the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards last night. A telecast that, easily resulting in an additional 10 I.Q. points lost, was the coup de grace for an already wasted weekend.
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The fact that I was sitting at home subjecting myself to such an ego-laden cultural quagmire seemingly devoid of actual music, on the very night that I was originally planning on seeing Slayer, pains my heart to election night '04 levels. As always, the show was good only for a laugh, and even better for a cry. Of the 109 awards given out, a mere nine were presented during the 200 minute-long telecast. Three of those big nine will be taken home to Nashville, as our favorite guys to party with
, the Kings of Leon, were Record of the Year victors for their hit "Use Somebody," while Taylor Swift took her reign over pop music to the next level by winning the Grammy for Album of the Year. Swift, the youngest artist to ever win the event's most coveted award, seemed genuinely surprised and humbled by her victory. As I can only assume that Kanye West is no longer invited to these kinds of events, Swift's acceptance speech was uninterrupted. Shucks.
Now, before we get into the realm of those who defend artistic merit based on Grammys won, let me give you some perspective: Neil Young took home his first gilded gramophone EVER last night, and it was for his work as "art director" on his 2009 Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 (1963-1972)
boxset. So, I'll just stop any of you Grammy-loving numbskulls out there in your tracks and make it clear that, by your logic, Young is a mere sixth as good as Beyonce, only half as good as Lady Ga Ga, but just as good as The Black Eyed Peas. Now that that's out of the way, feel free to discuss the winners.
If you're a struggling musician, then watching the sinking music industry congratulate themselves with a poorly rated, multi-million dollar extravaganza like the Grammys over the last 10 years feels like being a Roman and watching Nero play a fiddle while the city burns. But if your love for cultural train wrecks is as strong as mine, then last night's show was sure to have had you in stitches a time or two. Below is my list of laugh-out-loud moments from last night's broadcast.
* Lady Ga Ga and Elton John were virtually indistinguishable during a mind-boggling kickoff performance that I'm assuming was supposed to show the cyclical nature of fame and pop-stardom ... or something.
* Kesha encouraging me to call up and vote on which Bon Jovi "classic" I wanted to hear them perform, while looking -- and sounding -- like she stepped out of a limo that took her straight from Dickerson Pike to the Staples Center.
* A sopping wet Pink suspended in mid-air, twirling in a silk sheet that made her look like a singing jizz-drop, was enough to keep the audience from falling asleep during her piano ballad "Glitter in the Air," and enough to make my acrophobic ass want to hurl.
* The look of unmitigated disgust on the face 94-year-old blues guitarist David "Honeyboy" Edwards as LL Cool J breezed through announcing his lifetime achievement award seemed to say it all.
* Dave Matthews bustin' a move and looking like Larry David doing an impression of a Native American spirit dancer was enough to convince me that, at this point, he's trying
to look unbearably lame on purpose, as if to say, "See, I can dance like a mentally defective Leprechuan that's been roofied, and pop-collared beer-pong champions will still
shell out their parents money to see me fill stadiums."
* A 3D Michael Jackson tribute performance featured Celine Dion, Smokey Robinson, Jennifer Hudson and Usher. Unprepared, I did not have any 3D glasses at my disposal. I got seasick.
* Roberta Flack looked shell-shocked and bemused during her duet with Maxwell, as did the audience. Perhaps this is where they could have trimmed a little from the broadcast and made way for a 10th award.
* Is there anything more uncomfortable than watching R&B artists ineptly headbang during the "rock out" parts of their performances? I like Beyonce as much as the next guy, but seriously, watching her belt out Alanis More-is-less' "You Oughta Know" while acting like it's 1995 and she's an 8-year-old who just completed her first viewing of the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video is as unsettling as I imagine it would be to watch James Hetfield rap. Seriously, to all you R&B artists out there: Stop headbanging; rock bands don't even do that anymore. Speaking of rock bands, Green Day were the only one of them who performed.
* CBS promos seemed to scream, "Hey, at least we're not NBC." They were followed by a bluesy Eric Clapton/Buddy Guy collaboration on a T-Mobile commercial that was followed by Pearl Jam espousing the rockin' nature of bargains in a commercial for Target. To them, that was probably less soul-sucking than participating in the actual awards ceremony.
* Since Eminem's guitar-based smash-hit "Lose Yourself" topped in the charts in the early Aughts, hip-hop anthems have all sounded like "Eye of the Tiger." Case in point: last night's apocalypse-signaling -- and heavily censored -- collaboration by Drake, Eminem, Lil' Wayne and Travis Barker. Even more stupefying was Quentin Tarantino's intro of the performance. With his Elvis glasses, polka dot shirt and verbose street-speak introduction, Tarantino made me wonder: Just how much cocaine can one man consume before his heart explodes?
* Jeff Beck led a tribute performance to Les Paul. Beck has long been known to play Fender guitars almost exclusively. Did they have Slash perform in tribute to Leo Fender when he died? I don't remember.
* Speaking of Slash, he inexplicably popped onstage to play his trademark "November Rain" solo during an already inexplicable Jamie Foxx and T-Pain homage to Auto-Tune. If you happened to have missed this, then imagine you're watching a T-Pain video on YouTube and in comes a pop-up ad featuring the music of Guns N' Roses -- that's what it sounded like.
* Stevie Nicks marring Taylor Swift's cover of "Rhiannon" with her flat caterwauling was about as easy to watch as an execution.
* Watching Nashvillian and Santa Claus doppleganger Leon Russell join The Zac Brown Band was good for a laugh, considering that The Zac Brown Band are this year's Grammy winners for "Best New Artist," despite having released their third album in four years in 2008.
* Of course, no Grammy ceremony is complete without the obligatory pat-self-on-back speech by National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences President Neil Portnow. Every year this speech addresses the hardships of today's industry execs and applauding their "milestones," before inevitably degenerating into a pathetic plea to viewers at home to stop engaging in file sharing, simultaneously reminding them that they can just log on and illegally download any of the performances they just heard. This year I was somewhat surprised by the speech, as up until this point I was interpreting everything I saw as a deterrent to ever buying music again. Weird.
They just don't make 'em like they used to.