Monday, February 09, 2009

The 2009 Grammy Awards

Technical difficulties solved and here's last night's Grammys review by Annie Levine & Brock Wilbur. Worth waiting for. Think "me" but hipper and in some cases funnier.
Here’s a short run-down of observations from the Grammy Awards last night. It would be longer, but in the four hours of broadcast, there wasn’t much worth of commentary. Hell, the red carpet was almost entirely film actors because no one has anything to say about music this year.

A few quick bits from the red carpet pre-show:

-Joey Fatone asked Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson why he’s trying to abandon “The Rock” and just be Dwayne Johnson. This question coming from “The Fat Guy in N’Sync”. The co-host asked The Rock how it feels to be a huge movie star. He reminded the audience that his new film, “Race to Witch Mountain”, opens soon.

-Rapper T.I. just arrived. He’s going to jail for a year, so this is his last public performance. It’s a lot like The Blues Brothers movie, except they were in trouble with the cops because they were on a mission from God to save an orphanage. T.I. situation is surprisingly similar: Busted by cops in a sting operation, where he was trying to purchase machine guns and silencers.

-Snoop Dogg says that now his “Father Hood” reality show is on the air, people approach him every day to ask for parenting advice. There’s no joke for this one. If you’ve seen him busted by his wife for going against her wishes and taking David Beckham out for Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles, then teaching his son a life lesson by letting him direct his own music video… There’s no joke for this one.

-Herbie Hancock says he was stunned by his win last year because “conventional wisdom said it was going to be Amy Winehouse or—“ (Interrupted) The interviewer says “Yeah, it’s that same magic that let Obama become the new President!” Am I wrong, or did the guy just say that Herbie Hancock is to Barack Obama as Amy Winehouse is to John McCain? Hopefully, the first of many Winehouse/McCain comparisons.


-We open with U2 premiering a new song. Since we don’t know the words, they put them on a big video screen behind them so the audience could sing along. Don’t worry, it’s easier than it sounds, since the new song has the same melody as R.E.M.’s “It’s The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”. Except this song is way better, cause it has lines like “I got gasoline / You got a submarine / I don’t want to talk about wars between nations”. He’s lying, he totally does. Also, when Bono began to move we were concerned that he had been in an accident. Turns out that’s just how Bono dances now.

-It’s worth noting that tonight the writers packed everyone full of set-killing jokes than brought everything to grinding halt. Dwayne Johnson (not The Rock) makes a joke in an opening monologue about how Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters is going to be drumming for Paul McCartney tonight, and how he cannot wait to see “The Beatle Fighters”. You know it’s bad when you sigh in relief during the ad breaks, watching previews for this week’s “The New Adventures of Old Christine”, where her foot gets stuck in a toilet! Now that’s comedy.

-We thought it couldn’t get quieter than that, but just afterwards Justin Timberlake introduces Al Green. He doesn’t just introduce him; he tells some stories about their hometown and how they shared a general store, which “was really general. I mean it. Just, random… you know… bait and tackle and gas… general store. Get it?” It was awkward for the crickets. He proceeded to duet with Al Green, who showed his appreciation by making several decent attempts with his hand gestures at knocking Timberlake off-stage.

-Carrie Underwood opted not wear a dress, because she apparently found a discount on drapes. Luckily, her Bedazzler pimped microphone distracted everyone from what she was wearing.

-Kid Rock’s “Rock n Roll Jesus” opens with a line about how sad it is that children are starving and soldiers are dying. Then the video screen behind him shows American flags juxtaposed with Kid Rock’s mug shot from his Oct 2007 arrest stemming from a disturbance at a Waffle House. He proceeded to sing “Amen” a lot. I…. what image is he trying to.... Once again, stunned. But it was good to see Kid Rock is still alive. I hadn’t heard a peep since his last music video where he wiped his ass with toilet paper that had the word “Radiohead” printed on every ply, thereby establishing himself as the dominant artist. Or a Jesus of Rock n Roll. Or whatever, who cares?

-Taylor Swift and Miley Cirus duet about how when you’re fifteen and a boy says he loves you, sometimes you believe him and give him everything. Taylor performs like a human being. Miley performs like Liza Minnelli, giving burst of unmotivated emotion and focusing her attention on random points in the room. It’s distracting, to say the least.

-John Mayer is sitting next to Ice Cube. I want to write a buddy cop movie for them sooooo badly.

-The Four Tops perform with guests Jamie Foxx, Smokey Robinson, and Ne-Yo. Okay, so the only Top left is Abdul (Duke) Fakir. It’s really good and Levi Stubbs will be missed, especially in future “Little Shop of Horrors” revivals.

-Stevie Wonder performs with the Jonas Brothers. I cannot imagine how frightening it must have been for Stevie, because those three brothers took turns sneaking up behind him and getting really close before shouting or almost hitting him with an instrument or inappropriately dancing on him. It just seemed wrong. And uncomfortable. And wrong.

-Blink 182 walked out and said that the reunion of Stevie Wonder and the Jonas Brothers inspired them to reunite Blink 182, and they’d be going on tour soon. There are, conceivably, audiences somewhere in the world who would’ve found this exciting. They were not in attendance at the Grammy Awards tonight. No applause.

-Coldplay won two awards. They wore stupid knock-off costumes from Sgt. Peppers. At their first award they used their speech to thank Paul McCartney for letting them rip off Sgt. Peppers. At their second award, they said they were thrilled to have so many awards, but they obviously didn’t have as many as Paul McCartney. I don’t know if Coldplay is aware, but Paul McCartney is not going to sleep with them.

-Coldplay performed two songs, which managed to stir almost no emotional reaction from the crowd. Maybe selecting the song where no one in the band plays an instrument while a pre-recorded orchestra performs wasn’t a great choice. Maybe Chris Martin shouldn’t have tried to compensate by dancing around stage like he was channeling a combination of Bozo the Clown and Bono the Guy Who Dances Like He’s Injured.

-Shortly after, Radiohead performed. Chris Martin’s wife Gwyneth Paltrow introduced them as the most influential band in the world. She’s not a musician, she doesn’t have a movie coming out… Someone decided the funniest thing they could do was force Gwyneth to awkwardly introduce her husband’s biggest rivals and compliment them in a way that belittles her husband. I was shocked they didn’t make her throw in something about how Thom Yorke of Radiohead was “the greatest lay in the U.K.”, but there’s always next year. Anyway, only 2/5 of Radiohead actually performed, along with the USC marching band. They performed “15 Step” and it was hauntingly good, demolishing all other performances that night.

-Except of course, for M.I.A., who performed on stage with a coalition of big name rap stars. This was notable, because M.I.A. is pregnant and was scheduled to deliver her child today. So to watch her rap and then dance back and forth across the stage, knowing that at any moment the bass frequency from the subwoofers might cause her water to break… ya, it was super punk-rawk.

-Robert Plant and Alison Krauss won album of the year. Yawn. Whatever.


-Dave Grohl plays drums for Paul McCartney on “I Saw Her Standing There”. We sat with baited breath, waiting to see if Grohl could live up to Ringo’s high standard. Lo and behold, he did. Victory!


-Singer Chris Brown and girlfriend Rihanna were both scheduled to perform. Neither made it to the ceremony, since earlier Brown attacked Rihanna, leaving her with visible facial bruising and bite marks (?) on her arms. He was arrested, then released on $50k bail at 9pm tonight. Can the two of them live up to Amy Winehouse’s high standard? Victory!


Brock said...

Realize I totally forgot to add this part on:

When Blink 182 is reading the winner for a category, they gave their envelope to Travis Barker to open. Barker is their drummer, and also recently survived a plane crash with DJ AM. His left arm is in a sling and he struggles with opening the envelope while his two band mates sit and watch. That's why Blink 182 takes home the award for Biggest Douche in the Rock category. Chris Brown obviously swept all the others.

Subhorup Dasgupta said...

Disagree with the blah about Plant-Krauss. I thought that was one of the redeeming parts of the 2009 do.

My observations here

Anonymous said...

I don't think U2's new song sounds like R.E.M.'s, but I agree the lyrics are terrible and the song is garbage. They should've called it "Vertigo pt 2". They haven't written meaninful lyrics in years.

Anonymous said...

The Grammy's - "The World's Worst Music Awards". The Jonas Brothers belong in a high school musical.

WV: murfers - can't print what it means.

Anonymous said...

aw come on...Ringo was a good drummer. Still is, by most accounts.

Anonymous said...

Unless you put some Red Wigglers on your tongue, you didn't await Dave Grohl with "baited" breath, but with bated breath, as in stopped or held (think abated).

Sorry, recovering copy editor.

Anonymous said...

Stevie Wonder and The Jonas Bros- A living legend and this decade’s “Hanson”

U2- Jumped the Shark at “Pop” circa mid-nineties.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss- Beautiful long hair, face of an angel, and can really hit the high notes….and Alison Krauss isn’t half bad either

Coldplay- U2 after “Pop”

Paul McCartney- Nominated in a category with mega-talents like Ne-Yo and Kid Rock. Not like the good old days when you faced weaker competition at the Grammys like The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, or Led Zeppelin

Kid Rock- He’s got to be closing in on forty. Time to drop the “Kid”

Gwyneth Paltrow- Might have had an orgasm during the Radiohead intro.

Justin Timberlake – The General Store story went over like a fart in church.


Anonymous said...

Totally agree about Miley Cyrus channeling Liza Minelli. Apparently she's inherited every authentic bone in her body from her daddy, Billy Ray.

And poor Stevie Wonder... Even more demeaning than having to share the stage with Shakira and Usher at the inaugural concert was the travesty with the Jonas Bros. Maybe this is punishment for his lame new song.

Dupree said...

I had the same exact thought about poor Stevie Wonder with the Jonas Brothers. I just had my fingers crossed that they had rehearsed all of those sing-into-the-same-mic parts.

Thought Paul rocked "I Saw Her Standing There", but then they showed the audience just standing or sitting there without excitement. You are watching a Beatle, for Pete's sake! Clap along like you know the song at least.

Tom Quigley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Quigley said...

Deliberately avoided watching most of it -- became the unfortunate victim of timing when I turned it on just before Stevie Wonder and the Jonas Brothers performed... Poor Stevie -- his career hasn't really sunk to this level, has it?... He was probably told beforehand that he was going to be playing with the Bee Gees...

BTW, anyone know where the Jonas Brothers bought their "Guitar Hero" game from?...

As for McCartney, while admittedly he could still rock the house with "I Saw her Standing There" (last night's crowd notwithstanding), I was more preoccupied during the song wondering if those were his own locks, or if he was wearing a Beatle wig he'd pulled out of a trunk full of 60's memorabilia that had been stashed away in his garage for the last 40 years... If I see a listing on eBay that says "Paul McCartney's Grammy Awards Hair" in the next day or so, I think I'll have my answer...

Anonymous said...

I believe that Gwyneth and Chris are like massive huge, HUGE Radiohead fans so Chris was likely just excited as hell that Gwyneth go to introduce them and would've loved the "great lay" comment ;) Soo true about Miley/Liza, though!

Anonymous said...

Yawn? Have you listened to the Plant/Krauss record or are you just condescending by nature? Or maybe just ageist? Perhaps you should show some respect to elders, especially people like your father who is giving you exposure that he earned.

The Milner Coupe said...

I agree with everyone else about your Plant/Krauss slam. And throwing Levi Stubbs under the bus? You suck.

Brock said...

I have a hard time understanding how we threw Levi under the bus? We're both huge fans of his and of Little Shop.

As per the Plant album, we don't think think it's a bad album, and it does what it meant to do very well, there's just nothing very exciting or groundbreaking about it, whereas there were other releases this year in the same category that did new and exciting things.

But completely separate from a critical reaction to the music, it's just hard to say anything except "yawn" towards that victory. It's not like there was an emotional reaction from anyone, the winners didn't seem that excited, and it's something like Krauss' 30th Grammy... so it's not like she was going to break down crying for being finally recognized by her peers.

So... "yawn".

Tallulah Morehead said...

Lovely, funny, funny piece. It could have been worse. It could have been Liza trying to do Miley.

So THOSE are The Grammys. I've never watched them, as I was out of my twenties before Music was invented. I grew up surrounded by savage beasts with unsoothed breasts. I did win a Grammy myself quite a while back, but I didn't attend. I was awarded "Best Spoken Word Album" over 40 years ago. Sadly, it was for my album "Tallulah Sings the Ballads of Rogers & Hart." One admiring critic wrote of my album: "It makes you feel better about Lorenz Hart being dead."

So Annie, did Kent learn all his parenting tips from Snoop Dog? Did he cry the first time you said, "I'll pop a cap in your pizzizzle"? Do you remember the first time he said "Don't get all ageist on my ass!" to you?

Funny piece. (And keep telling Kent that Brock - Brock? Really? - is your "Writing Partner". He's falling for it. I used to call mine a "Research Assistant.")

Cheers darling.

stålar said...

Good stuff, you nailed it. Especially this; "Miley performs like Liza Minnelli, giving burst of unmotivated emotion and focusing her attention on random points in the room. " is funny because it's weirdly true, she was terrifying.

wv: fartin - no joke there either

DW said...

Poor Stevie Wonder deserved better than to have some pubescent jackass leaning into his microphone and yelling "Sing it, Stevie!"

You missed one of the funniest things, which was Morgan Freeman's sombre, awestruck introduction of "a poet, a dreamer, a man I'm proud to call my friend..." I'm thinking, Jeez did they get Dylan or someone? And it's ... KENNY CHESNEY??

Jon88 said...

Dear anonymous copy editor: You haven't figured out yet that writers can't spell? It's a given. At least, according to my writer-friend.

Allen Lulu said...

And not mention of Katy Perry and the her impersonation of Carmen Miranda dancing on a stage homage to Skittles? And to call it dancing is like saying a stupor is akin to being engaged.

DW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Phillips said...

"Dear anonymous copy editor: You haven't figured out yet that writers can't spell? It's a given. At least, according to my writer-friend."

That's "writer/friend"...

WV: hypokin - Family you don't talk about.

Anonymous said...

The melody of U2's song wasn't cribbed from R.E.M. It rips off -- or, um, pays homage to -- Elvis Costello's Pump it Up (which itself owed something to Bob Dylan).

I got over Grammy's tendency to overlook "exciting" and "groundbreaking" work when I was about 14. I'm not sure why it took me that long, because with few exceptions that's been their m.o. since 1958, the year they started.

I agree with those who think the Plant/Krauss album is excellent, and I'm glad Brock doesn't diss its quality. But it's the only one of the nominees I own, so I'll have to take his word that the Ne-Yo, Lil Wayne, Radiohead and Coldplay sets break new ground. But I'll go out on a limb and guess that time will be kinder to some than others.

Anonymous said...

The Beatles sounded better with 2 microphones than Paul did with 2009 sound "technology". We've fallen a long way baby.

As for the new musical acts?
David Bowie nailed it: Cruise ship entertainers.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: Every year I manage to be amazed all over again at how crappy the sound is on the Grammys and other shows that feature live music performances. The Plant/Krauss performance was an exception, and there were a few other acceptable moments, but you'd think a show involving the music industry elite would have state-of-the-art audio all down the line.

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Anonymous said...

Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift's duet at the Grammys ended up sounding better than i would have expected

Sister Mary Martha said...

If "Kid Rock" drops the "kid" from his name as your reader suggests, he will just be "Rock". Which I suppose is okay because that other man changed his name back to Dwayne.