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Grammy analysis

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Well, in fact our Blogcritics awards came out better than the Grammys- except that they got to announce theirs during a three hour network show with a full complement of top talent to perform. Some of the award choices didn’t particularly impress me, but they did put on a better than average show, quite watchable.

Norah Jones won nearly every possible category in the awards for 2002. She was the safest, most conservative choice they could have made. She has a nice voice, and she made a very pretty recording of a pretty good song. Frankly though, she made a fairly mediocre, lukewarm album. I want to be kind, cause she’s really hot, and serious minded, and seems like a very nice girl. However, I’m having trouble imagining the critical values you’d have to hold to think that THIS of all things was the best song or album of the year. “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” -Revelation 3:16
Naturally it was nice to see Simon and Garfunkel’s reunion at the start of the show. The simple understated presentation with just the two of them was pure class. They both looked older, naturally, and generally more haggard and worn. This only made “The Sound of Silence” even maybe a little convincing than in the old days, and they sure sing as good or better than ever.
The No Doubt performance was outstanding. Neither “Hella Good” nor “Underneath It All” is much of a song, but the whole staging of the thing made the most of the songs. The acrobatic stuff with the ropes really set off the whole production.
Seeing that Etta James got a special lifetime achievement award or some such, I’d like to recommend a couple of obscure recordings of hers that I just recently discovered. She made a couple of recordings of Randy Newman songs for Chess Records that are just outstanding, “Sail Away” (oh yes) and -even better- “God’s Song.” They’re on her Chess box set, or try hunting them down on the net for instant gratification.
I’m a marginal fan of the Bee Gees at most, and less than that for NSync. So then, I’m doubly impressed with their a cappella Bee Gees medley. Those boys can actually sing, and the lack of orchestration underscored the high quality of the compositions. I might even hunt down an mp3 of the performance just to listen to.
Nelly really put on an event worthy performance. “Hot in Herre” would have been a much better choice for Record of the Year than Norah Jones. The big spectacle of the presentation just made it that much cooler. The mixing back and forth with the romantic ballad “Dilemna” turned out to show off both songs in their best light by the contrast. “Dilemna” never much impressed me, but this performance may make me reconsider.
I probably should express appreciation for the self-restraint of the various Grammy participants for keeping their mouths shut about foreign policy, but I admit to being about half-disappointed. I had anticipated some low-hanging humor fruit, perhaps rating which jackass made the stupidest anti-war statement. Instead, the whole pack of ’em frustrated my humor needs by acting like adults.

The only such commentary struck me as ambiguous. The retard from Limp Bizkit made a quick comment wishing that the “war should go away as quickly as possible.” I would assume that this was meant to be an anti-war statement, but it really isn’t. The quickest way out is through it. You could take it, then, to mean that we should just do it if we’re going to and be done with it.

The only other display was Sheryl Crow’s “NO WAR” embroidered on her guitar strap. However, that was largely concealed by her hair. I didn’t notice it during the broadcast, but only after Drudge pointed it out.
Politics aside, that duet she did with Kid Rock was godawful. It had to be the worst excuse for a composition of anything all night. I WANT to like Kid Rock, and I even want to be fair to Crow’s music, but it was just a big gaping waste of space.
The only competiton for a worse song would be Faith Hill with her “Cry” song. Actually, in a certain sense it’s not that bad a song. The Crow song just plain sucked; there was nothing there. In contrast, Faith Hill’s song was competently written; it had a discernable tune, and something of a hook.

Yet it still SUCKS. Maybe partly it’s just not to my taste. Partly it’s the sappy orchestration. Partly it is that this sappy MOR adult contemporary crap gets a Grammy as “country” music. Most especially though, the whining tone of the basic emotional content leaves me limp.

Which is saying something, considering the sleazy, tawdry appearance she presented. She looked like a $10 whore hanging out behind the bar, or -more pathetic- some desperate slut anxious to just GIVE it away. Criminy, she must have needed a chisel to get the damned makeup off.
Springsteen’s performance of “The Rising” made me want to slap him. Admittedly, Springsteen soured me on him with every single thing about his crappy The Rising album. Even for that, though, he’s supposed to be one the all time great live performers in rock.

Yet this performance struck me as wholly contrived, much like other performances he’s made in recent years. He’s straining away, making this exaggerated body English, flailing away like he’s making a Big Statement. I find it difficult to believe that the guy even in his own mind thinks this song is all that. He was less convincing than a whore in a porno movie thrashing and moaning and checking the clock out of the corner of her eye.
The singer for Coldplay was also writhing away physically during their performance of “Politik” with the New York Philharmonic, but unlike Bruce they pretty much sold me on the song. I haven’t really been struck by the band previously, and I have no idea what the lyrics were. However, the melody, the pulse, the dramatic dynamics of this performance came out pretty convincing. Perhaps they merit closer attention.
They absolutely did do right by giving Eminem the rap Grammy. He would have been a much more interesting choice for album than Norah Jones, but at least this was a good consolation prize. Certainly he dominated ALL the charts, and made the most compelling hip hop record. He had more worthwhile songs, and a far deeper emotional presence in the national conscience than any other musician. Not that he ain’t some kind of messed up puppy, but he’s an exceptional performer.
Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters must be enjoying life. They played Saturday Night Live the night before, and they’re playing Letterman’s show Monday night. In between, they got a big fat Grammy AND he got to play on the Grammy show with Bruce and Elvis.
They did finally manage to get the REAL artist of the year on the stage. Elvis Costello didn’t get any awards, and he didn’t even play his own song. However, he played with Springsteen for a Clash tribute to close the show, performing their best song, “London Calling.” Sweet. No matter what kind of Burt Bacharach albums he makes, Elvis has that inner punk there ready to rage away.
Then, naturally, they gave the album award to Norah Jones. Obviously that award belongs to Elvis, but the voters who think the polite Norah Jones album is great aren’t even going to nominate the likes of Elvis.
You can CLICK HERE to get the list of Grammy winners. You can CLICK HERE and HERE to get the considerably better Blogcritics picks.

Or you can CLICK HERE to get the true and correct list of best songs, and CLICK HERE to get the true and correct list of the best albums.

For another view of the Grammys see here and here.

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  • Eric Olsen

    Great job Al, Thanks!

  • what the hell happened to Faith Hill? she sounded like she’s had the flu or something. i’m not a fan of that kinda stuff be she sounded WAY off.

    the Norah Jones choice was at least better than last year’s Alicia Keys thing. Norah can actually sing.

    and gees, al, you gotta get that Springsteen chip off yer shoulder…it’s gonna force an early visit to the physical therapist! 😉

  • Tom

    I entirely agree about Elvis Costello. What a shame to not honor him with *something* last night. He deserves a lifetime achievement award or something. But I have a hard time saying that When I Was Cruel would be deserving of Album of the Year, I’m sorry to say. It’s good, but while I enjoy it for what it is, he’s done SO much better.

    I do, however, have to disagree with you on two points:

    Norah Jones – I am not a fan, but that girl has a voice of pure gold, and is a tremendously talented change of pace from the pre-packaged crap we’re normally forced to endure.

    NSync’s “tribute” to the Bee Gees – again, I am not a fan of either, but if that was a tribute then the Bee Gees should be terribly insulted. NSync has no idea what harmonizing means – one of the “singers” was either consistently slightly sharp or flat (or maybe it was more than one at different times). Their harmonization was very average at best, and pretty awful in general. The Bee Gees – THEY can harmonize. NSync can “sing” in the way that most American Idol participants can sing – their voices do something vaguely singing-like, but they’re really no more talented than any other average person out there. That is not enough to honor someone like the Bee Gees.

  • Ashleigh

    In response to those who blast NSYNC: ha! they certainly proved with last night’s tribute to the BEE GEEs they can sing and sing well
    yes, at times they were off key, but compared to grammy faves like Faith Hill and John Mayer they certainly pulled it off. and to those who disagree I d like to hear YOU hit that a#!

  • Bub

    I agree that Faith Hill (along with Vanessa Carlton, Ashanti, etc.) sucked. And the porn star bleach job only added to my horror. I was under the impression she was a relatively classy chick. Anyway, NSync did shock the hell out of me. I’m no music instructor, but they sounded pretty damn good to me. I think Norah Jones is a bit overrated. She’s Ok. Good. Not great. She may get great someday. She’s as good a bet as any…

    More so than the music, I’m turned on by great lyrics. Provocative, thoughtful, sexy, etc. Where are all the great lyricists? That’s why I’m glad John Mayer, Eminem and India.Arie won something. At least they have something on their minds besides “let’s dance, let’s party, let’s do it.”

  • Tom

    If they can’t hit the A# then they shouldn’t be doing a tribute to someone who can, should they?

    Remember, I am not a fan – but as for Norah Jones, this is a woman who’s voice is completely genuine. What you hear is true natural singing talent. She does not have to shout or push her voice to get it to perform, as the majority of today’s singers must (Faith Hill being an example last night – she was really pushing the limits of her volume to hit those notes, and it was showing in her ragged performance. I too wondered if maybe she had a cold or something. She’s generally a pretty decent singer in her range.) I wouldn’t buy Norah’s album – it’s just too adult-contemp. for me – but she is gifted with a gorgeous voice, something that was a glaring rarity last night, and is rare, period, in today’s music.

  • Ed

    I tend to agree with most of you. Overall there were some pretty bad performances last night. I guess singing “in pitch” is optional when performing at the Grammys” My favourite was John Mayer followed by James Taylor. Kinda like here’s someone who sounds real lame and here’s someone who sounds real good. Now just for kicks let’s give the award to the guy that sucks!!! Good contrast though. You can certainly appreciated how badly John Mayer is after hearing James Taylor….Norah Jones sounded pretty good and she seems to actually have some talent. Which is quite rare these days. It was better than some goofy reality TV show…but not a whole lot better…

  • The Theory

    yeah, John Mayer is pretty bad… in my humble opinion…


  • Bob

    I like Norah Jones too!!! I saw her do a duet with Willie Nelson one time and she smoked him!!! She’s got a good groove.

    Yikes That John Mayer performance was pretty scary though!!! Sorta reminded me of the year this guy just ran up on stage and started showing off a new coat he bought. I sat there kinda in aw wondering what the heck are you doing? Are you not embarassed? My advice to John Mayer would simply be ..Buy yourself a metronome and take some singing lessons…when you come to a guitar you can’t play don’t slow down and try and play it anyway. Spend some time prior to the performance practicing until you can get it down. Hey it may take some time but in the long run you’ll end up looking and sounding a lot better.

  • Lee

    Did Nora pay them off??? She is okay, but multiple grammies?? Come on. I find her extremely boring and overrated. The judges must be getting old.

  • Rebecca

    i am really disapointed that Norah Jones won so many awards! she is so overrated i agree with a few of you saying she is boring, because she totally is! i think Avril Lavigne had a pretty crappy performance ( i am not a fan but i was sorta hoping she wud win more since she is canadian and all) i think Norah Jones should definetly not have won like Alicia Keys did last year! there were so many other people nominated that deserved it! I was very impressed with ‘NSYNC’s performance i think they did a very good job! and the remaining BeeGees looked impressed as well! all of the performances EXCEPT ‘NSYNC’s tribute were horrible! i also think Eminem’s performance was good. i also think he deserved a grammy or two more instead of Norah Jones! If u hadn’t noticed already i really don’t thing she deserved more than 1!!

    – Proud to be Canadian!

  • Ricardo

    finally a real artist get recognition – Norah Jones ..she’s so sublime..what a talent!!!! tony bennet said : she isn’t great – SHE’S PHENOMENAL… CONGRATULATIONS NORAH!!! GRAMMYS GAIN PRESTIGE AGAIN!

  • Timothy Dick

    I’m 23 years old which is relatively young. Yet I think that James Taylor made the two singer/songwriters before him look ridiculus. And the highlight of the program for me was Simon and Garfunkel singing “Sounds of Silence.” They just don’t write songs like they used to. I like the Bob Dylan line, “What do ya mean you can’t repeat the past, of course you can!”

  • Odi

    Norah Jones is a dream come true! In a world riddled with so much studio enhanced crap! This gal is a breath of fresh air. If you want to appreciate what a sensational voice she has, listen to her album on a really good CD player, with earphones, she immediately has a tantalizing effect on you.

    I bought her album, and it’s the best investment in music that I have made in a very long time. Thanks Norah!

    As for most of the other performers, they sucked! I love Eminem – the real deal. I love the Dixie Chicks, they can sing. N’Sync did very well, to my surprise! Faith Hill, tried too hard, I’m not a fan.

    Paul Simon and Garfunkle, they are still so authentic and real, and I love their rendition of “Sound of Silence.” Peace Out!

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks Odi, we think very much alike, although I thought S&G were pretty ragged.