Before we get into the nits and grits of last night’s Grammy Awards ceremony, I’d like to address a rather common occurrence when it comes to award shows like this. The morning after one of these events goes down, the tubes reliably overflow with “the Grammys sucked” or similar comments, knocking the winners and generally taking the piss out of the whole proceedings. It’s understandable to a point, given that the entire thing’s a glad-handing shitshow of insulated self-congratulatory excess, but please. Take it for what it is. Let’s just go ahead and assume that the entire thing’s a charade of industry marionettes and move forward, shall we? No sense dwelling on the negatives for too long… unless you’re boycotting the entire thing, or if you’re Trent Reznor, of course:
Women ruled the night at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards, with Beyoncé and Taylor Swift leading the pack at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. Both Swift and Beyoncé, both apparently immune to overexposure, left little room for other contenders. Jay-Z’s wife pulled the most awards, taking six trophies — the most ever for a female artist on a single Grammy night — including Song of the Year and Best R&B Song for Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Halo. Somewhere, Kanye was undoubtedly jumping up and down with a bottle of cognac. So now we can officially put that Single Ladies song away, right? Can we never hear that shit again please?
Swift became the youngest musician to win Album of the Year, for Fearless. She won four awards overall, including Best Country Album (also Fearless), Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance (both White Horse).
Other big winners included Eminem, who won for Rap Album (Relapse) and Best Rap Duo Performance (Crack A Bottle), Jay-Z who won for Rap Solo Performance (D.O.A.), Rap Song (Run This Town), and Collaboration of the Year (Run This Town with Rihanna and Kanye West), while Lady GaGa won for Best Dance Recording (Poker Face) and Dance Album (The Fame).
Disappointingly, several of the most interesting awards were given prior to the telecast. Bruce Springsteen’s Working on a Dream was named Best Solo Rock Performance, Jeff Beck took Best Rock Instrumental Performance for A Day in the Life, the Beatles took Best Long Form Video and French electro-poppers Phoenix took the Best Alternative Album award for Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. AC/DC finally won their first trophy for War Machine, pulling Best Hard Rock Performance. Neil Young, who took his first award for Best Boxed Set Or Special Limited Edition Package, deserved at least to have his win televised.
Kings of Leon grabbed three awards, all involving their hit Use Somebody, which has officially earned itself a right to go the hell away now. Stephen Marley won Best Reggae Album for Mind Control – Acoustic, while Ziggy Marley captured Best Musical Album for children for Family Time.
The Black Eyed Peas won three Grammys, including Best Pop Vocal Album for The E.N.D., and I suppose there’s no getting around that. But for all the flash, glamour and back-patting, some oddly-chosen performances lent the hyperbolic congratulatory nature of the event a little bit of a circus air.
Gaga, the walking space-cadet rotating wardrobe herself, opened the show with the song Poker Face before a memorable two-song duet with Elton John. Green Day, who unjustifiably won Best Rock Album for 21st Century Breakdown, turned in a solid performance of tired station-changer 21 Guns with the American Idiot musical cast. Beyoncé lost some sheen and showed that she’s overdue for a break with her performance, backed by a SWAT team of dancers. Pink spun from the ceiling, soaking wet, during an acrobatic performance of Glitter in the Air. Put that girl on “Dancing With The Stars” and be done with it, alright?
Lil Wayne, Eminem, Travis Barker and “Hi, I’m overhyped” Drake issued a profanity-laced medley of Rebirth’s Drop the World and Forever, after Jeff Beck led a special Les Paul tribute while Jamie Foxx’s Blame It managed somehow to mix T-Pain, opera, Doug E Fresh and Slash performing the November Rain solo into one strange melting pot performance. I still can’t figure out what the hell I was watching.
An overwrought 3-D tribute to Michael Jackson followed, featuring Celine Dion, Smokey Robinson, Jennifer Hudson, Usher and Carrie Underwood singing along with the King of Pop’s Earth Song. Prince and Paris, Jackson’s two eldest children, accepted their father’s posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award (but Blanket was in the house!!).
Fleetwood Mac star Stevie Nicks, a beautiful portrait of idiocy, also joined Taylor Swift to duet on Rihannon and You Belong With Me. It was an unsuccessful collaboration, with the two having absolutely nothing in common with one another, and no chemistry to speak of. Nevertheless, Swift was beaming throughout the performance – though seeing and hearing are two different things entirely.
Below are the most important/noteworthy awards:
Best Alternative Music Album: Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Best Solo Rock Performance Vocal: Bruce Springsteen – Working On A Dream
Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals: Kings Of Leon – Use Somebody
Best Hard Rock Performance: AC/DC – War Machine
Best Metal Performance: Judas Priest – Dissident Aggressor
Best Rock Instrumental Performance: Jeff Beck – A Day In The Life
Best Rock Song: Kings Of Leon – Use Somebody
Best Rock Album: Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown
Record Of The Year: Kings Of Leon – Use Somebody
Song Of The Year: Beyoncé – Single Ladies
Album Of The Year: Taylor Swift – Fearless