Saturday, February 19, 2011

The 53rd Grammy Awards - Live Blog Recap, Video, Photos

Well, I survived my first Grammy Awards. No, I wasn't at or even near the Staples Center last Sunday night; I was just in my little studio apartment watching a live stream of the event via some CBS station in Florida or similar, forcing myself to endure just over three hours of one of the elements of the music industry I dislike with the most intensity for more reasons than I could possibly list - all in the name of good pop music journalism. To get through it all, I decided to try my hand at "Live Blogging," which soon became "Live Tweeting" when technology precluded Plan A.

Though I have yet to build a following large, engaged or constant enough for such an exercise to have served a real-time entertainment purpose in the moment, it did leave me with an unexpectedly serviceable recap I'd never have brought myself to compile afterward to anywhere near as comprehensive a degree, if at all. It at least seemed worth transcribing and posting for posterity, so make of it what you will. There are photos and, for a special treat, videos of four of my favorite performances on the only night where something like this:


can turn out only marginally as shocking as this:


Pre-show:
  • If Robyn doesn't win a Grammy tonight I'm gonna secede.

Country chanteuse Miranda Lambert performs Song of the Year nominee "The House That Built Me"
  • "The House That Built Me" apparently has a good deal of support among the performers in the academy, but it's doomed by its genre. 
  • Oh, she's really pretty! I pictured her more a Reba type...but then again, this isn't my genre; they all sound Greek to me. 
  • Miranda Lambert ought to have taken the key up a half-step or so... those "me"s at the end of the chorus sound great on the studio recording.

British rock band Muse performs "Uprising," from Best Rock Album nominee The Resistance.
  • Muse has already gotten more airtime than Robyn... and Entertainment Weekly wonders why she's not huge in the US.
  • Hey, is that Dead or Alive? Look, the '80s are back! That's a new one... never would have seen that coming.

Bruno Mars, B.o.B. and Janelle Monáe perform a medley of their respective hits (video below).
  • You had me at Janelle Monáe. But not til then. 
  • Please start doing the tightrope. I'm bored. 
  • I'm 98.78% certain I'm about to witness Janelle Monáe wiping the stage with everyone else in the vicinity. 
  • I'd say the floor's pretty spotless. 


Miranda Lambert wins for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, beating, among others, folk-turned-country singer Jewel.
  • Remember when Jewel tried dance pop? Now she's country, apparently...what a chameleon. 

Justin Bieber and Usher perform their respective hits "Baby" and "OMG" in the most homoerotic pairing since Lady Gaga and Elton John.
  • Ewww. I try to give Bieber a break, but I really want to keep my food down. 
  • But Bieber's sounding good despite the ravages of puberty... His voice coach is a genius!

     Jaden Smith joins Bieber for a bit of rapping.
    • Uh oh...I have no idea who this is. Isn't 26 a bit young to be losing touch with the youth music?
    • And no, I don't mean Usher. I do write about this stuff, after all. 

    Paramore presents the Grammy for Best Rock Albumto Muse for The Resistance.
    • Haha..."you have to SAY it!" Now now, they're new here after all. (Btw The writers should be fired) 
    • Lol...Brits are such assholes. 'It's such an honor to win this "award..."' "much deserved..." If it weren't true, I'd be offended.

    Lady Gaga wins Best Pop Vocal Album for eight-track EP The Fame Monster.In her speech, she thanks Whitney Houston, whose voice she says she imagined while writing "Born This Way" - a sweet sentiment that came off less so in light of controversey over the new single's resemblance to Madonna's "Express Yourself."
      • IT'S AN EP!!!! How bad do you feel, all you
      • Ouch...she imagined Whitney. That's a bit of salt in the wound. Somewhere Madonna is summoning a frost.

      Cee Lo Green and Gwyneth Paltrow perform the watered-down version of Song- and Record of the Year nominee "Fuck You" (or, as announcers call it, the song otherwise known as "Forget You") alongside a set of generic muppets, a tribute to an Elton John appearance on The Muppet Show.
      • Dammit. I would miss Cee Lo and Gwyneth on my laundry break. Now ain't that some shit.


      Katy Perry performs "Not Like the Movies" and "Teenage Dream." (Video below)
      • This is my fave song on Teenage Dream. She looks amazing, sounds best she has in a long time. So what if she's clearly trying to be Pink.
      • @ Come on Ann, Bruno Mars was every bit as rough. I'm a tough judge but she sounded fine. (Reply to Ann Powers, Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic): "Worst vocal performance of the night. At least she's reliable."



      Norah Jones, John Mayer and Keith Urban perform a stripped-down cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" in honor of the buxom country music legend who this year received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. (Video below)
      • OH MY GOD. I'm in heaven. Of course, "Jolene" is so fantastic a song even MIA would probably sound great singing it.



      Eminem, Rihanna, Dr. Dre and Skylar Grey perform "Love The Way You Lie," both the single, a Song and Record of the Year nominee off Eminem's Recovery, and the "Part II" from Rihanna's album Loud, which Grey penned.
      • Yay @ getting to sing "Love the Way You Lie Part II." I like it much more than Pt I She's still pretty bad live. @
      • Crap I forgot. Touchè RT @: It's such a bummer to have a head cold when you have to sing on the Grammys
      • Man, Dr. Dre makes Dr. Luke seem like a med student.

      Jewel and John Legend present Best New Artist, which shockingly goes to jazz musician and veritable unknown Esperanza Spalding.
      • I dunno...it's obviously Esperanza Spalding, but Bieber is a deserving second.
         
      • HOLY SHIT SHE FUCKING WON!!!!!  
      • He can be taught! RT @: Damn. can't find words to explain how I feel about the best new artist award. Don't wanna say the wrong thing

      Mick Jagger performs at the Grammys for the first time.
      • Mick Jagger just reminds me how pissed off I am at Ke$ha's snub. Animal easily bests all but maybe The Fame Monster for best pop album.
       
      Nicki Minaj presents Best Rap Album to Eminem for Recovery.
      • But Slim, what if you win? Wouldn't it be weird?

      P. Diddy introduces Rihanna and Drake as two of the greatest artists in their respective genres.
      • Totally thought Puff Daddy was introducing Alicia Keys and Jay-Z. Would've made more sense.
      • Cold or no cold, I still don't think Rihanna is a v. good live singer. No better than Katy Perry. Or Xtina..jesus. Cmon @

      Song of the Year goes to Lady Antebellum for "Need You Now," which previously won for Record of the Year.
      • It should be "Fuck You" but gonna be Eminem.
      • Ugh so LAME. Why is "Need You Now" any different, much less BETTER, than a thousand songs before it? @, HERE'S your call! 

      In another major upset, Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson present Album of the Year to Arcade Fire for The Suburbs. This time, though, no one besides Eminem seems anything less than pleased.
      • Haha I love how it's always "Eminem, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire, or *stifled snicker* Katy Perry"

      The evening comes to a close, just as the time-delayed broadcast commences on the West Coast.
      • I love time delays. We're reeling from 2 massive upsets while my Cali friends are still grappling with Gaga's egg...oddly symbolic. 



      A few final thoughts before we put this whole mess behind us once and for all:

      • Robyn did not win a Grammy. Rihanna took home the statuette for Best Dance Recording for "Only Girl (In the World)." 
      • Christina Aguilera sounded just splendid on the opening five-diva tribute to Aretha Franklin, opting to sing "Ain't No Way," a lesser known but fantastic ballad whose echoes can be clearly heard on several of the most soul-oriented tracks on Aguilera's sophomore album Stripped. The best rendition I've heard, however, is that of the incredible singer Shoshana Bean, and appears on her debut album Superhero.
      • Two intriguing tour pairings were announced in the week following the Grammys:  Cee Lo Green will support Rihanna on her upcoming Loud tour, while Grammy co-performers Janelle Monáe and Bruno Mars will team up for "Hooligans in Wondaland," the first headlining stint for each. I am somewhat and intensely interested in attending these events, respectively.
      • The Grammy for Producer of the Year did not go to RedOne, Dr. Luke, or the Smeezingtons; instead, it was Danger Mouse who took home the gramophone for his work with The Black Keys and in his partnership (as "Broken Bells") with The Shins singer James Mercer. The producer won his first two Grammys for another collaborative effort with another 2011 multiple nominee when he and Cee Lo Green (as Gnarls Barkley) took home Best Alternative Album for St. Elsewhere and Best Urban/Alternative Performance for lead single "Crazy" in 2006.
      • David Guetta and Afrojack took home the Grammy for Best Remixed Recording for their remix of Madonna's "Revolver," a little-known track that appeared alongside the title track as the only other new track on Madonna's recent Greatest Hits compilation, Celebration.
      • I really did think Katy Perry sounded the best she has in any televised live performance to date, certainly since her Teenage Dream promo appearances began in mid-2010. Everyone I've spoken to has commented that the wedding footage was a nice touch.
      • I am still more than a little perturbed about the Ke$ha snub. 
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