Monday, February 14, 2005

Comments on The 47th Annual Grammy Awards

Wow, what a great show. I was immensely surprised at the quality of the performances at this year's show. Most of the performances were great. The show didn't go overtime. Queen Latifah was a good host. It just all came together well.

-The opening performance was okay, but it was one of the weakest of the night. It was a very interesting idea to use "Let's Get It Started" by the Black Eyed Peas to bridge together multiple performances. However, the end result was a bit choppy and kind of strange at the same time. It certainly doesn't top last year's Prince/Beyonce performance.

-The best performance of the night clearly belonged to Kanye West and friends. From its beginning with John Legend and Mavis Staples all the way to its cheesy conclusion, the performance was great entertainment. The performance of "Jesus Walks" with its exaggerated churchgoer choreography, "I'll Fly Away" interlude with the Blind Boys of Alabama, and Kanye returning as an angel dressed in white, was cinematic and over-the-top. It was on par with a P. Diddy performance in terms of spectacle, but with much better content. Great work, Kanye.

-Two performances surprised me the most: J.Lo and Marc Anthony and Usher with James Brown. The main reason they surprised me was because the vocals were good. Jennifer Lopez does not have the best singing voice (especially live) but she was at her best vocally when singing the duet with her husband Marc Anthony. She sounded much better singing in Spanish than she ever has singing in English. The concept behind the performance was interesting (a husband and wife in a bedroom), but their chemistry was not very good. However, Jennifer should be proud of herself for putting in what may be her best vocal performance.

Usher's performance also surprised me for the same reason as Jennifer Lopez's. There is no question that Usher is a good singer, but his live performances on award shows have sucked as of late. In those performances, he did a lot of dancing and he sounded poor when tried to sing. However, for this Grammy performance, he wisely avoided frenetic dance moves. As a result, his voice sounded the best that it's sounded live for a long time. He went all out for his dancing once he finished performing "Caught Up," doing things we don't see him do that much (like that backflip). It was a nice sight to see him and James dancing, even if it's debatable that Usher is the "godson of soul" as James Brown put it.

-Surprisingly, U2's performance was one of the weakest ones in the show. It didn't help that I wasn't a big fan of the song they performed, but simply, I have seen them do better.

-The tributes to Janis Joplin and Ray Charles weren't bad. I enjoyed Jamie Foxx and Alicia Keys honoring Ray. I also liked Joss Stone and Melissa Etheridge singing in tribute to Janis Joplin. It was both brave and surprising that Melissa Etheridge came to the show and performed without a wig or a hat, showing her bald head to the world. I also liked Bonnie Raitt and Billy Preston's bluesy tribute to Ray Charles.

-Although James Brown was in attendance, the hardest working man in show business may as well been Tim McGraw. He participated in three different performances: the southern rock jam, the tsunami benefit performance, and a solo performance of his own.

-The tsunami benefit performance was a good idea, but it didn't work as well as it should have. I like "Across The Universe" as much as the next person, but it's kind of a sleepy song. That made the performance (with its interesting mix of artists) also sound kind of tired. Still, I hope many people go to ITunes and download it.

-I've read a lot of articles that say how much of a "shock" it was that Maroon 5 beat Kanye West for Best New Artist. Frankly, it's not much of a shock to me. In fact, my sister predicted it just before it was announced. Besides, there is a supposed Best New Artist curse. A lot of the Best New Artist winners end up not having long careers. If Kanye lasts 10-15 years and Maroon 5 doesn't, he'll have the Grammys to thank.

-Ray Charles's posthumous wins for Record of The Year and Album of The Year show that the award show tradition of sympathy votes is alive and well. It happened at last year's Grammys with Luther Vandross's wins (and he wasn't even dead). When a beloved artist dies, it's almost as though his peers feel they have to honor that artist one last time, regardless of the quality of what he left behind. Genius Loves Company is the only Album of The Year nominee that I have not heard, but I wonder if it's really better than the other nominees (save for's bound to be better than Confessions). No one denies that Ray Charles was a genius...but I would hate for less-than-stellar work to be honored because of that.

Now for some very short comments:

-I liked John Mayer's understated performance of "Daughters."

-Did anyone see the look on Don Cornelius's face after they showed the montage for his Trustee Award? He didn't look too impressed.

-The Grammy camera people weren't exactly on the ball. They sometimes didn't show nominees that were actually there (like Anita Baker).

-Yes! Jay-Z and Beyonce actually sat next to each other!

-Why was Los Lonely Boys the only group in the opening performance to not perform on the stage?

-Why did of the Black Eyed Peas wear that humongous Mad Hatter-looking hat?

-And why did Kanye West put those intricate designs into his hair?

-Queen Latifah looked very nice all throughout the show. Kudos to the people who did her hair, makeup, and clothing.

-Kanye had the best acceptance speech of the night!

-I wish Mary J. Blige performed on the show for some reason or another.

-I'm surprised Norah Jones didn't perform on the show.

-I bet Beyonce was happy as hell to just attend the Grammys without performing or presenting.

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