The 54th Annual Grammy Awards 2012 opened with a performance by Bruce Springsteen and his band. However, his opening line — “America, are you alive out there?” — felt like a bad turn. I know he did not mean anything by it. It is probably a line he has used thousands of time, but considering the huge cloud that hung over the affair, that being the death of Whitney Houston, it was a bad choice.
LL Cool J was the host and wow, he opened with a prayer for Whitney. Now I do believe that is a first and may never be repeated at this often rocker type event. This went to a short clip of Whitney at the Grammy’s singing “I Will Always Love You.” It was poignant because she was in top voice, something she had not been at in too many years.
The Rhianna and Cold Play on stage together fell very flat to me. It was more like an excuse to get each to do their own songs and then just bridge it with a brief collaboration. Grammyville loved it, but I did not. When I see people “joining the stage together,” I expect a true duet for the duration, not a bridge.
Even with the purity of his voice gone, there is something magical about Sir Paul McCartney singing about his valentine, a brand new song. He just sat on a stool in a stunning white tuxedo jacket and sang. It was terrific. It was a stark contrast to the salute to The Beach Boys that had occurred right before it. While the music then was upbeat and a call back to the glory rock and roll of the 60’s and 70’s, to me, the fellas looked almost nervous. That included afterward. It was like “where do we go now?” McCartney, though, was in complete control, and it felt like he had no doubts about his presence on stage. We saw this again when he led the finale, first solo and then joined on stage by Springsteen and other musicians.
Adele’s performance of Rolling in the Deep was solid, and she received a rousing ovation afterward that went on for quite a while.
There was a salute to Glen Campbell who is suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and has released a final music album. It was nice to see the Grammy’s honor him while he could appreciate it. I was happy to see him even sing. It was not my favorite song of his, Rhinestone Cowboy, but he still had the chops for the song. In the audience, the great McCartney was singing along and even Lady Gaga was smiling.
The person who mystified me the most from watching the Grammy’s was Miranda Lambert. Does she have a personality? Is she so self-involved she cannot smile or enjoy the works of others? Her husband, Blake Shelton, was clearly enjoying the talents. He smiled, had a twinkle in his eye, and just seemed to like being there. Miranda looked like a dead weight, and that confused me. I do not know much about her, but from what I saw, nor do I want to. She just looked like a big gold bundle of attitude, as Judge Judy would say.
After what felt like a “can’t we all get along” plea from the CEO of some music association or another, the In Memoriam section began. It closed with Jennifer Hudson’s emotional rendition of “I Will Always Love You” that was sung below the image of Whitney Houston. She was clearly touched, and she was terrific.
Adele was the big winner of the night with wins in categories including Record of the Year and Album of the Year, and what I loved about that is that she is someone you can actually enjoy sitting back and listening to, sans profanity and the fear of wardrobe malfunctions and crude gestures.
All in all, it was about as enjoyable as any of the Grammy events in recent years. I do not enjoy many of the new age talents, so watching Chris Brown try to look bad when his name was being announced as a nominee just did nothing for me. Thankfully, Adele and Sir Paul were there to save the night.