...no Grammy, no Grammy, STOP!
It's been a few days, but I'm still kind of confused. I, for the first time in a long time, was entertained by the Grammys this year.
Because I work Sunday nights, I made a last-minute decision to DVR the show just as it came on through the power of the Directv app on my phone. I expected to watch it later that night in hopes the sheer boredom of it would lull me to sleep, but at least three times, I was entertained.
Listen, I don't understand popular music and I, in no way, mean to sound snobby in saying that. I'll admit to any music I like at the risk of losing "cool" points - I think I'm getting too old to even use that word, so I'm sure I lost a few there. Nevertheless, I admittedly fast forwarded through some performances, but some I just gave a shot because I was feeling adventurous.
Here's my take on what I saw in no particular order:
Beyonce and Jay-Z
Beyonce is one of the most beautiful women in the entire world. Her marriage to Jay-Z seems super stable and loving; they seem to adore each other. All that aside, I don't need a glimpse into what went on in order to create Blue Ivy. Beyonce is often referred to as "Queen Bey," and for obvious reasons.
One of the reasons she is held in such high regard is that she hasn't fallen from grace, gotten arrested or shaved her head, so she has respect. She is humble, polite and on top of her game. Do I respect her for her performance on Sunday? Sure. Do I think it was a little much. Yes. First off, I think the song is terrible. Both Beyonce and Jay-Z have songs that I really like, but that song is awful and the performance was just a bit over the top for the time and channel. If I had kids, I wouldn't want them simulating those dance moves.
I fast forwarded. Why? Because I don't trust the taste of anyone who would marry Russel Brand and date John Mayer. And frankly, I find her voice very irritating. She rose from the stage in some kind of snow globe and I bailed.
Lorde is like Kendra Smith from Mazzy Star and Bjork rolled into a little goth ball. The song "Royals" is admittedly catchy. I heard it on the radio when I was at the beach this summer and I liked it. She is very young and has a strangeness about her that works really well. I'm wondering what else we're going to see from her as she grows up musically. I also enjoyed that the lyrics to the song "Royals" call out most of the entertainers who were sitting in the audience and their lavish lifestyles.
At the risk of awakening the beast that is the following for Taylor Swift, I'll say it: I don't care for her. That's right, I fast forwarded right through her piano playing and headbanging. Here's why I don't like Taylor Swift: She makes a living off playing the victim.
Sure, a lot of songs have been written about heartache, but she does it in such a bratty way. She writes songs about being over her ex-boyfriends, none of which she seems to be over, and publicly shames them in an attempt to claim triumph.
I'm not buying it. Her songs are relatable, I guess, to some who are broken-hearted, but I'm over it. It's not a win to make an ex look like a fool to make yourself feel better. It really just makes you bitter. It may be fun, but it's not a win. She also seemed really catty when Kacey Musgraves won the Grammy for best country album.
I did love Swift's metallic mesh dress, though.
Let's talk about Kacey Musgraves. From her light-up cowboy boots to her nonchalant, adorable lyrics, this Nashville Star reject has a new fan in me. Reject may not be the right word - she finished sixth, I believe, but worked hard enough to end up performing at this year's Grammys.
I'm sure the radio will play the song she played ad nauseam until people despise it, but I drown out the radio at work with my own music so I'll avoid the plague. Her lyrics are unique and topical, and after looking her up on Spotify, a handful of her songs are now on some of my favorite playlists.
The press is touting her as "the next Taylor Swift." Don't do that. Let her be the next Kacey Musgraves. Her lyrics are far better than Swift's and, although it's blurred by the catchy twang of her guitar, even borderline scandalous for conservatives. I like her spunk, but I also like her style of music. It's reminiscent of bands I listen regularly. That's right, oh, what? You don't like country music?
Oftentimes, you'll ask someone what kind of music they listen to and they'll say, "Pretty much everything except country." To each their own, but I honestly don't know how any music enthusiast can rule out country completely.
Country music's roots run deep and have, for decades, inspired and influenced genres like the blues and rockabilly and rock and roll as did those genres for country. So, if you've never heard of the Highwaymen, I kind of feel bad for you. Surely, you know who Johnny Cash is because of the movie "Walk the Line," but you should have been onboard with him long before that.
So, the Highwaymen were a supergroup comprised of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson years after they made a significant stamp on the music industry individually.
I could go on and on about each of their accomplishments, musical talent, lyrics and more, but let's not get too lengthy. We can have that conversation in a bar someday. Back to the Grammys, the passing of Cash and Jennings left the group two short. Those spots were filled by non-other than Merle Haggard - logical and amazing choice - and Blake Shelton.
That kind of irritated some folks, being the rest are legends, but I'm going to stick up for Shelton. I think he held his own. I find myself strangely attracted to him, too, so that may have factored in as well. I guess it's not so strange. He's tall, he's funny, he can grow a beard and he has tattoos - that's pretty much the formula that works for me.
I even like some of his music as I find myself listening to more and more country these days. I used to stick to outlaw, alt-country, folk and bluegrass, but some of these mainstream guys are good. So good, iHeartRadio, which shies away from country, has sold out an all-country upcoming festival due to the popularity of artists like Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Eric Church.
Anyway, The Highwaymen were probably the highlight of the Grammys for me.
Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, Madonna and Queen Latifah
Let's just skip over this one. A bunch of people got married and that makes you people really angry and you scold me in Sound Off so, next! I will say this, though: It made me feel weird about Madonna. I idolized her as a child, but I felt myself saying in my head "give it up already." I don't know. I hate to talk smack on Madonna, but we're all about honesty in this column.
Nine Inch Nails, Queens Of The Stone Age, Dave Grohl and Lindsey Buckingham
Rude. The Grammys cut these guys off and rolled credits over their performance. Poor planning, Grammy organizers. Trent Reznor had every right to call you out on Twitter. I had to look this up because my rude DVR actually cut the whole thing, but I would have liked to see it in its entirety. It was completely insulting to do that. All these guys are real musicians.
Ok, so my high school crush Jordan Catalano, also known as Jared Leto, comes out and gives a far from moving tribute to Lou Reed and then Metallica plays the song "One." Really?
Did I miss something here? I know they did an album together, but what does the song "One" have to do with it? How is that a tribute to Lou Reed? I'll tell you what I think happened. Metallica is still reeling from their loss 26 or so years ago to Jethro Tull and this was their chance at redemption for that loss. Yes, it has been 26 years since the release of "One." How old am I now that I remember that?
There were also some other decent performances and some duds. Pink was hanging from the ceiling twirling around again which is impressive, but getting a little old. Daft Punk and Pharrel had people out of their seats dancing to their hit "Get Lucky." Gary Clark Jr. made an appearance with Keith Urban and, FYI, Clark Jr. is amazing. Go listen to his music right now. Paul and Ringo paired up again, something really white happened with Robin Thicke and, of all groups, Chicago, and LL Cool J was apparently hosting, although I found no need for him to even be there. I think just having presenters and performers is enough.
Overall, I was surprisingly entertained, which was probably increased by my ability to fast forward through some of it. Oh, yeah and people won some awards, too. Although sometimes annoyingly feministic at times, the site Jezebel summed up in an article what the award winning process has become by describing the Grammys as "the annual straight white people give each other awards for doing black music about gay rights better than you convention." Pretty accurate.
(Jenna Wasakoski, a News-Item editor, is a graduate of Von Lee School of Aesthetics and is certified as a professional makeup artist.)