Monday, February 8, 2010


My Grammy notes, a week later:

The Grammys weren’t too bad this year, if you don’t mind Taylor Swift. The night scored tops in the ratings, and that was due to the volume of performances. This is fine, but it was really strange to have so few awards televised, especially in hearing all the references to pre-televised wins.

  • In retrospect, had to know something was up when Song of the Year was awarded first, not something like “Female Pop Vocal of the Year”.
  • More awards. It’s an awards show, please remember that.
  • 3D was the worst idea ever, and even Rihanna and Beyoncé looked stupid dancing in their glasses.
  • Michael Jackson’s poor children.
  • The bleeping—or rather, the protracted silence of the censors—just made everyone think that something was wrong with the TV.
  • Timing. Make sure those likely to win an award aren’t held up by costume changes or preparations for performance, and can actually accept the award.
  • They need to stop dressing Taylor Swift in white. It’s ruining her image by overemphasizing it.
  • While most of the chatter circulated on Taylor Swift failing to reach the high notes in “Rihannon”, it was odd not to note how strange it was to see Stevie Nicks singing “You Belong With Me”, because the song is so juvenile. It also proves that the song will not age well once T. Swift grows out of this demographic. I really like the arrangement on “You Belong With Me”, though.
  • Sasha Fierce was very much out in full force. Surprisingly, Beyoncé did a medly of “If I Were a Boy” and the thematically fitting “You Oughta Know”, which worked perfectly with the tough soldier shtick she was working. The motif was very Rihanna, and reminded me very much of a recent podcast from the Slate Culture Gabfest discussing the decade in music. Beyoncé and Rihanna have both led the way in projecting female-driven and pop music into symbols of strength. They are fighters, kicking ass and taking names in their spike heels.
I’ve criticized Beyoncé before for being such a man-hater in her songs, and this combination only furthered my bafflement. Why is Beyoncé so angry? This is a question I’d wish 60 Minutes addressed in their pre-Grammy interview, instead of the stupid and softball questions about her relationship with her rapper-mogul husband and her history—all very well-known to her fans. Even for a general audience the interview was a letdown. Yes, Beyoncé likes to speak for the ladies, and she’s become phenomenally successful doing so, but in context, her anger is unjustified and contrary to the rest of her mild, measured persona. Maybe it’s just that performing righteously angry material like “You Oughta Know” is great fun and a tension release, and that Sasha Fierce is very much her alter ego; she’s speaking out for all the wrongs she’s seen in others. Sure, not performing smashes like “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and “Halo” were puzzling, but “If I Were a Boy” showed off her vocal skills more, and she probably has a soft spot for that song. When it was released, she gave lots of interviews focused on the song and video, proudly showing it off, downplaying “Single Ladies”, which was released at the same time.

And of course, Lady Gaga and Elton John, which just needs to be seen again (sorry, no embed capabilities).

P.S. New York Magazine’s The Cut blog has a great roundup of Lady G’s costumes, seams and all.

1 comment:

John said...

Only Lady Gaga could play a piano duet opposite Elton John and not be completely outdone, in terms of both music and flamboyance. I'm glad she let a little bit of her enthusiasm show during the duet, though.