In the Mix

February 12, 2012

The Grammy Awards

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Written for: Communicado Magazine

The Grammy Awards were bittersweet this year. Whitney Houston’s death gave everyone pause for whether a celebration of music was still appropriate. But, the show must go on…

LL Cool J opened the show and got right to the point: We’ve lost Whitney, but, we’re gonna move forward in celebration of her and all the other talented artist in the music industry. He did a good job. And while Whitney was heavy on everyone’s hearts, the night belonged to Adele.

Adele was nominated in six categories and won all six. And she deserved all of them. She also performed. It was truly refreshing to see an artist perform with such authenticity and originality. I hope fame doesn’t take her purity away from her…

Bon Iver won for best new artist. Like Esperanza Spalding last year, people were scratching their heads asking, “Who’s that?” His look; His speech; All so far away from Hollywood, the glitz and the glamour. Awesome. I guess we’ll find out who Bon Iver is now…

I also want to give a nod to the Foo Fighters for proclaiming their commitment to singing, playing an instrument and keeping it real. Dave Grohl said the music has to come from your heart and your mind and that is all they have to give.

On the other hand, there were some performances that should have been reconsidered. Nicki Minaj was a sideshow. It sounded bad; It looked bad – it was just bad. And Katy Perry was almost as bad. Unlike Adele, Katy’s breakup has only generated anger in her music. Sounded pretty angry to me…

Don’t get me wrong, I respect an artists desire to be avant garde, but, there still needs to be a level of quality attached to the performance. For instance, what Pink did a few years back when she sang with acrobatics had great artistic value while being very different. Nicki Minaj – as my friend Renee said – couldn’t decide if she wanted to do Madonna Like a Prayer or Michael Jackson Thriller. Both previously done quite well; Nicki’s attempt failed on every level.

But, this is more of what I’ve been saying about modern music. It was nice to hear from people in the music industry who agree with me that electronics and synthesizers only serve to mask a person with marginal talent. True musical talent needs a microphone, an instrument and a voice. That’s it. The circus doesn’t always have to be in town.

Jennifer Hudson proved that point when she stepped on the stage and sang I Will Always Love You for Whitney. Jennifer only had one day to get ready for that and she did it justice. I must admit, I would like to have seen more of a Whitney tribute, but, I understand that a show like the Grammy’s is planned months in advance, so, a change of this magnitude less than 24 hours before showtime is almost impossible.

Three artists performed twice, which, I thought was unnecessary. Chris Brown, The Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney. Once would have been enough. The rest of that time could have been devoted to a longer tribute to Whitney. And the most glaring omission for me was the passing mention they gave to Don Cornelius. Soul Train deserves a lot more recognition than a passing mention.

Overall, the show was pretty good. With exception of those few tweeks, my take-away is that there is an appreciation for pure performances returning to the music industry. I’m looking forward to it…