February 14, 2005 

Where else can you hear Green Day sing about the “redneck agenda” right after watching the singer of “Redneck Woman” try to do justice to “Freebird”?  Only at the Grammy’s baby! 

All in all, it was one of the better Grammy telecasts of recent years.  They managed to pack the three and one half hours full of wide-ranging performances, and there seemed to be enough time for acceptance speeches so we didn’t suffer through too many “You may as well turn that off because…(insert hard luck story here)” demands.  I am frankly rather surprised that they can get away with presenting ninety percent (yep, I believe that is accurate) of the awards beforehand, but whatever works I guess.  I will say that I found it completely distracting to have the “Awarded Earlier” information flashing up in the same format as current winner info did, particularly since half the time it was popping up there while presenters were presenting a current award.  A scrolling ticker would’ve been more appropriate I think.   

Spotted in the Crowd:   

Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow.  Someone should let Sheryl know that we understand the bracelet and we won’t hold it against her if she wants to maybe NOT choose a bright yellow dress to go with it.  Plus it had Christmas tree garland on it.  Just blech. 

Connie Chung and Les Moonves.  At least, I think that's who it was.  Guess we now know for sure how she got that primo Big Brother gig, huh?  And that was before they were out in the open…the sky’s the limit now!  Are there any “Barker’s Beauties” openings on the Price is Right?  

Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres.  Front and center, and the subject of many a shot!  Must be because Ellen’s NBC show is so successful!  Or because Portia’s FOX show is so critically acclaimed!  ;)  Whatever the reason, they looked good!         

Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz.  Both presented as well, Matthew introduced the Southern Rock tribute and Penelope…I can’t remember.  I know she apparently stopped by Las Vegas to steal one of Celine Dion’s pantsuit/hat combos before arriving.   

Which brings me to another point, why oh why do these networks bother trotting out movie and TV stars at the Grammy’s?  Once in awhile, it can work.  Samuel L. Jackson introducing the Church of the Eternal Funk or whatever that was a year or so ago (was that the Grammy’s?).  Even Matthew introducing the Southern Rock tribute made a bit of sense, since he did it in his best southern drawl.  But please!  Anthony LaPaglia introducing the “Across the Universe” Tsunami fundraising song?  Am I missing some symbiosis other than the obvious CBS television show star link?  I love Anthony L. and he deserves better than to be strutted out for ratings in a place he obviously isn’t comfortable in.   

Someone who is comfortable strutting though is Tyra Banks!  Girl just sashayed on out there letting Hoobastank take up the backup singer positions and then she struck a supermodel pose for her entire presenting time.  Someone should inform these people that if you’re presenting *with* someone else, it really is awkward if you don’t at least pretend you notice they’re there. 

Quentin Tarantino showed up straight from da hood, yo.   

The President of the Academy of Arts and blah, blah, blah, showed up and informed us all of the generosity of the music industry during the Asian Tsunami.  They “left their egos at home” (an amazing, awe-inspiring feat, apparently) and spent their precious time performing together with people they might not like very much just so we, the perpetually unmotivated unless there’s something in it for us, can buy the songs…proceeds going to the Red Cross.  The IRC has announced that is has received enough in donations to cover the entire tsunami relief effort, so one must assume the money will go to one of the other areas of the world that is in grave need.  The President of the blah, blah, whatever, then managed to tie all this in with the hardship the music industry faces from illegal downloads and reiterate again the hope and inspiration the music industry brings to us all on a daily basis (but not for free dammit!).  Thanks dude.  I had no idea of the suffering, but to see them rise above the pain was indeed awe-inspiring.   

Someone else “left his or her egos at home” though, and that was the dearly departed of the music industry.  Seeing all the pictures is nice, but would it hurt to play a snippet of something meaningful to each person’s career as the picture is shown?  Did the “Tejano singer” and “Opera Singer” really appreciate that Ray Charles played right over them?   

Queen Latifah is a Goddess!  That is all. 

Let’s move on to the performances, shall we? 

I missed most of the opening extravaganza, unfortunately.  Most accounts call it a success.   

U2 is undeniably incredibly talented, but the performance was a bit lackluster I thought.  They put more into a recent Saturday Night Live appearance than they did this one.  Green Day showed them how to get the crowd involved a bit later though, so kudos to them. 

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.  Hmm.  It played like a Danielle Steele made for TV movie.  Played on Telemundo.  I was totally lost.  Apparently the cameramen were too since they immediately sought out the Spanish speaking of the audience, panning first to John Secada and then rethinking their strategy and finding Ricky Martin.  If the idea was for me to gauge my reaction from Mr. Martin’s, then I’m going with both of us being less than excited by it. 

The tribute to Southern Rock started out a bit shaky, with Gretchen Wilson not making me feel as free as a bird now, but things picked up when Lynyrd Skynyrd was allowed to sing their own song.  Seriously, is it really a tribute to long-standing, still intact and alive bands, to tell them they can come and perform at the Grammy’s, but only if some of the currently hot can sing their song with them?  What the hell?  Like L.S. can’t sing it like it’s meant to be sung?  Whatever.  It got better and by the end of “Sweet Home Alabama”, Ricky Martin was on his feet shouting like a girly fan, so I’d call it a success.   

The “Across the Universe” thing was lame.  It had moments of being good, and like the Southern Rock tribute it did pick up speed after a shaky start (Norah Jones, I’m talking to you!), but overall it sounded mostly unrehearsed.  Stephen Tyler was good, Scott Weiland was good, Brian Wilson was good, Tim McGraw was a’ight.  That about covers it.   

The Tribute to Gospel began with a rousing performance of “I’ll Take you There” by Mavis Staples.  It took a bit of a twist with Kanye West rapping about welfare, guns and Lexxus’ …but it was tied into the gospel theme with the church congregation back up singers.  The Blind Boys of Alabama stopped by to sing over a casket, and Kanye rapped some more about Jesus.  To be quite honest, I kind of enjoyed the whole thing. 

Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone did tribute to Janis Joplin.  Melissa had it nailed, Joss is cute, talented, and she tried hard. 

Usher and James Brown had a dance-off.  I couldn’t tell you who won, but I can tell you I was glad when it was over because I was sure James was gonna break a limb.   

Acceptance Speeches: 

Most Heartfelt:  Kanye West.  You can always nail this category if you have a major life-changing accident, illness, etc, to relate.  He had some touching things to say. 

Most Self-serving:  Kanye West.  Starting out with a “hold the music because this is gonna take me awhile” comment is ONLY appropriate if you’ve been up for the awards for the last twelve years straight, been favored, and never won.  Otherwise, shut up and act grateful your name was called. 

Appearing Most Frightened:  Maroon 5 after winning Best New Artist over Kanye West.  They practically apologized to him and thanked him for being so “wonderful”…apparently not throwing an immediate hissy fit like last time he lost is “wonderful”…what’s not wonderful is how ticked off Kanye appeared when the camera panned to him while Maroon 5 was thanking him. 

Most Entertaining:  Loretta Lynn and Jack White.  If you’re Loretta Lynn, you are absolutely within your rights to linger around and take your time.  Somehow, these two are quite cute together and symbolized the old school /new school of music without really meaning to.  Jack’s story of Loretta’s songs being banned from country radio was fun…and can’t you just picture these two sitting around smoking a cigar on the front porch?  Never mind that Loretta appeared to have maybe smoked something a bit more potent right before the telecast…we love her just the same.  

After all was said and done though, it was Ray Charles’ night.  I was astounded that Jamie Foxx didn’t accept the award on his behalf.  He did however, give a very nice performance at the piano with Alicia Keyes and he’s undoubtedly musically talented.  When Ray Charles’ album won the big prize of the night, the stage filled up with middle aged white guys and Norah Jones.  Thankfully, Ray’s manager (I think that’s who he was) came to the forefront and gave the most consummate speech of the night, complete with enough adverbs to share if Lil John ever wants to try to form sentences. 



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