The Grammys opened with a bang last night, but quickly fizzled into a tricked-out Technicolor circus of flashing lights, frenzied feathers and alien egg births. And like most things that are tricked out, once you get past the fancy frame, you notice the picture on the inside is a muted bore.
But first things first, I have to admit that kicking-off last night’s 3 ½ hour event with a tribute to Aretha Franklin got me open with a quickness. Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera, Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, Martina McBride and gospel great Yolanda Adams set that baby off with vocals that penetrated the Staples Center like a Rajon Rondo crossover through Miami’s formidable defense. Score! From “Natural Woman” to Christina’s redeeming “Ain’t No Way” to Martina’s gritty “Until You Come Back to Me” and then Florence’s soulfully quirky “Think” right in to Jennifer’s Chi-town crunked rendition of the iconic “Respect” and lastly, Yolanda had chuuch with her version of “Spirit in the Dark.” And I so wasn’t mad with the decision to close with “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” because these five have proved individually and as a group that women are not to be effed with and I think the Grammy’s in their own crazy way tried to honor that fact here and there throughout the evening.
Unlike the masses of Justin Bieber fans out there who are crying foul, I’m thrilled that Esperanza Spalding won for Best New Artist. I saw her two years ago at the Schomburg Center in a Harlem and was blown away by her talent. She’s got chops and as a Latina who plays jazz, she’s been playing her heart out on the outskirts of mainstream success. Even after playing for President Obama last year homegirl still went about promoting her album and killing that upright of hers relatively unknown. So even though people wanna deface her Wikipedia page and call her Esperanza “Quesadilla” Spalding (so friggin American of the haters to pull the race card), lil’ quesa still has the gold gramaphone sitting on her mantle this morning.
I was also happy to see Janelle Monae getting some shine on the Grammy stage. Even though I was a bit disappointed by her vocals and her overall performance (I’ve seen her kill Cold War live and she’s no joke), I’ve been a fan of this dame who channels James Brown like no other for awhile and if you didn’t see it last night, believe me she is a superstar in the making.
Overall I was bored by the Awards telecast and at times I wanted to put the show’s producers in a headlock and go Canadian hockey on their knuckleheads for being so inconsiderate, indifferent and just straight ignant. Like how do you have Lady Antebellum do a tribute to Teddy Pendergrass– a Black man? I was feeling my man @illdoc when he tweeted “Lady Antebellum should’ve paid tribute to Teddy Pendergrass by changing their damn name.”
And talking about insensitivity… how do you forget GURU in your memorial? Oh yeah because he’s a rapper that’s how.
Cee-Lo was aight, very The Wiz ala Evilene’s flying henchmen and Lady Gaga was underwhelming, pointy shoulders and all. She should’ve just played excerpts from her 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper, which was way more fascinating. Rihanna, who from a style perspective I absolutely adore, could have used another sound check. And was it me or did I hear Bob Dylan sing something about Negros and ropes around necks?
I really liked Norah Jones, Keith Urban and John Mayer’s version of Jolene and little Jayden did his thing with Justin Bieber, but I would have preferred to see lil sis do Whip My Hair with da Biebs. Such was the night though. The experienced playas sat quietly watching while the loud mouths took the stage and showed-out when all we wanted was just a show.