Participants this year are my lovely wife Debbie and my good friends Rob Husted and Kyle Garabadian. Rob and Kyle and I usually watch NFL football together on Sunday nights, but since the season ended last week with the Super Bowl we thought we'd broaden our horizons with The Grammys. (Plus rock & roll sometimes gets more discussion during the games than football does.)
My good friend Joe Peppercorn of The Whiles and Watershed wrote to me last week regarding the Grammys, "The only thing lamer than The Grammys themselves is complaining about The Grammys." I totally agree. So here we go, complaining about The Grammys.....
8:01 pm - Taylor Swift opens the show with an Alice In Wonderland-themed rendition of "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." She's sporting Chrissie Hynde bangs and high-heeled white go-go boots, so she can pretty much do no wrong on the Ricki C. planet. Rob wonders when Tom Petty will arrive on-set for an interpolation of "Don't Come Around Here No More." (sidenote; Rob was very nearly sent home from Sunday night football a coupla weeks ago when he dared to bad-mouth Taylor Swift during one of her innumerable Target commercials, swiftly learning - pun intended - you don't fool with Ricki C. and his crushes.)
8:10 pm - Ed Sheeran and Elton John perform together. Kyle points out that Sheeran's toupee is better than Elton's. Everyone agrees. Further, I'm enormously heartened that they don't have sex at the end of the duet. A home and family have settled Elton down nicely.
8:22 pm - The lead singer of fun. is rocking a leather (or was it vinyl?) shirt and pedal-pushers. (I'm wondering how old a reader of my Growing Old With Rock & Roll blog has to be to understand that fashion reference.) Plus with terrible luck it rained during their set and the Staples Center roof apparently leaks. (The rain is no match for the truly Bibilical deluge that nearly drowned Watershed's Comfest set in 1998. Now THAT was rain on the rock & roll.) I must note at this point that fun. employs more auxiliary musicians (four) than band members (three), but I guess that's the state of modern rock & roll. In 2013 this is also true of The Who and The Rolling Stones. We also decide by committee that fun.'s lead singer looks like a cross between the young John Cougar Mellencamp and Mark Wahlberg in his Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch days.
8:32 pm - Country music star Miranda Lambert demontrates the rural query "How is sausage made?" while portraying how a size 12 woman is crammed into a size 6 dress. (Thanks to Debbie for the women's sizes reference points.) (I LIKE Miranda Lambert and this is the kindest thing I can think of to say. Miranda, ask Blake Shelton to buy you a mirror.) (I also picture Miranda getting dressed at home and saying, "Blake, honey, does this dress make me look fat?" And Blake replying, "No, sweetie, you look great like always." Now THAT'S true love.) (For the same reason - we LIKE Adele for her good-natured-girl-who-lives-down-the-block English bonhomie - we refrain from mentioning that it appears her Grammy dress was fashioned from her grammy's - pun intended, supplid by Debbie - old living room drapes.)
8:52 pm - fun. beats Mumford & Sons for some award I don't catch the category of. YAY!
8:54 pm - Mumford & Sons once again essays "I Will Wait" for the beaten-down masses of American rock fans. Debbie asks if they have any other songs as this is the only one she has EVER seen them play in four or five previous television appearances. The bass player is sporting a hat that even Chris Bolognese of The Whiles would not wear onstage. Once again I am left wondering why lead singer guy Marcus Mumford is able to sell millions of records AND sleep with Carey Mulligan, then remember that there is no justice in 21st century rock & roll.
9:05 pm - Justin Timberlake - apparently mixing up his decades and channeling Cab Calloway rather than his usual Michael Jackson - attempts to out-falsetto Barry Gibb and winds up sounding like a Auto-Tuned 10 year old girl. Also, problematically, he's wearing spats. I repeat, Justin Timberlake is wearing spats on national television at The Grammy Awards. At this point I can't help thinking the zenith of Timberlake's career was his portrayal of Napster founder Sean Parker in Social Network.
9:11 pm - Nas presents an award and Kyle informs me that Nas does indeed still have a music career. (Kyle is my conduit for any and all news about modern music - for which I hold very, very tenuous interest, other than Jack White.) Kyle and I met while working together at the now-defunct Camelot Music record store chain in 1998, and it always amazes me when rappers who we sold hundreds - if not thousands - of CD's of are still around in 2013.
9:21 pm - The Black Keys win Best Rock Performance. I hate to speak ill of or belittle my Ohio brethren, but if Meg White had not decided to stay home and rest on her (certainly well-deserved) royalties and The White Stripes could still make records and tour, The Black Keys would not exist in the upper echelons of rock & roll. (This is an illustration of the Lester Bangs Law of Rock & Roll Substitution: If The Rolling Stones had toured more consistently in the 1970's, Aerosmith would not have existed; if Yes had stayed on the road, Styx, Kansas, Journey and any other number of bands of their ilk would not have existed; if Kurt Cobain had not blown out his brains, Limp Bizkit, Nickleback, Blink 182, et.al. would not have existed, etc. etc.)
9:23 pm - Jesus Christ, Maroon 5 again? Will somebody just float these guys out on the Japanese Current so we never have to see Adam Levine's face on television even one more time?
9:36 pm - During Rihanna's segment I'm out in the kitchen making popcorn for our little party but I am later assured that she's not sporting any black eyes during her performance. I find this profoundly reassuring and am glad The Staple Center is big enough that Chris Brown can enter without violating any restraining orders.
9:59 pm - The Zac Brown Band wins not only a Grammy, but also the coveted "Best Charlie Daniels Band Lookalike" statuette.
10:06 pm - Bruno Mars and his band are joined onstage by Sting. We all agree that Sting appears not to age at all, ever. (Tantricism?) Debbie likes Sting's suit but comments that he's gotta lose the boots.
10:18 pm - I'm convinced that Mumford & Sons-wannabes - The Lumineers - used to have a full drum kit before they first saw the Mumford boys and pared it down to just a bass drum, single cymbal & tambourine. I'm also convinced they were signed to a record deal when desperate, crazed record company execs began shouting, "FIND US ANOTHER MUMFORD & SONS, FIND US ANOTHER MUMFORD & SONS!!!"
10:21 pm - Jack White - or, as he's known in my household, The Best Thing To Happen To Rock & Roll In The 21st Century - performs "Love Interruption" with his all-girl band and "Freedom At 21" with his all-guy band, neatly encapsulating his effortless command of both the quiet and the LOUD aspects of the rock & roll idiom. Is Jack White the Pete Townshend of the 21st century? He just might be. Do I fervently wish, hope and pray that Jack doesn't wind up selling all of his songs to some future CBS NCIS-style crime-procedural franchise? Oh Lord, yes I do. (Plus Jack is rocking an outfit from The Gram Parsons Nudie Suit Outlet Store.)
10:34 pm - Country singer Hunter Hayes - winner of this year's "Justin-Bieber-Who-Gave-This-Fetus-A-Record Deal?" award - introduces Carrie Underwood, who is sporting a ball gown straight off of Say Yes To The Dress. In addition somebody brings Blue Oyster Cult's old laser crew out of retirement to project images on Underwood's gown. Impressive, but the gown seems to be bolted to the floor and Underwood cannot walk off. She may still be onstage at The Staple Center as we speak.
10:39 am - Prince is just one bad-ass motherfucker, motherfuckers, and he's got a hood and a walking stick to prove it.
10:57 pm - The Mumford & Sons guys sing a verse of "The Weight" during the Levon Helm Memorial performance and I finally crystallize what bothers me so much about them: Mumford & Sons are just the latest example of the syndrome wherein the American public would much rather hear indigenous American musical idioms performed by English people. Examples - Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Buddy Holly are returned to America in the guise of Englishmen The Beatles; bluesmen Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Albert King are resold to us by The Rolling Stones and by Eric Clapton in Cream (Clapton later appropriates Delaney & Bonnie and J.J. Cale to fuel his laid-back post-Cream career); black funk & disco acts like The Ohio Players, Kool & The Gang and The Bar-Kays got Anglicized by The Bee Gees, who sold millions more records than their American counterparts. (Part of this syndrome is, of course, inherent American racism; we'd always much rather buy our records from cute white boys than older black men or else Sam Phillips wouldn't have gone on his quest to find "a white man who could sing the blues" and invent Elvis Presley. But I believe it's more our Founding Fathers' incipient English DNA rearing its ugly head, otherwise why are Americans so obsessed with the British Royal Family's weddings?)
So now the hard-charging acoustic indie-folk rock pioneered by American boys Hamell On Trial and The Avett Brothers gets sold back to us by Mumford & Sons, with their college-girl-writing-in-her-digital-diary lyrics and their I-bear-the-weight-of-the-world-on-me-broad shoulders overly pretentious, totally humorless demeanor. I know I seem obsessed with Mumford & Sons and I know I make too much of their success and yes, probably some little part of me is jealous, but jeez, these guys are just to MEDIOCRE to be this HUGE. (Or is that mediocrity the very reason their huge-ness?)
11:12 pm - Frank Ocean neglects to remove his headband after an earlier-in-the-day game of pickup basketball at The Staple Center - home of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers - against a team led by Chris Brown which, inevitably, erupted in a game-ending brawl. During the Grammys telecast an alert cameraman catches Brown in the crowd, stuffing a sock with batteries to form a homemade blackjack and Brown is escorted off the premises by security. (Why is it that Chris Brown always seems to start tussles only with women or gay men?)
11:17 pm - Mumford & Sons wins Album Of The Year. Duh.
postscript; The Grammy's telecast came in right on the money, ending right at 11:30 (or maybe even a coupla minutes early as L.L. Cool J, Chuck D. of Public Enemy and Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine seemed to be filling time with their Beastie Boys Adam Yauch closing tribute number). The Oscars telecast has GOT to take a page from The Grammys book and start giving some of those, shall we say, minor awards - Best Sound Editing in an Animated Film Featuring the Voice of Seth Rogen, Best French Symbolist Movie Containing a Red Balloon, Best CGI Effect or Makeup Artist Making Sylvester Stallone and/or Arnold Schwarzenegger Look Less Than 80 Years Old In an Action Movie, etc. - off-the-air, prior to the telecast. Right now The Oscars are scheduled to begin at 8 pm, Sunday, February 24th, and end sometime in March, right around the vernal equinox.
© 2013 Ricki C.