The little monsters in Gagaland are rejoicing and dancing in the streets. Lady Gaga’s reign as pop music’s newest monarch was cemented at Sunday night’s 53rd Annual Grammy Awards telecast on CBS. She took home the golden phonograph for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Best Short Form Music Video and Best Pop Vocal Album. Also, she delivered one of the most anticipated performances of the evening when she sang “Born This Way,” a revamped version of Madonna’s “Express Yourself” complete with Horton-styled, Aileyesque choreography.
But while the legions of Gaga fans were celebrating, this viewer was not so happy. Overall, the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards was lackluster to say the least. I doubt I could have had a worse time watching a bunch of crickets performing a mating song on the National Geographic channel. The show opened up with LL Kool J introducing a star-studded girl group that paid tribute to Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and included Florence Welch, Jennifer Hudson, Yolanda Adams, Martina McBride and Christina Aguilera. The crew of ladies belted out some of Franklin’s most iconic works and it seemed that the Grammys were off to a rocking start. But it appeared that music’s biggest night never fully got off the runway as the performances were sans the oomph of past Grammy shows.
More than ever before the Grammys’ formula showed like a slip hanging from an expensive cocktail dress. A physic was not needed to foretell the winners, all one needed to do was watch the performers. Almost every performer that hit the stage won their category (and frankly that bit is getting pretty old). Also the Grammys’ method of ad-hoc collabos was for the most part insipid. The most unlikely duo to perform was Ceelo Green and Gwyneth Paltrow; they along with a band of Muppets sang “F**k You.” Green looked like the Muppet Czar as he donned a colorful, feathery number that resembled an Elton John throwback. Paltrow looked sexy in a black catsuit, but the most entertaining part of this duo was watching Paltrow balance herself in a pair of uber-high colorblock heels. Another anticipated performance was that of Mick Jagger, and although it was enjoyable watching him and Raphael Saadiq on stage, I have seen Mick Jagger give more spirited performances.
One good component of the Grammys’ formula is that in this digital, Auto-Tuned age, The Recording Academy still values musicians over artists as the top honors of the night, Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best New Artist were won by Lady Antebellum, The Suburbs and Esperanza Spalding instead of the pop stars du jour.
Probably the most ironic element of the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards is that it started out paying homage to the woman most synonymous with soul music and that was exactly what the show was lacking – soul. In past Grammy shows, a more eclectic blend of music was present in the selection of performances that exposed the viewers at home, especially the youth, to genres of music they would not normally listen to. Question for the academy, where was the classical, jazz, Latin or gospel music? How was this music’s biggest night when more music outside of Billboard’s Top 40 was not represented in the telecast? If this is an omen for Grammy nights in years to come, then the world should just wait for the MTV Awards because the Grammys will not be worth watching.
Photos: WireImage.com, Lester Cohen/WireImage.com, Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com