To Fumigate the Oscar Stench, The Grammys Decide That 'Boring Is Best'

Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

After the Academy Awards debacle precipitated by the Will Smith slap, someone at The Recording Academy, otherwise known as The Grammys, must have sent out this memo ahead of their awards show telecast: BEHAVE.

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Most uncharacteristic of musicians, they actually did. But instead of helping the 64th Annual Grammy Awards, it totally killed the vibe and what makes musical awards shows like the Grammys interesting. And the show was held in Las Vegas, no less—Sin City—the place where artists go to be excessive and misbehave. You not only expect some bad behavior from musicians, but for them to be disruptors, innovators, and present something that is different and out of the box.

But nah.

The Grammys’ board of governors said, “Not this year. Homie don’t play that.”

As a result, the three-hour snooze-orama was as BAY-SIC and pedestrian as they come; not to mention downright depressing.

Trevor Noah and his pretend, plucky snark held the line. Even in his targeted jokes, he did not mention any names, and his zingers toward the artists were wrapped in a velvet glove. Noah is another unfunny comic who lacks actual humor or comic timing. So, along with being flat, he was also, as the youts would say, “Hella snooze.”

This tweet from one of my followers, a Millennial mother, summed it up.

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Sucks to be her, as I only had to do it for one night; now it’s back to my Spotify and Pandora playlists. Although I did find artists worthy of a listen. One new-to-me artist that I plan to sample is called H.E.R. Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson the artist known as H.E.R., will be one to watch, as she has the alchemy of a Lauryn Hill and a Prince—talented on so many fronts, and she actually keeps her clothes on.

So refreshing.

The noteworthy winners were, amazingly enough, not all young, and not all new:

Jon Batiste had the most Grammy Award nominations and his five wins outpaced everyone, yet he somehow seemed the biggest surprise on a joyous night for music that washed away some of the bad taste left by the Oscars a week earlier.

Batiste’s “We Are” won the prestigious album of the year award Sunday over music heavyweights like Tony Bennett, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift and Ye, who changed his name from Kanye West. Batiste ended his dance-filled performance of “Freedom” during the show by jumping on Eilish’s table.

Silk Sonic won four Grammys, including song and record of the year for the duo’s smooth soul hit, “Leave the Door Open.” Olivia Rodrigo’s three awards included best new artist. Foo Fighters, Chris Stapleton and CeCe Winans also won three each.

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Every time Billie Eilish sings, she makes me think of what a Dr. Evil type would use to torture his enemies. Think of that last scene from Mars Attacks! where everyone’s head is exploding, and you get the picture.

Another new “slit your wrist” artist is Olivia Rodrigo. Say what you will about Taylor Swift, she at least gave heartbreak and youthful angst a poppy and upbeat spin. These new ones just make me want to down lots of Vicodin.

The bright spots of the night were artists that were throwbacks to an era (yes, I’m aging myself), when music was smooth, polished, and just plain fun. Bruno Mars’ newest partnership Silk Sonic pulls heavily from ’70s R&B, while the Korean boy band BTS pays homage to the boy bands of the ’80s and early ’90s, with couture and moves lifted straight outta Motown. Think The Temptations and The Spinners. Jon Batiste was also an arbiter of style, substance, and exuberance, and I believe he won five Grammys for that very reason.

These were the most popular and exciting parts of the telecast. Otherwise, hand me some Vicodin, please.

Truth be told, the parts of the awards show where people sat up and took notice involved the artists who came up in that bygone era or are throwbacks to that era.

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Newsflash: Foo Fighters, Chris Stapleton, and CeCe Winans are all over 40, and have been around for decades. It is interesting that aside from the mournful musings of Eilish and Rodrigo, the youts are no longer bringing anything new or fresh; they’re just acting as placeholders and imitators of The Olds.

One of the most transcendent moments, where they totally killed, was the Grammys’ “In Memoriam” segment. The segment led off with a video tribute for Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters’ percussionist who passed away last week. In leading into the video presentation of all the music artists, songwriters, musicians, producers, and artists’ management who have left a legacy, there was the lovely images, supported by a powerful musical tribute to the late Stephen Sondheim who also passed last year. There were no bizarre oral reminiscences from randos to a few selected musicians, no dancers blocking the slides and distracting the audience from the focus of the segment. They kept is simple, honoring the people who made the music who were no longer with us, and the beautiful voices who brought some of that music to life.

It was pure magic and the reason why you want to tune into a music show.

The Sondheim song selections were masterfully weaved together. The exceptionally gifted Ben Platt lead off with “Not a Day Goes By.” The powerful and pristine voice of Cynthia Erivo dovetailed with “Send In The Clowns,” and the lithe and lyrical Leslie Odom Jr. joined Erivo in a duet of “Merrily We Roll Along.” Rachel Zegler, the new “Maria” from Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, entered and performed “Somewhere (There’s A Place For Us).” All four ended the song together, blending like a choir and holding the audience in rapt attention to its sublime completion.

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It took almost two-and-a-half hours to get to mastery; and it was masterful. Sadly, the moments before and after were lacking.

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