Monday, February 12, 2007

You Don’t Have to Sell Your Body to the Night

OK, so I couldn’t just tune into the Grammys, catch a glimpse of the reunited Police, and then flip the channel or, god forbid, turn off the TV and read a book. Nope. I was a captive for the next three hours. Sort of like how you can’t just duck into Costco and grab the free sample of chocolate chip toffee cookies—you always walk out with $200 worth of cold tablets, chicken breasts and toilet paper.

It’s been eons since I’ve cared about the Grammys and the first award reminded me why: It went to Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder. Nothing against these two legends, but I don’t think their duet (which I wasn’t even aware of until last night) exactly rocked the music world in 2006. I’m just guessing. Because like pretty much everyone else, I haven’t heard the song.

But the Grammys aren’t so much about awards as they are about performances. I’d say 90 percent of the trophies are handed out off-screen, before the telecast even begins. Otherwise, the show would’ve started yesterday at noon and run into next week. Right now, we’d be listening to the winner of Best Liner Notes thank his publicist. Alas, this also means we did not get to see Joaquin Phoenix (& Various Artists) pick up their Grammy for Walk the Line, Best Compilation Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media. (And apart from this award begging the question, whither Reese Witherspoon, I also have to ask, what other visual media requires a compilation soundtrack?) Had this award been judged telecast-worthy, we might have witnessed Mr. Phoenix point his Grammy in the direction of Jamie Foxx and utter, to borrow from Natalie Maines borrowing from “The Simpsons,” “Heh, heh.” Maybe it’s just me, but if you are going to win an award for impersonating a famous singer, be it Johnny Cash or Ray Charles, a Grammy seems more fitting praise.

Speaking of Natalie Maines, the Dixie Chicks were the big winners last night with five awards. I like the Chicks (although Emily Robison’s “I Dream of Jeannie” ponytail should have stayed in its bottle). I like that last night’s show was one gigantic “we’re sorry we blacklisted you and burned your CDs” apology. I didn’t so much like the bitter tone in the Chicks’ acceptance speeches. I guess if my livelihood and life had been threatened, I’d be pissed off too. But. It’s. Time. To. Move. On.

Fittingly, on a night ruled by chicks, the most electrifying performance came courtesy of a woman, albeit not from Mary J. Blige, as many might have expected, but from Christina Aguilera. I’m not a huge fan of X-tina, but the woman has pipes. Which she used to stunning, raw effect during a tribute to James Brown. Somebody match her with the right material and get her to keep her clothes on and she could be a legend.

The polar opposite of Christina would have to be James Blunt, but I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. I guess I am the only person left on the planet who doesn’t writhe in aural pain at the mere sound of the opening chords to Blunt’s ubiquitous “You’re Beautiful.” No matter, the song itself is irrelevant to my point. Which is that all Blunt needed to flawlessly perform his song live was a microphone, a guitar, and a back-up dude on piano. No dance troupe. No gospel choir. No fireworks. No marching band. And there’s something to be said for that. (And now, to completely contradict myself, I thought Gnarls Barkley’s almost operatic treatment of “Crazy” was one of the most powerful moments of the night.)

Which brings me back to The Police. When I wasn’t completely freaked out by Stewart Copeland’s gray hair (no, it is definitely not still 1985), I was blown away by Sting’s biceps. And then his voice. Was Andy Summers even on the stage? I can’t remember. But why just the one song? And why did it have to be “Roxanne”? I mean, I knew that it would be. I just kept hoping for it to turn into a medley or “Synchronicity II.”

Guess I’ll have to wait for the concert tour. Because you know I can’t just tune into one semi-disappointing walk down memory lane during the Grammys. I’m in it now for the whole three-hour show.


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