Best and worst of the Grammys stage
- February 14, 2011 12:02 PM |
- By Arts Online
There were big surprises and major misses to boot at the Grammy Awards Sunday night. Without further ado, here's an admittedly subjective look at what rocked and what didn't onstage.
1. Arcade Fire. The Canadian band landed a massive win at the end of the show, taking the coveted album of the year honour for The Suburbs and even squeezing in a multilingual thanks to their home base of Montreal. Facing high profile competitors -- including Eminem's Recovery and Lady Antebelllum's Need You Now -- it was a surprise win, but definitely well-deserved. The sprawling band delivered not one, but a pair of electric performances. Even Kanye tweeted his support -- all in caps, of course.
2. Mick Jagger. Now there's a guy who knows how to rock. Marking his debut on the Grammy stage, the Rolling Stones frontman was practically doing laps during his tribute to Solomon Burke, offering up more energy than someone half his age. Why did Grammy organizers wait so long to put him onstage?
3. Eminem. The acclaimed rapper was intense and edgy for Love the Way You Lie, his duet with Rihanna. Eminem is one of those performers you could just put on an empty stage, since his powerful performance makes the whole show. Add longtime collaborator and mentor Dr. Dre for a verse or two and it gets even better. Eminem's wins Sunday included Recovery earning best rap album, for which the Detroit rapper offered a gracious acceptance speech.
4. Cee Lo Green, Gwyneth Paltrow and The Muppets. This rainbow-coloured mash-up was even more ridiculous than I had hoped for. It was sheer, Elton John-inspired spectacle and my favourite of the night. Cee Lo's enormous peacock-with-a-breastplate costume, Gwyneth's high-heeled writhing on top of his piano and the Muppets as backup singers and musicians combined into one solid, crazy mass of fun.
5. Bob Dylan. The iconic Dylan, backed by the Avett Brothers and the Grammy-nominated Mumford & Sons, emerged onstage with a voice like a diesel engine starting on a cold day. Singing Maggie's Farm, Dylan seemed pretty relaxed, but the faces of others sharing the stage with the music legend beamed pure ecstasy. It was a big musical jam without gimmicks. More of this, please.
1. Katy Perry. The comely chart-topper seemed to have some trouble dancing in high heels and singing at the same time, which -- if you're a modern-day pop star -- is pretty much requisite. Her struggle killed off the sexy vibe of her hit song Teenage Dream, though her too-cutesy, heart-strewn set didn't help much either.
2. Flames. Fire seemed to be a prevailing motif at the Grammys this year. The giant black ballgown Rihanna wore for her Love the Way You Lie duet with Eminem featured ragged flame-like panels. Flames appeared on-screen behind both Eminem and Muse during their respective performances. Later, Rihanna was back again, swivelling her hips alongside Drake -- in front of a giant bonfire. It started to feel like a cheesy gimmick, dreamed up in case of lackluster performances.
3. The bloated run time. The show clocked in at three-and-a-half hours this year and, although it didn't go into overtime like the Oscars, the broadcast felt too long and like the producers had tried to cram in too many performances. Two hours in and I was ready to tune out.
4. Speech time. Glee's Matthew Morrison got stuck being onstage with U.S. Recording Academy president Neil Portnow during the latter's earnest speech in support of music education and other academy activities (like the Grammy Museum and the MusiCares charity). Aside from being long and preachy, the segment also reduced the uber-talented jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding -- just freshly minted 2011's best new artist -- to playing what amounted to elevator music behind them.
5. Rihanna and Drake. I almost hate to include this performance, since Rihanna admitted that despite suffering from bronchitis and laryngitis, she would perform anyway. Still, I found this highly anticipated duet underwhelming. Rihanna gamely attempted to grind seductively up against Drake, but the short-lived couple didn't seem to click during the island-flavoured version of What's My Name. I couldn't do a better job with bronchitis myself, but as a viewer, this one fell flat.
-- Andrea Bellemare
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