11:11. A garrulous Chance the Rapper leads the Kirk Franklin choir through the kind of bombast rewarded by Grammy voters. I liked his first mixtape, but his timbre bothers me.
11 p.m. “Musical tributes” bore me. The best tribute is to kill yr idols.
10:54. Clapping, reprising his check-the-mirror routine with Jerome Benton, doing The Bird, Morris Day showed his cool remains intact. Bruno Mars looks like Liberace imitating Prince; he looks overwhelmed by the challenge. I didn’t know he could solo guitar, though
10:50. ‘Where glam meets funk, and rock meets flash, and leather meets lace’ — of course James Corden could’ve been describing Stevie Nicks.
10:40. I danced around my apartment to the few bars of “Award Tour” to which A Tribe Called Quest treated the audience and watched motionless when Q-Tip, Jarobi, Anderson Paak, Consequence, and a cast of hundreds (figuratively) turned “We the People” into a rebuke of “President Agent Orange.” I’m touched that the Grammys can still do this sort of thing on occasion while mobilizing crowds on stage in the hopes of selling as many units as possible.
10:35. Celine Dion looks terrific. She hands Song of the Year to Adele and Greg Kurstin, writers of “Hello.”
10:29. God — I thought those audience cutaways for the last hour were to Tom Petty, not Barry Gibb
10;24. Oh good — a version of “Staying Alive” in the noble tradition of Solid Gold. Inspirational lyric: I’m going nowhere, somebody help me.
10:18. I’m still thinking about Adele’s George Michael cover. Pop has a tradition of women embodying the text of torch songs by gay men who had to stay content with subtext, but Adele’s “Fastlove” adulterated this song about cruising into generic hankie waving. George Michael, an Album of the Year winner, wanted hundreds of millions to love his music. By 1990 he wanted to keep those fans and record music that didn’t check any of the boxes constituting “universality.” 2017’s biggest musical star, who has often sung and written well, shows that she believes in the pabulum of universality.
10:15. Taking a cue from Adele and Keys-morris, Sturgill Simpson pours honey oats over a horn section.
10:12. Dwight Yoakam! Now this guy is metal! But he looks like Tom Petty.
10:07. Lady Gaga’s always been metal, so fronting Metallica’s no stretch. But the band’s mikes aren’t working.
10:04. oh hell YEAH Schoolboy Q. But Chance the Rapper wins for Best Rap Album. A noble choice, suffused with compassion, and I never feel like listening to it. Although many colleagues loved this record, its Grammy win coincides with this awards group’s fetish for the grand gesture and uplift.
9:50. Adele, the point of FASTLOVE is that it’s FAST. You’d think when she started over she’d start with a faster arrangement, not Jessie Ware in dirge mode. This is slower than anything American critics accused George Michael of recording in 1990s. She gave the kind of well-meaning travesty that will forever separate crying bizzers from the rest of us
9;47. The fallacy of artists assuming that overstatement = honesty. Alicia Keys looks me in the eye and says fuck you, gleefully.
9:44. The fakest soul fraud of the last 20 years join Maren Morris for “Once,” an Eric Carmen ballad that sounds better on the album than as a blowzy Grammy ballad.
9:42. One of the phenomena of watching the Grammys on CBS and the commercials for the network’s prime time line up is understanding why it ranks dead last in ratings.
9:36. The nominees for Best Urban Contemporary Album are strong and worthy. Lemonade wins. I rooted for KING’S We Are KING.
9:32. Thank god or agents that John Mayer isn’t up there.
9:28. If you mus’t know, here’s a preview of my review of Katy Perry’s “Chained to the Rhythm”: “My delight at inserting distortion’ in a dance pop tune is mitigated by Katy Perry’s odd stresses; in this case they land on the last syllable, which has the effect of howling when someone digs a high heel into your big toe.”
9:26. Little Big Town turn Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” into “Afternoon Delight.” Note how they were photographed.
9:23. To rewrite that showbiz adage; “Well, he certainly doesn’t work hard.”
9:20. Never mind — he’s melding Boyz II Men and Prince’s “Adore.”
9:16. Clad in a tracksuit that El Debarge might’ve worn, Bruno Mars sings the song from his new album about strawberry champagne or something. It’s got a mambo piano break that’s the most striking element. As usual he gives an eerie impersonation of someone who watched a sibling sing Ready for the World.
9:15. The musicians in this clown car look mortified, J-Lo most of all. She’s thinking, “I recorded ‘Waiting for Tonight’ so I wouldn’t have to karaoke Neil Diamond.”
9:14. “Hi, I’m hosting the Grammys. Remember?”
9:11. Sam Hunt’s eyes seemed to have sunken into his skull while watching the four of five excellent nominees for
Best Country Solo. Maren Morris wins! “My Church” is the fourth or fifth best single on her excellent debut.
9:07. I of course thought of Dawn Richard watching Beyonce.
8:56. A proudly pregnant Beyonce, wearing Iman’s outfit from the “Remember the Time” video, performs “Love Drought,” not often cited as one of Lemonade‘s best tracks. It still isn’t. I’m not moved by the set: too close to Cirque du Soleil. But she commands the stage like few performers; she insists on the audience accepting her ideas, received or not. Such is the pop climate in 2017 that radio won’t let her score consecutive top five smashes like Madonna could in 1986-1987 yet her fans’ adoration is as fervent.
8:55. A bit much having Beyonce’s mom preparing the audience for her rage should her daughter lose Album of the Year.
8:52. I listen to about 300 singles a year thanks to my gig at The Singles Jukebox. Even in 2008 the most regrettable category was populated by young white men emulating a kind of wisdom received from AT&T commercials. That’s “7 Years.”
8;49. And now a word from Ryan Toothpaste, er, Seacrest, who long ago might’ve been a Chainsmoker but now is condemned to look saturnine while introducing Lukas Graham.
8:44. “Heathens” accepted, the Best Rock Song category is for old people. The late David Bowie wins for “Blackstar,” in a move so preordained that the cute fellow from the Chainsmokers forgets to look respectful. I should note that Bowie has won four of the awards for which he’s nominated.
8:38. Ed Sheeran plays his classic new single” doing what Grammys love auteurs doing: programming the loop, working up a sweat jumping from keyboards to acoustic guitar. Anyway, the #1 song of the country could’ve been an ode to body positivity if context didn’t matter; this is the fellow who wrote “Love Yourself” for Justin Bieber. You know, Prince would’ve let women play these parts.
8:39. Who the hell who cares about hosts in 2017?
8:30. Wearing a jacket I’ve seen on Dachshunds, Nick Jonas wraps his hare lip around the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance winner: Twenty-One Pilots’ “Stressed Out.” In response, the duo strip to their underwear, a reminder, we learn, of when they were young and watching Michael Bolton beat R.E.M. for Song of the Year. “You could be next,” Tyler Joseph avers, briefs around a caricature of a hip.
8:26. John Travolta, coming out before a billion people with lame old age jokes that work on twink waiters, introduces Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood on a synth-slick track with Urban’s hot licks you’re going to hear about soon. The beauty of this Urban-Underwood track is (a) the hyphenate (b) Daft Punk and The Weeknd could’ve recorded it.
8:24. After giving the matter some thought, I’ve concluded that The Weeknd repels me because he thinks he can combine the MJ of “Human Nature” and the MJ of “Morphine.”
8:22. A clue that Anderson Paak’s made it: “Am I Right” scores a Pixel commercial.
8:15. The Weeknd sucks when he doesn’t bathe his music in the easiest of eighties musical signifiers. He’s in a good voice in “I Feel It Coming,” in part because the voice he channels is Michael Jackson in “Human Nature,” the most influential of his Thriller singles. Daft Punk bring a not exactly inapposite kind of cultural necrophilia.
8:10. Jennifer Lopez, clad in a dress with a pink poodle dog chained to her right shoulder, recites Toni Morrison in a paean “universal language” called music. Oh — she’s introducing Best New Artist. Three of the nominees (Maren Morris, Anderson Paalk, and Chance the Rapper) are worthy. The winner: Chance! And he’s not new! He does rap, though.
8:07. Blasting the hair off between Beyonce’s eyebrows, Adele showed the gumption and showbiz instincts that endear her to the average Grammy voter. We’ll see if she does more than metaphorically blast Beyonce before I conk out reading Gjertrud Schnackenberg.
8:01. Oh, uh, hello! So distracted was I by rewatching Ivan’s Childhood that I forgot these things were on. Welcome! I promise I’ll do what I can to restrain jokes aimed at the host with the pink tux jacket.