The 49th Annual Grammy Awards

Justin Timberlake at the 2007 GrammysA stream of conscious report of the recording industry’s biggest night with much love going to Jesus and Mary J. Blige. But why did Prince hold out on us?

Not being a massive Police fan but more of a Greatest Hits listener, I wasn’t especially excited to see them reunited, but as a music and culture watcher I was interested to see what was maybe the most powerful band of the 80s back on stage. Instead of the capable but unexciting walk through I’d expected, Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers came together to justify the euphoria rumors of their reunion sparked a couple months ago. Today’s current crop of rock-reggae fusion steppers should take note.

Oddly, that excitement was immediately subdued with the awarding of the Best Pop Duo to Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder who stumbled to the stage and then were unceremoniously played off while they tried to thank their families.

A night of odd segues makes good with Joan Baez hovering in the middle of the crowd to announce country-pop bores-turned modern day protest singers, the Dixie Chicks. The song claimed they weren’t ready to make nice but the production says otherwise, at least as far as middle aged stay at home moms are concerned. I support their message and applaud their bravery in the face of the shit they took immediately after their comments deriding President Bush, but this isn’t my bag—even if one of the Chicks dresses like a walk-on for one of Robert Palmer’s videos.

Fresh from a Super Bowl performance that reestablished Prince as The King Badass of Purple Funk, the Artist Formerly Known as Who? was wasted in an introduction of Beyonce. I mean, talk about a dick tease. Then again, it is Prince and he must know a thing or two about leaving ’em wanting more. And then to get stuffed by Mary J. Blige for best R&B record…where is the justice?

DING: First thanks be to Jesus clocked in at 7:23.

The Grammys this year launched their own reality TV publicity stunt with a contest where the viewers can vote for one of three lovely unknowns, the winner getting to duet later in the night with Justin Timberlake live before all of America. Problem being, the viewer has nothing on which to base their vote. What, should we vote for the cutest? The one with the hottest ass? The best weave? Nice effort in trying to get the viewers involved guys but interactive television can be a bit more than another shill to cell phone companies who constantly pimp their text messaging functionality. American Idol, this ain’t.

None of which should reflect poorly on JT, who continues to show himself to be top of his game with a catchy, soulful mid-tempo performance and a turn at the piano. Yes, white boy can not only dance and sing, but he can hold an audience while remaining seated. I’m new to the Timberlake Fanclub but with the constant references to his sound being similar to Off the Wall-era Michael Jackson, I finally caved and haven’t really been disappointed yet. His music’s a good deal deeper and his performance a great deal more engaging than just about anybody else in the pop genre. I’d love to see him teamed with The Purple One to really burn that shit down.

Booker T & the MGs and the Doors get nominal nods as lifetime achievement award recipients? Perhaps a BIT more reverence for your history wouldn’t be such a bad thing but I guess the target audience isn’t so interested in seeing old dudes thank people nobody’s ever heard of. Still though.

Performing a quick search to see who that fine young lady performing with John Mayer and John Legend was (Corinne Bailey Rae) I found that you could indeed vote for would be Justin’s duet partner. A mention on the broadcast of how the contest originated and how these three gals ended up front and center still would have been nice.

“Performing for the first time at the Grammys, Latina superstar, Shakira with Wyclef Jean.” But is she clean and articulate? Mostly it appears she was invited to shake that ass, which she did with great enthusiasm like any good chica should.

Odd Pairing of the Night: Burt Bacharach and Seal to pay tribute to Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss for the President’s Merit Ward for Industry Excellence. The announcer stepped all over their little love fest with a shout of “And here are two…!” only to be cut off before we find out who the special two are. Two what? Bananas? Midgets? Hot pieces of ass?

Luckily, the show got back on track in time for some weird dude to accept an award with the Dixie Chicks. Seems we can blame Rick Rubin for hooking them all up. Natalie Maines declares she’s speechless and then proceeded to yammer on thanking a handful of folks.

Another passing nod to a legendary band who gets a Lifetime Achievement Award, this one goes to the Grateful Dead who get a stiff intro and a smattering of polite applause.

I was the only person in America last summer who had not been pummeled with Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”. Somehow I missed it entirely and had to just wonder what everyone’s covers of the Song of the Season sounded like. Looks like my luck just ran out.

AH! A nice jab at Kanye’s complaining about not winning enough awards…and the man himself is in on it. Just the same, stop bitching. It’s not classy. And who is classy? Ludacris who won the much earned Best Rap Album and showed up with a tight haircut and a suit borrowed from the set of Barney Miller.

Odd Pairing of the Night II: Ludacris’ shoutout to Oprah and Bill O’Reilly. Huh…

Mary J. Blige continues her public therapy session with an odd introduction to a song about a break-up that doesn’t sound much different from the thousands of other break-up songs we’ve heard. But I am glad she’s feeling better and recovering from whatever tragedy compels her (and all of music stardom) to reference it and her triumph.

Either Mandy Moore is a giant or Luke Wilson is much shorter than I expected. The two of them teamed up with LeeAnn Rimes to give the Dixie Chicks another award, this one for Country Album of the Year. I guess shitting on Bush isn’t the country music career killer we all thought it was.

After a tribute to country pioneer Bob Wills and a tasteful performance by Carrie Underwood of one of his songs, Hot Topic poster boys Rascal Flatts bolster my belief that rock bands taking on country elements is good and country bands taking on rock elements is the death of country music. Another lame cover, this time of the Eagles’ “Hotel California”, proves these twats are a testament to the power of image makers in the music industry. As my good friend Dr. Poopy Poop Poop—learned in both the pig sciences and the history of American folk and country music—Nashville has always diluted its genre for crossover appeal, but Rascal Flats is the bastard offspring that the Wynette sisters begat. Soul-less walk-throughs by stooges in rock and roll costumes. No thanks.

What the fuck is that weird thing on that Black Eyed Pea’s ear? Is that supposed to be a new fashion trend? It looks like a bedazzled hearing aid. Mozzer tried in 1987 and it didn’t work then.

Carrie Underwood wins Best New Artist. Her descent into “Where Are they Now” status begins.

Is Sam Jackson nailing Christina Ricci? He certainly gave her the Nasty Look during their introduction of Smokey Robinson, who performed “Track of My Tears” and prompted my lady friend to note that it’s not his smile that looks out of place but his newly Botoxed eyes.

And then there was Lionel Richie. A truncated version of “Hello” had visions of blind girls and ugly clay busts in children’s dreams across America.

Smokey and Lionel then passed their baton to Chris Brown who put on an acrobatic performance that kicked off with a scary intro, featured two little boys who can dance better than anyone you know, and ended with a back flip off of an onstage trampoline. We Americans expect more and more from our performers and this kids delivers.

Christina Aguilera delivered an appropriately nasty tribute to James Brown that would have had Soul Brother #1 jump back and kiss himself before he laid that dirty girl down and showed her WHY it’s a man’s world. Godspeed, Mr. Brown.

A montage video to those who died this year ended with a clip of James performing “Night Train” that should remind all of us of just exactly what was lost when the Hardest Working Man in Show Business died on Christmas Day last year.

Does Mary J. Blige have something on Recording Academy president Neil Portnow? Several outfit changes and props from attendees made me wonder if this was some kind of celebrity roast gone wrong. Ludacris was not immune and performed a Seventieslicious funk down with Ms. Blige that had every honky in the building feeling like Super Fly.

Hello, 911? James Blunt is stalking me. He has this creepy stare and just keeps telling me I’m beautiful. It’s really fucking scary, can you send someone over right away?

So, when we’re not all praising Mary J. Blige, it seems we’re supposed to pay attention to Justin Timberlake, which is fine by me. JT performed a tasty performance of “Ain’t No Sunshine” with contest winner Robyn Troup and then segued into a hot run through of “My Girl” that tore it up. Troup more than held her own and proved that even dopey contests can turn up new talent from time to time.

Quentin Tarantino is a creepy fuck. I like his movies just fine but add to the list of things he’s not allowed to do—right behind Act in His Own Films—a ban on presenting awards or speaking in public for any reason. His squawking and carrying on nearly obscured the fact that the Dixie Chicks won Album of the Year and dug deeper the stick firmly planted in the eye of country fans who besieged the girls with death threats a couple years ago. But that song is still boring.

And so what better way to wrap up another dopey Grammy Awards show than the Red Chili Peppers playing another in their seemingly never ending catalog of songs about California? At least I think it’s about California. Anthony, never one known for his singing prowess or annunciation, has taken to wearing short pants that make him look like the dirty third member of Milli Vanilli and Flea was replete in yellow shorts, shirt and headband that reminded me of some Special Olympics soccer team uniform and he of course had the moves to justify my calling him a retard.

Oh wait, it’s not done yet? What’s Al Gore doing with Queen Latifah? Oh, he’s here for Odd Pairing of the night II and to deliver a brief wooden speech and introduce the winner of Best Rock Album. Of course. And who wins? The Peppers, despite the fact that the also nominated Raconteurs’ Broken Boy Soldiers kicks the shit out of anything on the Peppers new album, but who am I to judge?

Good thing I didn’t turn off the TV at the end of the Peppers’ set of I would have missed Scarlett Johansson’s appearance. It appears the object of my current obsession is recording an album right now. Will anyone buy it besides me and the handful of dorks who watch Lost in Translation‘s open scenes on constant repeat? Who knows, but she and Don Henley just handed the Dixie Chicks yet another award, this one for Album of the Year. Good for them.

And so ends the 49th Annual Grammy Awards. Praise be to Jesus, Mary J. Blige, Justin Timberlake, and the Dixie Chicks.

The Police at The Grammys 2007

Previous Grammy coverage: 2005, 2004, 2003, 2001. We covered 2006 on the boards, but we slept through 2002, apparently.

6 thoughts on “The 49th Annual Grammy Awards”

  1. I put a “police” thread in the forum section but i’ll repeat here…

    i didn’t think much of the reunion…the song was an obvious choice and was bloated with an extended middle part. Sting never broke wildly free in the ‘put on the red light’ Chorus section opting instead for ‘old guy’ restraint. grantend, it wasn’t awful but it was far from great.

  2. Agreed. Great work. I turned it off after the Hotel California bit…Besides, “Extras” was a lot funnier.

    I didn’t think The Police did a bad job and MJB won me over during her performance. I think her nods came more from her getting her shit together, a point she made over and over and over again throughout her speeches, than from this latest being her highwater mark. But whatever. She could kick my ass in a streetfight and I’m not going to argue about her night.

    And the Flaming Lips won their second Grammy last night! Way to go freaks!

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