Monday, February 14, 2011

Grammys 2011

I usually try to tune in to the travesty that is known as the Recording Academy's award show each and every year. When I was a kid, it was a great chance to see all my favorite artists of new and old together on the same show being rewarded for their work. Things and times have changed and I can't blame the Grammy folks for wanting to appeal to the youngsters and get good ratings. Once I realized the awards I really cared about (such as best engineered recording) would most likely be preempted by a Justin Bieber performance, I just sat back and tried to find the good in what was shown.

For me, the highlight of the entire evening was Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers and Bob Dylan's all killer no filler performance. In regards to Dylan's voice... that's how he sounds. That's how he sounded when I saw him in concert back in November of 2010. Nothing out of the ordinary. Very raspy and most, if not all, the songs were pretty much talked with a hint of a melody thrown in somewhere. He seems to fancy himself an Elvis-inspired preacher now, judging by the way he stands at the mic and recites his lyrics. I was into it.

Cee-Low was great. I like Gwenyth Paltrow, but just because her Glee version of "(The Song Otherwise Know As) Forget You" was downloaded just as much as the original version doesn't mean she should have been there. She could have at least worn a Big Bird costume to match the rest of the performers on stage.

The disappointment for me was Lady' Gaga's performance. Firstly, I was unimpressed with the "Born This Way" single. Like most listeners, I was quick to point out it's similarity in chord structure and melody to Madonna's "Express Yourself". While this is no surprise as far as the current music industry (isn't that Lady Antebellum song just The Alan Parsons Project's "Eye In The Sky" in a higher key?), I was surprised that she would pick it for the lead off single and the title track for her next album. Her actual performance of it at the Grammys wasn't bad and I applaud her for not lip-syncing (at least 97% of her vocals appeared to be live), but it was a let down when compared to usual stage shows. Extended pipe organ solos and pointed prosthetic shoulders won't make a bad song any better. I hope her new album delivers something better or equal to the material on The Fame Monster.

I was also turned off by the fact that very few awards were actually given out during the broadcast. Honestly, how many times do I need to watch and hear Muse perform "Uprising"? Also, the time allotted for speeches keeps getting shorter and shorter.

I was, however, impressed by the sound engineering. Really nice mix for a live event. It's rare to find someone who can really mix live sound (especially when mixing them with pre-recorded tracks) but the vocals and the music was blended really well. There was some great natural sounding reverb happening too. Better than usual in that department.

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