Monday, February 14, 2011

Where to Begin?

Whether it was sky-high hemlines, Bieber’s vocals hitting puberty, Cee-lo’s peacock impersonation or Lady Gaga arriving on scene in an egg – to say last night’s Grammys were entertaining is an understatement. It was a breathtaking evening of back-to-back performances, surprise collaborations, first-time winners and surprisingly, what seemed like very few awards.

Too much happened to attempt discussing it all, but oh, there were highlights. There were countless moments when the hair stood stiff on my arms, my mental commentary was working overtime, I was confused, I was surprised, I was hungry, I had to pee but wouldn’t leave my seat – but at almost all times, my ears were in a state of auditory nirvana. I’ll mention what stood out to me over the course of the night, because you can always research who won what online. And no matter how much I whine and contest the awards, the Academy could most definitely not care less. If you didn’t catch the ceremony, please listen close!

Perhaps the moment of the night I expected to be least receptive to was Miranda Lambert’s early performance of “The House That Built Me.” One little flaw in my “being unreceptive plan” was that I had never even heard the song before – I'm just not normally a huge mainstream country music fan. Well, I spoke too soon because this song was delicate and beautiful – and her graceful performance earned it a place in my head, humming this morning.

Overwhelming was the magic that accumulated on stage during Mumford and Sons’ flawless and hopping performance of “The Cave”. These equal parts polished and unpolished sexy Londoners stomped and solo’ed to deliver this song with the most exuberance and liveliness imaginable. Then, the equally as tasty Avett Brothers took stage right, and Mr. Bob Dylan waltzed down stage center to form a folk-blues conglomerate powerful enough to claim world dominance. The young indie superstars looked on top of the world and honoured, while the magnificent Dylan sounded raspy and looked his age. But, at the end of the day he’s allowed to sound and look that way. Because he is Bob Dylan.

B.O.B. and Bruno Mars dissolved their smash hit “Nothin’ Like You” down to piano acoustic basics, melting women’s hearts everywhere. Unfortunately, when Bruno took the microphone alone to sing “Grenade”, he was pitchy and painful at times, hitting next to none of the big notes. It’s fine though, because his Rat Pack resemblance, spin-on-toes moves and background drumming during Janelle Monae’s performance were impressive enough. With B.O.B. and Mars as her backing band, Monae performed her song “Cold War” like an old veteran – crowd surfing, crooning effortlessly and shaking it like she had it. She does without a doubt have it, and you can expect to see this James Brown-incarnation firecracker winning Grammys for years to come.

An unexpected foursome took the stage to perfectly honour Dolly Parton, this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, and her classic “Jolene”. The sweet jazz of Norah Jones, Keith Urban’s handsome country pipes, John Mayer’s fluttering acoustic fingers and John Mayer’s moustache combined on stage, paying faultless homage to the song with simplistic harmonies and grace. Short and smooth, they put a hush over the crowd.

Cee-lo. Channeling Elton John in wacky glasses and outrageous feather adornment, he performed his larger than life single “F**ck You” with some interesting guests – Muppet-like creatures and our favourite Academy Award-winning actress, Gwyneth Paltrow. She was hot, he was not and the two had a goofy and flamboyant party on stage. That just about sums it up!

Drake and Rihanna oozed sexual chemistry during their performance of one of the world’s catchiest songs “What’s My Name”, further affirming to all of us that regardless of whether or not they have before - these two need to date. Their friends and family need to sit them down, force them to rewind this red hot performance repeatedly, and dare them to try and argue that they’re not compatible. They are pure sex.

Mick Jagger, in his first Grammy performance ever, proved that he is made of rubber and is in fact the protagonist from Tuck Everlasting. There’s no way that any normal 67 year-old can move better than everyone his junior, without having drank from the fountain of life. Paying tribute to the late and great Solomon Burke, he maintained true Jagger style by hopping, shaking and lip-smacking all over stage, much to the delight of the entire standing ovation.

Last but in no way least, the night ended with my patriotism at an utmost high. Everything about Arcade Fire within the closing minutes of the night was the most glorious highlight. After an electric performance of “Month of May” that featured trick bicyclists zooming all over stage amidst flashing white lights, the most exciting band in the world returned to the stage to accept the top award for Album of The Year. Visibly shocked and admitting “What the Hell?” into the microphone, male lead Win Butler thanked Montreal on behalf of the stunned Canadian collective whose album The Suburbs upset big haunch’s like Eminem and Lady Gaga. Excited and unable to stop smiling, the band played an unscheduled encore of “Ready to Start” while the cameras and credits rolled, closing out the evening for the equally surprised but admiring crowd. Also, Arcade Fire walked into the press room chanting the graduation song in unison, introducing themselves as "The graduating class of Montreal, Canada." It’s confirmed, they’re talented and hilarious - so very Canadian of them.

If this night of Grammy performances and awards is any representation of the innovative contemporary strides the Academy is taking, then no one should ever miss a future ceremony. It was fun, action-packed, musically divine and most importantly, celebratory of the sounds and sights we were blessed with this year.

I get chills, every single time.

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