Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Can Music Be Perfect? Vol. 7

A small band of protesters outside the Grammy awards complained about the Recording Academy's dropping some 31 categories of awards (including Latin jazz!). The Academy refers to this as "restructuring," a popular euphemism for "eliminating." You can find their rationales here. I especially enjoyed this one: "As to other changes, the chamber category was folded into the small ensemble category, the only distinction having been the number of players in the group (chamber being smaller), and the fact that small ensemble recording could, though not necessarily, employ a conductor." Next year they can fold in the best orchestral performance category as well, and use exactly the same justification!

Meanwhile, inside, the pall of death hung over the proceedings, and I'm not just referring to poor Whitney. A parade of aging pop stars was trotted out for a most remarkably awful set of performances. There was the former genius Sir Paul, atrocious (and even brought back on for a second song!); the former genius Brian Wilson with his old (and I mean old!) band, looking for all the world like a C- final project for Taxidermy 101; the not-so-genius Glen Campbell--sad, he will not be back next year. Even the formerly ageless Tony Bennett sounded washed up in his duet with overrated Underwood. The Boss opened the show, and at least he put some effort into it, although he sounded like he was trying very hard to sound like... the Boss. And as if to prove that you don't have to be old and tired to sound that way: Foo Fighters.

Amidst all this evidence of decline and decay, was there any manifestation of the life force, which is what we expect and deserve from popular music? Well, Bonnie Raitt showed Alicia Keys a thing or two about singing the blues, and perky Taylor Swift did good, looking fine in her cowgirl dress as she mugged and strummed along to "Mean."

But surprise surprise, the night belonged to Adele. Testing out her recently refurbished set of pipes, she found them to be in good working order. She's the real deal, but she is especially blessed to have a perfect pop song in "Rolling in the Deep." Once you've heard it, you groove along to her bluesy delivery of the rather undistinguished melody of the verse, in sweet anticipation of that marvelous soaring chorus, complete with the most effectively hooky background vocal arrangement in recent memory.

The show would have been vastly more enjoyable if they had dispensed with the old farts and let Adele sing "Rolling in the Deep" five or six times, taking a break inbetween to collect her breath and her awards.

I wonder if she can sing Latin jazz.

1 comment:

  1. I know who can sing Latin Jazz, that sweet girl from Ipanema, Astrud Gilberto.