“How wonderful life is with Gaga in the world.” – Elton John
When the 52nd annual Grammy awards opened it found itself in a drag queen’s paradise. There was a profusion of glitter, over-exaggeration, and men in uniform that would do Liza Minnelli proud. Covered in grim, oil and glittery sunglasses, the equally outlandish and experimental Lady Gaga and Elton John, serenaded each other with the sort of blinding theatrics only the two of them could conjure. Deadened hands stretched feebly from a conjoined piano while they verified that while John may be the more consummate of the two, Gaga is without question, the freakiest.
The evening’s theatrics and collaborations continued with Green Day and the cast of “American Idiot’s” rendition of “21 Guns.” And while I’m sure RuPaul rejoiced over the night’s first performance, the second most assuredly received a “Sashay away” for its regrettably lackluster demonstration. Green Day performs best when they stick to crowd-amping anthems or intimate ballads; not an over-dramatized combination of the two. Those performances are best left to pop entertainers, like Beyoncé.
The ten-time nominee was next on the lineup with a remix of “If I Were a Boy” and Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.” With husband Jay-Z cheering in the audience, the girl-power advocate, who’s not afraid to say “I need a man,” put on a hair-swinging, crotch-grabbing, floor-crawling performance for the ages. The entire theatre stood for the full 5 minutes and 50 seconds of her stage time, a testament to her entertainment excellence.
It was Pink however, that took home “Best Performance of the Night” for her ingeniously executed “Glitter in the Air.” In her barely legal bodysuit she was hoisted by nothing more than ivory cloth into the air, where she was encircled by an eccentric-but-enchanting human chandelier. Pink then proceeded to twirl elegantly and athletically all the while crooning of sugary-sweet encounters. The extraordinary entertainment persisted as she immersed herself in water only to have it cascade gracefully from her body while she revolved upside down, hanging just by her feet. Trick after sensational trick earned audible gasps of astonishment from an enraptured crowd. All the while, she never missed a note.
That unfortunately, is more than can be said about the Black Eyed Peas rendition of “Imma Be” and “I Gotta Feeling.” It was of course full of their idiosyncratic energy and customary abnormality, but the group’s choreography wasn’t enough to mar Fergie’s shrieking.
Other disappointments were Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It” performance featuring T-Pain, Slash, and Doug E. Fresh. After the disaster, he apologized to Jay-Z for the auto tune; in retrospect, he should have apologized to the audience for providing a monumental waste of time.
The “Album of the Year” winner, Taylor Swift, was also a letdown. Though she’s responsible for providing a generation with a candied and adolescent view on romance, she has light years to go in performance. Her debut with Stevie Nicks was a solid effort, which unfortunately missed her usual kitschy mark and instead fell limply on deaf-ears.
The evening’s biggest failure however came not from a performer but from critically acclaimed director, Quentin Tarantino’s presentation of Drake, Lil’ Wayne and Eminen’s performance. Why he decided to break out his English to Ebonics dictionary is a mystery. His attempt at a southern-ethnic accent was both pathetic and insulting, and simultaneously managed to spoil the evening while putting a dent in more than 50 years of societal progress. But what’s a village, without its idiot?
For entertainers, the Grammy’s are less an award show and more a feral race to be named “best of the night” by gossip magazines and the blogosphere. For one night, the likes of Beyoncé and Will.i.am compete for Joe Shmoe’s bid on who gave the best performance, acceptance speech and I-can’t-believe-I-won face. For the viewing audience, that means an unparalleled night of remarkable performances propelled by explosions, acrobatics, guitar solos and glitter. Sunday’s Grammy awards, though not without it’s dark spots, were no exception.
And the winners are …
Song of the year: Beyoncé “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”
Best new artist: Zac Brown Band
Record of the year: Kings of Leon “Use Somebody”
Best rock album: Green Day “21st Century Breakdown”
Album of the year: Taylor Swift “Fearless”
“Best of” awards…
Best performance of the night: Pink “Glitter in the Air”
Best collaboration: Lady Gaga and Elton John “Your Song”
Most energetic performance: Drake, Lil’ Wayne, Eminem, Travis Barker “Forever”
Best remix: Black Eyed Peas “Imma Be/I Gotta Feeling”