Monday, February 11, 2008

Grammy Awards: Morris Day Does the Bird, Kanye Flips the Bird, Amy Stands on Bird Legs

The 50th anniversary of the Grammy served up some retro performances - some awesome (Tina Turner / Beyonce) and some just weird (Morris Day and the Time / Rihanna).

Amy Winehouse emerged a big winner - taking home 5 awards including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist. Visa issues kept her from traveling to the US for the show, but she performed live from London. With a hall pass from rehab, she looked a little shaky, standing on bird legs and belting out "Rehab" without shame. She made several shout-outs to her husband: "For Blake. Incarcerated." I'm glad Amy won - her album seldom leaves my 6-disc changer - it's powerful, haunting, retro, and fresh. Moral judgments on her character and whether or not she influences kids to shoot heroin or tease their hair shouldn't interfere with an assessment of her artistry.

Kanye West delivered a powerful and moving song for his late mother, with "Mama" shaved into his head. This made me root for him, but his acceptance speech for Best Rap Album was as arrogant and infuriating as ever. Vince Gill even poked fun at him. Vince received a Grammy from Ringo Starr and joked that he had just got an award from a Beatle - "Kanye, has that happened to you yet?" I guess this may spark a new Chicago vs Nashville rap battle.

68-year-old Tina Turner looked hot in a silver cat suit and appeared to have just as much energy as her partner Beyonce on their "Proud Mary" duet. Another aging diva, Aretha Franklin, didn't fare so well. Despite an LA Times story talking about her recent weight loss, Aretha looked bigger than ever, and a sleeveless yellow gown did nothing but make her resemble the sun. The spaghetti strap appeared to dig into her lumpy shoulder making her arm resemble a bundled roast. Her arm jiggled so much while she praised Jesus that I thought she might knock out some members of the back-up choir.

In more scenes from yesteryear, John Fogarty teamed up with Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. Little Richard was as fabulous as ever, but Jerry Lee Lewis looked more like Jerry Lewis - seemed like some steroid bloat was goin' on. I got a kick out of seeing Morris Day and the Time but I have to wonder if their duet partner Rihanna would even know who they were.

Poor Jason Bateman had to emcee an uninteresting contest to find America's Top Classical Accompanist who would get a chance to share a stage with Foo Fighters. Did anyone actually bother to vote for this? I guess so, as the hottest gal won.

In typical Grammy weirdness, Herbie Hancock unexpectedly took album of the year for "River: the Joni Letters." Kanye had declared that if he didn't win, he would allow Amy Winehouse or Mark Ronson to win, but he didn't mention Herbie. I wish I had a river that Kanye could skate away on.

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