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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Grammy Awards deliver awkward moments, advertisements”

    Justin Timberlake performs at the 49th annual Grammys.
    Justin Timberlake performs at the 49th annual Grammys.

    My Sunday night consisted of Chevrolet ads, dancing pop stars and impeccable makeup. Yes, I watched the Grammy Awards.

    For fans of independent and underground music like myself, the Grammy Awards show is usually laughed at and brushed aside. Even fans of the Grammys’ beloved mainstream pop sometimes mock the event. After watching this year’s show with a critical eye, I now see why.

    While rushing to a friend’s apartment to catch the opening moments, I felt genuinely excited. It was as if something magical was about to happen. We flipped on the TV in the middle of The Police’s much-hyped reunion performance. Sadly, the night was all downhill from there.

    The Police sounded great, although perhaps a bit insincere at times. Sting was obviously proud to have his legendary group back together, but such a short performance wasn’t enough to leave a mark.

    This problem of brevity and superficiality is almost symbolic of the awards show itself. After an all-too-short opening performance by one of the best rock bands ever, viewers were greeted by Jamie Foxx in a shiny silver suit.

    Foxx presented the night’s first award to Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder for their duet “”For Once In My Life.”” These music greats are certainly deserving of an additional trophy, but Bennett had the audacity to thank his sponsor, Target.

    This disgusted me a bit and led to the almost-obvious realization that the event was more about visuals than music. Such an emphasis was seen most apparently in advertisements that dominated almost half the program’s entire runtime. Marketing firms skillfully worked musical elements into each spot for companies like Verizon, Chevrolet and, you guessed it, Target.

    The show’s performances offered some definite “”what the hell?”” moments. Justin Timberlake’s first performance of the night (yes, he had two) finished with the pop star singing into a handheld camera for no apparent reason.

    Another awkward moment came as legend Smokey Robinson performed his Motown hit “”The Tracks of My Tears.”” The song’s memorable lyric “”take a good look at my face”” took on a whole new meaning as the cameras zoomed in on the 67-year-old. I was a bit frightened by Robinson’s oddly shiny eyes, and seriously doubted anyone wanted to take a good look.

    Grammy Pluses:

    • John Mayer’s killer guitar solo
    • Ludacris thanking his critics Bill O’Reilly and Oprah Winfrey
    • Unknown singer Robyn Troup’s performance with Justin Timberlake

    Grammy Minuses:

    • Chevrolet’s onslaught of annoying advertisements
    • Multiple awkward acceptance speeches by the Dixie Chicks
    • Speeches cut off by a hasty announcer

    For the indie music fan, the show didn’t have much to offer. In the eyes of Grammy voters, controversial country stars the Dixie Chicks made the best music of 2006. Trophies for best album, record and song of the year went to the George W. Bush-bashing trio. While conservative talk shows may theorize they were awarded as part of the music industry’s left-wing agenda, I would venture to say the picks were more likely due to poor taste.

    Rhythm and blues diva Mary J. Blige took home three awards, in addition to delivering one of the night’s longest acceptance speeches. Blige also appeared in the most annoying ad of the night, during which she sang a soulful verse about a Chevy.

    One positive moment was a speech that praised recent music education revitalization movements as well as urged viewers to contact their legislators in an effort to increase students’ exposure to music. While mostly a plug for the philanthropic efforts of Grammy-related organizations, such an issue taking center stage was very welcome.

    After sitting on the couch for three and a half hours gazing at the TV, I felt a bit dirty. I wanted those hours of my life back to do something a bit more worthwhile.

    One of my friends who shared the experience with me later asked a very appropriate question: “”Why did you make us go through that?””

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