Monday, February 12, 2007


Shabby Grammy

So, are the the Dixie Chicks now "ready to make", uh, like a tree -- and leave?

As they picked up thei fifth and final Grammy (Album of the Year)last night, the trio at least had the honesty to admit that their big night was about everything BUT their music.

As the incredibly annoying Natalie Maines recognized, the left-leaning music industry wanted to exercise its collective freedom of speech by rewarding the Chicks for their boldness in denouncing George W. Bush -- four years ago.

Well, their awards actually went for their musical rejoinder after the country music establishment turned its back on them for perceived unpatriotic comments.

So, the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences told Nashville: the Chicks also won Best Country album -- even though musically it's more Southern California than Tennessee or Texas. No wonder Eagle Don Henley was so effusive as he announced the album choice (in addition to being one of the biggest liberals in music).

Just about any awards show is going to be rife with politically correct outbursts. One reason why I usually like to catch the Grammy Awards is because of the music usually makes up for it. Not so this year. Madscribe didn't really miss anything with the big Police reunion; I was disappointed. When I first heard that they would be getting back together to open the show, I was excited. But the actual performance of "Roxanne" gave me a ho-hum feeling -- particularly in comparison to the insane Prince/Beyonce curtain-raiser from two years back.

Last year, the arguable highlight of the show was watching the all-star group of Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and Dave Grohl tear into "London Calling"; they made everyone who saw and heard them feel the the loss of Joe Strummer and the sadness that there would never be a Clash reunion.

But the sound of The Police was never that far from Sting solo. And, unfortunately, Mr. Gordon Sumner is quite with us -- just a whinier, less interesting version of his younger self (sort of like Paul McCartney). Oh, Sting, where is thy death?

Indeed, few of the performances held up in contrast to previous shows. The salute to the Eagles was far less interesting than last year's jam session salute to Sly and The Family Stone.

With the notable exception of Mary J. Blige, most of this year's live acts seemed like they were going through the motions (Blige and U2 were the show-stoppers last year with a fantastic version of "One"; early last night, a recorded version of that same collaboration lost out in its Grammy category to a duet between Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder; that sort of set of the tone for a rather desultory evening).

But the most appalling part of last night's show was what wasn't there -- a legitimate tribute to honor the passing of one of the true musical giants of the 20th century. Except for a shrieking Christina Aguilera doing "It's a Man's Man's Man's World", a couple of clips from the 1960s and a special dance impression (from Usher?), James Brown was practically ignored. It was pretty sad actually.

Given how much the show kept playing up the gimmick of the television audience selecting one of three young pretty black girls to get her "big Grammy" break to duet with Justin Timberlake (who had already performed solo), the Recording Academy could have spared more time to give an appropriate send-off to the Godfather of Soul (especially given the rather tired "Tribute to Soul" with Smokey Robinson, Lionel Richie and teenage sensation Chris Brown).

As a few critics have noted, last night's show was very backwards-looking: Somehow, the producers managed to overlook the person who cast the greatest shadow over American popular music in the 20th century.

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