I came to mock. I stayed to rock.

11 Feb
underwood.jpgSince when did the Grammy’s become relevant again? Did I miss something? Is this not the same Grammy’s that granted awards to such esteemed acts as Toto and Milli Vanilli? For as long as I can remember, the awards offered nothing more than a glorification of mediocre musicianship. I remember being bummed out when an artist I liked actually won.
But last night’s Grammy’s…impressive from beginning to end. There were still plenty of head-scratching nominees – James fuggin’ Blunt nominated for best pop album? Madonna winning best electronic album? – but the solid performances were a pleasant surprise. I tuned in on a whim, fully expecting to be bored within minutes, but I ended up sticking around for the entirety. All three and a half hours worth (two of which were spent listening to the Dixie Chicks’ numerous acceptance speeches).
From beginning to end, the performers brought the goods. Justin Timberlake’s fiery “What Goes Around”… the r&b trifecta of John Legend, Corinne Bailey Rae and John Mayer … Gnarls Barkley’s army march rendition of “Crazy” (those fools are nothing if not grand) … Carrie Underwood’s innocent twang (followed by my roommate’s far-from-innocent catcalls at the telly) … Chris Brown’s insane dance moves … Timberlake’s “My Love” … hell, we even filled our quota of unintentional comedy when Lionel Ritchie performed “Hello.”

The highlight for me was – god, I’m going to get my hipster license revoked just for writing this – the Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice” (co-written by Semisonic’s Dan Wilson, an incredible songwriter). Now, I’m as liberal as a lesbian schoolteacher, but my political affiliation has nothing to do with my appreciation for the song’s (albeit left-leaning) spirit. “Not Ready” – a response to the criticism the Chicks received for speaking out against President Bush – actually says something. It’s feisty, sharp, and, well, damned angry. I like angry music. It reminds me how powerful music can be. You don’t need to agree with their anti-Bush sentiments to appreciate their courage to speak out.

Everyone who remembers the sixties will talk for hours on end about music’s ability to shape opinions, inspire, motivate, etc (concluding their rant with a compulsory dig at the hollow music of today). I’m not saying “Not Ready to Make Nice” is on par with Dylan, but it’s a worthy start.

So I’m going on record: I am a fan of the Grammy awards. I’ll admit, last night’s show entertained the hell out of me. I don’t know where it came from, but all of a sudden we appear to be headed toward a pop music mini-renaissance. Color me impressed.

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