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54th Grammy Awards Exposes One Of Music’s Weakest Years

Adele Dominated The 54th Grammy Awards

For years, critics have stepped onto pedestals to rip on awards shows. By this point, the very idea seems like a cliche. Awards shows are easy targets. They try to balance mass appeal with artistic integrity and that’s never a winning scenario. This time, the gripe is less with the awards show and more with the subject matter. Last night, the Grammy Awards convened for the 54th time. It was a spectacle of music, lights and dance. The largest issue with the 54th Grammy Awards wasn’t the production or the award winners. Instead, it was the music itself.

Before hearing the nominees, it was clear that the 2010/2011 music scene was in a weakened state. Although record sales and concert attendance had bounced back (slightly), there was a sense that nothing new happening. It all seemed either old, boring or repetitive. The Grammy’s helped to cast this issue into the global spotlight.

This fact is evident in multiple areas. None is more clear than the amount of repeat performers. Chris Brown, Paul McCartney and the Foo Fighters each took the stage multiple times which is very odd for the show. Although repeat performances have occured in the past, it is usually to highlight collaborative efforts during the year. Although the collaborative efforts were present, they were not the mass appeal duets the Grammy’s are known for (see: Rihanna & Eminem last year).

Bruce Springsteen Opened The Show With "We Take Care Of Our Own."

Beyond the multiple performances, the artists that performed were often out of their element. Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj both tried to capture the cinematic drama of past performers like Pink and Lady Gaga. Unfortunately, the song choices were absurd and the over the top performances, didn’t match the reach of the music. Both performed songs that have yet to hit with mainstream audiences despite having large catalogs of music, made popular in the 2010/2011 seasons, to choose from.

Part of the inherent issue with the Grammy Awards is their absurd calendar. Albums like Foster The People’s “Torches” and Blink 182′s “Neighborhoods” will have to wait until the 55th Grammy Awards to be recognized, while Adele’s “21,” which took home six awards, was released over a year ago. This has always been a problem that has plagued the Grammy’s. Who didn’t want to see Foster The People perform “Pumped Up Kicks” or Gotye perform “Somebody That I Used To Know” with Kimbra? Their chance to perform these hit songs at the Grammy’s won’t come for another year.

Someone Tweeted during the show last night, “Where have all the rock bands gone?” This is a question worth pondering. While the Foo Fighters, Coldplay and McCartney took the stage several times, bands like Train, Gym Class Heroes, Gotye and The Fray were missing despite having big success in 2010/2011. In addition, some of the years largest acts were nowhere to be found. LMFAO had an amazing run during the past year and Flo Rida continued his success in the Top 100. All of these performers will likely get a shot at next years Grammy’s, more than a year after their success will have peaked.

The weakness in music over the past year was demonstrated fully by the Best New Artist category. An award that has been won by The Beatles, Alicia Keys and Adele, was handed to Bon Iver. Taking nothing away from Bon Iver, it’s important to examine the field. There were no nominees that had truly great years. Compare this years nominees with last years. In 2011, Mumford and Sons, Florence + The Machine, Drake and Justin Bieber were beaten by relative unknown Esperanza Spalding (another rant). This years field, led by Bon Iver included Nicki Minaj, J Cole, The Band Perry and Skrillex. Clearly a field that leaves something to be desired.

Another point of contention were the lack of performances by the nominees in this category. Why not give viewers a chance to hear Skrillex, a DJ that most audience members had never listed to. Where was Bon Iver’s performance? Do we even know what J Cole looks like? Last year, two of the nights biggest performances came from new artist nominees Florence + The Machine and Mumford and Sons. This opportunity was missed and the Grammy’s producers aren’t the only ones to blame. Bon Iver was invited to play, but declined the invitation.

Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters Performed Three Times Throughout The Night

Overall, the show was very entertaining. There were some great performances by the Foo Fighters, Foo Fighters and Foo Fighters. The final performance was the aforementioned Foo Fighters joining Paul McCartney on stage for a Wings + Beatles medley which was one of the only true “Grammy Moments” of the night. Truth be told, two women stole the show. Jennifer Hudson paying tribute to her mentor Whitney Houston and Adele rocking her smash single “Rolling In The Deep” to a standing ovation. In a rare moment for the Grammy’s, the top performances from last night came without theatrics and without glitter, from two of music’s best vocalists.

There are a lot of flaws in the Grammy Awards. Fortunately for the Grammy’s, this years big flaw was the music itself. We’ll have lots to look forward to at the 55th Grammy Awards as 2012 is off to a fast start musically. If you’re feeling cheated by the 54th Grammy Awards, look no further than the artists themselves who took the year off from a creative standpoint.

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  • Comment by Vicki posted February 14, 2012 at 00:42

    LOVED the people that can REALLY sing. Adele and Jennifer Hudson superb! To have Chris Brown on is a slap in the face to abused women. Turned off his part! Nikki Minaj WTH?? LL Cool J is a great host! Better show than last year, with Chris Brown being the BIG exception. If he is on again, I won’t watch the show. Truly offended by his appearance.