Look, last night's Grammy's show was just something I used to bide my time before Lost came on. So, I wasn't planning on writing on it... but I did seem to catch most of the "highlights":
1) For music's so-called "biggest night," do you think they could get the varsity team to handle the microphones and the cameras? That might have been the absolute worst broadcast I've ever seen. Every performer sounded like they were whispering or yelling, every camera shot was a longview rather than a close-up, or vice versa... it was just awful to watch, and even worse to listen to.
Not one shot, taken as a whole, could trump the overall quality of my parents' home videos of Sock-n-Buskin's "The Cat and the Canary."
It's like CBS made an offer to your junior high school's A/V Group to do the broadcast.
2) No matter what Chris says, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is a big stinking pile of adult contemporary, easy listening poo-- even when compared to the similarly lightweight All That You Can't Leave Behind.
And yes, I'm sure the songs were tremendous to see live.
But there's no way that the album should have been nominated this year-- let alone be the impetus for five awards. There were plenty of other mainstream albums that could have taken its place, if mainstream is what was demanded.
Not that I care... but come on. This was Bono's year, sure-- but hardly U2's.
3) That being said, Mary J. Blige's uber-hyper-melodramatic version of "One," was pretty great. And it would have stolen the show on most nights (nice of Bono to step aside and let her perform "her" song... I thought that he'd almost certainly sing over her).
But John Legend's sick version of "Ordinary People" topped everyone else last night, undoubtedly. This guy has been the best thing to happen to R&B since the D'Angelo/Tony Rich/Maxwell years, easily... and it was nice to see him get his well-deserved standing ovation. I hope he stays around.
As for Kanye and Jamie Foxx? Madonna with Gorillaz? Chris Martin counting "1-2-3-4" as he danced to the sludgiest song on a sludgy album?
Sorry-- no sale. All of their performances seemed too planned, too by-the-numbers, too... meh.
And Madonna? Enough with the leotards, already. Jesus. I already had to deal with Sharon Stone earlier this week, you know. Give me a break.
On another planet altogether...
Thanks to Matt Ruff, this interesting blurb from Time Magazine's Andrew Sullivan:
It's fascinating, isn't it, how this war has so often come down to what we are and are not allowed to see. We were not allowed to see (for long) the video deaths of those who jumped out of the World Trade Center. We were not allowed to see the coffins of soldiers arriving back in the U.S. We are still not allowed to see the most revealing photographs of what really happened at Abu Ghraib (the case is still tied up in appeals). We were not allowed to see the beheading of Nick Berg. And now we are not allowed to see the cartoons that are being used by Islamists for another round of violent intimidation of free societies.
And then, of course, there is what makes this war different. The web has made it possible to see almost all of this, if you look hard enough. Only the government-withheld Abu Ghraib pics are actually out of view for most people - and, even then, some have been kept back by editors, who see their job as preventing the flow of information, rather than enabling it. And so we have two media now in the world. We have the mainstream media whose job is increasingly not actually to disseminate information but to act as a moral steward, to become an arbiter of sensitivity and good taste. And it's up to places like Wikipedia or the blogosphere to disseminate actual facts, images and informed opinions. Obviously, I don't see the need to publish everything. And editorial judgment counts. But we are approaching a time when the mainstream media may have that as precisely its role - not as a source of informaton, but as an arbiter of social etiquette and good judgment. The New York Times as Miss Manners.