Thursday, February 09, 2006

2006 Grammy Awards - Hours 2 Through 4

Being as the eMpTyV blog focuses on the flashy visual side of pop music past and present, it's only natural that I squeeze in a post about the 2006 Grammy Awards. However, my TiVo box had a conflict with the first hour - it seems "American Idol" is a hell of a lot more important on the priorities list, and priorities are priorities. So I missed that first sixty minutes, when apparently Madonna crashed a Gorillaz performance by popping out of a cartoon version of herself and humping on a guy and a girl. Here are the highlights from the rest of the bisexual humping at this year's Grammies...


-U2 wins the Best Rock Album award, and frontman/AIDS-eradicator Bono gives a convoluted acceptance speech comparing the record industry to the circus - even if you're the bearded lady or the guy shoveling up the elephant dung, it's good just to be there. The mental image of all five members of U2 plummeting from a tightrope and being eaten by lions gives me an odd feeling of comfort.

-Paul McCartney performs with his band while playing a psychedelic blue-screen piano. His massive drummer, Abe Somebody, makes his (i.e. the drummer's) job look impossibly easy by playing the drums and a pair of percussion shakers at the same time. McCartney somehow performs a version of "Helter Skelter" that sounds stripped of its hippiedom and safe for the off-key finger snaps of The Man.

-Jennifer Love Hewitt presents with the Black Eyed Peas, who immediately mention that they won a Grammy award earlier that was not televised ("Just so y'know, U2 and John Legend didn't get ALL these muhfuckas this year"). Sure enough, Legend wins for Best R+B Vocal, and his speech, like the rest of his album, is accompanied only by solo piano and induces sleep. Meanwhile, one of the Peas is spotted in the background asking Hewitt if she wants to be their new girl singer, because the old one looks too damn much like a mulatto Kirstie Alley.

-Mariah Carey, in a pre-performance taped segment, declares, "I'd like to thank the penises of the following artists, without whom I would not be here today - Tommy Motolla, Walter Afanassief, Jermaine Dupri, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Jay-Z, Bizzy Bone, Krayzie Bone, Mother Love Bone, some sculptor I met on the subway once..." Fifteen minutes later, she's performing "We Belong Together," working her absolute windpipiest to blow the shit out of the song. Her efforts earn her a single "spontaneous" round of applause as she runs through more scales than Weight Watchers. During her second song, she manages to out-shout an entire gospel choir, simply because her microphone is turned up louder than theirs.

-Michael Buble presents with Teri Hatcher. I can't decide which is the more desperate housewife, and I spend the duration of their appearance trying to figure out whether I can see through the boob part of Hatcher's dress or not. I never reach a conclusion. Best Pop Vocal goes to Kelly Clarkson, who garnered the necessary number of votes from viewers calling 1-888-GRAMMY-01. Clarkson thanks Jesus and God but not Simon Cowell, the third member of the Holy Trinity. Clarkson does give a shout-out to Bonnie Raitt, who is then seen in reaction shot sporting a shit-eating grin on her face like, "Yeah, thanks, I'm here because I have songwriting and musicianship skills. You owe your career to a reality TV show on the fucking Fox network."

-A barely recognizable Jenna Elfman pays tribute to country great Owen Bradley, who was instrumental in the careers of Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and the mammy from the "Tom and Jerry" cartoons. Cut to a performance from diminutive singer Keith Urban, who plays from atop a see-through Rubik's Cube.

-Santana talks? That's the big surprise of the night. I'm surprised he doesn't let Rob Thomas or Michelle Branch make his presentation speech for him. On the other hand, when Linkin Park and Jay-Z win for Best Rapped/Sung Collaboration, an obviously stoned Jay-Z declines his turn at the microphone and in fact appears to be questioning his decision to work with Mike Shinoda and the boys.


-Dave Chappelle is set to present and, ever since seeing him on Oprah last week, everyone's wondering if he's really gonna come out and talk because you know that's a lot of stress and a lot of people are watching and oh shit what if the teleprompter fucks up and goddamn he can't get tongue-tied in front of Bonnie Raitt and Dave Grohl that could ruin his career and fifty million bucks isn't enough to allay any of those fears. It turns out Chappelle has nothing to worry about - he cracks a joke and Tom Hanks spits a mouthful of grape Kool-Aid across four rows of academy members.

-Mega-tribute to funk recluse Sly Stone begins with Joss Stone/John Legend/Some Other Guy collective trying to out-adlib each other with oooh's, ohh's, uuuh's and uhhh's. Then Fantasia Barrino and a mulleted Keith Richards/Seth Meyers lookalike guy singer butcher "If You Want Me To Stay," and Ciara and Maroon 5 sing the, "There is an orange one who can't accept the tangerine one who doesn't like the fuschia one who hates the burnt sienna one," verse from "Everyday People." Then BEP's Will.I.Am raps over "Dance to the Music" while claiming that he's "dancin' onstage like a black Fred Astaire." Cowboy Troy does "You Can Make It If You Try." Steven Tyler and Joe Perry butcher "I Wanna Take You Higher," and Sly Stone has his last chance to get out of the entire proceedings unscathed. Chappelle tries to give him pointers on how to vanish when the industry is throwing money at you, but Stone comes out anyway in a big bleached mohawk, a Doctor Emmett Brown silver coat, expansive sunglasses and... are we even sure that's him under there? The Grammy people could have just hired any old homeless guy with Parkinson's in his fifties. The whole thing just degenerates into one huge, choreographed jam session featuring several dozen mediocre artists.

-LL Cool J claims that blues legend Robert Johnson "paved the way for Cream, Led Zeppelin and my 1991 cover of 'Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf' on the Simply Mad About the Mouse Disney compilation album." Linkin Park and Jay-Z perform with Paul McCartney, who hasn't had someone to sing the "Yo yuhyuhyuh yo, uh uh yeah uh huh" harmony part to "Yesterday" since Linda died.

-Tom Hanks, sporting a Jon Lovitz exposed-forehead hairdo that makes it look like there's a football coming out of his head, presents a Lifetime Achievement Award to folk band The Weavers. ("Forrest Gump owns all their old 78s.") Segue to Bruce Springsteen, who's trying way too fucking hard to be Bob Dylan. He's got the hair, the shadow-across-the-face lighting, even the dental-work, headgear-harmonica rig springing up from his neck. Somewhere out in the parking lot, among the valet attendants, Jakob Dylan is shouting at a tiny TV set, "Fuck you, Springsteen, that's my hustle!"

-U2 beats out Rascal Flatts, Springsteen, John Legend and Mariah for Song of the Year, only because D4L's "Laffy Taffy" was released too late for consideration.

-The Kanye West/Jamie Foxx performance is presented as a KW State vs. JFU halftime marching band battle, which at first reminds me of the Speakerboxx vs. Love Below rumble in the Outkast video for "Roses." It turns out to be one of the night's better spectacles, as it degenerates into a drumline step show and I spot six cameltoes in a row. Immediately as the performance ends, the show cuts straight to a reaction shot from James Taylor, who pronounces, "It was sublime in its ghettocity."

-Sting offes to sell Kanye the backing track of his old Police song "Spirits in the Material World" for a hundred bucks, and Kanye says he'll consider. Meantime, Green Day wins Record of the Year for successfully transcribing the chords to "Wonderwall" by Oasis and writing whinier words on top.


-Terrence Howard snickers while introducing Christina Aguilera. He's probably thinking about the time he came in her right eye in a men's room stall at the Moulin Rouge premiere. Aguilera, who's officially entered the Breathless Mahoney stage in her Madonna Career Emulation Programâ„¢, performs a torch song with Herbie Hancock, who came in Christina's left nostril during the "Dirrty" video shoot.

-Time for the Best New Artist grammy, presented by Common, Chuck D and Fiona Apple, which is an odd trio since two of them eat soul food and one eats no food.
CHUCK: One of these artists is about to win an award that's gone to such greats as Bobby Darin, The Beatles...
COMMON: Milli Vanilli, Arrested Development...
FIONA: A Taste of Honey, Men at Work, the Captain and Tennille...
John Legend now joins those ranks, and I think he just thanked Devo.
-Album of the Year also goes to U2, while Bono declares in his speech that Kanye and Gwen Stefani should have gotten the award instead. He quips, I believe in an attempt at humor, "Gwat about Gwen?" His award is immediately revoked and given to Milli Vanilli.

-A speech from the Grammy president is followed by a show-closing tribute to New Orleans, while Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt and others perform an original song. ("What rhymes with 'overflowing Superdome men's room feces?'") This concludes another 210-minute Grammy Awards show. Stay tuned for the fucking Oscars.

Armor For Sleep - The Truth About Heaven (2005)

**1/2 (of four)

The leadoff single from the album What To Do When You Are Dead isn't playing around about the great beyond. It seems the frontman - in hopes of being the white Biggie or Pac or Pun or Left Eye or Aaliyah or Malcolm X or Martin Luther King Jr. or Otis Redding or Marvin Gaye - is hoping to become a bigger legend as a corpse than a living, breathing emo rock star.

So he spends the entire video in a state of limbo, haunting (or comforting, depending on your perspective) the girlfriend he left behind. His bandmates are dead with him, and I imagine they want to be loyal friends and all, but they're probably pissed they have to spend their afterlife watching their buddy stare at his fucking high school sweetheart. Though occasionally she probably does take a shower or have a ticklefight with her girlfriends during a sleepover. There are minor perks.

He and the other Armor For Sleep guys first perform in the street in front of her house, where they're surprised to see cars driving right through them. Then, my favorite, they're seen perched on the front porch and upper eaves of the house. Then on top of the car she rides to the beach in with some friends.

At the beach, in the video's clear dramatic climax (uh huh), the dead frontman watches his girlfriend talk to a new guy and then abruptly get up and leave him. Cut to triumphant look on the dead frontman's face, as he realizes his girlfriend will carry on a miserable celibate existence in his absence. It's the minor details that count in these pop-crossover, indie-rock videos.

From Satellite - A Hundred Days (2005)

** (of four)

From Satellite is some low-budget, generic pop-punk-grunge stuff brought to you by a conglomerate of American brewing companies, who believe if they show enough people crammed into a room, waving around half-consumed beer bottles while watching a band whose sound equipment is lined with haphazardly placed empties, each viewer will want to consume a twelve-pack within a half-hour.

Too bad most music video viewers are not the raging alcoholics I am. Too bad I'm also watching and writing this at six in the morning, which is hardly the most productive time to start drinking when you have to work in five hours. Though it's not certainly not unheard of. I'm gonna make like Nancy Reagan and Just Say No to this entire mess.