The GRAMMY Awards suffer a lot of criticism each year: They’re an anachronism — they don’t even make “records” anymore. (And nobody out there really buys them.) The same acts get nominated and appear year after year. The duets seem forced. The categories seem gerrymandered, in a sense, to highlight certain artists’ genres, while completely ignoring others.
But the show must go on, and that’s exactly what The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards will be when it airs on CBS Feb. 13 at 8pm ET/PT — a grand, gaudy spectacle of a show celebrating the big names in music headlines today and yesterday, and in some cases a little further back than that. (Jagger and Dylan? This means you.) And whether you can’t wait for it, dread it or simply expect it, this year’s event is perfectly consistent with past GRAMMYs in that it’s been organized on the premise that less definitely is not more.
The names on the presenters list for The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards are proof enough of that, with the unlikely mix including Neil Patrick Harris, Zac Brown, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus, Jamie Foxx, Ricky Martin, Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (??), Ryan Seacrest, Keith Urban, will.i.am and others.
Of course, the stars set to perform are even more varied. Just yesterday, Dr. Dre and Bob Dylan were added to the already obscenely long list of acts slated, which include Arcade Fire, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, Barbra Streisand, Katy Perry, Muse, Miranda Lambert and more.
But what really gets the chatter going at every GRAMMY Awards event are the collaborations. They’re the portions of the evening that people almost can’t bear to watch, but are still drawn to — to see if the pairing will be blissful or if it’ll just go down in flames. This year will have its own eyebrow-raising moments, no doubt, somewhere in among these awkwardly conceived pairings and group efforts. Jennifer Hudson, Christina Aguilera, Yolanda Adams, Martina McBride and Florence Welch in an Aretha Franklin tribute? Look out. Bieber and Usher with Jaden Smith? (Well, Bieber’s crowd will follow him anywhere, really …) Mick Jagger and Raphael Saadiq? There are a lot of these numbers, but the one everyone will be waiting to see how the show will handle it is Cee Lo Green with Gwyneth Paltrow and the “Jim Henson Company Puppets” — which, we’re told, are not the Muppets — performing Mr. Green’s hit, um, “Forget You.”
Usually, the GRAMMYs will culminate in a bombastic display, putting all of the available musicians onstage for one major jam. And this is where it all goes really wrong. Why? Because each of these performers is known for being a standout. Each has carved out his or her niche in the sound world by being a dominant force of creativity. Put in an artificial “band” situation, everybody’s individuality competes with everybody else’s, and it all adds up to — you knew this was coming — more actually being LESS. Regardless, it’s gonna happen. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
The full list of nominees is available here at:
In the meantime, get a feel for Sunday night’s groove with this year’s nominees for Best Record:
B.o.B (feat. Bruno Mars) – “Nothin’ on You”
Cee-Lo Green – “@#$% You” (“Forget You”)
Eminem (feat. Rihanna) – “Love the Way You Lie”
Jay-Z & Alicia Keys – “Empire State of Mind”
Lady Antebellum – “Need You Now”
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Credit: Mark Davis