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The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Grammy performances range from authentic to absurd

If there were three basic things to take away from the 2012 Grammy Awards, they would be as follows:

1. Willie Nelson can make me cry watching a Chipotle ad.

2. Jennifer Hudson can make me cry singing a song I don’t even like while paying tribute to a passed-on musician I hadn’t thought about in years.

3. Neither artist needed anything more than their voice to communicate their emotion.

The great clash of Sunday night’s show was the flashy dance-pop of performers like Rihanna and Katy Perry vs. the “authentic” sounds of Adele, The Civil Wars and anyone older than 50 on stage.

For every understated performance, there was a more absurd one to follow. Occasionally, this occurred in the same set, as Deadmau5 live remixed the Foo Fighters – made more vexing by Dave Grohl’s comments earlier in the night decrying the artificiality of modern technology being overused in music creation.

Chris Brown was not only adored, but given an award and allowed to perform twice (subliminal message from the Grammy family: Domestic violence is totally okay if you dance well). To put it this way, the members of the band that created “Pet Sounds” weren’t even told to perform twice. Yet on the same token, Paul McCartney and rock royalty closed the show with “authentic” representation.

Then Nicki Minaj arrived. Minaj immediately went for the absurd with a performance theme of an exorcism and a song almost entirely performed in a baffling British accent. “Roman Holiday,” another of Minaj’s efforts to tell the story of her gay, male alter ego, seemed to be the warning of where the line between brave and awful stands. It took guts to willfully give an anti-Catholic performance; however, guts aren’t the only thing needed in a performance. Coherency tends to be needed, as well.

I’m inclined to take the comparison made by AV Club writer Steven Hyden, who likened the performance to “November Rain.” Indeed, Minaj was so extravagant in her misguided performance that it deserves comparison to the famed Guns ‘n’ Roses single. However, GNR’s mini-movies (and manic lead singer) signaled their end in light of some new trend called “grunge.”

Minaj’s “Pink Friday” is dwarfed by the sales figures of Adele’s “21,” yet Adele’s moment in the sun was merely testing out her surgically repaired throat. Structurally, Adele doesn’t remotely facilitate a new movement akin to grunge, but her music is actually being bought by consumers. In 2012, having sales is a basis for a movement, even when it hardly changes the fabric.

The 2012 Grammy Awards were simply jarring to any follower of a mainstream genre. Bon Iver gave an earnest speech to a crowd featuring a guy with a mouse head. LL Cool J, the leading purveyor of songs based around matriarchs requesting knockouts, led rich people in prayer on a show where one of its biggest stars was decidedly down on religion.

Jack Black insisted that the Foo Fighters had “indie cred” and not the guy who got a 9.5 for his record on Pitchfork. Steely Dan did not win Album of the Year. The music world is a bit of a bizarre place, akin to a giant bubble where earnest people hang out with Skrillex.

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