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4 YEARS

GRAMMY REVIEW: Grump, Grump, Grump: Grammys Were Lousy, As Expected

The Grammys are made for a certain audience. I am not that audience.

Cee-Lo and Gwyneth Paltrow
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

If you don’t like the Grammy Awards, now celebrating 53 years of mostly mainstream pabulum, overproduced and quickly forgotten artists or elderly rockers who never choked on their own vomit and now do yoga daily, then bashing this awards show will make you look like a cantankerous bastard.

That’ll do nicely, actually. Mr. Cranky Pants will just pull them on slowly and bitterly and do the watching. (Things are not made any easier by being a former pop music critic who disdained pretty much every Grammy ceremony while doing that job.)

The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards were held Sunday and went on longer than a Bruce Springsteen concert. And not in a good way.

The opening to the show, and this is a shocker, was completely lame. There was a tribute to Aretha Franklin that felt like you had missed the first 20 minutes of the show. Or as if it started midway. The show was frequently off-kilter and badly paced, topped off by annoying voice-overs completely random presenters, including the obligatory slew of CBS stars). The Grammys even ended randomly, with Arcade Fire -- a great live band -- deciding to go back onstage after they shockingly won album of the year. The band may not have cleared this with CBS, which sent Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson up to say goodbye. Arcade Fire then told everyone that they should go home and the song would play them out. If this broadcast wins an Emmy for directing, it will be absolutely perfect.

Anyway, some thoughts on an awards show that is almost always torture to watch:

The Diva-Off for Aretha was a little too much Christina Aguilera. It really was. And you don’t introduce the singers while they are  singing. It was like amateur night at the Moose Lodge. How about some names on the screen? Hell, it was hard to tell Jennifer Hudson in all her fabulous newly thin look. Is it so hard to identify people the sane amongst us may not own CDs of? A little help, CBS.

A thought: How long is this going to last? While the Divas were still singing for Aretha, a certain someone was clock watching. That's a bad sign, given that there were seven more hours. Luckily -- being paid.

Train won. OK, fine.

Ricky Martin’s Pants would be a great band name.

Hey look, Lady Madonna came out of an egg. That’s absolutely sensational and should be discussed at length by a fawning press that loves theater. Isn’t that outrageous and kooky?

Miranda Lambert? That’s country, right? Well, not country, but what passes for country these days, right?

Muse had this whole fake bum-rush-the-stage moment. You could tell it was fake because who in their right mind would want to be onstage for that awful song? If nothing else worked, and it didn’t, the double-neck guitar was a nice touch.

Bruno Mars would catch a grenade for the girl of his dreams. He’s so into that retro thing (love the hair, by the way, but it’s not as good as Janelle Monae’s) that such chivalry seems right in place with the black-and-white color gimmick they used at the Grammys. At least his performance, with Monae and B.o.B., wasn’t a grenade in and of itself.

But then there was Justin Bieber and his whole thing, which is absolutely inconceivable to anyone over 13, but hey, it's too late to bitch now.

Best rock album? Muse. Well, yeah, that’s so Grammys. That’s absolutely perfect. Muse. Hilarious.

Hey, Lady Madonna won an award. That’s outrageous and kooky. People will talk about what she was wearing until three weeks from today. You can find that elsewhere on the interwebs.

There’s gotta be something to like, right? Sure, how about the Mumford and Sons, Avett Brothers and Bob Dylan trifecta? Real instruments played with passion. It was a sing-it-like-you-mean-it moment, not about showing off trills and dresses. Oh, and the lyrics weren’t asinine. That was a nice change of pace from most of the rest of the Grammy nominees.

Lady Antebellum came on to sing Teddy Pendergrass and some of their own stuff, which was a great time to drink a lot of booze. You need those kinds of breaks on the Grammys. Because as they said 439 times during the night, you can only see stuff like that on the Grammys. (Which is actually a very handy thing to know if you plan on skipping the 54th Annual – they’ve put all the awful together in one night and in weird configurations. Duly noted.)

Then again, Cee Lo’s ode to Elton John’s appearance ages ago on The Muppet Show (repeated here with actual Muppets) which was then made stranger by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Glee-inspired ode back to Cee Lo’s almost radio- and Grammy-friendly “Forget You,” was just surreal enough to be adorable.

Then Katy Perry came on it was back to the Grammys. Because the Grammys adore people like Katy Perry. John Mayer, Norah Jones and Keith Urban then came on for an ode to Dolly Parton and then song of the year, which is not actually the Record of the Year of the year.

Eminem (especially) and Dr. Dre added some voltage to the night with Rihanna, but on the West Coast it was mostly edited silence. A strong and welcome wake-up performance, from what was actually heard.

The most welcome shock in all of music was easily Esperanza Spalding, the lovely and waif-like jazz singer who upset the Bieber blob to take best new artist and keep the camera off of his stupid kid-combover hair.

Hey, Matthew Morrison from Glee has an album coming out, which was restated again on the Grammys, a sublimely perfect place to warn of the coming apocalypse.

Hugh Hefner – no wait, that’s Mick Jagger – was on hand to pay tribute to Solomon Burke, a truly talented musical icon. Jagger’s one, too, of course, and when he shows up – this is the first Grammy for the skinny vampire – people stand up and stay up. Which was nice. (Oh, and Lady Madonna, that’s called stage presence.) On the other hand, Keith Richards was probably throwing up just thinking about it.

Barbra Streisand was there as well and people really love her. It’s fine to not be one of those people. It really is. (Mrs. Cranky Pants said she looked like “an old, fat Jennifer Aniston,” which is kind of astonishingly accurate, at least visually).

Record of the year went to Lady Antebellum for a song that seemed a lot like Air Supply-meets-Country, but hey, it’s a free country if you like that stuff.

Rihanna got to play another song and even if she didn't win anything, she at least should have won for Most Audacious Thrusting o Your Girl Parts in Public. Seriously, she's sex on fire. (You did see the fire theme a lot last night.)

Arcade Fire (see, more fire) won album of the year, which was astonishing to most people but ultimately seemed deserved because it was, in fact, an album – a collection of songs, not just something some superproducers mixed in the studio and stuck on iTunes as a single. See kids, in the olden days there was this thing called albums and the idea was … oh, never mind. Get off my lawn!

Follow Tim Goodman on Twitter: @bastardmachine.