Monday, February 13, 2012

Glorious Grammys: Triumph Over Tragedy

Still reeling from Saturday's death of iconic pop diva Whitney Houston, the recording community proved music is the best medicine by delivering an evening filled with glorious tributes and memorable performances at the 54 annual Grammy Awards Sunday.

The ageless Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band kicked off the festivities with their latest raucous social anthem, "We Take Care of Our Own." Then emcee LL Cool J set just the right notes by leading a prayer for Houston and proclaiming the healing virtues of music. "This night is about something truly universal and healing," he said."This night is about music."

Throughout the show, presenters and winners mentioned Houston. And a beautiful tribute to Houston came later as Jennifer Hudson sang a moving, cathartic rendition of her idol's classic, "I Will Always Love You." Doubt there was a a dry eye in the audience or any of the millions of houses watching ob TV.

There were also wonderful tributes to the late Etta James from Bonnie Raitt and Alicia Keyes and a lifetime achievement event celebrating country legend Glenn Campbell, who had announced his struggles with Alzheimer's last June, with The Band Perry, Blake Shelton and the Rhinestone Cowboy himself that was a living and singing testimony to those aforementioned healing powers.

The much heralded Beach Boys 50th anniversary performance with Maroon 5 and Foster the People was a tad lackluster, though got points for sentimentality as it was the first time in decades that the original core 'Boys,' including maestro Brian Wilson performed together. Unfortunately the lasting animosity between Wilson and Mike Love showed as the two appeared to have anything but the "Good Vibrations" they sang about.

As for the actual awards, there were no upsets. As predicted, Adele swept the major honors of Song, Record and Album of the year for her lost-love epic "21" and its pulsating single "Rolling in the Deep." She picked up her final two awards after making her first public performance ( a resounding success) in months after being sidelined for throat surgery. Her total of six Grammys matched Beyonce for most ever by a female act.

"This record is inspired by something that is really normal and everyone's been through it - just a rubbish relationship," she said. "It's gone on to do things that I can't tell you how I feel about them. It's been the most life-changing year."

The Foo Fighters won five Grammys for music that singer Dave Grohl said was made in his garage, and ceremony no-show Kanye West nabbed four. Indie rockers Bon Iver won best new artist.

Fans surely enjoyed the usually unusual fashion hits and misses. Decide for yourself which category to place Fergie's bright orange hot mess of a dress, Bicki Minaj's Red Riding Hood get-up and Lady Gaga's netting.

Speaking of Minaj, one of the oddest moments was her bizarre "exorcism, " ending with her levitating above the stage.

The ageless Paul McCartney sang a jazzy new song from his album of standards, then wrapped up the evening, joined by Springsteen, Grohl, Tom Petty and Joe Walsh on a truly fab performance of the Beatles' "Abbey Road" closing medley.

The music lives on. And on. Healing, indeed.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


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