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Benefield Breaks Down The Grammys

Lady A Wins Big! (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

If you tune into The WBKR Waking Crew, you know that Moon and I argue about the Grammys everytime they roll around.  I love the Grammy Awards.  Moon doesn’t think anyone watches or cares (though I do want to mention that even he DVR’d last night’s show! Lol!)  And last night’s show was AWESOME!  And, as usual, there were some hits and some gigantic misses!  But the biggest “hit” of all, came from the COUNTRY!

So, most of the folks who watched the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards probably tuned in at 7pm CST when the main show hit the airwaves.  Not me.  I was on the couch in front of the television at 4pm to watch Lady Gaga arrive on the Red Carpet in a gigantic egg!  Weird?  Yes!  Hilarious?  Yes!   And the best part was watching Ryan Seacrest be denied an interview with her because she was too busy “incubating!”   All Ryan could do was put his hand up to the glass of the egg and try to have a close encounter of the random kind!  It was bizarre and got worse when Gaga’s “creative director” started screaming “Is she dialating?  Gaga’s dialiting!!”

Going into the Grammy Awards, we all knew that Lady Gaga was going to be a HUGE story!  But who would have guessed that she was going to be upstaged by COUNTRY MUSIC?  Who would ever have imagined that the likes of Gaga, Eminem, Jay Z, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, and Cee Lo Green, were going to have their thunder stolen from a trio called Lady Antebellum?

Only two times in the history of the Grammy Awards have “country” songs won awards for Record of the Year.  The first time it happened was 1975, when Olivia Newton-John made the crossover from country to pop with “I Honestly Love You.”  The second time was just a few years ago, in 2007, when the Dixie Chicks took home Record of the Year honors with “Not Ready To Make Nice.”  Of course, the real irony there, that country song won despite the fact that country radio barely played it.  In 2007, country radio was still ignoring the Dixie Chicks leaving their music to be played by AC stations.  So, to call that win a win for “country” is pushing it.

But last night, was an amazing night in the industry for country music.  Two of the first three performances featured country artists.  The opening tribute to Aretha Franklin featured Jennifer Hudson, Yolanda Adams, Christina “I Remembered the Words” Aguilera, Florence Welch and MARTINA MCBRIDE, who held her own with a rousing rendition of “Until You Come Back To Me!”

Then, immediately following the birth of Lady Gaga (yes, she hatched herself out of the Mork-from-Ork egg), Miranda Lambert took command of the stage with a subtle and touching (albeit a bit pitchy) performance of “The House That Built Me.”  Obviously, Miranda’s approach to the night was a far cry from Gaga’s, but the quiet turn was appropriate and effective.

Moments later, when Dierks Bentley and Zac Brown took the stage to announce the winner of Best Female Vocal Country, one had a hunch Miranda was taking a trophy home.  She took out Carrie Underwood, Gretchen Wilson, Lee Ann Rimes, and Jewel to win it and she absolutely deserved it.  2010 was Miranda Lambert’s year and hats off to the Grammy voters for getting it right.

The Grammys got another jolt of country when Keith Urban, Norah Jones and John Mayer whipped out a spontaneous version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.”  Normally, I refer to Norah Jones as the musical equivalent of Sominex, but her voice was tailor-made for that song!  Urban was right on the money as well and the trademark cracks in his voice added dimension and flavor.  John Mayer, on the other hand, seemed to be channeling Johnny Depp from The Tourist.  He looked strung out, bored and over it.  Hey, John.  That’s Dolly Parton dude!  To quote, Jennifer, Yolanda, Christina, Florence and Martina from earlier in the show . . . how about some R-E-S-P-E-C-T? 

Throughout the night, country music was well-represented, but no one represented it better than Lady Antebellum!  About halfway through the broadcast they took to the stage and paid tribute to Teddy Pendergrass with  ”If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” then closed out with moody, acoustic performances of “American Honey” and “Need You Now.”  Following their performance, they won the award for Best Country Album!  They were grateful, natually, but that award was just a sign of greater things to come.

Later in the show, Lady Antebellum scored huge wins for Song of the Year and Record of the Year!  Charles, Dave and Hillary were celebrating and had reason to!  Their “Need You Now” topped the biggest names in music en route to wins in those categories and those trophies were huge, validating wins for country music as a whole.  Lady Antebellum has proven over the last year and a half or so that country music is a crossover brand.  It has appeal across all genres of music and it’s possible to throw in an Eminem CD, listen to it for a while, then pop in some Lady A and enjoy the heck out of that too!  Lady Antebellum is the real deal.  They have a devoted legion of country fans already firmly planted in the stands for their shows.  Now, they have a whole bunch more. 

**Okay, so now I want to share a few other thoughts about the broadcast and the performances.

FAVORITE PERFORMANCE-  Mumford and Sons!  I love the Grammys because they remain dedicated to giving performance slots to acts outside the mainstream.  I had NEVER EVER heard of Mumford and Sons, despite the fact they were nominated as Best New Artist!  Well, they’re definitely my new favorite band.  Their blend of country and bluegrass-infused folk is unique and their performance of “The Cave” was, for me, the highlight of the night.

2ND FAVORITE PERFORMANCE-  This award goes to Muse, whose performance of “Uprising” proves that there are some bands who can sound just as good live as they do recorded.  And it’s nice to hear that song away from the tv show “V.”  It’s too good a song to make me think of lizards invading Earth!

WORST PERFORMANCE-  Shortly after Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers performed, both acts joined Bob Dylan on stage.  Now, admittedly, I have never been a fan of Bob Dylan.  But, last night, he sounded like Bea Arthur had eaten a gravel driveaway.  I didn’t understand a word he sang and I don’t understand how anyone could listen to that and feel pleasure!

(And speaking of pleasure) GUILTIEST PLEASURE-  No!  I have no clue what Cee Lo Green was doing singing F@#% U with the Muppets and Gwenyth Paltrow.  And, no, I have no clue why he was dressed like he had been attacked by a peacock!  But I loved it.  I thought it was a campy F@#% U to the Grammys for referring to his Record-of-the-Year-nominated song as “the song otherwise know as ‘Forget U’.” 

STRANGEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH-  When she won the trophy for Best Pop Vocal Album, Lady Gaga thanked Whitney Houston.  Gaga says she that when she wrote her new song “Born This Way” she imagined Whitney singing it.  Hey, Gaga!  Whitney also sounds like Bea Arthur ate a gravel driveway!

THE YOU-GOT-SCHOOLED AWARD-  Goes to Usher, who was outsung and outdanced by his young protege, Justin Beiber.  Beiber, backed by acrobatic ninjas fresh out of “Mortal Kombat,” danced and matched them move for move and STILL managed to his all the right notes.  Usher, who seemed to rehash his Super Bowl Halftime set, danced and barely hit one note.  **PS-  Did you see one of Justin Beiber’s back-up dancers get hurt.  He did a back-flip off the stage and didn’t land it.  Looked painful and he got up holding his back.  He may have run off stage.  I couldn’t tell from the angle. OUCH!

THE GOOD-IDEA-GONE-WRONG AWARD-  To Bruno Mars.  I am a huge fan of Bruno and liked the IDEA of converting “Grenade” into a 50′s Do-Wop anthem.  But Mars wasn’t in good voice last night and the high notes were always under pitch.

WORST OUTFIT-  Nicki Minaj.  She looked like Cruella Deville ate a cheetah.

WORST HAIR-  Did you see Cyndi Lauper?  She looked like a scene out of “There’s Something About Mary!”

THE YOU-MAKE-MY-SKIN-CRAWL AWARD-  Two winners!  Miley Cyrus and Jamie Foxx.  Btw, I normally don’t like Seth Rogen’s brand of humor, but his joke about Miley Cyrus “getting high” backstage was HILARIOUS!

THE YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! AWARD- To Grammy voters for choosing jazz singer Esperanza Spalding as Best New Artist!  I can think of 2 people in my life who even know who that is.  Come on!  You mean to tell me she beats Drake, who had a stellar year, and Justin Beiber, who’s quickly becoming the biggest star on the planet??  Reality check here folks!

THE I CAN’T WEAR THOSE PANTS AWARD- To 68-year-old Mick Jagger, who performed at the Grammys for the first time in his career last night!  Not only did he prove that he’s legendary entertainer, he proved that he was the true inventor of the “skinny” jean!

And, finally . . .

THE EXCEDRIN MIGRAINE AWARD-  To Arcade Fire!  Okay, so you performed on the Grammys, won Album of the Year, then performed again to close out the show.  I still have a headache and it has “Excedrin” and “Arcade Fire” written all over it!

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