Also, you should know that this is the first year in maybe six years that I have known who anyone on the Grammys is. Why do I know who most of these singers are? Well, my 6-year-old is a fan of radio music in the car and my husband and I (who both have pretty good taste in a variety of eclectic and classic music) consider radio music a sort of musical education for our sons. Who knew that a 6-year-old raised on They Might Be Giants, Dan Bern and the International Jewish Banking Conspiracy, and Peter, Paul and Mary would love to sing along to, “We Found Love in a Hopeless Place”? But I digress.
My Top 10 Grammy Moments are:
1. Bruno Mars’ dancing feet. I’m not really a fan of Bruno Mars. The lyrics are too pedantic, the voice too sharp, the whole fact that he was a child Elvis impersonator (Presley, not Costello… yes, Costello might have been amazing)… he’s just not my thing. But to see him and his entire band dressed identically in gold jackets and bowties all in classic tux pants with pompadours!? Love. And he dances like James Browne meets Michael Jackson. Seriously amazing dancing feet. Worthy shout-out to his bass player who never missed a step while playing some pretty elaborate bass lines (I play bass so I often pay attention to the bass player). And super kudos to the bespectacled bowler hat-wearing back-up singer/tambourine player who was sort of stealing the show.
2. Tuchus-lekking (“butt-kissing” for those of you not versed in Yiddish) Chris Brown. Am I the only one not terribly comfortable with the public adoration and veneration of a man who beat up his girlfriend (Rihanna)? (To read more on this issue, check out Jordana Horn’s piece on Kveller here.)
3. Rihanna. I’d like to feed you a vegan cheeseburger, girlfriend, and maybe also a few vegan milkshakes, and I don’t know about the whole laying-on-the-floor intro to your song, but I was sort of loving your 80’s hair and you singing with Coldplay’s Chris Martin. I am not a huge fan of Rihanna’s music, but I liked her dancers and thought she did a great job of recreating a song normally reserved for dance clubs.
4. Taylor Swift’s “Mean.” “Mean” is a really interesting song, and for any woman who’s ever been put down or mistreated by a lover, I think it should be listened to closely. Her version (featuring a cute reference to her now being someone worthy of “singing at the Grammys” despite being underestimated) was very touching, and I loved her understated “sack dress” and low heels. She played down the glamour and made this song really sing. And her strumming a low-slung banjo? Kind of awesome. The standing ovation she got made her jaw drop; she came off as so humble. It was really fun to watch a young woman so talented who lets her talent come through without a lot of fanfare. Which brings us to…
5. Katy Perry. Oh, Katy. I actually love Katy Perry. Not her music so much (although if “can’t stop singing it even when trying to go to the bathroom or bake granola or take a nap or light Shabbos candles” qualifies as liking it, I guess I am guilty). I love her attitude and her sort of feminism upside-down persona. She’s a bright woman and a smart business person, and her story is very interesting. Her voice is powerful and quite phenomenal, even if she chooses to sing music I don’t like (see above for qualifications surrounding that). But what’s up with the outfit? Do I just not “get it”? The blue hair I can handle, and I love that it was crimped like we used to do in the 80s (was she even born then!?), but why was she wearing that pseudo-sci-fi robot latex bodysuit? I understand she has a rockin’ body (in a Barbie doll proportions kind of way) and I understand she likes to be creative in her clothing, but I just think it could be done a bit more tastefully. Less colors, more streamlined; I don’t know. For me, it distracts from her singing and performance when I spend the entire time trying to even figure out what it is she is wearing.
6. Costumes. Speaking of costumes, I was loving that almost every band and set of back-up singers dressed in theme for the song they were doing! The Beach Boys tribute had entire bands and performers in striped polos with blazers and boat shoes and hair parted on the side, Taylor Swift’s band and back-up singers were in authentic 1930s “down-home” country clothes (including suspenders, felt hats, and lace-up shoes), and it just really made it feel like a global music community coming together for a great show. I love those details and I love that even the “young alternative ragamuffin” musicians joined in the fun.
7. Adam Levine. Oh, Adam. Your Ashkenazi name is like… music to my ears. Oh, Member of the Tribe Adam Levine, you are very talented and very adorable with your striped shirt (see Beach Boys reference above), your quaffed retro hair, and your tattooed arms. I love the contrast. I don’t know anything about your Jewish interest or upbringing, but I just think it’s so neat to see someone with the name Adam Levine on stage. And I have enough learning under my belt that I would be happy to be your chevrusa. I’m sure I could squeeze it into my busy schedule. All in the name of kiruv (outreach), of course.
8. Indie Love. Decemberists and Mumford & Sons: I was rooting for you all the way. Don’t stop making passionate lyrical skilled music. Fight the good fight! Onward to victory!
9. Lady Adele. Adele, I can’t say enough about you. (Yes, I need to pretend she is reading this.) I think your voice is stunning. I think your musical composition is masterful. I love your style and I love your grace. I miss your long hair wrapped up in a teased hive, and I think you look beautiful any size and shape. I love your eye make-up which goes on for days, and I love your sensible shoes with that stunning tznius dress (if I found out she’s Jewish, my head may explode). I love your clefted chin and I love your nails. I love how you pronounce “Thank you” “Fank you” and I love how surprised and modest you looked when you won award after award, and I also love how you giggled when the lights went down after you roared through “Rolling in the Deep,” as if it was a round of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” In my next life, I have previously stated I would like to come back as: an NFL running back or an eligible candidate to marry one of the Yeshiva University Maccabeats. I am officially adding a third: Adele.
10. Husband. Thank you, husband, for holding your tongue every time I made all of the above comments at the television. You of all people know that I have barely watched any TV since our first son was born, and I sort of forget that there’s a screen between me and everyone up there. I know it makes you crazy when I talk to the TV, but last night, you almost didn’t show it. And I pretended not to notice when you did. So actually, I should entitle this final Grammy moment “Husband and Wife: Somewhat Able to Watch the Grammys Without Killing Each Other.”