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A Non-Grammy Watcher’s Guide to the Grammys

February 12th, 2012 by Andrea Marker Hulu

Full disclosure:  I’m not much of a Grammys person.  I accepted a long time ago that most of the bands I love, no matter how talented and popular they are in my little corner of the Internet, will never be officially recognized for their craft with a diminutive gilded gramophone.  While most years I’d eschew the live telecast in favor of watching pretty much anything else, this year is different.  This year I’ll actually be tuning in, and not just for the outlandish fashion.

The Grammys have cut 31 awards (not without some well deserved criticism), but what this means for viewers is this: more performances and fewer speeches.  The show will be jam-packed with artists as diverse as Paul McCartney, Nicki Minaj, Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, and Kelly Clarkson performing solo and collaborating with their peers.  Sure, most of these performers are not in my iPod, but what makes the Grammys fun and ridiculous are what-were-they-thinking?! pairings like The Beach Boys with Maroon 5 and Foster the People, or the Foo Fighters playing a dance/electronica song with Lil Wayne.

So without further ado, here are my most anticipated 2012 Grammy performances.

Adele

Adele has won over both indie rock and mainstream crowds with her smoky delivery and understated retro glam.  In an era when people supposedly no longer buy music, Adele’s “21” was the top-selling record of the year with 5.82 million copies sold.  She’s pegged to win most of the 6 Grammys for which she’s been nominated and her performance on Sunday will be her first since having throat surgery last fall.

Want to see more than a single performance?  You can catch a free live concert Adele recorded for Live From the Artists Den right here.

Bruno Mars

Although I still haven’t quite forgiven him for the ear-wormy cheesiness of “Just the Way You Are,” Bruno Mars’ 2011 Grammys performance completely disarmed my snarky disposition with his charm.  I may have tuned in for my girl Janelle Monae, but like Adele, Bruno Mars taps into a retro vibe that is hard to dislike.  His doo-wop inspired interpretation of his hit “Grenade” was ridiculously fun and unexpected.

The man can write, sing, play piano, and drum; his 6 Grammy nominations are well earned.  Add a collaboration with Cookie Monster, and Bruno, your competition’s got nothing on you.

Bon Iver

Just kidding.  My little corner of the internet was abuzz when this indie folk outfit was nominated for four Grammys, including Best New Artist, but turned down the opportunity to perform at the ceremony.  According to an interview in Billboard Magazine so comically pretentious it teeters on parody, Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon explained they decided against performing when they were asked to collaborate with another act rather than play their own music.  (My guess: The Beach Boys.)

I completely understand and admire artistic integrity, but it’s hard to plead conscientious objector when you use your music to endorse a brand of whiskey and lament that the Grammys aren’t giving you the opportunity to capitalize on its broad stage to market your music.

So Bon Iver fans, I guess you’ll have to settle for their SNL performance, which committed an even worse sin than Lana Del Rey’s: It was completely forgettable.

Last comment: about 16 hours ago 6 Comments
  • JJ says:

    It was not the Beach Boys that he was supposed to play with, and I was going to tell you it was, but after reading some interviews regarding the whole thing, it is clear to me that he would rather not say…thus, I won’t either. I will tell you that Justin and this person are absolutely cool with what happened and have a good relationship.
    Furthermore, I know Justin personally, and I can tell you that he is not pretentious, but will defend his music and other musicians. I would actually call him humble, at least he was when I was closer to him than I am now, and he has had a hard time dealing with his sudden fame.
    Lastly, I probably shouldn’t say this, but he is not the best public speaker (see many interviews in which he says sh** and F*** a lot. He expresses himself best through his music.
    It is amazing how people judge others they have never met. I don’t blame you, Andrea, unfortunately you are working during the most shallow, celebrity obsessed, and non-intellectual time in media and journalism’s history.

  • Ryan M. says:

    Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, and of course, you don’t have to like Bon Iver. It’s just, the people who decide to most loudly vocalize their opinions tend to be the dullest IMO. Some people need overt top-40 sensibilities and repeated-ad-nauseam radio play in order to remember something musical, apparently. Maybe she’s a disgruntled Lana Del Rey fan? Lol. Actually, I thought her performance on SNL wasn’t nearly as bad as was implied by the overall public reaction…

  • the Landmine says:

    Personally, I agree with 90% of what you said. The only part I can’t agree with is that any performance by an artist like Justin Vernon, much less with such a great and large band as backs him, could be forgettable. Just the fact that I could see something as indie-folk represented on the “pop stage” is memorable. And performing songs as wonderfully composed, starkly unique and subtly intense as those on Bon Iver’s latest album…completely unforgettable in my eyes.

  • Ryan M. says:

    Oh Andrea Marker, how comically inaccurate you are about Bon Iver. I have to wonder if you had any idea who the band was before they were nominated, but that’s not the point. If you had once taken the time to listen to the guy speak, you’d know Vernon is anything but pretentious. When asked in an interview not so long ago, he defended the Black Keys when they were being questioned about their wanton advertising. He’s not concerned with anything regarding “indie cred” or selling out; he’s just a dude that loves to make music. They sponsored a bottle of whiskey because they wanted to. They also did a ridiculous workout video. Why? Because they felt like it (and it looked they had fun with it). It sucks that you seemingly arbitrarily decided to plant words in the guys mouth, and say he felt “the Grammys aren’t giving [him] the opportunity to capitalize on its broad stage to market [his] music.” If you based that idea from the Billboard interview, you may need to flex your reading-comprehension muscle a bit more. Your paraphrasing is quite a bit off. To be clear, the Grammy’s wanted him to perform something that wasn’t his or the band’s idea of what they ought to perform. Vernon and the band like to decide what they’ll perform, and who to do it with. The Grammy’s said “we want you to do this,” and the band said no. So what? So he’s grandstanding or something because they decided not to do something they didn’t feel right about? I’m sure you’ll enjoy your performances by Adele and Bruno Mars lol. If anybody wants to see an amazing collab, search “Perth with the Roots.” And please, people, don’t form your opinions of any artist based on what this Andrea Marker has to say, her “reporting” is unreliable at best.

  • Ben Collins says:

    Ditto to Sarah on the Blogotheque performance, which you can see right here. I was equally unenthused as Andrea with the SNL performance, but I think “For Emma, Forever Ago” is a really superb album.

    Sure, his new album sounds like Phil Collins bathing in a tub of Ambien, but the Grammys are always three years behind. This is just them giving him credit for how good Justin Vernon’s first album is.

  • Sarah says:

    Musically, Bon Iver’s SNL performance was FAR superior to Lana Del Ray’s. Her downfall was lack of any interesting qualities: she stood stoic in a vintage dress touching her hair every so often and singing in deep monotone.
    Bon Iver’s performance is moving and varied. Granted, there are a lot of band members, but Justin Vernon has held fast to his original musical style that first appeared in For Emma Forever Ago, an album he wrote and recorded in a secluded cabin while recovering from pneumonia. Lana Del Ray, though increasingly successful, has a vastly different background.
    In terms of Bon Iver’s grammy nomination and refusal to collaborate, he is maintaining his personal vision for his music. The Grammys are not really an indie folk “scene”, remember last year when Arcade Fire won and no one even knew who they were?
    The point is, Bon Iver’s target audience and fan base are not necessarily Grammy-watching people. So why betray your musical integrity and give up your artistic control for a performance that isn’t as big of a deal as it is to some bands/artists.

    For other Bon Iver performances, I’d recommend their Take Away Show on La Blogotheque, or their session at The Current.

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