Me & Grammys Pt II
IF music is your drug of choice, attending the Grammy Awards would give you an extraordinary high.
This writer was lucky to have his dream fulfilled last year, joining selected music journalists from all over the world backstage!
It was at the Media Centre to be exact, which was located behind the stage, where the performers, winners and presenters would go to for a short Press conference after receiving their award.
There I got to observe how the international media work, how the Grammys was organised and overcoming being starstruck when meeting stars I normally read about or watch on TV.
On a personal note, it was also the place where I got to meeting creative minds like Brian Wilson, Motorhead, Steve Earle, Franz
Ferdinand, Ben Harper and Stevie Wonder and Jill Scott to name a few.
It was definitely a dream come true.
“I was at the Grammys,” I proudly told myself then.
Well, that was then and life goes on.
It never came across my mind that a year down the road later I would be telling myself the same thing. Only this time around it’ll sound something like this, “I was at the Grammys two years in a row!”
Yup, I was at the 48th Grammy Awards at Staples Centre, Los Angeles last Thursday courtesy of Star TV Pte Ltd, Star World and Channel [V].
For a change, this time around the Malaysian media representatives wasn’t seated at the back stage; instead we were placed inside the Staples Centre together with more than 15,000 music lovers and with a veritable Who’s Who in the music industry.
Since we were part of the audience, things were more relaxed this time round.
Unlike last year, we were not required to go to Staples Centre a day before the show to sort out the necessary documents and paperwork.
Instead we spent the first day interviewing Dean Devlin and Bryan Singer the
co-producers of The Triangle, an upcoming sci-fi thriller mini-series that will be aired on Star Movies in the near future.
Singer who is also the director of Superman Returns movie was even kind enough to share with us some ‘secrets’ about the highly anticipated blockbuster.
If last year our main concern was how we were going to stand tall with the rest of the media representatives from all over the world in the Media Centre, the main concern this time was “What are we going to wear on the day?”
If last year, the dress code for the media people was smart casual, the dress code for audience was black tie and strictly no jeans.
Well, at least that what we’ve been told by a Grammy representative.
However, the first thing we noticed as we stepped into the Staples Centre at around 2pm, was the fact that no one really complied with the black tie dress code.
Some however were overdressed – a girl came in a white wedding gown – while some were under-dressed – a guy came only in jeans and singlet!
Whatever it is, everyone was dressed for the occasion and we certainly were too.
While waiting for the door into the arena to open at 3.30pm (7.30am Malaysian time), we spent some time browsing through the Grammy Awards official merchandise stall. On sale was T-shirts, lapel pins, sweatshirts and baby tees with crested with the Grammy Award logo.
Maybe something our award shows here might want to take into consideration – to come up with its own merchandise.
Inside the arena, while waiting for the show to start, we could see a lot of similarity between the Grammys and our Anugerah Industri Muzik (AIM) awards.
People, the crowd and the celebrities, waited for the eleventh hour before they made their way into the arena and the announcements asking them to be seated were completely ignored.
As the traffic into the arena increased, Terry Lickona, chairman of The Recording Academy Board of Trustees went on stage to say a few things to the audience like how the night was going to be a blast and so forth.
This was then followed by a short brief by Ken Ehrlich, the co-executive producer of this year’s show.
During his speech, we noticed that some of the stars were making their way to the seats as there were small cheers here and there from the fans.
We didn’t really notice anyone in particular but we certainly had a few ‘sightings’ like 50 Cent, Gwen Stefani, Beyonce and others.
Finally, exactly at 5pm (9am Malaysian time) it was time to party.
Since you’ve probably watched the show yourself or read it in the papers, we are not going to go through into the details of what happened throughout the three and half hour show.
However, we would like to share with you our two cents worth of what we felt as the highlight of the performances that evening.
The best came from Jay-Z, Linkin Park and Paul McCartney. Originality aside, their rendition of The Beatles’ Yesterday was simply amazing.
McCartney’s first ever Grammy performance was also notable.
“I finally passed the audition to perform at the Grammys and now I want to rock ‘n’ roll,” he said before launching into his second song, Helter Skelter.
And rock the crowd he certainly did.
Kanye’s and Jamie Foxx’s Gold Digger was another highlight.
Like last year, West again successfully and entertainingly maximised music’s biggest stage to openly remind everyone that he is the best around.
“I’ve been here two years in a row, and if I don’t win, there’s gonna be a problem,” he said before launching into the song.
Bruce Springsteen’s solo take on Devil & Dust was simply mind-blowing to say the least.
A lot of people felt that the tribute to Sly Stone was amazing, we however beg to differ. Apart from Maroon 5’s and Ciara’s rendition of Everyday People , the rest didn’t quite rekindle the magic that Sly once had.
The tribute to Richard Pryor was also a bit weird. Apart from the videos on the big screens, it couldn’t be really considered as a tribute.
It simply didn’t do justice to what Pryor had contributed to the entertainment industry.
Now, what did you TV viewers didn’t get to see? Honestly nothing much. During each commercial break, the two big screens in front of the stage would be showing videos of some of the more memorable Grammy performances for the last couple of years like the Eminem and Elton John’s Stan collaboration; The All-Star Tribute to Clash; and the Janis Joplin tribute by Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone.
You also probably didn’t get to see how Kanye West did a victory lap after his performance and the group of seat warmers filling up empty seats left by the stars.
Other than that, you didn’t miss much, really.
All in all, performance-wise, this year’s Grammys certainly had more than enough to offer contemporary music lovers all over the world. As a matter of fact it was closer to a concert than an award show.
And that was something we felt took away the magic of the whole show. Having followed the Grammys for as long as I can remember, one significant thing that about it back then was the suspense on who was going to be announced as the winner.
It was also the only time I would get to see the best artistes of the year in performance.
However, based on this year’s show, it looks like the Grammys has somehow lost its magic.
It was overloaded with good performances instead of great performances, and the uniqueness of the never-before-seen-collaborations is slowly losing its magic simply because it has become quite a common thing in the last couple of years.
Most importantly, with only 12 out of the 108 awards given out in the three and a half hour show, this year’s Grammy Awards feels more like a concert than the award ceremony it was meant to be.
* THIS first person account was made possible thanks to Star TV Pte Ltd, Star World, Channel [V] and Alfred Harber Distribution Inc.
* Originally published in The Malay Mail on Feb 14, 2006