Grammy awards: Greatness and excess co-exist


I'll do some sniping in a moment, simply because ... well, because I'm like that. But first, let's make it clear that this was a truly great Grammy awards show.

It was great because we could believe the sincerity of LL Cool J when he asked for a prayer concerning the late Whitney Houston ... We could believe Stevie Wonder when he said, "we love you, Whitney" ... This didn't have that hollow feeling of, say, "Titanic" director James Cameron asking for a moment of silence for people who had drowned 80-plus years ago; it was sincere emotion for a great talent who had just died.

And the show was great because it was stuffed with classic moments -- Adele, back from vocal surgery, singing beautifully and winning a pile of Grammys ... spectacular turns by Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, the Foo Fighters and Chris Brown. The Beach Boys and Glen Campbell medleys ... and, of course, Jennifer Hudson's sensational "I Will Always Love You," done as a tribute to Houston.

It was a splendid night, but I'll still snipe that:

-- Foster the People was a kind of a weak link in the Beach Boys tribute. The Beach Boys, alas, were a weaker link.

-- Lady Gaga should stop trying to top herself. This time, she spent the entire show with a net over her face. Of course, if killer bees had been loose in the auditorium, she would have had the last laugh.

-- Please don't tell Sir Paul this, but McCartney's new love song isn't very good.

-- After winning a Grammy for something they recorded in a garage, the Foo Fighters emphasized that we should have fewer gimmicks and more attention to the music. If only the Grammycast would listen. Often, it seemed determined to overwhelm us with sheer excess.

A simple musical question of "Won't you stay for a little while" hardly requires massive clockwork pieces in the background. Nicki Minaj's number was filled with wild overkill, sort of giddy-Gaga.

We were sometimes reminded -- by Adele, by Springsteen, by Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood, by Hudson and memories of Houston -- that a simple, straight-forward voice is more than enough. Tonight, however, we got flames, cranes, even melting ice statues. We didn't need those on a great music night.