A night at the Grammys


What can you say of a night in which Lady Gaga was more subtle and sedate than many others?

There she was, with Elton John -- remember when one could be flamboyant merely by wearing big glasses and a sparkly sportcoat? -- and a cast of dozens. It was a rousing Grammy-opener, but other numbers would soon be even bigger.

There was Green Day with a Broadway-bound cast. And a nearly naked pink, swirling around Cirque du Soleil style. And Jamie Foxx and others with a pseudo-opera intro. And robots and soldiers and much more.

Individually, each of these numbers was terrific. Live performances became instant music videos.

The only thing missing was variety. Amid all of this commotion, consider how effective it would have been to suddenly have Bruce Springsteen on the corner of a stage with nothing but a guitar, to have Whitney Houston or Garth Brooks on a stool with nothing but a great voice and a big heart. Music is about that sometimes, too; still, I can't blame the Grammys for trying. Or even for overtrying.

Here are a few other comments; please add yours:

1) Maybe Michael Jackson's "Earth Song" mini-movie will never be really seen. The opening portion was pretty good visually. (Yes, I had my authorized 3-D glasses on; there were some moderately OK 3-D moments.) The music performance by five stars was wonderful. But once the stars arrived, the film was virtually ignored. There was an entire storyline there -- with the little girl waking up to a devastated environment -- that viewers never really saw.

2) On the flip side, Jackson's son gave a beautiful little talk. He summed it up with the one thought that prevails through all the personal quirks: All of his dad's music had one basic theme -- love.

3) The most overhyped notion was that we could vote on which song Bon Jovi would sing. Hey, the three choices were songs Bon Jovi has performed a few zillion songs. This isn't exactly like choosing the new drummer of Beatles or which Jonas Brothers should retire.

4) As a country-music fan, I'm still on the fence about the Zac Brown Band. I'm not sure it has shown that much so far, even for the category (best new artist) it won. Also, it gave the night's first bad acceptance speech. There were supposedly down-home country guys, apparently reeling off a long list of record-company people or agents or other money men.

5) Mostly, the speeches were kept nicely brief. But then, why did the Grammy president get to ramble on for so long?

6) Beyonce won the female-vocalist award. To balance things out, shouldn't someone have jumped on stage to say that Taylor Swift (also  nominated) deserved the award?

7) Overall, this was a night stuffed with great songs and big visuals, including that superb "Bridge Over Troubled Water" with Andrea Bocelli and Mary J. Blige. Maybe we could expect it to be great; separately, there were lifetime awards tonight for the show's producer (Ken Ehrlich) and director (Walter Miller). As usual, they did well and thought big; once in a while, however, it wouldn't hurt to think a little smaller.

8) OK, Taylor Swift just won the big one, for album of the year. Why does she keep looking so surprised when she wins? She's won a lot lately, you know.

9) Someone got very cautious with that sound-delete button (which apparently was on some sort of delay). It seemed like we missed half the song by Eminem and others. Who ever suspected that a rap song would include naughty words?

10) Two commercial breaks were bumbled, apparently by my local station. In both cases, an emotional Haiti moment was interrupted by another commercial. The clumsiest went like this: "The news from Haiti is devastating" (cut to other commercial "it's a small price to pay for a great meal."