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Grading the Grammy performances

Posted by: Jon Bream under Music, Awards, Minnesota musicians Updated: February 14, 2011 - 4:02 PM
Mick Jagger rocks the Grammys
Photo by Associated Press
 
What was missing at Sunday’s Grammys?
Why, Kanye West, of course. Don’t know why he could not have been invited to the party to present an award like Puff Daddy (his new old name?) was. Kanye stayed away and tweeted.
Afterward, we caught up with some of his tweets. He seemed to suggest that Esperanza Spalding didn’t deserve best new artist but then he held his tonuge (or fingers) and didn’t go there.
On the shock-o-meter, which was bigger: Spalding for new artist or Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” for album of the year?
Which awards did you disagree with? Agree with?
And what did you think of the live performances?
I thought there were many impressive ones, as explained in today's Grammy story.  Here are my grades.
Christina Aguilera, Martina McBride, Florence Welch, Jennifer Hudson, Yolande Adams’ tribute to Aretha Franklin. As a group, I’d give them C-plus. For their individual solo parts, Adams ("Spirit in the Dark") and Hudson ("Respect") earned A’s, McBride ("Until You Come Back to Me") and Welch ("Think') C’s and Aguilera ("Ain't No Way") a C-plus.
Lady Gaga, “Born This Way.” Fun, entertaining, but a bit conventional for her (except for the Phantom of the Opera organ near the end). Good but not Gaga. Grade: B.
Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me.” Understated but solid. Grade: B.
Muse, “Uprising.” Their visuals and music were as rocking and powerful as in concert. Grade: A.
Bruno Mars, B.o.B., Janelle Monae. “Nothin’ on You” was just fine (Grade: A-minus) . “Grenade” looked retro-cool in black and white but Bruno doesn’t quite have the voice and moves. (Grade: B) Monae would have been more exciting doing her Grammy-nominated “Tightrope” instead of “Cold War,” which wasn’t as captivating as she is in concert (Grade: B).
Justin Bieber and Usher. “Baby Baby Baby” was OK (Grade: B), with Biebs’ slightly hoarse voice adding character. “Never Say Never” was about as charged up as Biebs gets (Grade: B). Usher’s “OMG” was invigorating, with Biebs joining him for a closing pas de deux. Nice touch. (Grade: A-minus).
Mumford and Sons, Avett Brothers, Bob Dylan. The Mumfords were in their comfort zone on “The Cave” (Grade: B-plus) and the Avetts were deeply passionate and raw on “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promises.”(Grade: A-minus)  Then they joined Dylan and his band for “Maggie’s Farm,” which was more eventful than musically magical. (Grade: B).
Lady Antebellum, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” “American Honey” and “Need You Now.” The tribute to Teddy Pendergrass didn’t really work (Grade: C) and their own hits were OK but never compelling (“Honey” Grade: B-minus, “Need” Grade: B)
Cee Lo Green, puppets and Gwyneth Paltrow, “Forget You.” Ambitious, inspired, spirited -- a visual and musical treat. Grade: A.
Katy Perry, “Not Like the Movies” and “Teenage Dream.” The ballad showed that the usually kookie Perry has substance (Grade: B) and the Valentine Day-themed “Dream” was both eye and ear candy (Grade: A-minus).
Norah Jones, John Mayer and Keith Urban, “Jolene.” Well-conceived: Short, sweet and tasteful. No star turns. Grade: A.
Rihanna, “Love the Way You Lie” (with Eminem and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine on pianoand then Eminem with Dr. Dre, “I Need a Doctor.” The sung/rap collaboration was strong (Grade: B-plus) but “Doctor” was riveting, with Em being as seethingly intense as ever (Grade: A).
Mick Jagger, “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” tribute to Solomon Burke.  Old Mick turned it out, vocally and with his indelible showmanship. Quite exciting and a pleasant surprise. Grade: A.
Barbra Streisand, “Evergreen.” It’s Streisand! Who are we to judge? Grade: A.
Rihanna and Drake, “What's My Name.” Good chemistry, good flirty dancing, good performance. Grade: A-minus.
Arcade Fire, “Month of May.” A galvanizing Grammy moment, strobe-fueled and blazingly punky. Grade: A-plus.
Sorry, I didn’t get to watch Arcade Fire’s final song because I was too busy writing my story to meet the deadline. So please weigh in.
Lastly,  a shout-out to David Letterman for a special Top 10 list of Grammy surprises. Funny stuff.
It’s your turn…

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