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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

ELMS: The Grammys are a little out of tune

As I’m sure you all know, the 54th Annual Grammy Awards consumed music lovers and celebrity junkies across the country Sunday night. It was a special event to honor the best artists of mainstream music, and while there are certainly groups and individuals worthy of such high acclaim, the Grammys — like any other overly-hyped pop culture spectacle — had pitchy moments mixed right in with its high notes.

It would have been sacrilegious in the music community for the Grammys not to honor the late musical legends Etta James and Whitney Houston, and Alicia Keys, Bonnie Raitt and Jennifer Hudson lived up to audiences’ expectations. R&B artist Alicia Keys and country blues singer Bonnie Raitt collaborated for a beautiful rendition of James’ “Sunday Kind of Love,” and Hudson’s performance of Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” sent chills down my spine.

Both tributes were a testament to how influential James and Houston were throughout their careers. Keys said it best on Sunday: “…when a truly great artist leaves us, their legacy lives on.”

The truly great artist who stole the show this weekend was 23-year-old Adele, who took home every Grammy she was nominated for, tying with Beyonce for the most won in a single night. Among her six awards were the prestigious Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the Year.

Not only that, but Adele sang the brilliant “Rolling In The Deep,” her first live performance after recovering from vocal cord surgery. Her voice was strong and healthy, and she received a much-deserved standing ovation from her contemporaries.

Another highlight of the evening — especially for all the Wisconsinites out there — was Eau Claire-based indie-folk band Bon Iver. The band took home awards for Best Alternative Album and the coveted Best New Artist title, although frontman Justin Vernon was not all that ecstatic about being part of something so commercially motivated. In his wonderfully awkward acceptance speech, Vernon tamely expressed his feelings about the Grammys as an institution.

“It’s really hard to accept this award,” Vernon said. “There’s so much talent out here, on this stage, and there’s a lot of talent that’s not here tonight. And it’s also hard to accept because, you know, when I started to make songs, I did it for the inherent reward of making songs.”

Vernon reminded everyone that a night devoted to music doesn’t need to be about flashy performances or red carpet gowns, but about the music. Pure and simple.

In show business, however, one cannot escape the gaudy elements that make it so hard to look away even though you want to. Yes, I’m talking about Nicki Minaj’s performance of her new song, “Roman Holiday.”

Unfortunately for Minaj, and every confused viewer, the act seemed like a Lady Gaga performance gone horribly wrong. Watching anything that remotely resembles an exorcism is uncomfortable for anyone involved, but putting it in the context of the Grammys is just plain strange. Minaj definitely made a name for herself, but it didn’t get her any trophies Sunday night.

Chris Brown’s mere presence at the Grammys is another lowlight in my book. In case you’ve forgotten — since the mainstream media seems to have moved on — the night before the Grammys in 2009, Brown beat his then-girlfriend Rihanna, and both canceled appearances at the awards show.

I am frustrated that the media is turning a blind eye towards a very serious crime, but even more so because it is all for the sake of ratings. Grammy Executive Producer Ken Ehrlich confirmed to ABC News Radio that Brown would be performing this year, saying, “I think people deserve a second chance, you know. If you’ll note, he has not been on the Grammys for the past few years, and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.”

Wait. Did he say the Grammys were the victim of Rihanna being assaulted? Yes, yes he did. Logically, then, it makes sense for the producers to bring an artist convicted of felony assault to perform on the program. I’m sure that healed their wounds.

A night devoted solely to honoring the hardworking, influential and talented musicians loved across the country is right up my alley, but it pains me to see all the superficial elements that are emphasized on awards night. I only hope the Grammys take Vernon’s advice in years to come and focus on what is really important: the music itself.

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