Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac Staff Writer
Monday, February 11, 2008; 12:00 PM

Washington Post music critic J. Freedom du Lac will be online Monday, Feb. 11, at Noon ET to talk about the winners, losers, best performances, biggest letdowns and everything else relating to Sunday's Grammy Awards.

The transcript follows.

____________________ Party Girl's Night In: Even From Afar, Winehouse Dominates With Five Awards; Kanye West Wins Four

_______________________ BLOG: Post Rock


J. Freedom du Lac: Herbie Hancock: We all saw that one coming, right?

My pal Jeff Leeds from the New York Times actually predicted a big upset win for Herbie roughly an hour before the pre-telecast ceremony. I'm going to have to ask Jeff for some Lotto numbers before I leave town.


Arlington, Va.: I actually enjoyed a lot of the performances last night - something I haven't thought for the past few Grammy telecasts. But after reading some reviews, it seems all music people are bitter or something? Do you all see too many performances so nothing special stands out? Just curious... I loved the Rhapsody in Blue performance. Incredibly difficult song for any instrument and dueled out by one of the greatest pianists of our time! How can music people not appreciate that?

J. Freedom du Lac: And here's what really amazing: Herbie said backstage that he'd never played "Rhapsody" before! I didn't hear the entire performance (was crashing something on deadline), but when I did listen, I was really struck by some of the voicings. A definite highlight.

I think the issue really is that as a 3.5-hour TV program that is supposed to be music's biggest night, the Grammys are quite often a mess. Last night's show hit some high notes, including a great no-frills performance by Brad Paisley, the orchestral-rock piece by the Foo Fighters, John Fogerty's portion of the icons program, the gospel number, etc. But there were too many duds, from Carrie Underwood and Fergie to Sinatra's "duet" with Alicia Keys, Kid Rock's Louis Prima moment with Keely Smith and's hack job on the past record of the year winners with that ridiculously childish "Grammy-jammy" rhyme scheme.

If you're asking for 3.5 hours of somebody's time, your batting average needs to be much higher.


Herndon, Va.: J Free - I thought there was supposed to be a tribute to Thriller? And where was Mary J?

J. Freedom du Lac: The "Thriller" tribute was widely rumored but never actually confirmed. There were reports that Michael was even rehearsing in the LA area last week, but in the end, it was not to be. And you know what? I didn't miss him whatsoever.

I do, however, think that next year's ceremony should include a "Purple Rain" segment. Anything to get more Prince onto the program. He was hilarious last night.


Washington, D.C.: Seriously, what is the Grammys fixation with Alicia Keys? Is she their official mascot or something?

J. Freedom du Lac: Funny: Was talking with a friend at a post-game dinner last night (Dan Tana's in the house!) and we were wondering the same thing. Seems like Alicia gets two or three slots every year. I think it basically boils down to this: Clive Davis owns this town.


Ashburn, Va.: I really loved Kanye's performance. The design especially. Was Daft Punk actually doing something with the screens/buttons? It was hard to know if that was 'show' or if they were actually back there guiding the sample!

J. Freedom du Lac: Tough to say what, exactly, Daft Punk was doing up there in those exotic, robotic outfits. Were they playing air-samples as everything was tracked, or were they actually triggering the samples? Who really knows. They sure looked cool, though. When I crashed rehearsal on Thursday with Taylor Swift, it actually took me about five minutes to realize that there were people inside that pyramid. I just thought those were light strips -- until I saw one of them lean over. So funny that it was Daft Punk's first-ever television performance given that they could have sent their sisters to fill in for them and nobody would have noticed, given the lighting, costumes and camera angles.


St. Leonard, Md.: What has happened to the Grammy Awards? I'm in my mid 30s and I can remember my siblings & I sitting in front of the TV for all the excitement of the show. Those days are long gone. What do you think it is?

J. Freedom du Lac: Part of it is that these things just aren't special anymore. There are so many televised awards shows that the Grammys have become something like a face in the, um, very crowded crowd. Also, we have access to so many performances now - via YouTube, etc - that we can put together our own Grammys. Add the fact that the Grammy producers apparently think Kid Rock is the epitome of cool and you can see why they've got problems.


Washington, D.C. - Help Me Out Here!: Please settle a bet: About half the people with whom I watched the Grammys last night said that Amy Winehouse was visibly impaired ("really flying," so said one), right while she was on the air.

Was she or wasn't she?

J. Freedom du Lac: I couldn't pretend to know. Any drug experts in the house who care to opine? All I know is that she done good.


Charlotte, N.C.: Help me to understand why Amy Winehouse cleaned up? She is talented, but her sound is right out of the 60s. If it was the 1965 Grammys last night and she was competing with Aretha and Dusty how would she have came out?

What is old is new again?

J. Freedom du Lac: Plain and simple: The music is great and it's struck a chord with people. Retro? Yeah. But that's not a bad thing, is it? A lot of great music reaches into the past.


Album of the Year?: Just remember, folks--1984: was the Album of the Year going to be (a) Born in the USA, or (b) Purple Rain? Answer: Can't Slow Down (Lionel Richie).

Nothing against Lionel, but that's when I stopped watching the Grammys.

J. Freedom du Lac: There are lots and lots of examples of the Recording Academy making ridiculous picks. Just a few years ago, it was that Ray Charles collabofest "Genius Loves Company" over Green Day's epochal "American Idiot."

Now, as much as we were surprised by Herbie's win (you should have heard the gasping and hooting in the interview room!), it's very much worth noting that his album is actually quite good. So on artistic merit alone, it's not a bad pick. It's just that I think the album of the year winner should somehow reflect a MOMENT, as well. It should say something about popular music in a given year. Never got the sense that there was a huge groundswell of support for what Herbie was doing on this album - a longtime jazz publicist who has worked with Herbie in the past even told me she was shocked he got a nomination in the general category. Didn't see it coming, she said, as the project just didn't seem to have much traction. Guess we were all wrong.


Baltimore, Md.: I wondered if you all were aware of a local who was nominated for a Grammy this year? David Sager is a jazz musician who now works in DC and was nominated for Best Album Notes. It was for Off The Record: The Complete 1923 Jazz Band Recordings/David Sager, album notes writer. I would be interested in hearing about local musicians' experience with the awards. Are there plans for an article about locals at the awards who this year?

J. Freedom du Lac: Leonard Slatkin won two classical awards and the Foo Fighters picked up some more hardware, too. Otherwise, I don't think it was a particularly big night for folks with DC ties at the awards. Most of the nominated artists - Seldom Scene, Raheem Devaughn, etc - left empty-handed.


Fairfax, Va.: What's the pre-televised ceremony like?

J. Freedom du Lac: It's like a 2.5-hours sprint. They handed out 100 awards (acutally, 101 since there was a tie in one of the gospel categories, where the Clark Sisters shared an award with Aretha and Mary J. Blige). That's a whole lot of presenting. A whole lot of quick speeches. A whole lot of "Bruce Springsteen couldn't be here today, so I will accept this award on his behalf" as most of the A-listers skip the pre-tel. The exceptions yesterday: Herbie Hancock, Brad Paisley, the Foo Fighters and Carrie Underwood, who

won best female country vocal (for "Before He Cheats") and raced to the podium after Michael W. Smith was about to take the award for her. "You couldn't keep me from actually getting this myself!" she squeaked. "It's not the same when somebody gets it on your behalf."

There were some musical performances, too, including a blues jam featuring Pinetop Perkins, Honeyboy Edwards and Koko Taylor. Ledisi also performed. And, errr....somebody else.


Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.: Re: Keely Smith and Kid Rock -- I'll grant that it was a strange duet, and she seemed a bit confused by it. The big upside of it, which deserves mention, is that Smith still has a fantastic voice -- hers was as accomplished a vocal performance as we heard last night, and not even Kid Rock could diminish that.

J. Freedom du Lac: She sounded very fine indeed. But she really appeared to be lost in front of the cameras -- and I'm sure having Kid Rock as her duet partner didn't help. You just *know* she was wondering what parallel universe she'd landed on.


Washington, D.C.: OK, so you hung out with Taylor Swift ... who else?

J. Freedom du Lac: You'll find out soon enough! Two stories in the next week out of Grammyland, with more to come.


Fairfax, Va.: Do you think the Boss was ticked about being ignored in the big name award categories?

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm not sure he cares, really. He's won something like 18 career Grammys now (including his three from last night), but only one in a major category: Song of the year, for "Streets of Philadelphia." How has he never won album of the year, record of the year or another song of the year award?


Washington, D.C.: Clearly, Vince Gill got robbed last night...

J. Freedom du Lac: As good as "These Days" is, there was just no way that Vince was going to win album of the year. Of course, I said the same thing about Herbie Hancock. And actually, if the Recording Academy zigged, I thought Vince would get the win since he's a big-time Recording Academy fave. I think his best country album win last night was the 19th Grammy of his career.


Anonymous: Isn't Taylor Swift a little on the young side for you, J Free?

J. Freedom du Lac: Easy there. I'm simply writing about JonBenet Swift. Not trying to get her to put me in her MySpace Top 8 and write a song about me.


New Haven, Conn.: Mad props to Joni! HH's tribute album was much better than Joni's own last year. Don't even get me started about Amy W.; decent band backing a trainwreck -- straight or high. Did Janis Joplin ever win a Grammy? Either alive or posthumously?

J. Freedom du Lac: Amy is, indeed, a train wreck, but she's an enormously talented train wreck. Just about everybody I talked to this past week had high praise for her. Wait, maybe high praise isn't the best way to put it. But you know what I'm saying. There's a there there. Absolutely. Just hope she gets her personal problems sorted out.

Janis won as many Grammys as Bob Marley: Zero. (Unless you count their posthumous lifetime achievement awards. Which I don't.)


Minneapolis, Minn.: Feist "never really took off?" I thought the subdued performance was an elegant departure from the rest of the evening's spectacles, myself. Could have been better with strippers and a trapeze, sure, but what isn't? Producer David here, the "never really took off comment" was mine, so I guess I'll explain. It was definitely subdued but I didn't think that worked in her favor. That song works (y'know, if you think it works) because it's bouncy and cheery and encourages putting $299 into our struggling economy. She tried to class it up and it just was kind of boring. And she seemed very nervous, but not quite enough for it to be endearing, in that Elliott Smith at the Oscars right before Celine Dion way.


Politics, Grammys and Music: You really have to feel for those GOP dudes. Dems win Grammys, and musicians keep sending them messages to quit using their material (from Bruce and Reagan to Mellencamp and McCain).

I mean, there's only so many Lee Greenwood songs.

J. Freedom du Lac: One of my favorite moments yesterday came when I got an RNC reax email. They were actually compelled to issue a derisive statement about Obama's Grammy win. Ah, politics....


Re: "...write a song about me.": There are a lot of words that rhyme with "du Lac".

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, and many of them can and would be used against me.

Had good fun at dinner last night coming up with alternate rhymes that *should* have used during his record of the year mash-up. The guy just isn't very good as a rapper. But I think his production and songwriting skills are very, very strong. (Though I don't really dig that Obama video he did.)


Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: Taylor Swift?!? You were hanging out with an American Idol winner?

J. Freedom du Lac: Taylor wasn't on Idol, but I was hanging out, so to speak, with an Idol loser who went on to become a big winner. Chris Daughtry was at the BMI songwriting panel on Saturday, and we happened to be in the bathroom at the same time and -- wait, that sounds weird. What I'm trying to say is, he went to the bathroom and didn't wash his hands afterwards. So think about that if you ever meet him and feel compelled to shake his hand.


Washington, D.C.: Better acceptance speech--Vince Gill or Amy Winehouse? Must admit I laughed out loud at both and can't decide.

J. Freedom du Lac: Vince Gill - hands-down. The guy is great. His Kanye-Beatles line was the second-best zinger of the night, behind Prince's observation about Sinatra looking good for a 150-year-old.


Boston, Mass.: I enjoyed the Grammys, I never expect them to capture everything, but they give my a good enough sampling of music I don't usually listen to. (Thanks to the Internet, it is much easier to examine this music.) Maybe that's the problem, too many people want to hear only what they listen to. Just as an aside, I watched the Grammy fluff piece awhile back about the The 50 Greatest Grammy Moments, I've never heard of Green Day, but they were ranked #1. I wondered about the demographics of people surveyed. No one called me.

J. Freedom du Lac: They actually tried to text-message you, but your analog phone doesn't do texting.


Amy Winehouse, Mo.: I know I'm going get a lot of backlash, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Amy Winehouse, in fact when Frank was released I ran out to the nearest CoinStar to cash in my change for iTunes credit. Winehouse is a phenomenal talent when you consider what else is out there. So why do people either love, love, love her or hate, hate, hate her? A lot of the animosity came before her drug use became front page news, when the only thing people could make fun of was her hair.

J. Freedom du Lac: I think it's a shame that her personal problems have come to overshadow the great music, but it is what it is.


Washington, D.C.: That Rhapsody in Blue performance was a disgrace to Gershwin's name. While I agree that the song is difficult to arrange into a short segment and to split the parts between a small orchestra and two pianos, the orchestrator did a TERRIBLE job of preserving the original piece, particularly the second half piano parts that omitted key piano solos. The clarinetist had more true solo time than the two pianists combined. I was truly disgusted by the performance, and wonder why they felt they needed to do it. TOTAL HACK JOB!

J. Freedom du Lac: Interesting. I'll have to YouTube the complete performance later.

Let's take a quick poll: What late, great artist was most disgraced by last night's Grammys?

A: Gershwin

B: Sinatra

C: Louis Prima

D: Jerry Lee Lewis


Washington, D.C.: Was it wrong that I was hoping for a Britney-esque perfromance from Amy W.? I mean, I'm glad she sounded well (even if she was a little behind the beat up until the 1st drum break....). Yeah, I know, I'm the kind of sucker that CBS was banking on having tune in. Question is: do you think there were a lot of viewers like me?

J. Freedom du Lac: Ladies and gentlemen, you're in for a real treat tonight. Live and direct from London ... give it up for The Schadenfreude!


Arlington, Va.: Is is just me, or was it weird for Tom Hanks to announce a "lifetime achievement" award for The Band and then just start gushing about the Beatles? I'm no huge fan of The Band, but what was the point of Grammy giving them an award if it's just going to pass over them in the ceremony?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, that was one of the most disturbing moments of the night. And he would have spent even less time talking about the Band if the audience hadn't interrupted him with a loud cheer when he mentioned Canada.

Levon, by the way, won an award on the pre-tel but wasn't there to accept.


Washington, D.C.: Am I the only person who liked the Kid Rock-Keely Smith duet? A little unpolished (they kind of stepped all over each other), but it sounded melodic, and they appeared to be having some good fun up there. And kudos to Kid R. for stepping outside the comfort zone to pay tribute to an something that is a foundation of the pop/rock music we're all listening to today.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes. Yes, you are.


"Record" of the year?: I confess to being hopelessly out of touch with the Grammys, but after perusing the list of winners in the paper this morning and online just now, I find myself confused by the category "Record of the Year", which is stated to have been won by Amy Winehouse. I undertand "Album of the Year" (won by Herbie Hancock) and "Song of the Year (won by Winehouse), but exactly what category of "records" exist that are neither albums or songs? Am I missing something, or was this a typo? (I note that the list in the print edition was missing mention of Hancock's album altogether, while the on-line version of the list has "Album of the Year" now listed at the top, followed by "Record of the Year")

J. Freedom du Lac: It's the great Recording Academy nomenclature - and, some might say, the truest sign of all that they're out of touch. What they call Record of the Year, the rest of us would probably call Single of the Year. Who calls singles "records" anymore, besides old music-biz people?

So: Album of the Year awards the top album. Record of the Year rewards the top single. Song of the Year rewards the songwriters of a particular single.


Alexandria, Va.: Typical Grammy show---Perform and get a statue.

I know they want to try to get performances from the best artists but it always seems a bit staged when just about every artist who performs gets a Grammy shortly after. Amy Winehouse, Kanye West, Herbie Hancock, Foo Fighters, etc... Why not just give the statues when the performance lineup is announced?

J. Freedom du Lac: If that always held true, then Brad Paisley should have won best rap album, given that he'd performed "Ticks" just prior to that award.


Baltimore, Md.: Re your question on "late, great artists": Jerry Lee Lewis, for reasons known only to God, is still alive, unlike the other three you listed. I saw him years ago at the old Stardust Inn in Charles Couny and it was the most incendiary performance I have ever seen.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, sorry - that was a joke based on Jerry Lee's wretched showing last night. Shame on me (for assuming that people in the Grammy chat might have actually watched the Grammys!).


Silver Spring, Md.: I don't know whether Amy Winehouse's drug issues overshadow her musical talent, but they definitely affect her performance. I was watching a recent concert on an HD music channel and had to turn it off because her drug of choice was really impairing her performance. It was sad to watch her belt out a few bars that were wonderful only to follow with some incomprehensible bars. Not a Dylanesque mumble but butchering lyrics and melody. I felt dirty watching her stumble through the set.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'll agree with you on this. She's definitely not a great live performer - or hasn't been for at least the past year, anyway. But those songs - and what came out of the "Back to Black" recording sessions ... seriously good stuff. If you didn't know anything about her - how she looks, how she lives - and you just listened to the music, as I did a year ago when that album landed on my desk, you'd have to say her talent was kinda undeniable.


Great Artist Poll: Louis Prima was the hands-down winner of the "most disgraced" great artist poll, with Sam Butera a close second (I'm surprised Kid Rock even got his name right). Dave-freakin'-Koz in his place? Puh-leeeze.

After that, clearly, was Sinatra.

J. Freedom du Lac: I didn't even notice Dave Koz on stage until they introduced him post-performance. Was too busy gawking at Kid Rock and Keely.


Hack Job, NO: Gershwin wasn't a hack job at all... it was great! The clarinet of course had a great solo because it is in there and that's how it sounds and was written. Duh! The piano parts were arranged a bit differently than the original, and in some cases, much harder. People are so crazy!

And Amy rocked!!

J. Freedom du Lac: One no-vote for Gershwin in the most-disgraced poll.


Anonymous: Classic Larry David death comparison for Kanye West by David Malitz. The only good taste that Kanye West has ever shown was his use of the Daft Punk sample. He made Diddy sound like Caruso during that horrible Oh Mama performance. I wouldn't wish anyone's mother death while undergoing plastic surgery, but, please. That performance was the aural equivalent of one of those cheesy RIP silk screen t-shirts. My mother would have been embarrassed. The recent death of a loved one was also used to garner great sympathy from the American Idol judges during the recent tryout episodes. I'm really concerned that reality show contestants and rap/pop stars will start offing loved ones to qualify for the finals and industry awards.

J. Freedom du Lac: The weird part about the tribute to me was that it came just after "Stronger," which, as I noted in my recap this morning, seemed like a tribute to "Tron" - though, as with most Kanye songs, it was also a tribute to Kanye. "Bow in the presence of greatness," etc. That's a weird thing to do before giving love to your mother. I mean, I get that he has to perform one of the Grammy-nominated songs. But the pairing was very strange to me.


Country/Gospel, Va.: Loved yours and Editor Rich's live blog of last night's telecast! Now then, why no discussion of the gospel-performance montage? You were probably watching the Wizards, but I thought that was an energetic high point of the portion of the telecast I saw. Then again, I really enjoyed the Beyonce/Tina Turner thing. Tina's Silver Surfer outfit was noticeable, but her singing, looks, and performance upstaged Beyonce, although B. didn't do half bad. What might have been a debacle was actually pretty cool. And I don't even like Tina Turner!

So, Vince Gill. I long ago wrote in about "These Days," and you said you'd have to get a copy, that you hadn't heard it. I don't suppose you've gotten around to it yet, but now that it's BATHED IN GRAMMY GLORY, how can you not? Great collection. Thank you very much, on behalf of Editor Rich, too. As for the gospel performance, yeah, sorry, I was checking in on the Wizards at that moment. Sounds like it wasn't a very wise decision. And as for Beyonce/Tina, of COURSE Tina upstaged Beyonce. I noted in the blog that while I will never complain if Beyonce is on my TV, and she has released some very catchy songs, she's strictly an entertainer. A very fine one, but she'll never have a fraction of the fire in her performances as Tina did last night, even at 68. That's my take, at least.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, I agree: "These Days" is quality entertainment product. Pretty daring, too, especially in the current music-biz climate.


Washington, D.C: Last night, I fell asleep during the show. I woke up with a start to see Little Richard howling right at me. Honestly, one of the scariest moments of my life.

J. Freedom du Lac: Classic.

Little Richard actually did pretty well. But nobody should ever have to wake up to that.


Falls Church, Va.: Dead or alive, I bet Jerry Lee Lewis could still kick your a** (and mine)...

J. Freedom du Lac: I'll take that bet.

Maybe we can wager lunch at El Taurino in downtown LA. I went there yesterday to pick up a bunch of tacos before heading over to Staples, where the media-room food is always lousy. Ordered a bunch of stuff (al pastor, asada con todo, etc) para llevar ... and then waited for 30 minutes. And then had to leave because they were locking down Staples Center at noon.

Maybe I'll go back today and pick up the order.


Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: I thought Carrie Underwood's performance was dreadful, but it seems that we are not going to get any reprieve from the "prom queen" any time soon. What, on earth, is the appeal of her? She's so mediocre, so bland as a performer.

J. Freedom du Lac: I don't really get it. She has a perfectly fine, if unremarkable voice. But people just adore her. Maybe it's because she's purty like a prom queen. Or seems "nice." Or ... I dunno. I'm at a loss....


Washington, D.C.: Re: La Winehouse. Not sure if she was on anything, but she sure did look nervous and stiff. Maybe there's a stagefright issue that everyone's overlooking.

Just my $0.02

J. Freedom du Lac: I sorta think she came out of the womb looking nervous, but that's just a guess.


Eastern Market, Washington, D.C.: Ohmigod, you don't think that Kid Rock was just warming us up for his forthcoming album of standards, do you? I mean, his sales or publicity haven't been great lately, but he doesn't need to pull a Linda Ronstadt/Rod Stewart/Carly Simon move yet to revive his career, does he?

J. Freedom du Lac: That is a most frightening thought. One thing working in our favor (I think): He's not on a Clive Davis label.


disgrace poll: Jerry Lee, by a mile. Did no one think to check whether he could still play before they signed him up for this? We were wondering if he'd had a stroke - it looked like he'd lost a lot of mobility in his right hand, although his voice sounded okay.

J. Freedom du Lac: It was sort of tragic, really. Especially since he was wedged between Fogerty, who was on fire, and Little Richard, who, too, was en fuego, in that flaming sort of way of his. Really striking to see Richard, who is three years older, just kick the Killer's backside all over the stage.


Rockville, Md.: A bunch of us just have to say, critically, that the Grammys show, and the awards, were completely awful this year. We've actually listened to that Winehouse record, and -- it's not worthy of any "best of" Grammys. It's grating, actually, and her voice is irritating throughout. The performances were lame on the show, and someone please lower the glitz and flashy lights thing in future years. It just looked tacky. However, on the positive side, somehow Grammy voters got two things right: recognizing The Foo Fighters for one of the best albums of 2007, and recognizing Herbie Hancock. But the show and the other awards? Yech.

J. Freedom du Lac: You had me until "grating ... and irritating."


Washington, D.C.: Beyonce should wear a dress, or pants, at all times!

J. Freedom du Lac: That's the minority opinion, I think. I was surprised that Tina didn't want to engage in a leg-off, though. Even though she's a multiple of Beyonce's age, I think she just might win.


Upper Marlboro, Md.: I enjoyed the Alicia Keys, John Mayer collaboration, although she did seem a bit screechy at times...after googling it, it seems that they have worked together often... what's your take on the performance?

J. Freedom du Lac: Didn't love it, but that's largely because I don't really care for the song and Alicia's voice on it. I actually kind of like Mayer when he's playing guitar with other people. Definitely more than his own solo stuff.


Chapel Hill, N.C.: About Kanye West & Daft Punk's performance of "Stronger" : I haven't watched it again online, but the touches to the keypad seemed incredibly in sync with music. So while a fair bit of the was most likely pre-programmed, they were mixing on the fly as well. Or, that was the best lip-...err, button-synced performance I've every seen.

J. Freedom du Lac: It's quite possible, maybe even probable, that they were firing the samples in real time. Had to be a reason they put the camera over the keypads during that sequence, no?


Des Moines Drycleaning: As someone who worships Joni Mitchell's late 70's-early 80's bands (Jaco Pastorius, Brecker brothers, Peter Erskine, Don Alias, and Herbie Hancock among others) I am tickled to see how pissed off everybody seems to be at HH winning the big one. What's the big deal? It's not like NARAS members are tweens after all. Steely Dan won big a few years ago. Didn't the Brecker brothers play with them too?

J. Freedom du Lac: I don't think people were peeved. Just surprised, is all, for the reasons I mentioned above. On artistic merit, it's a worthy pick. If you're looking for an album that captures a moment in popular music, then a jazz interpretation of a bunch of old Joni Mitchell songs probably isn't the pick.


To St. Leonard, Md....: I'm 30 and I like you can remember getting to the television at break neck speed to watch the Grammys. A couple of things have changed since then.

1. Cable TV-Remember not everyone had MTV so seeing your fav stars like Madonna and Michael and Prince was an EVENT!

2. You Tube-Now you can see anything on this web site which kind of takes the fun outta seeing award show performances.

3. The artists themselves-Back in the the holy trinity-Prince Madonna Michael were what people wanted to watch. There are plenty of good artists out there don't get me wrong but how many do you REALLY get excited about now and days to pay and see them in concert much less watch them on tv?

J. Freedom du Lac: I think your third point is huge. There aren't really mass-appeal stars anymore. Everything is niche. How many people were hearing "Umbrella" for the first time last night? And that was one of the biggest singles of 2007!

One thing that made me happy about the telecast, by the way: No live performance of "Hey There Delilah."


Philadelphia, Pa.: Was I the only one completely appalled by Kanye West's acceptance speech? He insulted two fellow nominees (Common and Nas) and then was angry that his time run out before he could talk about his mom. It was his fault he went over the alloted time. Maybe he should have thanked his mother first, instead of bashing other artists.

Every time I hear him speak, he gets more and more self-indulgent. Kudos to Vince Gill and Usher for making subtle, and funny, digs at him. He needs to be brought down to size.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, that was a bad look for him.

Vince Gill said backstage that he thought it was sorta funny (in an annoying way, I'm guessing) that Kanye thought there were only two entrants in the field worthy of winning album of the year.

Herbie said he and Kanye were "cool," but that he'd wished Kanye luck earlier in the day, and that Kanye said something like: "I'd wish you luck, too, but I don't want you to win."

That's Kanye's schtick, I guess. But it sort of gets old. I wonder if (hope?) he'll go away for a while after the summer tour. We could all use a break.


Baltimore, Md.: Does anyone actually perform live, or are they all pre-sung so they can "perform" during the actual song? I remember long, long ago when Sinead O'Connor sounded absolutely awful on some awards show, but at least she was actually singing. Now everyone sounds great, but I have a hard time believing they are actually singing live, which kind of defeats the purpose of the show...

J. Freedom du Lac: I think there's some amount of trickery in place, but a lot of the performances seemed live to me. Brad Paisley's was absolutely, 100 percent real, for instance.


Washington, D.C.: Jerry Lee looked like the animatronic version of himself that is probably at some alternative universe Dizknee Land. I expected his head to fall off and a stream of sparks to come out.

J. Freedom du Lac: Or, as Producer David noted on the blog: Jerry Lee looked kinda like Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen.


Jazz lover: Finally!!!

J. Freedom du Lac: Should Norah Jones be insulted that nobody thinks she's a jazz artist?


BMore: Is it wrong for me to want Kanye to lose so I can see how P-O'd he'll get?

J. Freedom du Lac: I don't think you're the only one, really. He's the crybaby everybody loves to hate. Or hates to love. Or something like that.


Bittersville, KS: Let's give the Grammy awards some credit. They've NEVER been relevant. The show's always been a good showcase for live performances, but the awards themselves (the major ones anyway) are a bit of a joke. Remember the year Celine Dion's album beat The Fugees, Beck and The Smashing Pumpkins? Or that, the next year, it took a special Grammy committee to get OK Computer on the Best Album nominations list.

Or that "Hey Ya" lost record of the year to Coldplay. Bruce Springsteen losing to Norah Jones. Christopher Cross beating Pink Floyd's The Wall.

When the Grammys do get it right, it's a happy accident.

J. Freedom du Lac: In 1969, a little band called the Beatles won album of the year for a little album "Sgt Pepper." So, that's one example of getting it right. But, yeah...


Chicago, Ill.: Vince Gill seems like an alright dude.

J. Freedom du Lac: I could absolutely spend a couple of weeks on a tour bus with him. Paisley, too. Not sure I can say that about many other people in popular music.


Annapolis, Md.: Not sure what the right forum for this question is, but here it goes: During the Grammys there was an ad for a Dyson public restroom hand-drying device. Now I appreciate a good British vacuum cleaner, but this ad left me a bit confused. A hand dryer????

J. Freedom du Lac: It was a not-so-subtle message to Chris Daughtry, I think.

And on that non-sanitized note, I'm outta here. Must go outside and take in some of the nasty Hollywood air. Thanks for stopping by, as always. Back in the regular slot next week, assuming I can get myself to leave California.


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