Sunday, February 8, 2009

My ears hurt - thank you, Grammys

I hate to say this, but I don't think I can stomach sitting through the rest of this year's Grammy Awards to see Paul McCartney with Dave Grohl, even though that's the one performance I want to see the most. Stevie Wonder was predictably awesome with the Jonas Brothers, who I hadn't ever made an effort to listen to until now. It was also very gratifying to see Robert Plant and Alison Krauss win the best pop vocal by a duo or group award for "Rich Woman," and better still, record of the year for "Please Read THE Letter" (that's right, Natalie Cole, you got your definite articles mixed up) [EDIT: Raising Sand also won album of the year! This is truly the best news of all]. But as much as Chris Martin seems like a really cool, down to earth guy, I still haven't softened to his voice, nor do I ever enjoy hearing Jay Z appear with anybody (though he did make Martin sound comparatively amazing on their duet).

Worst of all was Katy Perry's overblown "I Kissed a Girl." The song wasn't subversive when it came out, and it's even sillier now that it's been given a Vegas-style send-up live on national TV. No subtlety in her vocal delivery either -- it's like being hit over the head with a hammer, and that's exactly how I feel right now.

Fortunately, there are bigger talents out there who have the class to take the good with the bad, which is exactly what New York indie Max Vernon did when he covered "I Kissed a Girl" last year as a piano-based semi-doo-wop number. Given the fact that lesbians seem to be somewhat less maligned in American society than gay men, Max's gender-bending cover achieves the subversion that Katy's rendition never had a chance to touch. Plus its execution is just way, way better in general. Somebody sign this guy!