Monday, February 13, 2012

Death Comes to the Grammys

"I'd like to collapse with you
and ease you against this song."

I was happy to see Gerard Smith, the late bassist for TV On The Radio, make it into the Grammys "In Memoriam" death reel.  It was a difficult night for anyone other than Whitney Houston to get the appreciation they deserved:

I'm glad they kept the little tribute to Etta James.  Bonnie Raitt's weathered soulfulness triumphed over Alicia Keys' usual "look at me" warbling as well as her misplaced mentioning of Whitney.  Please.  James' voice was far superior to Houston's.  Don't take my word for it: on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Greatest Singers, Etta is #22 while Whitney is back at #34.  Also, their legacies aren't anywhere close to being comparable.  Without Etta James, there would have been no Whitney Houston. (Or Alicia Keys.  Or Bonnie Raitt, for that matter.)

The "tribute" to Don Cornelius, on the other hand, was mediocre at best.  Soul Train was one of the most successful music television shows ever and, through it, Cornelius had a hand in popularizing black culture among millions of Americans.  Yet all he gets is a shout-out from LL Cool J followed by a half-assed performance by Chris Brown and Lil Wayne?  Not cool, Grammys.  Where is your peace, love, and soul?

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