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Mixed Notes Monday, Including Grammys

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 11, 2013

But first: Fox Business Network's Liz Claman will be in Cleveland again today, broadcasting from 1 to 5 p.m. on FBN. According to the network, she will be at "Cuyahoga Community College ... for the first graduation of Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Business program. The special will feature interviews with Goldman Sachs President and COO Gary Cohn, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), along with other business executives and local politicians to discuss Cleveland’s economy, employment growth, and local business revenue."

As for the Grammys, at 3 1/2 hours (not counting pre-presentations), it manages to seem too long and still give short shrift to some things; the Dave Brubeck tribute was particularly lukewarm. But, with a little help from fast-forwarding, I enjoyed a good bit of the show. For example:

Memorable performances included the Black Keys with Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the Bob Marley tribute (Bruno Mars rules!), Kelly Clarkson's Patti Page/Carole King homage, Jack White, Mavis Staples in the Levon Helm tribute, and LL Cool J's closing effort with Chuck D, including the shout-out to the Beasties' Adam Yauch. (I caught the end of the show this morning, and LL was definitely a wakeup call.) But really, are the Grammys so determined to end on time that they had to put up a promotional announcement during LL's performance.

I expected more of Justin Timberlake, who is a pretty cool guy (and really knows how to wear a suit), and was pleased at how old-school is music was. But the live performance still felt flat.

And what the heck was up with Taylor Swift? "Alice in Wonderland" meets "Moulin Rouge" somewhere north of tacky.

On the other hand, the Grammys did do some interesting things visually. I am thinking of Carrie Underwood's dress as the canvas for many designs, and the mingling of video and being onstage in Frank Ocean's performance.

Also on dress notes, what was Adele thinking? And, considering the warning memo about costumes, did some women (meaning Alicia Keys and Rihanna) decide that under-boobage was acceptable? And did Katy Perry just not bother to read the memo?

Plus, was Katy Perry really all that ticked about never getting a best-new-artist nomination?

Chris Brown, go home.

Here's something else I liked: the way people in the music industry not only like music, they know it. Looking back at Bruno Mars, you could see Keith Urban, Neil Patrick Harris and Taylor Swift all singing along. In fact, it seemed as if Swift knew every song by every performer on the show.

And, whatever the criticisms of Swift's ability (I still think she makes good pop tunes),. there's a naturalness about her that reflects well on music people. Indeed, she, Clarkson and Adele all managed to come across as regular folks -- as did Gotye, awestruck over being onstage with Prince. Beyonce, too, had a natural moment thanks to the way Ellen DeGeneres gleefully made her laugh (and keep laughing).

But why, in just about every camera shot I saw, did Jay-Z have a glass in his hand?

And where were the surviving members of the Band for the Levon Helm tribute?

On other viewing, the weekend catchup also included last week's "Scandal." Great googly moogly. There is nothing the show won't do, no matter how crazy, and that is why I watch it every week.

On the other hand, "Glee" is almost unwatchable except as an acknowledgment of what a mistake it was to let the core characters graduate. The latest episode, loaded with Santana, was another demonstration that the 2.0 cast members just are not as interesting as the original cast, even when they were attempts to exactly duplicate the originals. (Why is Quinn 2 suddenly so nice?) Sue of course was the bearer of the meta message when she questioned why Santana was back so much, implicitly questioning why any of the graduates are around. And sending Santana to NYC is the latest clumsy attempt to replicate the show's old dynamics.

Also, I am so sick of Rachel and her histrionics. Great, she lost the sing-off. Get over it. You don't need another damn hug and assurance about your wonderfulness. Grow the hell up.(Look at Hannah on "Girls," whose self-absorption is costing her big time, and wish that Lena Dunham* could script some cold water for Lea Michele.)

Still, my antagonism toward "Glee" is at least more passionate than my admiration of "Nashville."** Much as I love Connie Britton, as dutifully as I watch, the show as a whole still often leaves me with a big shrug. It's never quite as good as I want, and expect, it to be. But I still like the songs better than "Glee's."

*At the Grammys, by the way, with her Fun. boyfriend, and making herself impossible to miss in that yellow dress.

**Music overseen by T-Bone Burnett, who was in the Grammys' Levon Helm tribute. And now we have circled back to the Grammys enough.






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