Monday, February 13, 2012 at 9:41 AM

The Grammys: a postmortem

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

[I]nstead of [Whitney] having to watch wistfully as the music industry heralds the rise of the likes of Adele and honors the longevity of the likes of Bruce Springsteen, this show will now feature the industry’s biggest stars falling all over themselves to sing not just her praises but her songs too (and far better than she ever managed to do over the past decade or so). Which is why I’m not even going to watch the Grammys, let alone write my annual post-show commentary.

(“Whitney Houston … is dead,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 12, 2012)

I followed through on my boycott of the Grammys. But I’ve heard enough feedback from family and friends to accept that it was a misguided thing to do.

That said, I’ve seen enough clips to gather that host LL Cool J did a superb job of setting a tone that prevented the show from degenerating into a series of maudlin tributes to Whitney. His opening prayer was a classy, pithy touch.

But why so many shots of her boy toy, Ray J? Especially given that he was clearly looking to draw attention to himself by showing up just hours after Whitney’s death only to make a public display of his crocodile tears. The disassociated look on his sister Brandy’s face, as he was leaning on her throughout for “emotional” support, said it all. A grief-stricken boyfriend…? I think not. Hell, he’s so vain he probably thought the show was about him….

As for the tributes, Jennifer Hudson is getting rave reviews for her rendition of Whitney’s signature song, I Will Always Love You. But I found it rather disappointing. I mean am I the only one who literally gasped when she failed to hit that high, transitional note that gives this song its innervating pathos? Perhaps losing all of that weight has affected her voice, because I think Jennifer as fat Effie in Dream Girls would have done Whitney far more justice….

Speaking of which, the appropriately plump Adele not only lived up to but exceeded all expectations. She affirmed my assertion that she has more than filled the void Whitney left when she began chasing the dragon.

In fact, Adele’s performance of Rolling in the Deep was as stirring and poignant at last night’s Grammys as Whitney’s performance of The Star-Spangled Banner was at the 1991 Super Bowl. What’s more, that her album 21 sold more last year (18 million) than the albums of Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj combined is a testament to the ultimate triumph of unadulterated talent over vaudevillian schtick – aka substance over style.

For the record, Nicki looked like a hapless Madonna retread with her exorcist-themed performance (and if you haven’t seen Madonna’s 1989 Like a Prayer video, YouTube it); Rihanna looked like a hapless Madonna retread with her Desperately-Seeking-Susan performance; and Gaga – her circus act already so hackneyed – was just gagged (i.e., not even invited to perform … and won no Grammys). But these girls are just demonstrating how truly avant-garde Madonna was by each, in her own way, copying today what the Material Girl did over 20 years ago.

Meanwhile, nothing indicates how destined Adele is to eclipse Whitney’s stardom quite like her winning as many Grammys in one night (6) as Whitney won over her entire career. And after getting a glimpse during a pre-Grammy 60-Minutes interview of how truly comfortable she is in her own skin, I have to say that this meteoric rise could not have happened to a nicer girl.

On the other hand, I wonder if it came across as insensitive that, despite having more opportunities than anyone else to do so, Adele failed to even mention Whitney’s name, let alone pay tribute to her: too nervous … or just clueless?

Well, she’s only 23. So here’s to hoping that her career is as long and successful as Sir Paul McCartney’s – that old Beatle who reportedly acquitted himself pretty well with two performances last night.

That’s a wrap!

Related commentaries:
Whitney is dead

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