2009 Grammy Concert . . . uh . . . Awards

Paul McCartney performs "I Saw Her Standing There" with Foo Fighters at the Grammy Awards. AP Photo by Mark J. Terrill

Sir Paul McCartney performs the Beatles classic "I Saw Her Standing There" with Foo Fighters at the Grammy Awards. AP Photo by Mark J. Terrill.

So, what if they had an awards ceremony and didn’t hand out any awards?

OK, the Grammy Awards didn’t go quite that far. But there were vast expanses of airtime last night in which we did not see any little victrolas handed out. This is not necessarily a complaint.

For years, the Grammy Awards have been known for great performances and interesting pairings of artists. This year, in particular, it seemed like the recording academy decided to throw a concert and, when the show stopped to take a breath, hand out occasional awards.

If only the Oscars were honoring people who specialized in live performances, that might solve some of the Academy Awards’ ratings woes.

Like the Oscars, the Grammys have also been leaning more toward critically as opposed to popularly acclaimed fare to honor. The big winner last night was Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ Raising Sand, big with the adult rock crowd, but not so much with the Top 40 audience. There were live awards given to Coldplay and Lil’ Wayne too, so it’s not like this was a bust for hitmakers.

But regardless of who won, the selling point of the Grammys is the show, and this was a pretty hot one starting with U2 playing Get on Your Boots, the first single from the Irish quartet’s forthcoming album. Then, we got an unexpectedly sweet pairing of Justin Timberlake and Rev. Al Green, doing, among other things, Let’s Stay Together. Other standouts included Sugarland showing the power of one voice and one guitar, Jennifer Hudson triumphant for the second Sunday in a row, Radiohead and the USC Marching Band and Sir Paul McCartney showing the amazing longevity of that little pop song, I Saw Her Standing There.

Yes, there were misses: The set for Katy Perry’s I Kissed a Girl was as bright as Vegas, but her voice was as flat as the desert. And I am still waiting for Chris Martin to deliver a competent performance of Viva la Vida on TV. And the energy did seem to evaporate from the show in the last hour or so.

But this year’s Grammys emphasized the show in awards show, and that made it a pretty good night of television.

Further reading:

More about Sunday night’s Grammy Awards.

For not even being at the show, Chris Brown created plenty of drama.

My Twitter feed from last night’s show.

Read Walter Tunis’ review of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ July concert at Rupp Arena.

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