Grammy Highs & Lows: Jack White, Black Keys, Kelly Clarkson, and Rihanna Rock It!
For all the carping some of us have done over the years about the Grammy Awards telecast becoming less distinguishable from the MTV Awards, the 2013 edition of the show turned out to be mostly about Music With A Capital M, after all.
Or maybe that "M" should really stand for Modesty, given the infamous wardrobe memo, which actually seemed to go heeded by most of the stars. Demurity, thy name is Grammy!
A few smile- and eyebrow-rising moments:
HIGH -- Powerhouse Kelly Clarkson got a big renewal on her "America's sweetheart" license. First, she had the most endearing acceptance speech of the night when Stronger picked up Best Pop Vocal Album. After doing an elongated tour of the front row, a clearly flustered and astounded Clarkson finally made her way to the podium and proceeded to tell the world she was delayed by a dress snafu. "So sorry, I got stuck to Miranda Lambert. There's a story and a song, for later ... after alcohol. I'm just kidding, children," she joked. Her flustered onstage behavior, and her frank admission that "I still get nervous speaking in front of people," charmed the audience. Soon after, she calmed down enough to wow the world with ... a Patti Page song! After galvanizing the Grammys with a performance of the ancient standard "Tennessee Waltz," Clarkson went into overdrive with Carole King's "Natural Woman." No wonder half the online world was tweeting that the show would've been improved if Clarkson sang not just these old classics but every nominated song of the night.
LOW -- Clarkson did run into one snag—and it wasn't when she got tangled up in Lambert's dress. "Miguel, I don't know who the hell you are," she gushed in her acceptance speech, "but we need to sing together. I mean, good God! That was the sexiest damn thing I've ever seen." However much it was intended as a compliment, some folks in the R&B community didn't appreciate hearing Clarkson say she'd never heard of Miguel, her highly acclaimed labelmate.
HIGH -- The Black Keys brought along the Preservation Hall Jazz Band as their horn section and Dr. John as their keyboard player, blazingly, even if "Lonely Boy" went by so fast it felt over almost as soon as it'd begun. (The Grammy wardrobe memo definitely didn't cover Dr. John's headdress.)
LOW -- Judging from the immediate reaction, the "running to stand still" visual trickery in the performance by Frank Ocean was loved by some viewers but ranked as pretentious or ineffective by plenty of others. His acceptance speech for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration also raised a few brows. Ocean thanked Jay-Z and Kanye West for appearing on his record ... even though he was officially a featured guest on their "No Church in the Wild." Was Hova amused?
HIGH -- Ahead of time, we wondered if Jack White would be bringing his all-female band, or his all-male band, since the eccentric rocker-king has the two backup groups rotate randomly on tour. He brought both, and the gals rocked acoustically on "Love Interruption" while the guys banged out a furious "Freedom at 21." Americana met garage rock, and the expert camerawork effectively conveyed the excitement of a great live show in a way we rarely see on television.