With the biggest night in music upon us last night, who reading this didn’t think The 54th Grammy’s was going to be a joyless and somber affair due to Whitney Houston’s passing? I for one did. But an excess of rock, pop, R&B and doo-wop music swayed us otherwise, as 40 million viewers tuned in to make it the second most watched Grammy show of all time. Adele was the big winner taking home with six Grammy awards, whose presence was seen as a climactic comeback after losing her voice for a period.
There were so many memorable moments last night, and some which were memorable for not happening. Here are three that stand in my mind:
1. LL Cool J’s hosting performance
Neil Patrick Harris who? Perhaps the most arduous task last night was host LL Cool J’s. He literally had to convince 40 million people that it was okay to have fun on such a grief-stricken night. He pulled it off by striking a balance and setting the tone for the rest of the night. He respectfully addressed Houston’s passing, gave a collective and heartwarming prayer, and asserted that through music, we could all heal and enjoy ourselves at the same time. If it wasn’t for his confident, reassuring and compassionate words, the show could have felt more like a funeral then a celebration of music. I think we’ll see LL doing his thang at many more award events in the near future.
2. Absence of Latinos
Where were my peeps last night!? With Latinos making their mark on the mainstream media, it was surprising to see that not one of them performed. The most obvious exclusion was Pitbull. I heard this guy hasta en la sopa this year! Who didn’t he collaborate with? What about Romeo Santos and Usher’s hit song, ‘Promise’? Heck, I’d even take Jennifer Lopez and her corny-Fiat-driven ‘Papi’ song for some Latin infusion. I mean, I could do some major reaching and say that us Latinos were ‘well represented’ by Bruno Mars due to his Filipino, Puerto Rican roots – but really? Did it come to this? At least a clean cut Marc Anthony presented an award to avoid a full shutout, but his bizarre “check it out” expression at the ending of the Best Rap Award presentation, left me asking more questions about him than before. It came out of nowhere! But glad to see the Colombian salsero Joe Arroyo got some deserved love from the Recording Academy during the In Memoriam segment.
This leads me to…
3. Key performance absentees
No matter how you look at it, there is no excuse for not having Lady Gaga perform. Albeit, she is an ostentatious musician, Gaga was not only nominated for 3 big awards, but she is arguably the biggest star in the planet. Madonna, who might have a thing or two to say about that, was also curiously absent. She has a new album and having been able to open the show, as opposed to Bruce ‘The Boss’ Springsteen, she could have brought the house down. And speaking of bringing the house down, Jay-Z and Kanye had to be one performance we’ve all would have loved to have seen. The exclusion of the two biggest names in hip-hop, on one stage, post baby Blue Ivy Carter, was an egregious act against humanity – so I’m being dramatic. I’m still foaming at the mouth.
-JACK RICO, NBC LATINO contributor and founder of showbizcafe.com.