From Arcade Fire’s big upset to Lady Gaga’s incubation period, here’s our unapologetically late Grammy Awards roundup
By Marisa LaScala
Lady Gaga, who arrived on the red carpet in an egg-like structure, “hatched” just in time for her big performance of the night
Paying attention to the Grammys is hard. There are so many categories, and so much room for overlap, that the whole thing seems pretty low stakes. If you don’t win for Best Pop Vocal Album, you could always win for Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals. If you give out 109 awards, it becomes hard to care about any of them.
I did the caring for you. I scoured the 109 categories for winners that’d be of interest to this area. And, after combing through the nominees for Best Hawaiian Music Album and Best Banda Album, I found a couple.
The big award of the night was also one of the biggest surprises. Montreal-based band the Arcade Fire took home the award for Album of the Year for its most recent effort, The Suburbs. Now, there’s no local connection here. The band members live in Canada, and rumor has it that the inspiration for the album was the suburbs of Houston. But, c’mon, who’s more suburban than we are? I love it when anything that has to do with the suburbs gets called out for awards — take that, hip cities like Portland! — and moreso when the work in question doesn’t portray the ’burbs as being soulless, lifeless, or adulterous. In other words: congratulations, Arcade Fire!
The Arcade Fire celebrates its win
The Arcade Fire win is especially surprising seeing the big names the band was up against: Lady Antebellum, Eminem, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga. Don’t weep for them, though: The Grammys are engineered with so many categories, almost everybody else on that list got some sort of trophy (sorry, Katy Perry). Grammys may as well be those “Participant” ribbons they give out in Little League to the losing teams. Lady Gaga received statues for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (“Bad Romance”), Best Short-Form Music Video (“Bad Romance”), and Best Pop Vocal Album (The Fame Monster). We’d congratulate her if she was from Yonkers — the hometown that’s been widely reported in such reputable places like Maxim — but since she said that being from Yonkers is the worst rumor she’s ever heard about herself, we don’t really care.
Speaking of Yonkers, an album by the name of Yonkers, NY was nominated for one of my favorite Grammy categories: Best Recording Package. Unfortunately, it was beaten out by the Black Keys. But, seriously, how cool is it that you can get an award for good packaging? (At least for now — we’ll see what's up with this category in a few years.) Yonkers, NY is the work of Chip Taylor, “a veteran songwriter whose songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Peggy Lee, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, the Hollies and, of course, the Troggs (who waxed his first big hit, ‘Wild Thing’),” it says in press notes. “Yonkers NY stands out for its depiction of a fairly normal childhood spent with loving parents and two older brothers who only tormented young Jamie, as Chip was known back then, in the ways older brothers always do.” That sounds nice — another positive portrayal of the suburbs!
And I know you’re all dying to know who won other untelevised awards, like the one for Best Classical Crossover Album. Sadly, it didn’t go to Northern Westchester’s Jessye Norman for her Roots — My Life, My Song. Instead, it went to the confusingly named Tin, Christopher: Calling All Dawns. Better luck next year, Jessye Norman!
I leave you with my favorite performance of the night. There’s no local connection, but I’m posting it anyway, because, well, Muppets.
What was your favorite Grammy performance? Did I miss a local somewhere around the Best Norteño Album categories? Let me know in the comments.
Associate Editor Marisa LaScala joined Westchester magazine in 2003, and ever since she's blown every paycheck at the Greenburgh Multiplex. She also staunchly defends Richard Kelly, doesn't mind spoiling the endings of trashy movies you're curious about but don't want to pay to see, wishes the Hold Steady would come back and rock out Westchester, misses Arrested Development more than anyone can imagine, and still watches cartoons and Saturday Night Live. You can find more of her cultural criticism at www.popmatters.com, where she is a staff writer.