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Trevor Noah-hosted Grammys overcorrected for blandness in trying to be the anti-Oscars

  • "Last week’s Oscars left a bad taste in everyone’s mouths, and even before The Slap Heard Round the World, there was already some chatter that the show’s jokes at the expense of nominees had been a little too acidic," says Lindsay Zoladz. "In light of all the controversy, it wasn’t surprising the Grammys wanted to present themselves as a kind of anti-Oscars, and the host Trevor Noah wasted no time, proclaiming in his opening monologue, 'We’re going to be dancing, we’re going to be singing, we’re going to be keeping people’s names out of our mouths' — about as polite a reference to Will Smith’s Oscars outburst as a person could muster. But as the show went on, Noah’s bland, gee-whiz tone felt more and more like an unfortunate overcorrection, blunting the edges of his jokes such that they hardly had an impact at all. In introducing Jared Leto, Noah even breezed right by the lowest hanging fruit in the 2022 joke book: Making fun of the accents in House of Gucci! No one was asking him to take meanspirited swipes, but a well-placed zinger here or there would have given the show some needed spice."


    • The 3-1/2 hour ceremony was a tedious, pedestrian affair: "Like most mainstream honors, the Grammys seemed in search of meaning," says Lovia Gyarkye.. "With the exception of a few performances, the live telecast felt like another attempt at the onerous task of re-establishing relevancy, an exercise that pulls the awards further from its purpose of highlighting recording artistry and toward a more amorphous goal of — what? Courting younger generations? Capturing the zeitgeist? Proving the Recording Academy is listening and learning? It’s unclear. But the show’s choices revealed that its commitment to any issue beyond its continued existence is, at best, superficial. Trevor Noah, the evening’s host, acknowledged this bleak reality best in his opening monologue: 'This is a concert where we give out awards.'" Referring to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky pre-recorded message, Gyarkye also called out the Recording Academy's "cheap and vampiric approach to putting on a show."
    • Grammys ceremony was too front-loaded: "It’d be tough to maintain three-and-a-half hours’ worth of livewire energy for any live show, but particularly one where the bill is stacked with the would-be headliners going on first," says Andrew Unterberger, adding: Ultimately, it was probably unrealistic to expect the sort of unplugged nature of the 2021 broadcast to mark a way forward for the Grammys, rather than a single-year aberration — nor was it practical to expect another repeat of last year’s compelling array of timely big winners. For the Recording Academy, which already had to delay the awards for two months due to omicron-variant scares, business as usual is likely good enough for these Grammys, which still packed their fair share of stunning performances and rewarding wins. But with ratings that have long been declining as the show’s runtime keeps expanding, it feels pretty risky to ask fans to embrace a three-and-a-half-hour awards show that gets its biggest stars out of the way early, and ends with Jon Batiste accepting the marquee award and acclaimed country duo Brothers Osborne playing over the end credits. The Grammys may officially be Big again, but that doesn’t mean they’re too big to fail."
    • Mercifully, there was barely any content on The Slap: "Enough said. Seriously," says Rolling Stone. "We never need to read another word of commentary about the true meaning of the Slap, let alone hear a hacky joke about it at another awards show. We counted just two brief, innocuous references to the incident during the televised Grammys broadcast — way less than we could have reasonably expected. Thank you, Trevor Noah and everyone in the MGM Grand, for sparing us."
    • Hip-hop was underrepresented: "The two Nas’—Lil and Escobar—were the only rap acts to perform throughout the entire three-and-a-half-hour show, which felt…strange…given hip-hop’s dominance in music culture," says Grant Rindner, pointing out that Kanye West had been slated to perform before his performance was canceled.
    • The Grammys pre-show was actually interesting: "The premiere — what the Grammys call their preshow — is usually a perfunctory run-through of the dozens of awards that don’t get shown on TV, with a few random performances interspersed," says Justin Curto and Alex Suskind. "It can get pretty sleepy, especially by the third hour. But for once, this year’s felt dynamic. The host, LeVar Burton, brought genuine enthusiasm for the performers and some good jokes (including an early one about how Kunta Kinte cleans up). There were some fun and moving speeches, from TJ Osborne reflecting on winning a Grammy after coming out as gay to Kalani Pe’a charming the audience while representing Hawaiian music. And the performances would have fit right in on the main show, especially Jimmie Allen’s emotional tribute to his late father in 'Down Home' and Allison Russell’s stunning 'Nightflyer.'"
    • BTS ended up winning even though they didn't win a Grammy: "2022 marked the second straight year that the Grammys has given the biggest K-pop band a nomination and invited them to perform—and presumably bring along their massive fan base—and it also marked the second straight year that BTS went home empty-handed. While the organizers of the ceremony aren’t—or at least shouldn’t be—responsible for what the voting body decides, at a certain point, it becomes insulting. I can’t frame it any better than Elle magazine did in a headline earlier Sunday: 'BTS Deserves a Grammy, but Do the Grammys Deserve BTS?' While the answer to that is open to debate, what’s not is BTS’s performance on Sunday, which was an early-show highlight, if not the evening’s best performance, full stop. While some acts took the Las Vegas setting in the wrong direction—take Nas’s soft launch for a residency somewhere on the strip, for example—the Bangtan Boys went full Ocean’s 11 in their stage time, reenacting a museum heist and pirouetting among laser beams as they performed their megahit 'Butter.' (And that’s before acknowledging V’s flirtations with Olivia Rodrigo at the beginning.)"
    • Jon Batiste wins album of the year, the night's top prize, along with four other Grammys
    • Olivia Rodrigo wins three Grammys, including Best New Artist
    • Questlove joked about the Oscar slap at the Grammys
    • The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical wins a Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album
    • Premiere show host LeVar Burton warned the audience to "keep your hands to yourselves"
    • Ranking Grammys performances from worst to best: Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber were the worst, BTS, H.E.R. and Lil Nas X were among the best

    TOPICS: Trevor Noah, CBS, 94th Academy Awards, Bridgerton, The Grammy Awards, Jon Batiste, LeVar Burton, Olivia Rodrigo, Questlove, BTS, The Recording Academy