Sunday’s Grammy Awards Show ran the gamut of emotions. The unexpected death of Whitney Houston the day before plunged everyone into a tailspin, leaving a sense of heaviness in the atmosphere. Mix in the conflicting celebratory nature of the awards show, then add a full measure of disrespectful vulgarity attached to arrows flying at the Catholic Church in an ill-advised production number that pounded the sensitivities of viewers, and one is left with a negative impression that marred what could have been an outstanding evening.
Even so, Master of Ceremonies LL Cool J did an excellent job of hosting the high-powered program, displaying decorum and restraint as he put the show through its paces with a personality geared to perfectly fit the occasion.
Cool J opened the show with a beautiful prayer in tribute to Houston which was done in all sincerity. But camera shots of the audience showed only a few had their heads bowed in respect. Most of the performers exhibited sheer boredom at the prayer, while others were looking all around them to see who was there and who there might be useful to them. This not only showed total disrespect to the woman they claimed to love but also to God, who obviously was far from their thoughts.
Later in the program, the stage suddenly opened for a production number centered around singer Nicki Minaj. Very few were prepared for what was to be seen and heard.
Supposedly centered around an exorcism, one cast member was dressed like the Pope, others like priests and others in choir robes, all of whom took on a sinister look, appearing to be demons as Minaj began to “levitate.” The set was made to look like the inside of a Catholic Church complete with stained-glass windows.
One would think that just plain manners and respect would have prevented such a sacrilegious production number from being performed on any stage, much less in front of the entire world. For a majority of the world, Christianity is sacred and the church is an important part of their culture. Minaj threw acid in the face of all of us while dishonoring Houston, who was a Christian.
Minaj should offer a public apology to all Christians.
Entertainers should entertain, period. They have sabotaged themselves by poisoning many avenues in show business because of their insistence of introducing offensive material. If they genuinely had talent they would not have to resort to that.
The Super Bowl is a good example. Football is an all-American sport. So what’s the point of bringing in entertainment for a halftime show, a show that has nothing to do with football and using that platform for vulgarity? Football is a family event.
For this recent Super Bowl, singer M.I.A. gave the finger to the entire world during a musical segment showcasing Madonna — a totally unacceptable obscene gesture. For what? Shouldn’t entertainers show respect to their audiences?
Since there have been prior such incidents, it is time to eliminate the “halftime entertainment,” which has nothing to do with football, and go back to having award-winning marching bands perform during that slot which keeps up the energy and excitement of the game at hand.
Fortunately, the Grammys ended strongly with an incredibly moving tribute to Houston by Jennifer Hudson who, alone in a spotlight, sang the late singer’s biggest hit, “I Will Always Love You.” Hudson started a cappella, then a piano accompaniment gently floated in. Many cried during that song, including this writer.
Another highlight was the recognition of Adele, a multi-award winner who seems to have a kind and sweet spirit and battled through serious throat problems that caused her to cancel a tour along with months of rest following recent vocal chord surgery. And she stood on that stage whole, with her talent intact.
Now there was a moment to celebrate.