The Grammy Awards continued a familiar pattern Monday night, building to a show that seemed pretty amazing around 10 p.m. and whimpering out around 11:30 as an overindulgent, parochial mediocrity.
It’s really frustrating as a fan, because the Grammys really do have the ability to be the premiere offering among the major awards shows — we will deal with you in a couple weeks, Oscars — but the producers can’t seem to grasp the task of actually putting together a show. You have to lay some of this at the feet of Recording Academy President Neil Portnow, who seems to compelled to come out after 11 p.m. — when most of us are saying “When is this going to be over?!” — to lecture everyone about stealing music.
Most award shows dispense with these obligatory spots early in the proceedings, but Portnow seems to think we are dying to see him as much as Taylor Swift or Kenrick Lamar. Also coming after prime time were the announcement of some special awards and the in-memoriam segment, both of which — all due respect to the deceased artists and executives — belonged earlier in the show. Those and some clunky moments such as the sound fail for Adele made electrifying performances such as the Hamilton presentation and Kendrick Lamar’s 11-nominations-justifying stand seem like distant memories.
A show is supposed to build to a grand finale, and by grand finale, we do not mean Pitbull. If an awards show goes past 11, it should only be to give out major awards and present major performances, which does not mean Pitbull (Did I say that already?). There really is something to be said for simply announcing the final award and saying goodnight. It’s understandable the music awards want to go out on one last big number, but if all they can come up with is a half-baked performance by an artist who until last night had never won a Grammy, it would really be better to go out on the cheers for the record of the year winner, Uptown Funk.
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Of all the major awards, the Grammys have the natural resources to put on a spectacular show. The show just needs to get out of its own way.