Mike Huckabee News
(Laura Ainsworth is a Dallas-based radio comedy writer whose parody songs were heard often on “The Mike Huckabee Show.” She’s also a serious jazz/standards singer who should have been nominated for a Grammy. Her music can be heard at www.lauraainsworth.com or on Facebook.)
The walking to and from Conan’s studio was nothing compared to the walking we had to do on Grammy day! I’ve always heard that nobody walks in LA, but we’ve walked our feet off in the past few days. Major downtown thoroughfares were blocked off for security reasons, rendering moot our directions to the Convention Center parking lot. (It was crazy --- you’d think Obama was in town for a Hollywood fundraiser.) We found an expensive valet lot far, far away and had to walk in our formalwear through a decidedly unglamorous freeway underpass to get to the venue. Then we were treated like cattle again, moving slowly through long lines and subjected to metal detectors and polite searches. This is getting to be a way of life everywhere, isn’t it?
The weather’s been cold, too, but since Gov. Huckabee has been spending these past few days in POLAND, I’m not going to complain about the relatively mild chill in the air here.
The tight security included an absolute ban on all cameras and recording devices. We were told this included cell phones, so we dutifully left ours in the car. That’s how we ended up with no photos of ourselves at the Grammys, unlike the 10,000 or so other people there who ALL had cell phones and used them to take photos constantly.
We barely made it for the 1PM start of the “pre-televised” portion of the Grammys, which includes the awards for jazz, traditional pop, classical, reggae, children’s music, spoken word recordings, etc. Most of the technical awards are given out in the afternoon as well. I don’t fault the awards committee for this; there are so many categories that it would be impossible to give out all the awards during the evening show. Fuschia-haired and Queens-accented Cyndi Lauper hosted; I loved her deadpan humor, primarily directed at the many honorees who failed to show up to receive their awards. Over and over, she thanked their mothers for them. But Steve Martin and Edie Brickell were actually present to accept their award for Best American Roots song, and it was a treat to see them. Steve Martin is quite the banjo picker, in case you didn’t know, with or without the arrow through the head. This is also the segment where I should have won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for “Necessary Evil.” But I was hampered by not being nominated. Instead, the Grammy went to Michael Buble. He didn’t show up.
After the afternoon Grammys, we walked…and walked…and walked to the Staples Center for the televised event. No time to eat, so anybody who didn’t think to fill a pocket or two with snacks was out of luck (Luckily, my husband ALWAYS fills his pockets with snacks). This is a long, looooong show. There’s no food or drink anywhere, and even trips to the bathroom may take place only during commercial breaks.
After seeing the Grammys in person, I can tell you that a show designed for broadcast looks very different from a concert designed for the concertgoer. Shots that looked great on the enormous monitors looked very different on the stage, full of moody shadows and blinding streams of light. Some production numbers took place almost offstage, at strange angles. The show was, to me, a triumph not so much of musical talent as technological wizardry. Most of the “singing” I heard came not from live vocals but from pre-produced and intricately complex backing tracks. It can be impossible now to tell how much of a singer’s performance comes from his or her own ability, and how much is a product of auto-tuning, editing, multi-tracking and processing. If you’ve ever noticed that a lot of vocalists sound oddly similar, this is the reason why. But artists HAVE to rely on this, because singing live without a backing track is really hard while twerking --- or performing Cirque du Soleil acrobatics high above the crowd, as Pink does. These days, it’s very important when one is singing to be able to fly around.
Next installment: the politics of Grammy night, as Queen Latifah, “by the powers vested in me by the State of California,” marries 33 couples, “gay and straight,” during the show; an incredible after-party; the REAL reunion of Paul and Ringo that I saw and you didn’t, and much more.