Death By Mixtape

And the winner is . . . nobody! The 2004 Grammy Awards.

Some people can endure all gazillion hours of the Grammys, gobbling up the maudlin, overrated dead dude tributes, self-deifying acceptance soliloquies, and teeth-grating, opposites-repel presenter/performer tandems from hell. Weekly music editor Michaelangelo Matos is such an individual, cheerily embracing the vapid would-be spectacle, rattling off cute one-liners, and offering an unobtrusive, informative running historical commentary to boot. Weekly columnist Andrew Bonazelli, a misguidedly fervent backer of most things audacious and ironic, is not such an individual. I see Dave Matthews abetting Sting, Pharrell, and Vince Gill in botching the chorus to "I Saw Her Standing There" and screw the audacity and irony?it's about to take six more bullets, not two, for a proper Beatles reunion.

I risked Raiders of the Lost Ark-style spontaneous combustion and watched this year's rotting old bastard-thon for two damn good reasons. Numero uno: The EMP hosted a quasi-formal Grammy viewing party, which fulfilled all three of my Grammy day wishes: (1) complimentary Heineken, (2) complimentary chocolate-covered strawberries, (3) complimentary textbook-sincere yet supernaturally monotonous Krist Novoselic speech about the virtues of the all-ages scene. Numero dos: I was curious if, in the wake of what 47 percent of CNN poll respondents dubbed "a new low in entertainment" (the Justin "Absolved White Male Pariah" Timberlake/Janet "Damned Black Female Pariah" Jackson malfunction), the already notoriously stiff Grammys would buckle down on the naughty bits.

Just so we're all clear, let me outline my stance on this matter of utmost national importance: I don't buy records to ponder George Orwell's lasting effect on Thom Yorke. I buy records to ponder which ones people have sex to, which ones I'd like to have sex to, and which ones would make me burst out laughing during sex. It would take a hell of a lot more skin and a hell of a lot nastier innuendo than "I'ma have you nekkid by the end of this song" to offend me. JT might want to start with reminding me in every song that we're actually on track to give his boy-band-refugee punk ass a Lifetime Achievement award in 20 years.

So would the 2004 Grammys even try to sex us up, Color Me Badd-style? Things got off to a promising start at the Sky Church when Matos informed me that Prince would open with a Purple Rain medley . . . unless, of course, your definition of "promising" entails some joker from Queensrÿche introducing a condescending antipiracy campaign PSA ("What's the Download") in which a young lady downloads Pink's "God Is a DJ" in her bedroom, sapping the power from an unrelated, off-the-hizzle dance party (unintentional highlight: Her monitor refers to the Pink track as "Music," complete with quotation marks). Yeah, if anyone was equipped to make this nightmare lascivious?and maybe even speak out against what could devolve into a new era of censoring dorks like J.C. Chasez?it was Prince . . . of 15 years ago. Today's version sleepwalked through his Rain medley (killer sex album, btw), then passed the torch to the night's ubiquitous starlet, Beyoncé, for a Jay-Z-free "Crazy in Love."

Things stayed nice and flaccid. Martina McBride belted out country-pop's answer to "Janie's Got a Gun," hypnotizing millions into comas. Justin won some useless pop vocal award and sighed that it's been a "rough week"?probably not as rough as it was for, oh, say, the little girl who was kidnapped and slaughtered in Florida, but definitely a close second. Richard Marx tried his hardest not to break out "Right Here Waiting" and two tons of aerosol hair spray to steal the spotlight from Celine. Weekly associate editor Katie Millbauer mused, "I wish the Foo Fighters would get in a tour bus accident." Sam Jackson publicly lost his fucking marbles and accompanied Earth, Wind & Fire, Big Boi, and Robert Randolph on an endless funkfest that climaxed with the exhumed corpse of George Clinton floating around rasping, "We Want the Funk," in an obvious-only-to-me tribute to Gerardo's second, forgotten hit single. Yoko's AAs expired onstage as she rambled on in Yoko-speak about the "planet of music" her husband and the "three other ones" created. Faux-Christian goth slobs Evanescence stole "Best New Artist" from 50 Cent, infuriating the five cool home viewers still conscious enough to be infuriated, who were instantly rewarded by Fitty walking right up there to try to snatch what was rightfully his.

All of the schmaltzy, feel-good performances, from the Foos' dreadful "Times Like These" to Black Eyed Peas' grating can't-we-all-just- get-along anthem "Where Is the Love," rang of Bush-era brotherly love rather than Clinton-era brotherly loooooove. Chris Martin earned the first cool points of his life by dedicating Coldplay's undeserved Record of the Year award to two Johns: Cash (where the shit was the tribute?) and Kerry, "who will hopefully be your president one day." And hopefully employ a cigar on an intern and inadvertently make prime time a haven for raunch once again.

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