My Mom is a 71-year-old, no-nonsense, midwestern grandmother and housewife whose first love has always been music. Growing up, vinyl ruled our home thanks to her heavy rotation record collection: James Taylor, Al Jarreau, Melissa Manchester, Blood, Sweat & Tears, The Doobie Brothers, Nancy Wilson, Steely Dan, Miles Davis, and her favorite, Earth, Wind & Fire -- to which she'd dance around the house. The Grammy Awards were always a special shared occasion. It was just about the only time we could watch superstars perform live on television, and discover new favorites. So I grew excited knowing this would be my first year in eons watching the annual telecast with my Mom. Shortly after I came home to the east coast for the holidays, Mom collapsed - with what we had no idea. The next thing we know she had been quarantined in the infectious diseases wing of the local hospital with MRSA virus, which can be fatal. I've been very thankful she's on the mend. It's true all that is said about the healing power of music so with this year's Grammy commercials flaunting an Earth, Wind & Fire tribute, this was must see TV for us. I even made a fun viewing game where Mom and I rated each live performance on a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best). Popcorn was popped, Munchos were being munched, and the show started.
She gave Taylor Swift's opening performance a "5." I gave it a "7." Mom said,
A "5" is a very good rating. You're too generous. I'm a tough critic.
Okay fine. Then came the first award of the evening, Best Rap Album. The winners immediately thanked God to which Mom said,
Rap artists always thank God and then they shoot each other.
When Sam Hunt sang, Mom noted how refreshing it was to watch such a "nice looking man sing with strong arms and no tattoos."
When the blonde female country singer presented the award for Best Country Album, Mom burst out laughing,
Well that looks like a transvestite to me.
Mom hated The Weeknd's hair and Ellie Goulding's short dress.
Her thighs are too big for that dress, but she's British so that explains everything.
During the Lionel Richie tribute, Mom asked me who Megan Trainor was. I told her she was from Nantucket and up for Best New Artist.
Nantucket? Well that's something.
When Lionel took to the stage for All Night Long, Mom looked happy.
This is from a wonderful time when we knew every word to every song.
She gave the Lionel Richie Tribute a "9."
Then Stevie Wonder and a group we never heard of presented Song of the Year. Together they did a brief acapella version of Earth, Wind and Fire's That's The Way of the World . Mom wasn't impressed.
What was that? Please don't tell me that was the entire Earth, Wind and Fire tribute.
I assured her that there would be an actual Earth, Wind and Fire tribute number as advertised on TV. Sadly, I was wrong.
The instant Ed Sheeran's name was announced as winner for Song of the Year, Taylor Swift jumped up and down ecstatic in the aisle. Mom was disgusted. Mom was raised in a time when you minded your P's and Q's and if you were not the winner, you don't jump up and down.
Mom yelled at the TV:
Stop jumping up and down, Taylor Swift! Get back in your seat. You just lost. Is this girl for real? She's leaping all over the aisle like she's so thrilled she lost. If she's this ecstatic when she loses, imagine what she'll be like if she wins! I hope she loses all night because she'll be so thrilled. How irritating. No wonder her boyfriends all break up with her.
Then she turned to me to say "you know what show we are missing for The Grammys? That show you used to love about those two weird people. He was a sex addict in real life and she had that large head."
Me: The X Files?
As the Grammys went to commercial, we heard "Coming up next, Sam Smith" to which Mom said,
He's the gay one. He announced it. He's the one who looks like if Adele and Boy George had a baby.
Mom is fumbling for the remote. I can't allow her to change the channel. She wants to watch Castle during the Grammy commercials.
When the singer from Alabama Shakes collected a Grammy. Mom said,
She's like Mama Cass - she's huge. I'm glad she won. More fat people should win at these award shows.
In general, I think Mom is more Team Gaga than Team Adele - in large part because Gaga's Italian (so is my Mom). Plus she did that album with Tony Bennett, who Mom adores.
Why can't Tony Bennett sing on the Grammys tonight? Isn't this show about music's best? He's the best there is and he's 89 years old! They should just have him on every year.
When it was announced that Justin Bieber won his first Grammy tonight, Mom says:
Justin Bieber never won a Grammy before tonight? That's shocking. He's as lame as Taylor Swift and she's won a million Grammys.
She gave Bieber's performance a "2.5." I, again, was more generous and gave it a "4."
When Megan Trainor was named Best New Artist, Mom was nonplussed.
She is the BEST new artist that the Grammys can come up with? Well, at least Nantucket will be happy.
Mom loved the Bonnie Raitt blues performance,
Good Lord - finally this sounds like real music. Bonnie Raitt hasn't aged in 30 years. Every hair is exactly the same. Nice to hear someone from before 2005. And I used to love Bonnie Raitt's TV show too. I watched a few of the episodes and it was hysterical.
I said "Mom, are you thinking of Reba?" (She was).
Then Mom asked me who Motorhead was.
When Alice Cooper burst onto the stage. Mom blurts out, "He's still ugly."
Then Mom sees Johnny Depp on the Grammy stage with the band and asks,
Is Johnny Depp American or British? I can never tell from his accent.
Mom's favorite performance of the night was Joey Alexander, the 12 year old piano virtuoso -- the evening's youngest nominee, and the only one to score a perfect "10" from both of us.
Finally the category of Album of the Year. Just before Taylor Swift won, Mom said "please anyone but Taylor Swift." When Taylor thanked her fans, Mom chimes in,
She's thanking her fans for having no taste in music. Is that true what she just said? Taylor Swift is the first woman to win Best Album twice? That honor should've gone to Joni Mitchell or Ella Fitzgerald! Why is everyone obsessed with Taylor Swift? And when is the damn Earth, Wind and Fire tribute happening!? How long is this show? They did a big tribute to Motorhead, but no tribute to Natalie Cole or Earth, Wind & Fire!? I would think Natalie Cole and Earth, Wind & Fire would be more important to music lovers than Taylor fucking Swift.
With the heightened expectations from the Grammy commercials, we both found it disappointing there was no showstopping Earth, Wind & Fire musical tribute segment (or Natalie Cole tribute), but staying up late on a Monday night did pay off for Mom thanks to Pit Bull. I didn't even think she knew who Pit Bull was, but she knew very well. She loved watching Pit Bull dance and sing. Mom confesses she finds him kind of sexy. She gave him a "7."
I'm already looking forward to watching the Oscars on the couch with Mom in 2 weeks.