One of the buzziest angles of Sunday’s fast approaching Grammy Awards is the Beach Boys reunion … and how it’s being “sullied” by making them share the stage with corporate pop rockers Maroon 5 and indie-ish earwormers Foster the People. As far as we can tell, the thread tying these bands together is that all three are … bands?
To be fair, sometimes the Grammy Cabal gets it right and their pairings lead to legendary moments (e.g. Tina Turner with Beyoncé in 2008; Bruce, Dave Grohl et al for “London Calling” in 2003). But often, the combinations are perplexing and lackluster. And quite frankly, those are more fun to revisit. So here are five truly head-scratching Grammy grouping misfires. Hold out hope that we won’t have to add the Beach Boys extravaganza to the list in a few years.
We might as well start at the bottom, with this truly awful amalgamation of trends gone haywire. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Auto-tune, or combining rock with hip hop, but somehow this performance managed to mangle them both individually before combining them into just the biggest pile of crap. Jamie Foxx, a good singer, resorted to mechanized barking through much of the song while wearing a cape. Slash, a good guitarist, apparently cared so little about the gig that he didn’t bother to tune his ax. T-Pain … well, he T-Pained the whole time. Hey, at least now we know where the Black Eyed Peas looked for inspiration for the past two years.
2. Elton John and Backstreet Boys (2000)
When you think of Elton John and the Grammys, his duet with Eminem probably comes to mind. But you see, this was his first salvo in the odd-pairing war. Elton did all the heavy lifting while the BSB’s just huddled around Elton’s grand piano, seemingly tethered in place like that poor goat in Jurassic Park, prohibited from breaking out into dance or looking longingly into the camera as is tradition for boy bands during slow songs. If the Backstreet Boys aren’t out there in a V-formation doing synchronized stomp-swivels, then why have them out there at all?
3. Jay-Z, Linkin Park and Paul McCartney (2006)
Linkin Park with Jay-Z? Understandable, “Numb/Encore” was a solid mash-up. Jay-Z and Paul McCartney? We could maybe deign to understand. But all three entities, together, transitioning from rap-rock into “Yesterday”? Incomprehensible. Or is it? Turns out there’s a reasonable explanation: the main reason The Beatles broke up was because Paul always thought “Yesterday” needed more drum machine and a guy going “uh-huh, yeh … thass right” in the background. So, dream realized!
4. Cee Lo, Gwyneth Paltrow and a bunch of Muppets (2011)
Pairing Cee Lo with the Muppets is only natural since he’s a human Muppet. But considering this was nine months too early for The Muppets publicity cycle, why did America need to see this cyclone of fur and day-glo? On the other side, we knew Gwyneth covered “Forget You” on Glee, but wasn’t once enough? Isn’t she too busy giving her children quirky names and posting on Goop about the perfect spots to forage for truffles in Alsace-Lorraine? And, oh yeah, acting? She just had to shoehorn herself into a slot that was originally reserved for some struggling musician who spent decades plugging away, hoping that one day they’d be given the chance to break out at the Grammys. Real nice, Goop.
5. Amy Grant and a baby (1992)
So here’s the situation: Grant’s turning in an odd performance of her forgotten 1991 couples’ skate anthem “Baby Baby.” She’s going around sing-flirting with each member of the world’s peppiest, spunkiest, cult-iest backing band. First of all, stop distracting these guys with your throaty siren song while they’re trying to play the notes to your throaty siren song. As if it couldn’t get any weirder, OMG, there’s a baby wandering on stage! Then she picks up the baby as she’s singing “Baby, Baby.” So meta! Except, the prop “baby” is like four years old. Also, who’s “baby” is that?