Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Grammy Night: Love. Angel. Music. Catfights.

We interrupt our 24/7 coverage of things Vatican for this special announcement: Kelly Clarkson, you're my flavor.

God is good, cari fratelli e sorelle.

The reality of being a straight man in this, the world's most fabulous (in every way) business can be very tough sometimes. So it was a relief to have traded in, however fleetingly, the clerical divas for real ones (how refreshing!) during tonight's annual Grammy telecast.

You might've noticed this already from many of the post headlines, but your humble narrator is a music junkie. I rarely, if ever, write without something blaring in the background -- be it Purcell, Prince (the most famous Monsignor in world history), the divine Matisyahu or the old boy Damien Rice -- and most of my down-time is spent on the live music scene here in the River City. A clunky 40-gigabyte iPod and the satellite radio keep me going the rest of the time.

First off, the state of music: To be honest, I'm just glad to see the resurgence of glamourous indie rock 'n roll, and the mashups and cross-pollenation its renaissance has brought about. Rock did go away almost entirely for the first half of the decade -- in the commercial sense, that is -- but so much of what's been emerging in the business of late has more than made up for it.... Of course, it's still dying on terrestrial radio -- the rock stations in most of the major cities here in the States have been replaced by the "Jack" formats (a hodgepodge of everything, designed to resemble an anomalous iPod shuffle) or the Infinity Broadcasting "Free FM" format, which revolves around talk. Thank God for the satellite. But I digress.

Mariah Carey is nominated for something like 18 statues tonight.... What can I say about her that I haven't already said about the Daughters of Wojtyla? In certain circles, however, "The Emancipation of Mimi" connotes not Carey's latest album, but a particularly memorable First Mass which reeked of Latin and lace.

I'm just sayin'.

U2 and Bono -- the Christian world's modern embodiment of God-Love -- picked up five awards tonight, adding significantly to their hardware collection. I've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: I nominated Bono to be commencement speaker when I graduated from Penn. And he came. And it was magical -- what other commencement speech is so good it can begin with the immortal words: "My name is Bono, and I am a rock star"?

Despite that, though, I still haven't seen U2 play live. When it eventually happens, it'll have to be a full celebration with the beloved (Friend of Bono and Cardinal-to-Be) Diarmuid Martin watching with me from the wings of the stage, the two Irishmen saving the world at the afterparty as the Italian takes notes.

This much I know, Loggiaheads: Sit me in a bar in early March, throw me a Guinness, play "One" on the jukebox, and I'll start tearing up.

Other two-bit observations:

Chris Martin: I love Coldplay, its frontman has an amazing voice, crackingly brilliant songs, I adore Gwyneth -- but the boy can't dance for his life.

Stevie Wonder: The embodiment of peace, harmony and goodness -- un vero cristiano and someone who actually lives Deus caritas est. How he just keeps those love lights on is nothing short of a gift of God. I saw him give a commencement "speech" once. He didn't speak -- they had a piano set next to the podium, and he sat and played for about half an hour..... Don't forget that Bush once waved to Stevie -- who, need you be reminded, is blind.

Keith Urban: Who is he? And why is everyone so excited?

Sly Stone: Appears in public about as often as St. Blog's appreciates Cardinal McCarrick. Great seeing him -- might be waiting a long time for the other shoe to drop.

Martin Sexton: "Elvis lives and Jesus saves our souls...." Earth to NARAS: Nominate him, please.

Michael Buble: I can't stand him. Every time he comes on the radio, I have to change the channel. He's like Jamie Cullum, just without the talent bit.

Gwen Stefani: Having grown up with No Doubt and Bush -- "Glycerine" being a song which resonates hauntingly across the years -- you can't help but love it that Stefani and Gavin Rossdale are finally having a baby. And she just looks radiant (as Italian mothers-to-be usually do). But if ET or Extra dare use the term "Baby Bump" tomorrow in their coverage, I will never watch an entertainment "news"-show ever again.

And, last but most certainly not least, Madonna: She's named for the "Big M," her daughter's called Lourdes, and at almost 48, she started the show by reminding the world (as if we needed reminding) that the Material Girl's still got it. They found that out behind the scenes as well: the Kabbalah Queen is said to have demanded the opening performance, which was to be Mariah's, threatening not to show up if she didn't get it. How orthodox.

And now, we resume our regular programming, already in progress....

AP/Mark J. Terrill