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What's really wrong with Chris Brown's Grammy performance

February 13, 2012 |  5:24 pm

Chris Brown at the Grammy awards 2012
This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

My colleague Alexandra Le Tellier channeled righteous women around the world Monday in berating the producers of Sunday's Grammy Awards telecast (and by extension, the Recording Academy) for giving a prime segment to hip-hop artist Chris Brown. Their beef is that the telecast gave Brown back the respectability he lost three years ago, when he battered then-girlfriend Rihanna a few hours before the 2009 Grammy ceremony.

As proof that Brown should remain in the doghouse, or at least be forced to continue making public acts of contrition, Alexandra cited a number of tweets by desperate, chuckleheaded women who declared that a beat-down from Brown would be a small price to pay for his affection. I had the opposite reaction when I read those comments. To me, it was a sign that Brown's misdeeds, unlike Sir Paul McCartney's legendary accomplishments, had not been forgotten by the attention-deficit-disordered general public.

Face it, there's nothing you can do about nitwits who scoff at domestic violence. But the fact that even Brown's nuttiest fans are still talking about his transgression is a good thing. 

My own beef with Brown is that his Grammy performance perpetuated the notion of pop stars as circus performers. Freed of the apparently superfluous tasks of singing or playing an instrument, Brown put on an extraordinary display of dance steps, acrobatics and aerobics. It needed to be extraordinary to distract attention from the ordinariness of the music he was (not) singing. Sample lyric: "If you're sexy and you know it, put your hands up in the air."

Give him credit for stretching the boundaries of R&B in the direction of Euro-inflected electronica, but hey -- Kanye West did that with Daft Punk at the Grammys four years ago. And he actually, you know, rapped on stage, instead of just moving his lips.

Shouldn't the Grammys be a celebration of music, not performing chops? Call me a hater or hopelessly behind the times, but at least I recognized the guy who closed the show with a bang.

[For the record, 7:05 p.m. Feb. 13: The original version of this post misspelled Rihanna's name, which is just another indication of how hopelessly behind the times I am.]


Grammy Awards shouldn't have celebrated Chris Brown

Critic's notebook: The junking of commercial rock music

Grammys 2012: Kanye is MIA and Chris Brown is a turn for the worse

-- Jon Healey

Credit:  Matt Sayles / Associated Press

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