Music's Biggest Night

by Mike Walter – “Multi-Op Corner”

You watched the Grammy’s last Sunday night, right?

I mean, we make our living playing the music that our clients love, so what better way to stay “in the know,” then watching “Music’s Biggest Night,” right?

Well,I certainly did, and as I always do, I Tivoed it so I could go back and re-watch some of the more dynamic performances. Although this time, along with some of the best musical acts, I reviewed LL Cool J’s opening and his hosting throughout the night.

That’s right one of the most impressive parts of the show for me was watching LL Cool J handle the hosting role.

After Bruce Springsteen opened with an incredible performance of his new song “We Take Care Of Our Own,” it fell upon LL to address the somber mood that hung over the evening. Whitney Houston had passed away the day before and that fact had to be addressed.

A Teachable Moment

LL Cool J, looking incredible in his tuxedo and black cap, strode confidently to center stage. He licked his lips and thanked the opening act by saying “as always, Bruce Springsteen is speaking to our times.” He paused, looked into the camera and continued, “and tonight, we ask ourselves how do we speak to this time, to this day.” He went on to read a prayer for “sister Whitney.” Then as he came out of that serious moment, he brought his voice up a notch: “that said, welcome to the 54th Grammy awards.”

As MCs we are often in the position LL Cool J was in (albeit on a smaller scale and without the television audience). And, we can all learn from this opening, as well as LL Cool J’s performance the rest of the evening.

He was smooth, articulate, and animated when it was appropriate. He didn’t ramble on for the sake of hearing his own voice or maximizing his camera time. He kept the show moving swiftly along without trying to be funny or controversial – and without stealing anyone’s spotlight.

He knew the evening was not about him, and that his contributions should be minimal. And at all times, he was the confident host, guiding the live audience, as well as the people tuning in around the world, through the evening’s festivities.

Deconstructing a Great Host

I wrote about this on my Facebook page and many of my DJ friends agreed. Bri Swatek who owns Spinning with Style in Poughkeepsie, NY put it best: “It was a real reminder what a great MC can do for an event!” I couldn’t agree more.

So if you watched the Grammy’s and maybe didn’t notice LL Cool J’s hosting, I urge you to go back and watch it again. There are already some clips up on Youtube so you could probably find them with a quick search.

And, if you didn’t watch the show, you might want to ask yourself why? How serious are you about your craft that you wouldn’t tune it to the biggest award show for the music industry? I mean this year one of our own (David Guetta) even got some airtime. And for those who want to be critical that he wasn’t actually mixing, he was just twisting a bunch of knobs on a mixing board, I’d remind you that Madonna lip-synced just the week before at the Super Bowl. Deal with it.

But this post isn’t about that. It’s about the incredible job LL Cool J did hosting the 54th Grammy Awards. And how we as MCs, as spokesperson’s for our clients’ events, and as hosts who have to get important, often serious announcements across to our audience, can learn just by watching someone like LL Cool J. That’s what I took away from Sunday night’s broadcast.

That and how truly weird Nicki Minaj is . . .