The Grammys were, for the most part, a pretty standard affair. All the old greats got trotted out, (some of them still have it, some of them don't) Justin Timberlake got to perform several hundred times, and there were even some fairly irrelevant awards handed out.
Things were standard, that is, until M.I.A. took the stage.
M.I.A., if you've managed to not hear, was 9 months pregnant (in fact, Grammy Sunday was her due date), so the fact that she was even attending the ceremony was something of an oddity. However, she walked out on stage, pregnant belly (sort of) hidden under some bizzare ladybug-like polka-dots and mesh thing. What followed was, along with Radiohead's performance of '15 Step', about all the reason I needed to enjoy the three-and-a-half hour telecast.
For as overblown as the whole "Hip-hop summit" thing was, it was enjoyable to watch T.I., Kanye, Jay-Z, and (of course) Lil' Wayne get into the music. There were two things worth noting:
1. Kanye either wasn't using autotune, or it was toned down to the point of being unnoticable. I was one of the folks who didn't think 808's and Heartbreak was all that bad, but this performance is what I want more of. Even the studio recording of 'Swagga' has his autotune making everything sound trippy.
2. The sound man should be fired. Everyone was fading in and out, the music swallowed everyone up, then sort of faded back in the mix, like whoever was runnign the board was trying (and failing) to stay one step ahead of the sound.
Seeing no digital recording of the performance online, I took it upon myself to rip audio from the best YouTube video I could find. The sound quality is miserable, but I almost prefer it to the real thing, if only because it's a neat reminder of M.I.A. walking around looking like she was going to give birth to triplets on stage, and even more importantly, because the dreaded autotune is at least blurred out of Kanye and Wayne's voices.
Here's the MP3 - again, don't say I didn't warn you about the awful quality.
T.I. & Jay-Z - Swagga Like Us (feat. Kanye West, Lil' Wayne, and M.I.A.).MP3
Also, be sure to head on over to Deaf Indie Elephants to pick up the Radiohead recording. 'Swagga' was good, but nothing beats Radiohead backed by a freaking marching band. The sound quality is better, too.