“Blurred Lines,” the controversial smash-hit single by Robin Thicke, came off as tame and inoffensive at last night’s Grammy Awards show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, in keeping with the generally bland theme of the evening.
Despite nominations for Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Z and Drake, who are all African-American and considered major innovators in their genre, the three major rap categories — Best Rap Song, Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance — were swept by the white duo of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis with their song “Thrift Shop” and album The Heist, leading Slate.com columnist Carl Wilson to quip that, “‘White People’ was this year’s official theme.”
Wilson noted that the Grammy Award for Daft Punk’s single “Get Lucky” amounted to “anointing a veteran white group playing retro-styled black dance music, with African-Americans as side musicians.”
Jay Z won one Grammy for his collaboration with a white artist, Justin Timberlake, in the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration category for his song “Holy Grail.”
Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” when he performed it at the Video Music Awards in August, featured the singer sporting dark glasses and wearing his slightly shady black-and-white striped suit as Miley Cyrus wagged her tongue and simulated grinding her buttocks against his crotch. That performance was both alarming and electrifying, capturing the imagination of critics and commentators for weeks afterward.
Last night, the “twerking” Cyrus was conspicuously absent — she did not even receive a nomination — and Thicke performed “Blurred Lines” in a retro-lounge dark blue velvet suit with a bow tie, as MTV News described.
In fact, Thicke’s rendition of “Blurred Lines,” a song widely condemned as seeming to advocate date rape, came after a medley of hits by the 1970s “blue eyed soul” band Chicago, who accompanied Thicke as he shared lead vocals with Chicago’s own vocalist Robert Lamm, performing “Saturday In The Park” and “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”
The songs were hits for Chicago in 1970 and 1972 respectively.
Thicke even sat and tickled the ivories for a portion of the medley. He then tacked “Blurred Lines” on to the end, accompanied this time by Chicago and the band’s horn section, rather than Miley Cyrus and her foam finger which she wagged lasciviously during the VMA performance.
At the end of the “Blurred Lines” performance, Thick dropped to his knees and shouted, “Woo!” in perhaps the closest thing to an outrageous or memorable moment.