Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Snarky Puppy ft. Lalah Hathaway – Something

You think we give a damn about a Grammy? Half our critics can’t even stomach ’em…


Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: The Grammys are a petty and backward-looking bunch — don’t get me started on the quagmire they’ve made of the metal categories — and this turns out to be the basis for awfully odd decisions. Snarky Puppy and the First Lady of Soul won for Best R&B Performance, beating out Miguel/Kendrick’s slinky delight “How Many Drinks?” and human Grammy magnet Anthony Hamilton (nominated with a song from a 2011 album) with a Brenda Russell cover from a live DVD. It boggles the mind –but if you were going to give an award to a live performance from a DVD, you could barely choose better than this. Romantic, technically advanced, calm, even if it runs overlong with Hathaway scatting. That said, I await Miguel winning in 2015 with between-song dialogue burnt from someone’s YouTube account.

Cédric Le Merrer: You know that scene in Spider-Man’s origin where he uses his power to make a quick buck when he could have saved people instead? These folks surely have great technical prowess, but they only use it to get Grammys. But what about all the people in need of music to help them manage their emotions? I’m afraid we’re the Uncle Ben of that story.

Alfred Soto: Dunno why this combo named themselves after what I’d consider a terrible name for a fourth-rate Belgian deejay, but if you can look past it the groove is okay in a we-studied-the-models manner. This goes double for Hathaway. So safe George Clooney and Rooney Mara would dance to it in their Steven Soderbergh-directed love scene.

Katherine St Asaph: Curls smoke around Brenda Russell‘s subtly sexy moment-priming: “how I long to be around when you can see that you and I have something.” The rest is the sort of evocative you’ve heard before, and the band’s unconvincing off record — but they can still charge the air for a minute.

Anthony Easton: The brass on this slides across a history of jazz, and the vocals are pure pop — except when she scats, which moves backwards in time.

Megan Harrington: I know Lalah Hathaway isn’t for everyone, and that’s fine. But it’s mystifying that Rolling Stone is still publishing lists of the best guitarists and guitar solos while Hathaway — a woman who can play chords with her voice — is considered weird jazz music. My own instincts as a listener trend elsewhere, but she is undeniably one of the most sophisticated vocalists recording, and because she’s not the sort of culturally ubiquitous force that you’ll hear whether you want to or not, if you’ve stumbled across “Something” you should listen.

Will Adams: I tuned out halfway through. Then I found out, upon snapping out of my daze, that the song was only half over and about to get twice as turgid and directionless. Then I found out that these people have won an award. Then I found out it’s a Grammy.

David Sheffieck: The epic scope of “Something” reminds me a bit of mid-’70s Stevie Wonder, and that’s the kind of ’70s throwback I could use more of. This is a drop everything, sit back, close your eyes and marvel kind of virtuosity, the rare type that doesn’t feel self-indulgent but like a gift you’re lucky enough to share in.

Brad Shoup: Guitar exhaust hangs in siren tones: animated suspension. Hathaway is, per her CV, a smoky additional presence, hanging tough with the upward-drifting horn parts on the three and the warm keyboard beds. The second half offers her relief in the form of chunky bass and backing singers; she takes the opportunity to scat, which I’m still not nuts about. I suppose the Puppy needed to grab its song back.

Josh Langhoff: At a New Year’s Eve party some years ago I met a bald 40-something man wearing a turtleneck and jacket. He was a real musician. Our host was showing off his hi-fi system, and real musician dude mimed the keyboard part in “You’re My Best Friend” with scary accuracy, then marveled at how far Sting had come since the unmusical screeches of “Roxanne.” You should’ve seen the tears of rapture when Toto’s “Africa” came on — which, OK, “Africa” is a good song, but I assume Toto won their Grammys because they were prolific session pros who’d curried favor with the voting bloc, not because they were so inherently superior to Johnny Cougar or whoever. So I’m not sure what’s worse: Snarky Puppy’s hookless mess of an excuse for chopsmanship, barely there even at seven minutes, or 1983 Jeff Porcaro saying things like, “Individually and collectively we’ve made a bigger contribution than any other bunch of musicians in pop.” Real musicians are annoying.

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4 Responses to “Snarky Puppy ft. Lalah Hathaway – Something”

  1. alfred i’m obligated to challenge you to ten paces for your besmirching of soderbergh’s curmudgeonly name by association

    i wish i’d had something to say for this track but all i could think was how disappointed i was this wasn’t a skinny puppy parody band and that wasn’t gonna do anybody any good except as a silly thrown-away aside in the comments

  2. oh my christ

  3. I got nine words in and bowed out.

  4. :-(