The 54th Annual Grammy Awards may be the Super Bowl of music, but it's hardly the big game of online entertainment. Coming a week after the tech-rich game, last night's award ceremony had far less online polish.
The Grammy Live app (for Apple and Android mobile devices) was a misnomer – as was the Grammys Website . The "live stream" was actually for events leading up to the awards, such as the red carpet interviews, but the actual awards were only able to be seen on the big screen. (After all, even a banner announcement about the Grammys on the Shazam music-tagging app stated "Only on CBS.")
There were three "live" video options during the program. One showed a microphone in an empty room, another a table full of the golden gramophone awards: Two scenes almost completely devoid of movement. They compared poorly to the choice of five movement-packed camera angles, with picture-in-picture, offered on the Super Bowl website last week.
At one point, a "Blair Witch"-style camera provided shaky views of random people in a backroom (when it wasn't veering down to the floor or up at the ceiling). And it was possible to faintly hear the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" while staring at the empty mic cam.
A third channel provided intermittent live commentary or random backstage scenes, from awkward angles, of performers and techies milling about. Often, though, it had deceptively canned videos. One interview, for example, seemed to be the real live deal, until the reporter said, "We're looking forward to seeing you on Feb. 12."
The Grammys did have a live blog that actually was live. But it tended to just recount exactly what was far more interesting to watch onscreen, without adding much commentary or backstory.
Shazam's special app-within-an-app for the Grammys had a lot of the same content, such as the "live stream."
Both the apps and the website did have some positive features: For example, a real-time roster of the award winners, along with lists from the previous two Grammys. They also posted photos and video clips throughout the show. So if you had to step away while Tony Bennett received his award, you could replay it a few minutes later.The iPad version integrated Twitter to show what the stars and pundits were saying and to add your own input. If nothing else, it was nice to have something to look at during the commercial breaks.
But glitches were rampant. A question in the trivia section of the Grammy app, for example, asked who had won the best solo vocal performance at the 48th Grammy Awards. The choices were the 53rd, 48th and 45 Grammy Awards. At another point, the Shazam iPhone app provided a link to something called Grammy Radio. Clicking on it brought up a Web page saying that the site requires downloading Adobe Flash. Neither iPhones nor iPads support Flash.
The online components added something to the Grammys, though not very much. Fortunately, with its slickly choreographed numbers, great artists and tributes to fallen heroes Steve Jobs and Whitney Houston, the old-school TV version provided plenty of entertainment.
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