Clippings by Trent Campbell: Barely registering on cool-­o-­meter

I like to think that sometimes, rarely, I know, but still, sometimes … sometimes a balding 49-year-old can be a little hip, a little cool. But a viewing of the 55th Annual Grammy Awards show on Sunday night left me feeling that there is no such thing as a little hip or a little cool. You’re either all the way hip or not at all. Here is a break down of the show that put me in my place.

8:00 – Taylor Swift comes out wearing a giant pair of white shorts and a giant white top hat. She dances around with what looks like that creepy trike-riding puppet guy from the “Saw” movies, a bunch of Tim Burton circus performers and a guy in a rabbit suit. The show has just started and I already don’t know what is going on.

8:06 – Host LL Cool J walks on stage. He’s almost as old as me and yet still very cool. How does he do it? Maybe it helps that the word “cool” is right in the middle of his name. His real name is James Todd Smith and his stage name stands for Ladies Love Cool James. I have a strong fan base amongst the septuagenarian and octogenarian set, so maybe I will change my name to SD Cool T (Seniors Dig Cool Trent). Or if that doesn’t work I will take another cue from LL, who calls Taylor Swift by her rap name, T. Swizzle. How does T. Campbizzle sound?

8:24 – The group fun. performs. I guess Fun is not hip. Fun is not cool. fun., on the other hand, is very cool.

8:39 – Miguel and Whiz Khalifa perform. Whiz? Really? When the camera first cuts to Whiz he is standing in an aisle next to a seated guy who may be less cool than me. The guy is wearing a bad tie and an ill-fitting navy blazer. How did he get a ticket? Whiz, on the other hand, is wearing a black and white zig-zag patterned suit. He is shirtless under the suit jacket. Could I pull off this look? No, no I could not.

9:28 – Kelly Clarkson wins best pop vocal album. Remember when she starred with her American Idol runner-up in that horrible 2003 movie “From Justin to Kelly?” How did she get cool?

9:41 – Jay-Z comes on stage with two other guys to accept the best rap/sung collaboration award. He points to one of his collaborators, who is wearing a “Boyz ‘n the Hood” hat, and says, “I want to thank The Swap Meet for his hat.” I mistakenly think Jay-Z’s collaborator’s rap name is The Swap Meet. Turns out his name is The-Dream and Jay-Z was making a joke about The-Dream getting his hat at a swap meet. What do I know? I’m not that hip.

9:50 – I set the DVR to tape the rest of the show so I can go to bed. Very uncool.

10:05 – Bruno Mars performs with Sting. Sting was big when I was young, when I at least had the potential for cool. Now, in addition to being uncool, I am depressed.

10:10 – The camera shows Whiz Khalifa in the crowd with his date, who is completely bald. My depression lifts. Maybe there is hope for me yet.

10:18 – The Lumineers perform. Hey, I have the Lumineers on my iPod! This is bad news for the Lumineers. They will probably drop off the charts and be uncool before the end of the month.

10:25 – Jack White finishes performing the second of his two songs and throws his still-humming electric guitar to the floor. Jack White probably says to himself at the time, “I am very cool.” My reaction is that his expensive guitar is probably broken and will need to be repaired at great cost. I say to myself at the time, “I am very uncool.”

10:39 – Prince comes out on stage with wrap-around sunglasses and a white cane. This is another look that I could not pull off.

10:48 and 10:56 – Memorial tributes to Dave Brubeck and Levon Helm are performed by the likes of Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Mavis Staples and Elton John. Are any of them cool? Hip? Does it matter? Dave and Levon and the others moved beyond cool a long time ago. I wonder if fun. or T. Swizzle or Bruno or The-Dream or Whiz will make the same move someday? I’m not so sure (with the exception of Whiz, of course).

11:24 – For the show’s big finish LL Cool J himself takes the stage. There are a lot of strobe lights flashing and old vinyl LP’s getting scratched and guys yelling “whaddup!” Everything descends into chaos. My eyes hurt. My head is pounding. My coolness meter needle hits bottom. But wait … what is that on LL’s head? It looks like a plain old black, wool winter hat. I can pull off that look! In fact I do pull off that look. I have that same hat. It’s a start, right? My coolness needle flickers to life. SD Cool T out.


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