The Grammys have come and gone once more.
There’s a common sentiment among music fans (particularly arrogant pricks like me) that the Grammys are worthless, a joke, appeal to the lowest common denominator, don’t reflect the actual best in music, etc., and I’ve bought into that before. I still buy into it to a degree, in that I don’t really get butthurt over the results any more. The music I listen to doesn’t line up with what’s big and successful in pop music, not in a pretentious, douchey way, but in, like, a true way. Because of that, I like watching the Grammys because I’m exposed to music I don’t really follow or pay attention to otherwise (I think Sia was the biggest example of this for me this year), and I learn some things as a result.
And plus, the performances are always great.
That’s the real draw, for me – the performances. Artists performing at the Grammys pull out all the stops, generally, and we get one of three performance types – a really strong but straightforward performance, like AC/DC and Kanye (the first time), a powerful, moving performance that doesn’t have many frills but is just strong-ass music (Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Common and John Legend), or we get weird-but-fun collaborations (like Pharrell featuring Hans Fucking Zimmer on guitar for no reason). Barring missteps like having fucking Chris Brown perform twice at the 2013 Grammys, the show delivers, even if the awards don’t.
So, the show opens with AC/DC and I’m immediately like “oh god why.”
It’s not that they’re bad, it’s that AC/DC shouldn’t exist in 2015. I promise that’s all it is.
Ariana Grande’s up next, and she’s alright, I suppose. That’s a section of pop that I just can’t engage with at all, so I mostly just sat there and listened, and when it was over, I forgot it. It was the same thing for Tom Jones and Jessie J, which is a timely and interesting collaboration, but I really just wasn’t about it.
Miranda Lambert put in a pretty nice performance, too, but I was too busy looking at the stage and wondering if the big fan thing behind her would ever start spinning.
It didn’t. I was disappointed.
Then Kanye shows up in the middle of the crowd on this little circular stage and spits out “Only One,” which is the best Kanye song I’ve heard in years. Like, god damn. This is the Kanye I want. The Kanye that demonstrates that he’s actually a human being with feelings. That’s what I want more often.
Madonna summoned Satan, I think. It was really weird. Madonna’s another artist that maybe should stop doing things. Or maybe not. I don’t know.
Ed Sheeran looks a lot like a Hobbit, no wonder he did the theme for the second movie. He sounded pretty nice, and he was a good lead-in to Electric Light Orchestra, but this was another one where I tuned out for the most part.
If you haven’t caught on, this isn’t a real review. I don’t want to write a real post today, so this is what you guys get, basically me recalling my stream of consciousness during each performance.
I’m pretty sure Maroon 5 isn’t a real band. Why didn’t they just bring the rest of the band instead of explicitly making note of the fact that it was just Adam Levine singing one of his own fucking songs? Oh, and Gwen Stefani was there, too. That was cool.
I fucking hate Hozier. Annie Lennox doesn’t make it better.
Didn’t Pharrell perform this exact god damn song last year? Granted, this year he made it a lot more interesting, with the dark orchestral touches and choir. And his shorts. Why do you do these things, Pharrell? Why do you also pretend like you haven’t ever won a Grammy when you’ve probably got a million of them in your closet?
I’m still not over that Hans Zimmer cameo, though. It was just so weird.
Katy Perry turned in an absolutely fucking gorgeous performance, though. The shadows behind her were a beautiful routine. These are my favorite kinds of performances, because they feel so real, so genuine. That’s power.
Tony Bennett and Gaga are a weird pair, but I do like that Gaga continues to demonstrate her musical prowess. I need to listen to that album sometime.
Sometimes I forget that Usher is actually a good musician, and this was one of those times. This was a great tribute to a real music legend.
This feels like it’s discriminatory, but whenever a country musician writes a song about a big social issue I feel like they have no fucking clue what they’re talking about. Granted, “Give Me Back My Hometown” was written about a single girl (just like everything in country), but the performance spun it in a way that I wasn’t fond of.
Do people actually listen to Brandy Clark? And what was up with Dwight Yoakam’s tight-ass fuckin’ jeans? I couldn’t keep my eyes off them. They made me really uncomfortable.
I really have been out of the Kanye loop, because I had no idea this song happened and was very, very pleased when I heard it. Rihanna, Kanye, and Paul God Damn McCartney? Yes, give me like five albums of that. Please.
I didn’t know that Sam Smith had such a disgustingly apparent lisp. That poor man. It sounds brutal. And plus, Mary J. Blige outshined him in pretty much every way possible.
Juanes was pretty rad, though, even though I don’t speak Spanish. Dude’s got a presence.
Sia is really, really weird. Why was Kristen Wiig there? Why was the set so strange?
I do like that Sia intentionally has been hiding her face for the entirety of this promotional cycle, though. It’s an interesting statement on celebrity and subverting being in the spotlight constantly.
Beck looks like Michael Cera. That feels like an insult, but it’s really just true. Also, Justin Meldal-Johnsen was playing bass during his performance. That was cool.
And then there was the amazing one-two punch of Beyoncé’s performance of “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” (complete with twelve backing singers in the “hands up, don’t shoot” pose to illustrate to the audience exactly what this closing performance was about) into the incredible “Glory” by Common and John Legend. That’s power, right there. That’s what it’s all about. Both of these songs were incredible.
I’m very, very glad that this closed the show, and also that the organizers learned their god damn lesson about cutting off the closing performer. Could you imagine the shitstorm if they tried to do that this year? Good lord.
So, overall, great performances this year. I don’t want to talk about the awards, but I’ll leave you with this: Tenacious D walked away with a Grammy for Best Metal Performance.
The acoustic comedy duo.
Granted, it was for a Dio cover, and they always bring real musicians in for them. But still.
And people wonder why nobody respects the Grammys.