So, I spent the better part of my Sunday night watching the 57th annual Grammys – better known as wasting my time. Why do I indulge in music’s Super Bowl every year when I know that there’s always going to be Grammys given to the wrong folks? I guess it’s the hunger to see how the Recording Academy votes, even if I know the album of the year is likely going to go against the grain. This year, the album of the year wasn’t even saved as the last award – what does that tell you?
Anyways, here are some notes I took while partaking of the Grammys. Yes, they are literally notes!
1) What better way to open up the Grammys than a rocking performance from veteran rockers AC/DC. There was nothing blasé about the Aussie rockers, whose second song was “Highway To Hell” – hell heck yeah!
2) Taylor Swift comes to present the first award of the night, Best New Artist. She does reference the fact she didn’t win the Best New Artist in 2008, and quotes her hit song “Shake It Off.” Make of it what you will, but when the small talk is done, it’s no surprise that Sam Smith came out on top. I mean, who was going to stop him?
3) Anna Kendrick introduces Ariana Grande, who performs “Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart” from My Everything. The performance is definitely more restrained, with Grande getting off to a bit of a shaky start. Once Grande hits her power register, it’s on.
4) Jessie J and Sir Tom Jones take the stage, honoring the recipients of the Trustees Award (Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil). J and Jones perform a duet of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” Then came the award for best pop solo performance. The result was a shock, as Pharrell Williams took home the Grammy for “Happy,” something of an upset against heavyweights like John Legend (“All of Me”) and Sam Smith (“Stay With Me”).
5) Miranda Lambert performed “Little Red Wagon”… that was something! Then, Pentatonix and Gibb presented the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album to Sam Smith for In The Lonely Hour. Again, was there that much doubt? Well, there was some after the previous upset.
6) Kanye West takes the Grammy stage for the first time in six years performing his new song, “Only One.” Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj introduce Madonna, who performs her single “Living For Love.” As expected, she shows off that thigh – LOL! Oh and yeah, it was as theatrical as you would expect. She is Madonna after all – 56 or not! Oh and that gospel choir – on point!
7) Joshua Duhamel, Malcolm Butler, and Julian Edelman present the Grammy for Best Rock Album to Beck for Morning Phase.
8) Nile Rodgers and Smokey Robinson celebrate George Harrison by awarding him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Best R&B Performance is awarded to Beyoncé & Jay-Z for “Drunk in Love” – predictable.
9) Ed Sheeran performs “Thinking Out Loud” alongside John Mayer and Herbie Hancock. Hands down, it ranks among the night’s best performances. Herbie Hancock’s thoughtful tinkling on the piano, Mayer’s brilliant guitar (and backing vocals), and of course Sheeran’s pitch-perfect vocals. Chilling to say the least! The Electric Light Orchestra on after Ed Sheeran – can things get any better “Mr. Blue Sky?”
10) Ryan Seacrest introduces Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani, who perform their ‘duet’ “My Heart Is Open” from V. Well it is technically a duet. If nothing else, both are dressed to kill, particularly Stefani in that red dress.
11) Hozier peforms his epic Song of the year nominated “Take Me To Church.” Later, Annie Lennox joins him to sing the harmony atop – she’s definitely still got it! “Take Me To Church” transforms into “I Put A Spell On You” from her Grammy-nominated effort Nostalgia.
12 ) Nick Jonas and Meghan Trainor present the Grammy for Best Country Album to Miranda Lambert for Platinum.
13) The Weeknd introduces Pharrell Williams, who performs his Grammy-winning hit, “Happy.” Williams gets a little help from virtuoso pianist, Lang Lang.
14) Following a segment on the significance of domestic violence and awareness, etc., Katy Perry performs her ballad “By The Grace of God,” definitely an unexpected choice by the pop singer. While the power is felt, the pitch wasn’t always rock solid, but definitely better than expected. Not an easy song to perform in a live setting by any means.
15) Katherine McPhee introduces Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. The chemistry between the two is fantastic. Makes that win for Cheek To Cheek seem like the right choice – at least for one performance.
16) Usher performs “If It’s Magic” from Stevie Wonder’s Songs in The Key of Life. He does a magnificent job, accompanied by harp. Stevie Wonder ends up joining on the harmonica.
17) Keith Urban introduces a Grammy-less Eric Church, who performs “Give Me Back My Hometown” from The Outsiders. You’ve got to appreciate how different Eric Church is from a multitude of country artists, though that pitch at times was shaky. Brandy Clark and Dwight Yoakam proceed. Keeping an overabundance of performances (with no awards given) going, Paul McCartney, Kanye West, and Rihanna perform their new single, “FourFive Seconds.”
18) Taylor Swift introduces Sam Smith and Mary J. Blige, who perform “Stay With Me.” In yet another performance on an awards show where the awards seem secondary, Juanes follows in yet another performance. Sheesh!
19) Prince presents the ‘album of the year’ award to the ‘dark horse,’ Beck. Yeah, that’s about where the notes stopped – my mouth was agape.
But there was more after album of the year, like the awards for song/record of the year, which both went to Sam Smith. And Beyoncé performed “Precious Lord” (didn’t suit her in my opinion) and John Legend/Common teamed up to perform “Glory” from Selma.