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Rockin’ mics and Bridgin’ GAPS

Grammy Night Recap

sam smith2So Grammy night has come and gone, with a few big names and a few surprises. British singer Sam Smith was the night’s biggest winner, taking home four awards for Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Album, Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

“Just a quick one,” said Smith, during his third acceptance speech, “I want to thank the man who this record is about, who I fell in love with last year. Thank you so much for breaking my heart because you got me four Grammys!”

One of the night’s other big stars was Pharrell, nominated for 6 awards and winning three for Best Urban Contemporary Album, Best Music Video and Best Pop Solo Performance. The presentation of the big Hip Hop awards took place at the pre-show ceremony, with two key foci. Firstly, Kendrick Lamar won his first two Grammys for his song “i”, taking home Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song. Seen by many as having been robbed for the 2014 Best Rap Album award, K-Dot fans were elated, lighting up Twitter at the beginning of our live tweet.

The other Rap award that fans were watching was Best Rap Album which I correctly predicted would go to Eminem for The Marshall Mathers LP 2. The majority fan response seemed to be two-fold: happiness that Iggy Azalea didn’t win for The New Classic and disappointment that Em did win, with many expressing that they didn’t remember/listen to MMLP2. I personally like the album, which was released November 5, 2013, narrowly missing the deadline for 2014 Grammy consideration. Though not as good as the other works for which he’s received the award, I maintain that it was a clear winner above the other five albums nominated this year. The album was also host to this year’s Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, “The Monster”, featuring Rihanna. Hov and B’s “Drunk in Love” took home two awards for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance and while she didn’t win Album of the Year (more on that in a moment), Beyonce did take home Best Surround Sound Album (what the hell…?) for her self-titled release.

Click here for a full list of winners and nominees.

fourfivesecondsThe Grammys went with an interesting format of back-to-back performances all night long, giving audiences a double dose of what they really want and overall I thought they hit. “FourFiveSeconds” was perhaps the biggest moment of the night, trending worldwide halfway through the song. I personally think the song is a little over-hyped – it’s good, I like it, I’m just not as in love with it as much as the Twittersphere was on Sunday night. It’s really a matter of the bigness of the collaborators than the song itself though I must say watching Sir Paul say “I’m about four five seconds from wilding…” is truly a Grammy great. I’ll also go on record as saying that Kanye is pretty much unnecessary on the song; McCartney could do his parts and better. No Kanye hate here (for the moment), I know he was probably a big part of writing the song but it just seems like it’s more a McCartney-Rihanna collaboration.
I enjoyed the Sam Smith-Mary J Blige duet of the Record and Song of the Year, Smith’s “Stay with Me”, but the team-up that I thought was unbelievable was Hozier and Annie Lennox doing “I Put a Spell on You”. I was as shocked as anyone by Lennox’s show-stealing, good ole fashioned Rocking, definitely my favorite of the night, though Jeff Lynne doing “Mr. Blue Sky”, accompanied well by a genuinely star-struck Ed Sheeran, comes in as a close second. Though I could have done without the Shia LeBeouf poetry (?) intro, I liked the originality of the Sia “performance” with Maddie Ziegler and Kristen Whig subtly dressed as the Australian singer (#WhiginaWig). Pharrell hit an equally strange chord in his orchestral collaboration with Chinese pianist Lang Lang of “Happy”, which won for the award Best Music Video. His outfit, which can only be described as a bellhop uniform, made for some amusing descriptions on the interwebs.

I’ll be honest: I tuned out on Tony Bennett and Gaga, though it didn’t seem all that bad as they performed the title track to their duet album Cheek to Cheek which won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. I wasn’t much interested in either but thought that Tom Jones and Jessie J sounded great (especially Jones!).  I was eagerly looking forward to the Ed Sheeran-led super-quartet, mostly given Questlove’s involvement because, well, the Question is the Truth. (Wait. Ponder. Go on.) John Mayer on guitar and the timeless Herbie Hancock on keys made for a powerful group that reached across both time and genre. I thought Beyonce’s rendition of “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” was lovely but oddly short, leading into Common and John Legend for a great closer, a surprising move by the Grammys in ending with two strong Hip Hop performers singing “Glory” from the movie Selma. Given the success of the last two years it would seem the Grammys are likely to continue the trend of odd duets in 2016, so let’s give them some help. Who do you want to see perform together in next year’s Grammys? Comical, serious, and/or groundbreaking, tweet your suggestions @JPLime with the hashtag #2016GrammyDuos.

So there were awards and performances but what else happened at the Grammys? Wiz Khalifa brought his toddler son Sebastian, looking dapper in green and stealing the heart of every woman watching the pre-show stream.  Among the non-musician celebrities seen at the event, recent Super Bowl owner Bob Kraft was seen in the crowd while Julian Edelman and Malcolm Butler were on hand to present the award for Best Rock Album (Beck, Morning Phase).

edelman and butler

My favorite presenters of the night were probably Stevie Wonder and Jamie Foxx, with Foxx taking on a Ray Charles impression as they awarded Album of the Year. Jamie Foxx always seems to enjoy his time at the award shows (see the most recent VMA’s), embellishing his presenter roles with humor and taste. Which leads me directly and conversely into the (unfortunately) biggest moment of the Grammy night…

Kanye crashing Beck’s Album of the Year award in support yet again of “Queen Bey”. In the moment this looked like an almost funny play on his own previous foolishness, a more mature Kanye able to look back on his choice to selfishly steal someone’s big moment of accolade in defense of someone who didn’t need it and realize the folly in his previous actions. Coupled with his response afterward though, the moment loses all its humor for me. I do believe in the moment Kanye was doing what I just described, making fun of himself, but that when the camera was turned back on him later, probably after a frew brews, he’s simply enough of an asshole to act like he was serious, ridiculously saying that Beck should have given his award to Beyonce.
And I don’t care if it’s velour, that’s still a sweatsuit you wore to the Grammys, homie. “It ain’t that Ralph, though!” STFU, Ye.

See his post-show ramblings in the clip below:

Not without its inconsistencies, the role that the Grammys and award shows in general have on the music industry and its fans has been a hot topic of conversation this week. A win (or wins) on “Music’s Biggest Night” certainly provides a boost to a musician’s career, as Sam Smith will no doubt experience in 2015. But are the awards accurate portrayals of our musical tastes as fans and as a culture? That much is up for debate, and in some places hotly contested. All in all it was a good Grammy night, if a little ho-hum in the Rap world, with some great live performances. 2015 promises a host of interesting Hip Hop releases so we’ll have to wait to see what kind of impact the genre makes on next year’s awards.

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