Written by M.J. Rawls
Ahhh, another year and another Grammy awards has passed that kept people talking until the wee hours of the morning and the following day. No, not just about Cee Lo’s aspirations to be a combined version of The Thing and C3PO either. It’s the super bowl of the music world where the best and brightest are on display to perform and receive accolades – sometimes, they get it right, sometimes they don’t. 2017’s version was unique in many ways. Some great, others controversial. The host, James Corden was serviceable. I knew that they had to work in the Carpool Karaoke spot – wow, nobody knew the words to most of “Sweet Caroline” (To be honest, I just know the chorus too). This was mostly an extension of this late-night show. Let’s highlight some of the performances and wins, shall we?
There were interesting things performance wise. Adele opened the show with her latest opus to past love, “Hello.” She had technical difficulties last year, but thankfully, that did not happen here. I knew that Beyonce was going to do something big for the Grammys, but this one was something of beauty. Decked out gold, goddess-like attire, surrounded by children and women who adjoined at her side, she took lesser known songs from Lemonade
The part I was most worried about were the tributes. It wasn’t that the musicians they picked could not pull them off, it’s just that the musical figures were so iconic that it would be hard to find something that satisfied everyone. Adele came back and did a slower version of George Michael’s “Fastlove, Pt 1.” You must give Adele the benefit of the doubt – this was a hard tribute for her to get through. The arrangement was off and nothing matched up causing Adele to start over again prefaced with a curse word that was caught. Afterwards, she did the best she could and I feel that’s all that Michael could have asked for.
The Prince tribute was as great as they could have done it. First, you had to involve a band from Prince’s history. The Time still got it. Also, if you were going to pick a newer artist – it had to fit his ascetic. Bruno Mars not only looked the part, but did a great rendition of “Let’s Go Crazy,” complete with a great guitar solo towards the end.
The Grammys also have a thing where they take singers and bands from different genres and have a mash up of some sort. One of the strongest were country singer Maren Morris and R&B singer, Alicia Keys coming together to sing “One.” Two singers with powerful voices coming together for a memorable performance as all you can ask for.
The Metallica and Lady Gaga performance, oof..talk about technical difficulties. James Hedfield’s mic did not work for the entire first verse for “Moth into Flame,” so he had to go to Gaga’s mic. Otherwise, this wasn’t a bad performance that also had a Gaga stage dive which was the neatest ever.
The show did have its fair share of political It’s almost criminal that A Tribe Called Quest was not nominated for a Grammy – this calls the album eligibility notion into question, but they represented with a joint performance with Anderson Paak. They were then joined by Busta Rhymes and Consequence for “We the People.” One of the most powerful images of the night were the breaking of a wall followed by many people in hijabs joining the stage showing resistance against the embattled “travel ban”. Other than Saturday Night Live, we may have another poignant nickname for the president in Agent Orange.
Katy Perry continued the political flavor in her performance for her single that was recently released last Friday, “Chained to The Rhythm”, donning a pants suit much like Hilary Clinton. Reggae artist Skip Marley joined her as well and the set also came apart to show The US Constitution.
Chance the Rapper took us to church with a medley of How Great and All We Got with KIRK FRANKLIN and TAMELA MANN. You can feel the passion he had during that performance which was totally true to himself. It’s how he got to the Grammys in the first place. There were also performances by KEITH URBAN and CARRIE UNDERWOOD, THE WEEKND and DAFT PUNK and more.
Let’s get the big ones out of the way. Coming into the show, I believed that Beyonce and Adele would ultimately split the biggest awards of the night. (Song and Record of the Year would go to Adele, Album of The Year would go to Beyonce). Much to the chagrin of everyone and Adele herself, she made a clean sweep in the top categories. Adele’s speech was genuine as I have no doubt that she heads the English chapter of the Beyhive. I think the Beyonce loss speaks more to the academy than Adele who wanted Beyonce to win.
It’s hard not to be proud of Chance the Rapper. An independent artist making his mark taking home three Grammys including Best Rap Album and Best New Artist. This was the victory lap. They tried to cut him off with the wrap it up music, but the “I’m goin finish, you can keep playing” was notice that it was not going to ruin this moment. I know we must move the show along, but can we give a little bit more time for these speeches?
The late, great David Bowie received five award including best Rock performance and song. Would have been a straight up mutiny if he didn’t receive any awards. Another notable is Twenty One Pilots for Best Pop/Duo Performance for “Stressed Out” and their rebellion against pants. The Knowles sisters did not go home empty handed. Beyonce won two awards included for Best Urban Contemporary album that she accepted with a gold envelop like the boss she is. Solange won for best R&B song for “Cranes In The Sky.” A well-earned surprise saw Cage The Elephant win for Best Rock Album.