So, last night the 58th annual Grammy Awards were held in Los Angeles. This year, I thought I would try to write a blog for the full three and a half-hour show, giving my impressions of whatever tickles my fancy. There may be some good-natured snark in my commentary. Here are my impressions of the Grammy telecast (all times Eastern).
7:30 A summary of CBS’s red carpet show hosted by Entertainment Tonight’s Nancy O’Dell and Kevin Frazier: not bad, as such things go. Shad Moss (aka Bow Wow) is also a red carpet correspondent. Guess he got the gig because he was a musician, and he has a show on CBS (which is why LL Cool J has been hosting the show all these years). No? Well, OK then. Prove me wrong, somebody.
While I’m waiting for the show, I take a peek at the winners list at grammy.com. There won’t be any R&B awards announced on the show. The only rap award to be announced is best rap album. Which is par for the course. You know going in that they can’t announce every award. Plus, the Grammy TV show is a focus on performances, not so much on the awards themselves. They do hand out a few, but they’re just breaks in the performance action.
7:56 LL Cool J is on the carpet. He’s got new music he’s working on. Will anyone want to listen? I mean, I might, ’cause I grew up with Uncle L. But I’m getting up there in years. Don’t know if anyone under 30 will care too much.
8:00 The show has started, and I missed the opening, because Shad Moss was talking and I had the mute button on. Taylor Swift, who may or may not be the biggest pop star on the planet, opens the show. She’s singing “Out Of The Woods,” but for a period there, her vocals were drowned in the mix. Someone taught Taylor how to walk like a model…and the camera is giving her plenty of opportunities to give good face. Such as these things go…
8:04 LL Cool J arrives on stage. Somewhere women are watching the lip licker and going, um, um, um. They sing for real, LL? Most of them, anyways….
8:09 Ice Cube and his son O’Shea Jackson Jr. present the Best Rap album award. Special shout-out to Run-DMC for Grammy Lifetime Achievement. J.Cole, Dr. Dre, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Nicki Minaj are the nominees. I vote Kendrick. But we’ll see. One for one. To Pimp A Butterfly gets the win. Not that the other albums were bad…but Kendrick’s was an easy call.
8:13 An obvious CBS call: NFL stars Anquan Boldin (NFL Man of the Year) and Von Miller (Super Bowl 50 MVP) introduce Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt. It starts shaky with his song “Take Your Time,” but improves slightly with her song, “Heartbeat.” All in all, I’ve heard better.
8:20 Leon Bridges in a commercial—’nuff said. “Smooth Sailin'” indeed.
8:23 Ariana Grande takes the stage to introduce The Weeknd. “Can’t Feel My Face” starts things off…as a Michael Jackson copy…it’s passable tonight. I’d have liked to hear him do more of it. And I love the song…imagine if I didn’t like it. “In The Night” follows. At least it’s not dirge-like lot a lot of his songs. I think I’m coming around on him though. This most recent album makes me think he’s capable of so much more than what I’ve seen so far.
8:28 Robin Thicke is in the audience. Moving along…
A half hour in…I’m beginning to think this might not have been the best thing I could have done with my Monday night. But I’m going to press on.
8:34 Selena Gomez introduces Andra Day and Ellie Goulding. I really like Andra Day. I do like Ellie Goulding’s songs. “Rise Up” starts the performance. Andra looks and sounds good. Ellie comes out to do “Love Me Like You Do.” The two of them couldn’t be dressed more differently, but they sound great together.
8:39 Cam and Gary Sinise announce the winner for Best Country Album. Sam Hunt, Little Big Town, Ashley Monroe, Kacey Musgraves, and Chris Stapleton are the nominees. I’m thinking Stapleton here. Call me two for two. He’s seemingly become the hottest thing in Country music.
8:46 James Corden joins LL on the stage to introduce the tribute to Lionel Richie, the 2016 MusicCares person of the year. John Legend leads off singing “Easy” from the Commodores. Demi Lovato sings “Hello”. Luke Bryan sings “Penny Lover.” Meghan Trainor gives us “You Are.” Tyrese on “Brick House.” Somehow they missed the memo…Walter “Clyde” Orange sang lead on that one. Lionel did help write it though. Lionel Richie joins everyone to do “All Night Long.” And there was the second Robin Thicke sighting of the evening…this time with his mama, Gloria Loring. Overall, I thought it was OK. Liked the song choices, except for “Brick House,” for the reason stated above.
I just saw on Twitter that only 8 awards will be given out on the show tonight. Wow. Let’s just call it what it is…a performance show interrupted by a few awards…one hour in, only two awards have been announced.
9:02 Ryan Seacrest! Grammy Foundation chair? Damn, he’s everywhere. He introduces Little Big Town to sing “Girl Crush.” I won’t lie; I do like this song. And they sound very good singing it. I admittedly know next to nothing about country, but I’ve heard this song plenty of times.
9:07 Stevie Wonder just showed up, with Pentatonix to do a tribute to Maurice White. Someone please tell Stevie that it’s time. Give up the braids. The hairline is beating a hasty retreat. That said, it was a good performance, if a bit short in tribute to Maurice White. The group also introduce the nominees for Song of the Year. “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar, “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift, “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town, “See You Again” by Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa and “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran. Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud got the win. A deserving choice, I think. Taylor Swift jumped around like she won. Not sure what that was about.
9:13 Eagles tribute to Glen Frey with Jackson Browne in the Frey spot. Sung “Take It Easy” in Frey’s honor. Well done…though Browne sounded a little bit weak. But he’s Jackson Browne; he helped write the song. He’s allowed to be up there. I’m beginning to think that if so many people hadn’t died in such a rapid succession, the tributes might have been longer.
9:22 Anna Kendrick from the Pitch Perfect movies introduces Tori Kelly & James Bay. They start with Bay’s “Let It Go” and finish with Kelly’s “Hollow.” I haven’t heard Bay much, but I know Kelly. Girl can blow. They both sound good together.
9:28 Stephen Colbert introduces the opening number from the hip-hop musical Hamilton. A hip-hop musical? On Broadway? This is actually happening! I grew up with hip-hop…and now it is on Broadway. Amazing. And the number is pretty good too. I was impressed.
9:39 Don Cheadle introduces Kendrick Lamar, he of the 11 Grammy nods. At this point, he’s already won 5. Not a bad night for K Dot. Staging with folks in chains, including the artist. “The Blacker The Berry” starts it off, then segues into “Alright.” I think the audience is kind of stunned. I’m digging it, of course. It has everything, saxophones, percussion, African dance and amazing camera work. From there, he goes to “m.A.A.d. City.” Damn. A true mic drop moment. To Pimp A Butterfly was another of those albums I wanted to feature in a best of the year post, but I never got to write it.
9:47 Seth MacFarlane from Family Guy introduces the nominees for Best Musical Theater Album. An American In Paris, Fun Home, Hamilton, The King And I, and Something Rotten! are the nominees. I got no clue for this one; still shook from Kendrick’s ill performance. I should have guessed Hamilton would take it, since they just performed. Loved the acceptance speech too.
9:50 Gwen Stefani gets a video treatment for her new song “Make Me Like You.” All I’ll say is I like it better than “Used To Love You.”
9:54 Miguel sings “She’s Out Of My Life” in tribute to Michael Jackson. Huh? Oh, it’s about Off The Wall. 35 years since Jackson won his first Grammy for that album. For my money, it’s better than Thriller; it’s the best Michael solo album ever. Miguel then introduces the nominees for Best Rock Performance: “Don’t Wanna Fight” by Alabama Shakes; “What Kind Of Man” by Florence + The Machine; “Something From Nothing” by Foo Fighters; “Ex’s And O’s” by Elle King; and “Moaning Lisa Smile” by Wolf Alice. I know the Elle King and Alabama Shakes songs. Not familiar with the others, but that’s me. Alabama Shakes get the win. Good for them; that’s the third for them on the night.
9:59 Bruno Mars gets the lucky spot to introduce Adele, performing “All I Ask” a song she co-wrote with Mars. I mean, it’s Adele and all, but I hear a few off notes. And someone cut her microphone early on. She got through it, but not without some wobbles. Even had time to shout out Kendrick Lamar after the performance.
Still a lot of show left. I’m hanging in so far….
10:10 Kaley Cuoco introduces Justin Bieber with Skrillex and Diplo to do “Love Yourself” and “Where Are U Now.” Bieber has a Grammy?!? Alrighty, then. I know I wrote about the guilty pleasure song Bieber had, but he still isn’t in my lane. “Where Are U Now” is the song that he won a Grammy for…hmph. It was alright, I guess. Like I said, not in my lane.
10:17 Sam Smith announces Best New Artist. It’s not necessarily a barometer of greatness. A Taste Of Honey, anyone? Courtney Barnett, James Bay, Sam Hunt, Tori Kelly and Meghan Trainor are the nominees. Commercial considerations, maybe? Meghan Trainor gets the win. Good for her, those are some catchy songs she has. Her acceptance speech was so sweet. There might have been some dust in the room while she was giving it. But I’ll never tell…
10:24 Ed Sheeran introduces Lady Gaga with Nile Rodgers to pay tribute to David Bowie. Gaga does a medley of Bowie’s hits. She certainly got the costuming right. The days when I couldn’t figure out whether Gaga was all image are gone. That woman is mega-talented. And she is killing this David Bowie tribute. That was awesome. One of the few awesome moments on the night.
10:37 Bonnie Raitt pays a small tribute to Ruth Brown then honors B.B. King, with Gary Clark, Jr. and Chris Stapleton. Of course, it’s “The Thrill Is Gone,” King’s biggest pop hit. Not mad about it, though; that’s a damn fine song. And a damn fine performance by the three of them.
10:49 LL returns to the stage to introduce Alabama Shakes. Brittany Howard and crew give us “Don’t Wanna Fight.” Let’s just say I’m grooving on the sofa.
10:54 Dave Grohl pays a short tribute to Lemmy and Motorhead. Then introduces the Hollywood Vampires, a band made up of Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper and Joe Perry, with Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, formerly of Guns ‘N Roses. Who knew Captain Jack Sparrow played in a rock band? There he was, up on the stage.
11:06 Neil Portnow and Common arrive for the annual state of the musical arts address. Common then introduces the youngest Grammy nominee: 12-year old Joey Alexander. Twelve? That kid is playing the piano like a grown man. That was amazing. Continuing there’s a small rant against streaming or more specifically, what artists are paid for streaming.
11:11 The folk that have gone on since the last Grammy show are given a montage. Amazingly, I know a lot of these names. Dang, I’m old.
11:19 Verdine White, Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson of Earth, Wind & Fire present Album of the Year, after accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award. The nominees are: Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes; To Pimp A Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar; Traveller by Chris Stapleton, 1989 by Taylor Swift and Beauty Behind The Madness by The Weeknd. Taylor Swift gets the win. So she’s won Album of the Year twice. That’s pretty impressive. And I loved her speech which may (or may not) have taken a swipe at Kanye West, who can’t seem to keep her name out of his mouth.
11:24 Beyoncé makes an entrance with no introduction to announce the winner of Record of the Year. She just can’t get introduced anymore, I guess. “Really Love” by D’Angelo & The Vanguard; “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson Featuring Bruno Mars; “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran; “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift and “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd. “Uptown Funk” is the winner. In a sense, how could it not be? Even as they had to split credit with Trinidad James and The Gap Band. Still it was an undeniable smash, and people are still singing it.
11:26 Pitbull with Travis Barker, Robin Thicke, and Joe Perry perform the finale. I’m not even sure I want to hear this. “El Taxi” it’s called, but I recognize the hook from “Murder She Wrote” by Chaka Demus and Pliers from back in the day. It may be from before that even. Sofia Vergara showed up and danced around. What? I’m all confused. Maybe it’s the late hour. Anyway it segues into “Bad Man” as the credits roll.
Somehow, I made it to the end of the Grammy telecast. No need to thank me for this, the pleasure was all mine (I think). Don’t ask me if I’ll do this again next year; it was difficult to keep up. If I’m sleeping on the job tomorrow, I have the Grammys to thank.
If you watched the show, what did you like or dislike? Leave your impressions in the comments.