- Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016
As Taylor Swift famously clarified, a hater’s gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. So let’s talk about the 2016 Grammy Awards with Valentine-love in our hearts, and just a pinch of WTF!? to keep it real!
But first, a commercial break. In the form of Gwen Stefani’s (and Target’s) “live” video for her new single “Make Me Like You”, directed by Sophie Muller for agency Deutsch. Honestly, it was awesome and seamless and a thing for branding people to ponder. Obviously helps that it’s a great little pop song for Gwen, complete with veiled reference to her special ‘friendship’ with Blake Shelton. The video is filled with Target’s colors (red) and bullseye graphics—good for that brand. Good for Gwen’s brand. And good for you!
Ok, Grammys! The “purists” like to complain that it’s become more a musical variety show than a true awards show. After all, there are 83 Grammy categories in all, but only 8 or so “big” awards given out during the broadcast. So what? Who’s gonna sit through the “Best Children’s Album” .. “Best Classical Vocal Solo” .. “Best Boxed Package Design” categories? Not me. Not 25 million of my friends in TV land!
We came to see Taylor Swift tear it up from the start with her performance of “Out Of The Woods”—and she left absolutely no room in the room for haters.
Another stunning moment was the performance of “Alexander Hamilton” from the musical Hamilton, performed live from the Richard Rogers Theatre in New York. For the millions who may never have a chance to see this production, it was both history lesson and validation of the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.
Were there any awkward moments? Forgettable performances? WTF’s? Oh my golly gosh yes! Not to be hatin’, Taylor, so leave me alone with your Twitter feed onslaught…but that bullshit performance by the Hollywood Vampires (Johnny Depp, Alice Cooper, Joe Perry…) in what was supposed to be a “tribute” to Motorhead’s dearly departed Lemmy Kilmister, but instead was a bloated caricature of cartoon rock more suited to a school performance of Rocky Horror Picture Show. Whatever. Sorry Taylor! Johnny, go make a movie!
Hmmm…ok, one more little WTF. Lady Gaga’s “virtuosic” David Bowie tribute medley. With all due disrespect, we get that she can sing the National Anthem, the Great American Songbook, honor Frank Sinatra…but the Lady’s becoming a Vaudeville act, for criminy’s sake! (Criminy? Really??)
Sure, nice work on the Intel brand tie-in. Sort of. But shouldn’t several artists, for whom Mr. Bowie has clearly been an influence, have joined in the tribute? I think so.
The Eagles + Jackson Browne homage to Glen Frey, in a joyless performance of “Take It Easy”, was a letdown. Didn’t have a fraction of the passion that Stevie Wonder, along with Pentatonix, brought to “That’s The Way of the World” in their tribute to Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire.
Stevie! Feel our braille emojis!
And a whole lot of soul was brought to the blues when Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark, Jr. and Bonnie Raitt played “The Thrill Is Gone” in honor of the great BB King. Find it…chills.
I was also impressed with Justin Bieber’s performance on “Love Yourself” and “Where Are U Now”, fea. Skirllex and Diplo. SuperPop!
And there were other performances that impressed, including the duet with Best New Artist nominees Tori Kelly and James Bay who killed in a delicate ‘mashup’ of their hits.
But if there was one show-stopping, jaw-dropping performance in the three-plus hour broadcast, it was brought to you by Kendrick Lamar, the 5 Grammy-winning rapper who raised the bar for passion, commitment and deliverance so high, LeBron couldn’t touch it. And Kanye? Hey, I ain’t hatin’…just sayin’…
And what have the 2016 Grammy Awards taught us? That many millions of people would prefer to sit in front of a television and watch an awesome music production than a drama, rom-com, talk show, political debate or football game (ok, maybe not the Super Bowl). Into our tympanic membranes the music flows, and takes us by the heart. Sometimes by the head. Sometimes the soul. Plus, music is so easy to agree to disagree about. For example, everything in this column—I question all of it!