60th Grammy Awards Review: The Grammys are broken.
By Eish Sumra
You know the Grammys have lost their Midas touch when they shower awards to Bruno Mars for his least memorable record. Despite the catchiness of the few hits he has had over the last year, the praise lavished on him by the Recording Academy proves the system is broken, bland and tired. What should have been a significant celebration for The Grammys 60th year and its return to New York, turned into a reminder that perhaps its ability to reflect the burgeoning zeitgeist has faded. If Adele’s win over Beyonce last year wasn’t proof enough, the fact that young innovative artists and older, more established creative geniuses were overlooked, displays the Grammys shocking inability to identify true talent.
24K magic had underperformed immensely, sold peanuts compared to its predecessors. Yet it was pitched against two incredibly acclaimed albums: “DAMN” by Kendrick Lamar and “Melodrama” by Lorde. Yet you sense that both Kendrick and his competitor Jay Z canceled each other out in the battle. Yet 24K Magic winning over Melodrama defies belief. Mars’ win in the other single based categories was not as surprising, as his songs do have a universality to them. However, when you look far from the big events of the evening there were little encouraging signs. The War on Drugs and The National both got their fair share of success, meanwhile, SZA and Khalid - both of whom received five nominations, got no awards. This in itself embarrassed The Grammys - an institution which used to celebrate young, intelligent musicians from Florence and The Machine, to James Blake, to Mumford and Sons - music’s biggest night would consistently give a little love to those who were left of field. Not tonight. Ed Sheeran predictably won his two categories, despite powerful records from Lana Del Rey and Kesha being present. Even in the Best New Artist rundown, Alessia Cara, while being a lovely singer, took the gold, despite being the duller of the five nominations.
On stage, it was a colorless mosaic of beige pop and uninspired ballads. From the bizarre DJ Khaled performance which butchered Rihanna’s sensual vocals by the Snapchat star’s incessant blasting of his name into the microphone during her singing. Meanwhile, the Broadway tributes were bizarre and unnecessary, no-one was really chomping at the bit for Ben Platt and Patti Le Pone to perform. Sam Smith did his best cry/sing combo, which at least provided a slightly modern touch. P!nk, a usually enthralling performer, was a bit too over the top with her slow slice of piano-driven pop. While U2 were a little cool with their Hudson River show, it again was unfortunate that younger acts were shoved aside for acts not even nominated. Elton John once again performed with a female singer - a trend is emerging.
Logic’s performance was pretty solid until he launched into a preach session about peace and freedom. SZA was also uncharacteristically average, but her vocals were as expected, fantastic, it’s a shame she chose her most chill track instead of trying to showcase her range a little more.
Then there was Kendrick, who again proves that he has saved music. He was the most interesting nominee and the best performer, as he is every time he graces The Grammy stage. The Grammys should thank him for his presence, he keeps them current. Childish Gambino also gave an injection of style and sophistication with his simple, sultry rendition of “Terrified.” He only went home with one award out of five nominations.
Lorde and Jay Z didn’t even perform, Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran even sat the ceremony out. Without any true powerhouses, the evening floundered. Only Kesha’s gorgeously raw “Praying” gave a brief respite to those about to doze off.
The Grammys droned on like a drunk uncle at the Thanksgiving table. Nothing of substance to say, despite many people ready to speak. It’s unfortunate that they chose the most boring winners, performers, presenters and overall people to attend. In a year that should have crowned a rapper as their king, the coronation got postponed again. Instead, the history of edgy wins in the form of Amy Winehouse, Arcade Fire and Lorde was slowly being erased in favor of the mainstream’s new mediocre musicians. When older generations harp on about how the golden age of music is long gone, The Grammys have finally proved they’re right. The Grammys are broken.