The 55th Grammy Awards started with a circus spectacle by the lovely Taylor Swift and ended with a rowdy tribute by the host and rapper, LL Cool J, with a little help from Beastie Boy Chuck D. But the most noteworthy acts of the Grammy’s three and a half hour long show were the stripped down, raw and emotional performances that were sprinkled in the middle.
The band, Fun, whose anthem-like rendition of “Carry On” executed on a simple stage with pouring rain and talented musicians, set the tone for the evening that hard work and perseverance really do pay off. Bordering on the intense and definitely more restricted than we are accustomed to, Rihanna’s soulful delivery of her new single “Stay” alongside Mikky Ekko, was gut-wrenching, especially if you picture her singing this song to former-turned-current beau, Chris Brown.
No lip synching allowed here. The Grammy’s adhere to a strict policy that all artists must perform live. This may explain why many of the performers selected songs sans movement. This is a welcome change from the typical fan fair we are used to seeing on stage that is often more distracting than entertaining.
In comparison to other music awards shows, the Grammy’s are known for their elegance and sophistication continuously trying to pay homage to the old guard while nurturing the ingénue. This is evident in their musical pairings which this year did not disappoint. Couplings from Elton John and Ed Sheeran, Sting and Bruno Mars, Black Keys and a New Orleans band of jazz musicians and Mavis Staples with the lead singer from the Alabama Shakes, will go down in history as classic Grammy moments.
What else did we notice? Of course, we have a few red carpet manners passes and violations to hand out. Here they are in no particular order.
Wardrobe Misdemeanors. CBS, the network hosting the Grammy’s, issued an explicit advisory in advance stating, "Please be sure that buttocks and female breasts are adequately covered. Thong type costumes are problematic. Please avoid exposing bare flesh under curves of the buttocks and buttock crack." While they made their best efforts, ladies who couldn’t help themselves included Katy Perry who looked like her breasts were permanently glued into her dress and Rihanna, who dressed elegantly for her ballad, but then changed into a bosom-peaking top for her tribute to Bob Marley. Presenters J.Lo and Kelly Rowland also decided to ignore the guidelines by bearing too much leg and revealing more than a comfortable amount of skin.
Sophisticated Gents. There were a number of men, however, that were looking rather elegant for the affair. Black suits and separates in a variety of styles with tasteful gold accessories or gold bling depending, seemed to be the uniform of choice. Our favorite crooner Justin Timberlake and the always dapper Jay-Z held the standard. I would expect nothing less from the duo who lent their talents to a song entitled, “Suit & Tie.” R&B artist Miguel and rapper Wiz Khalifa inspired their own street takes while Bruno Mars, Sting and Adam Levine garnered dressed down versions.
Cheerful Cheerleaders. Once her opening number was completed, the perpetually cheerful Taylor Swift was seen flailing about, clapping and singing her way throughout the Grammy’s. It’s no surprise that music worshiper, Ellen DeGeneres, would be singing and dancing in the aisles as well, displaying her love and support for her favorite artists. Kelly Clarkson must also be included. She is fiercely talented and so comfortable in her own skin that she inspires everyone she meets.
Questionable Acceptance Speeches. Frank Ocean was the newcomer underdog and he may have not been expecting to win, but his handlers might have suggested preparing a speech just in case. Instead, we were treated to some muttering about picturing the audience naked followed by a quick thanks. Adele’s speech for Best Pop Solo was also a bit too casual for our taste. Yes, she won oodles of Grammy’s last year, but a little more gratitude and graciousness this year would have also been nice. Lead singer, Nate Ruess. of Fun opened up his acceptance speech for Best New Artist with the unforgettable lines, “I gotta pee so bad.” Thanks for sharing.
Ladies Who Chew Gum. The camera happened to pan on Adele once again chomping on a wad of gum in her mouth while watching in the audience. She may need a gentle reminder that the camera has eyes whether you are on stage or off. I was surprised, however, when we also caught blues maven, Bonnie Raitt, in the action. I suppose we should just let it go and be happy knowing these ladies like to keep their breath in check.
Good Time Guys. I want Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars at my next party! These guys don’t have to brood, they just smile and the world is their oyster. They know how to own the stage and have an awesome good time! They are charming and convincing. JT was out of the picture for a while, but has come back in full force complete with his own orchestra. I loved the throw back to the days of the big band and lead vocals. I can’t wait to hear the new album in its entirety. Bruno Mars is no slouch either. He owned the stage with his latest hit “Locked Out of Heaven” blending perfectly in sync with Sting and then invited Rihanna and Ziggy Marley to participate in a vibrant tribute to the legend Bob Marley.
Most Humble. Accepting an award for Record of the Year from an icon like Prince is a dream come true and that’s exactly how Belgian-Australian singer Gotye and New Zealand singer Kimbra felt when they accepted the award for their breakout hit, “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Their humble wishes sending a warm thanks to all musicians and ending with a resounding “Cheers!” left everyone feeling appreciative just to be in attendance and that is exactly how it should be.