Performances shine at dull Grammys
The 61st annual Grammy Awards were in a bit of hot water right from the start. After last year’s show, Recording Academy President Neil Portnow was infamously quoted as saying that women need to “step up” to make the nominee’s list less male.
This year, Drake declined to perform. Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande all refused to show up. The Recording Academy couldn’t find anyone available to do a Motown tribute, so they picked Jennifer Lopez. People weren’t happy right out of the gate, and they weren’t necessarily wrong to feel that way.
Viewers hoped the Grammys would be able to triumph over expectations and sell the magic of music to everyone without controversy. The announcement that Alicia Keys would host drew considerable hype, as did a performance roster that included Diana Ross and Dolly Parton. Maybe, somehow, the Recording Academy could change our minds about the dreadful things that have been said about it. They didn’t.
Despite some wonderful surprises and absolutely stunning performances – even J-Lo put on the magic for Motown – the Grammys once again couldn’t seem to find their own rhythm.
The show began with a lackluster number from Camila Cabello, whose vocal performance couldn’t make up for the absurd number of dancers onstage.
Thankfully, Keys showed up and brought a good bit of flare to the show’s introduction. She was quickly joined onstage by Lady Gaga, Lopez, Jada Pinkett Smith and ... Michelle Obama? Yes – Michelle Obama. The former first lady’s appearance immediately sold the crowd and probably everyone who was watching. Even with a bad first performance, these superstars were all that was needed to inject some much-needed energy.
If the rest of the Grammys had simply been performances and Drake, that energy could’ve lasted throughout the night. Sadly, it died quite quickly.
Keys’ act got old as the show dragged on, even with a dueling piano bit, and there was no recovery in sight. No matter how many notable and historic wins there were – from Cardi B to Kacey Musgraves to the absent Childish Gambino – the Recording Academy still found a way to step on way too many toes whilst sucking the fun out of almost every presentation.
The most notable of these toe-stepping incidents had to be when the show’s producers flat-out cut Drake’s mic during his speech. Yes, the speech itself was meant to be a solid jab at the whole notion of the Grammys, but if the Recording Academy wants to even try to revamp its relationship with the world of hip-hop, its chances did not improve.
Other performances from the likes of Janelle Monae, Lady Gaga and Mark Ronson, Chloe x Halle, St. Vincent and Dua Lipa and Travis Scott (with James Blake) did make everything bearable, but those performances had to end somewhere and the actual show had to continue. Heck, even Post Malone was good. But alas, all good things must come to an end.
Viewers were understandably left wanting more from this year’s show, and they should demand more. Award shows in general have become a hassle and this one bolstered that case.
If the Grammys are to continue, they must adapt and accept that their platform is so diverse and democratized that there is no way to take the show 100 percent seriously anymore. If they can realize that, maybe we’ll be on the right track. However, for now, things remain stale.