Photo Courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter
Kendrick Lamar knocked the Grammy crowd to the floor with his show-stopping performance of “The Blacker the Berry,” “Alright,” and a never before heard song to close the show. His performance began with him and his dancers walking onto the stage chained and cuffed, and set in a jail with his band members behind bars. The performance then transitioned to “Alright” featuring African dancers and lots of fire. Finally, Kendrick closed out the performance with a new song which had flashing white lights and jittery camera angles to match the rage in his voice. It included the line , “On February 26th I lost my life too,” commemorating Trayvon Martin’s death: “On February 26th I lost my life too”. The final image onscreen, which was one of the most powerful images I have ever seen, showed a map of Africa labelled “Compton.” Not a soul in the crowd was not rocked to their core by his performance. It was certainly one of the most powerful, beautiful, and politically important performances.
Kendrick took home seven awards out of the eleven nominations he received, including one for best rap album (which he was robbed of last year) and one for best rap song. Many, including myself, thought he deserved Record of the Year for his album “To Pimp a Butterfly,” especially over Taylor Swift’s “1989.” It is easy these days to just make songs that are entertaining and make you feel good. With apps such as iTunes and Spotify, you no longer have to purchase a whole album, you can just pick and choose which songs you like best. With this album though, you had to listen to every track from the first one to the last in order to understand Kendrick’s whole message. The artwork is incomplete if you were to only listen to certain songs from his album. Although Taylor Swift’s album had some great songs and was certainly dance worthy, she lacked the powerful emotions that were pulled out of me as a I listened to Kendrick’s album for the first, second, and third time. I honestly do not think they deserve to be considered in the same category. I think “1989” is impressive for both Taylor’s ability to transform her sound and appeal to a large audience. Also the number of hits that came out of it. Again though, Kendrick’s album was a whole other ball game. That injustice aside, his performance was more than enough to win him the whole night.
Another highlight of the night was Adele’s “All I Ask.” Her album, “25,” delivered some of her greatest vocal performances to date and showcased her power and grace. I was looking forward to seeing her perform one of the many great songs from her album. However, I was disappointed when her performance was almost overshadowed by a microphone mishap that pushed her out of tune.
Although, in usual Adele fashion, she quickly recovered and made the most of the rest of her performance. A mediocre Adele performance is still better than almost any other artists’ best performance. And of course, she looked stunning in a beautiful red gown. She even treated herself to some In-N-Out for the stress it caused her so there was at least one benefit to the mishap.
Justin Bieber performed at the Grammy’s for the first time in five years. He started out alone on stage singing “Love Yourself ” in a soulful acoustic rendition that made me wish he released a full version of it. Bieber then faded out and the sons that won him his first Grammy’s for the best dance recording, “Where Are Ü Now,” started playing. I was curious to see how the song would be performed live considering that the song is electronic with no instruments. I was surprised to find that they were able to convert the song to all instruments and made it a really fun set to watch live with tons of energy from Bieber and Jack Ü. For the many who doubted Bieber and his ability to salvage his reputation, I think they were all squashed after that performance and his Grammy win.
For the country fans out there, I certainly enjoyed the duet between Sam Hunt and Carrie Underwood who did a combination of his song, “Take Your Time,” and her song, “Heartbeat.” They were both looking amazing and the two songs blended well together. Although neither took home awards that night, Sam Hunt has been a force on the country and pop charts with four songs from his album “Montevallo” charting. Carrie Underwood has also had a pretty good year with “Heartbeat” and “Smoke Break.”
Overall, the Grammy’s were pretty good this year. Kendrick Lamar’s performance definitely owned the night. Lady Gaga had a nice tribute to the late David Bowie. Miguel showed strong vocals in a cover of Michael Jackson’s song “Off the Wall.” Alabama Shakes had a strong performance of their chart topping hit “Don’t Wanna Fight,” which won them best rock song and their album, “Sound and Color,” won best rock album. Ellie Goulding showed off her pipes with Andra Day in a mashup of her song “Love Me Like You Do” and Days’ “Rise Up.” The performance left people wondering where the hell Day even came from. Despite the continued politically fueled performances in the past couple months (The Super bowl and Kendrick Lamar’s performance, to name a few) I am surprised that it does not push political leaders to action. These performances, in addition to many other movements that have been going on across the nation, are cries for action. Enough is enough. I wond e r how many of these performances it will take before America wakes up and realizes that it needs to change