February 9, 2015
In general, my favorite Grammy moments involve surprise performances—like Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond’s classic and unforgettable performance of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore,” and unusual collaborations by performers you might not expect to see together—like last year’s performance of “maad City” and “Radioactive by Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar.
The 2015 Grammys did not disappoint. This year’s Grammys had a whole lot of Magic and Mayhem goin’ on!
Ariana Grande’s performance of “Just A Little Piece of Your Heart” was perfection. Even her “Did I just do that?” reaction to her own performance was perfect! I didn’t even know who she was until I started rooting for her brother Frankie on Big Brother, last season. But this young woman has some pipes!
Tom Jones and Jessie J did the songwriters (Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil), and the original performers, The Righteous Brothers proud last night in their rendition of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” I know I’m going against the tide of public opinion here. I guess you have to be of a certain generation—the 60’s Generation—to appreciate it. That’s how performers performed back then! I liked the little coquettish looks Jessie J gave Sir Tom, as well as her superb voice. And, oooh! Sir Tom. Back in the day, certain of my friends and I gave Tom Jones (and The Righteous Brothers, for that matter) the status of Honorary Black Men because they really had Soul. And I’m glad to see Tom Jones has still got it! Right down to his Afro-lookin’ curls!
Kanye West’s performance of “Only One” was surprisingly magical. The lighting and staging as well as his “dance” evoked for me a tribalistic cry to the heavens. His rushing of the song suggested a discomfort with allowing himself to be so vulnerable. I try not to judge this man-boy too harshly, because I don’t really know his music, much less him. But this performance showed real humanity and vulnerability.
Ed Sheeran is another performer I am only slightly acquainted with. But I like what I heard in his performance of “Thinking Out Loud,” backed by veterans John Mayer, Questlove, and the incomparable Herbie Hancock. There’s a Soul-ful je ne sais quoi about redhead Brit singers, and Ed Sheeran definitely had it. I was reminded of Simply Red, but with more assurance in Sheeran’s voice. I’ll be watching for more from him.
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga were my “It” duet of the night. I fell in love with this duo after watching their concert special on PBS recently. They were elegant and fun last night. So glad Tony has drawn Lady Gaga past her “Little Monsters” shtick and helped her on to this fabulous chanteuse phase. I knew this girl had chops! And Tony still has that twinkle in his eye!
Usher Channeling Stevie Wonder…and Stevie Wonder channeling himself on “If It’s Magic”: If that wasn’t Magic, I don’t know what is! I am a reluctant Usher fan. I just don’t feel him most of the time. But he drew me in last night with this jewel performance. And I have to admit, I love his “silly” song “Good Kisser”—it’s a good boppin’-while-driving song.
Rihanna, Paul McCartney, and Kanye West: After all the Facebook hoo-ha about Sir Paul and Kanye collaborating (Gen-X’ers/Millennial had the Baby Boomers in a frenzy when they declared that Kanye had “discovered” Paul McCartney), I wasn’t sure what to expect! I loved the song “Four Five Seconds,” and Rihanna stole the show for me! Beautiful woman, beautiful voice. I hope she shines like a diamond for a long time to come.
Hozier and Annie Lennox: Thanks to commercials in the days before the Awards show, I was anxious to hear Annie Lennox sing “I Put a Spell On You.” I’ve loved Annie Lennox since her Eurhythmics days but I love her even more these days for her vocal maturity. Her freewheeling performance was the perfect contrast to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church”.
Beyoncé’s performance of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” was so masterful, vocally, that I didn’t pay too much attention to the dress. And
John Legend and Common gave a polished yet stirring performance of the Oscar-nominated “Glory” from the movie Selma. A marvelous fusion of Rap and Gospel.
Sam Smith and Mary J Blige singing “Stay With Me” was supposed to be my highlight of the night. It was the one performance I had been anticipating. But I missed it! Oh, I’ve heard it before; many, many times. But, inexplicably, only on Black radio stations! I wanted to see it live last night! Instead, I have watched it on video. Sam Smith may not want this title, but I have added him to my personal list of “Honorary Black Men” or, as they are also called, “Blue-Eyed Soul” singers. When I read that on his original recording of the song, he sang every choir voice himself, from different positions in the studio, to achieve the full-choir sound, well, I was hooked. Sam was definitely “The Man” at last night’s Grammys.
Eric Church’s provocative backscreen video captured my attention almost as much as his song, “Give Me Back My Hometown. Good Mayhem!
In the “What the….?” category: Madonna: Good song, horrible choreography and execution; and Pharrell + Lang Lang’s “Happy”: Way too many things going on at once—No wonder Pharrell looked unhappy when he accepted his Grammy for Best Pop Solo.
And, finally, in a category all its own, Stevie Wonder and Jamie Foxx presenting the Record of the Year was hilarious!