The 55th Annual Grammy Awards were heavily hyped as THE only place to see special collaborations and the type of performances that you can’t see anywhere else. However, most of the night’s performers kept things simple, with a few splashy exceptions. While last year’s show was better, with jaw-droppingly good moments from artists as diverse as Jennifer Hudson and Paul McCartney, last night was still worth watching.
There were tributes to those we lost in 2012, unexpected (and predictable) duets, and some video screen trickery designed to keep music lovers entertained, but what was truly unique? Who had some sound problems? Who really made a comeback? And who really overdid their performance? Read on to find out.
The Black Keys, Dr. John, & The Preservation Hall Jazz Band “Lonely Boy”
It was a big year for rock music, and this performance brought the ROCK to the show. A rocking mess of a jam session (I mean that in the best possible way), not even Dr. John’s quirky owl outfit could take the attention off the quality of the music. If there is one award show that can take one of modern rock’s biggest acts, a legend, and a group very few people have ever heard of and turn them into the most memorable moment of the night, it’s the Grammys.
Kelly Clarkson “Tennessee Waltz”/ “Natural Woman”
Paying tribute to Lifetime Achievement Award winners Patti Page and Carol King, Clarkson’s haunting “Tennessee Waltz” was full of feeling and her “Natural Woman” hasn’t lost any of its American Idol performance luster.
Elton John & Ed Sheeran “The A Team”
Proving that it doesn’t take special effects to put on a memorable performance, Ed and Elton teamed up for a simple yet vocally spotless duet.
Elton John, Zac Brown Band, Mavis Staples, Mumford & Sons, T Bone Burnett, and Brittany Howard “The Weight”
A loving tribute to the late Levon Helm, this who’s who of modern rock came together and earned a standing ovation in one of the night’s most memorable moments.
Maroon 5 & Alicia Keys “Daylight”/ “Girl On Fire”
Maroon 5 offered up their new single before duetting with Keys, who managed to find a new way of performing the oft-repeated “Girl On Fire”, drumming for a version that placed emphasis on percussion. According to the sound of the screams and applause, it was one of the audience’s favorites.
Justin Timberlake & Jay-Z “Suit & Tie”/ “Pusher Love Girl”
The Grammys doubled as an infomercial for Timberlake’s upcoming album as nearly every commercial break anticipated his “comeback”. Is it still a comeback when someone has been off filming Hollywood blockbusters? Either way, the sepia-tinted 1940’s bandleader-inspired performance was unique, even if the material (especially the mixed drug-referencing second song) sounds more like album filler than singles.
Carrie Underwood “Blown Away”/ “Two Black Cadillacs”
Underwood wins “best dressed” in my book for her projection-screen ballgown that flashed bright images of jellyfish, fireworks, and butterflies during her second song. But why such inanimate objects? Shouldn’t two black Cadillacs be driving across that skirt or anything that related to what was being sung?
Miguel & Wiz Khalifa “Adorn”
Kelly Clarkson called it “the sexiest thing ever”. I definitely wouldn’t go that far, but this performance certainly made it obvious why Grammy voters showed so much love for the song.
Bruno Mars, Sting, Rihanna, Damien Marley & Ziggy Marley “Locked Out Of Heaven”/”Walking On The Moon”/ “Could You Be Loved”
It was a little odd to hear a tribute to Bob Marley open up with a duet between Sting and Bruno Mars of a Bruno Mars hit, but eventually, Rihanna, Damien Marley, and Ziggy Marley appeared onstage to sing “Can We Love” together. It seemed like a very short tribute.
// Short Ends and Leader
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