Music

Rating the Performances at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards

Photo: Jennifer Hudson performs a Whitney Houston tribute during the 54th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, February 12, 2012. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Starting with the most memorable and ending with the most dull (or clichéd), here’s what happened on “music’s biggest night”.

Performances at this year’s Grammy awards weren’t about gimmicks, special effects, or surprise appearances. Instead, the show became a celebration of the music and musicians that unite seemingly different people. Fittingly, in a year where so many important musicians passed away, the night was also about people using their talents to bid a fond farewell to those whom we will all miss. It was a night where legends were honored, rock stars danced to country music, and an auditorium full of stars bowed their heads in prayer.

 
1. Jennifer Hudson - “I Will Always Love You”

The world only learned of the sad death of Whitney Houston the night before, leaving organizers less than 24 hours to put together a meaningful tribute. Despite this, I can’t imagine a better way to pay respect to someone than what was planned. There are far too few female singers of today who are capable of singing Whitney’s greatest hit with similar vocal ability, but Jennifer Hudson is one of those singers. Her heartfelt rendition also served as a befitting ending to a video “in memoriam” tribute to all the talented people who left us last year.

 

2. Paul McCartney - “My Valentine”/ “Carry That Weight”, “Golden Slumbers”, and “The End” featuring Bruce Springsteen, Joe Walsh, and Dave Grohl

We all knew that the grand master of rock 'n' roll was performing tonight, but we only thought he was here to sing something sweet and romantic off his new album. However, we were all in for a double treat, as McCartney later closed the show with a rocking encore of the ultimate set-closer, complete with an all-star guitar battle.

3. Adele - “Rolling in the Deep”

Millions were tuning in for the much-hyped return of Adele, performing live in concert for the first time since major vocal chord surgery. The big winner of the night hit all the right notes, but one thing kept it from being the most memorable moment of the night. Why was the arrangement of such a great song changed?

4. Maroon 5 - “Surfer Girl”, Foster the People - “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?”, and the Beach Boys - “Good Vibrations”

Adam Levine’s voice won’t be mistaken for any of the Beach Boys’ anytime soon, but the tribute performers showed their respect. I would even go as far to say that tonight was Foster The People’s best performance ever. They were all excellent opening acts for the reunion everyone was waiting for.

 

5. The Band Perry - “Georgia on My Mind”, Blake Shelton - “Southern Nights”, and Glen Campbell - “Rhinestone Cowboy”

Traditional country music fans should be pleased with this pleasant retirement party for a legend. Vast amounts of the live audience, made up of people of all ages who specialize in many different genres of music, were obviously enjoying it.

Next Page
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Music

Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.

Music

Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.

Books

First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

Reviews

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Music

How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.

Music

Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.

Music

Paul Weller Dazzles with the Psychedelic and Soulful 'On Sunset'

Paul Weller's On Sunset continues his recent streak of experimental yet tuneful masterworks. More than 40 years into his musical career, Weller sounds as fresh and inspired as ever.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.