Music

Ranking the Performances: The 56th Annual Grammy Awards

Was music’s biggest night worth staying up all night for? Read on to find out.

Kacey Musgraves and more...

 
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert, Madonna, & Queen Latifah -- ”Same Love / Open Your Heart”

The good news: 33 couples got married live on national television. The bad news: Queen Latifah spit out the ceremony way too fast and Madonna’s vocals sounded strained. It was nice and noteworthy, but I couldn’t help but think more camera time should have given to the happy couples instead.

 
Kacey Musgraves -- “Follow Your Arrow”

Surrounded by neon cacti and wearing strings of Christmas lights, Kasey and her band looked as if they were performing on Hee Haw or Pop! Goes the Country. It was a cutesy wink to her traditional country sound.

 
Nine Inch Nails, Dave Grohl and Lindsey Buckingham -- “Copy of A“ & “My God Is the Sun“

There were more dark spots and multi-colored flashing lights here, but at least it was an interesting collaboration. Was the flaming disco ball symbolic of the hold dance music had on the awards this year? I’d like to think so.

 
John Legend -- “All of Me”

It was a simple, elegant piano ballad performed in the center of an appreciative audience. Sometimes all you need is spotless vocals.

 
Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar -- “Radioactive” and “M.A.A.D City”

An overactive white fog machine and flashing red lights added a dramatic touch to this otherwise average performance.

 
Metallica and Lang Lang -- “One”

Combining a classical pianist with a hard rock band is the sort of thing that sounds good on paper, but doesn’t play out so well in real life. The instruments just didn’t mesh together, making it seem as if two separate performances were bleeding over each other. Lang’s later solo tribute to Van Cliburn was a better fit.

 
Taylor Swift -- “All Too Well”

In other years, Swift staged big production numbers. In 2010, Swift duetted with Stevie Nicks. This year, she just played the piano and swung her hair around. I give her credit for dressing tastefully and keeping it simple, but this performance could have been filmed anywhere.

 
Katy Perry feat. Juicy J -- “Dark Horse”

Perry emerged from a crystal ball surrounded by spooky tree people in this witch-themed spectacle. Half of her time onstage consisted of poorly pole dancing around an oversized broomstick. It was about as fresh and exciting as that bag of leftover Halloween candy hiding somewhere in your house.

 
Lorde -- “Royals”

Lorde was one of the night’s biggest winners, but viewers didn’t see her do anything different from her Grammy Nominations Concert performance. This version was a little longer, and half her vocals sounded taped in.

 
Beyonce and Jay-Z -- “Drunk in Love”

Beyonce kicked off the show with a homage/rip-off to the strip club routine in Flashdance. That might have impressed Jamie Foxx, but it was far too sleazy for such a highbrow event. Jay-Z then entered in to do some verses that were partially muted for language.

About 90% of the world’s population knows that Beyonce and Jay-Z are married. So despite the hype, it wasn’t very surprising that the two would perform together here. What is surprising is their total lack of onstage chemistry. Honestly, there were more sparks between presenters Steven Tyler and Smokey Robinson tonight.

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