The 2015 Grammy Awards: Ranking the Performances

If you missed “music's biggest night”, or just want to relive it, here are all of the performances.

In recent years, the Grammys have prided themselves on offering unique performances, to the point that the original purpose of the ceremony, to hand out awards, often gets lost in the midst. Only nine awards were presented during the three and a half hour long live broadcast, and winners often found themselves cued off of the stage by ominous music. But amongst the 23 live performances there were plenty of debuts, unlikely duets, special guests, and even a few surprises.

Ed Sheeran was the unlikely MVP of the night, headlining in not one but two memorable performances. He teamed up with John Mayer, Herbie Hancock, and Questlove for a jazz-infused version of “Thinking Out Loud” that actually improved upon the original. He also later showed up to duet with Jeff Lynne on the ELO classic “Mr. Blue Sky”.

Jeff Lynne's take on “Evil Woman” delighted the audience and prompted Paul McCartney to sing along.

Unfortunately, we couldn't hear Paul McCartney during his much-hyped “FourFiveSeconds” performance with Rhianna and Kanye West. Rhianna, previously known for robotic dance anthems and the occasional pitch-black ballad, pulled off the most engaging performance of her career.

Annie Lennox completely outshined Hozier on stage. She livened up the last minute or so of his haunting “Take Me to Church”, and totally stole the show with her mesmerizing “I Put a Spell on You” -- complete with kooky mouth noises.

Beyoncé sang the gospel standard “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” in a vast departure (and improvement!) over last year's performance.

John Legend and Common closed out the show with an impassioned performance of the Oscar-nominated “Glory”.

The commercial break teaser promised an Ariana Grande performance “like you've never seen before”, a claim that really overhypes her simple “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart”. Surrounded by blue and purple lights in a Frozen-esque ice castle, she reminded viewers that she's capable of more than just “Bang Bang” bombastics.

Coldplay's Chris Martin and Album of the Year winner Beck's voices blended together nicely on their “Heart Is a Drum”.

Usher and Stevie Wonder strolled through “If It's Magic”.

Lady Gaga vamped and Tony Bennett chuckled throughout their “Cheek to Cheek” duet.

The night's big winner, Sam Smith, duetted with Mary J. Blige on a classical-styled “Stay with Me”.

Newcomer Brandy Clark teamed up with Dwight Yoakam for an acoustic cover of “Hold My Hand”.

Katy Perry often struggles to hit the high notes during live performances, but tonight her vocals were flawless. The shadow-screened dancers behind her were too distracting, however.

A cheerful Juanes delivered “Juntos (Together)”. Although it lacked in onstage theatrics and special effects, it had a straightforward charm to it.

In an attempt for the Grammys to shed their stuffy, middle-of-the-road image, classic rockers AC/DC opened the show. The audience clearly wasn't as receptive to “Rock Or Bust” as their smoke-filled, red tinted “Highway to Hell”. Bonus points for whoever had the idea to pass out devil horns to the first few rows.

Jessy J and Tom Jones paid tribute to Trustee award winners Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil with a traditional take of “You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'”. Their voices didn't really mesh together well, but that did help play into the song's theme.

Pharrell's usually-exuberant “Happy” was nearly derailed by an over-serious opening and instrumental interruptions by Lang Lang.

Kanye West's “Only One”, a song written from his late mother's perspective, has touching lyrics, but suffers from some Auto-Tuned vocals.

The Voice judges Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani's duet of “My Heart Is Open” was vocally strong but visually flat.

Madonna brought the weirdness with her troupe of bull-horned dancers and odd narration at the beginning of her “Living for Love” performance. The addition of a gospel choir towards the end lifted things up a little.

Sia had the most elaborately decorated set, but she definitely lacked stage presence, spending her entire “Chandelier” performance literally facing a wall. Technically, you have to give more credit to dancers Kristen Wiig and Maddie Ziegler, who were the true performers here.

And finally, Eric Church's “Give Me Back My Hometown” gets the distinction of being the night's most mediocre performance: not because of his vocals, but because of the oddly incongruent, sepia-tinted news footage that played behind him throughout the entire song.

Splash Image: Pharrell Williams performs with Hans Zimmer at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Thumbnail ImageAC/DC’s Angus Young performs at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS)





The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.


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.


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

‘The Avengers’ Offer a Lesson 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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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