The Highs and Lows of the 2016 Grammys

The Highs and Lows of the 2016 Grammys

A RECAP OF THE CONCERT OF THE YEAR, THE GRAMMYS

A RECAP OF THE CONCERT OF THE YEAR, THE GRAMMYS

Text: Ian David Monroe

To put it nicely, the 2016 Grammy Awards was a bit of a snore. For starters, it wasn’t really an award show: only 8 of the 83 categories were presented during the live show—the rest relegated to the pre-show. This meant optimal stage time for the 20 confirmed performances of the night. Performances that were sure to draw in as diverse, and as large, an audience as possible to maximize ad revenue, surely. Actually, it was only 19; Rihanna bowed out only a couple of hours prior, citing a case of Bronchitis as the reason. It didn’t matter though, she wasn’t planning on performing her new single “Work,” but instead the slower tempo track “Kiss It Better.”

Had Rihanna made it, her not-so-many-beats-per-minute performance would have been in good company. The theme of the "awards" show seemed to have been slow jams, which contributed largely to the glacier pace of the evening. Even Justin Bieber’s summer mega-hit with Jack U, the heavily electronic “Where Are U Now,” was turned into a rock performance of sorts, which reminded many of Skrillex’s early days as the lead singer in the post-hardcore band From First to Last. Whether that was a good thing or not, it didn't seem to matter.

There were highlights, of course. Kendrick Lamar, the evening’s undeniable standout, who took home 5 awards, gave the Beyonce “Formation” naysayers something more to balk at when he emerged on stage in chains, amongst fire, with a blackened eye, and rapped frantically as different camera angles flashed around his face. The urgency of his message couldn’t have been clearer. It was also clear that Kendrick wasn't going to sacrifice artistry for commercialism, which only made his subsequent Album of the Year snub intolerable, but unsurprising.

Lady Gaga, too, brought some much-needed flair to the evening with her tribute to the late David Bowie. She performed a medley of the singer’s hits and donned a fiery red wig, reminiscent of Bowie’s signature locks. Gaga’s opening cape was a perfect replica of the one Bowie wore during his Aladdin Sane tour in ’72. Later, on Instagram, she revealed that the original cape’s designer, Kansai Yamamoto, worked on the replica. It was a tribute from an all-in artist that felt fitting, more so than the earlier ode to Lionel Richie by Meghan Trainor, Demi Lovato, John Legend, Luke Bryan, and Tyrese Gibson. Shoutout to Demi Lovato's vocals though!

The true surprise of the night, sadly not a happy one, was Adele’s less-than-impressive rendition of her track “All I Ask.” From the beginning, things were shaky: the piano mics dropped from their position and fell on the strings causing a bizarre reverb, and the producers had to switch to a back up system causing the singer’s opening lines to go mute. It was sloppy, to say the least, and unfortunately Adele’s typical powerhouse vocals weren’t there to save the day. Had any other performer, though, belted notes the way she did it would have been quite the success. Such is the magnitude of Adele’s talent.

Here’s to hoping that next year the Grammy’s spice it up a bit, especially if they insist on turning the whole night into a concert instead of a proper awards ceremony.

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