The 54th annual Grammy awards were held this past Sunday, February 12th on CBS. As per annual tradition, many new faces were scattered in the crowd eager to be rewarded for their musical efforts as well as familiar music industry veterans loving the celebration and looking to add to their previous awards. Up for numerous awards stood Adele, Bon Iver, Mumford and Sons, Kanye West, and Wiz Khalifa. The decisions as to who wins some of these “bouts” must’ve been difficult, and I know that in many cases, I couldn’t have made them. However, the true artists and industry members were there in appreciation of the wonder in all music.
Before announcing Adele as best pop solo performance of the year, veterans Bonnie Raitt and Alicia Keys performed a duet cover of “Sunday Kind of Love” originally by the recently deceased Etta James. Unfortunately, Adele’s teary acceptance of the award and the enjoyment of having all three of those amazing female vocalists on stage at once were followed by an all-too-hailed performance by Chris Brown, in recent spotlight for his beating of women. I would’ve preferred a more validating performance. Soon after this Maroon 5 and Foster the People took the stage, both of them performing covers of the Beach Boys, “Surfer Girl” and “Wouldn’t it be nice” respectively. These musical introductions then gave way to the Beach Boys own 50th anniversary reunion on the stage of The Grammys singing “Good Vibrations,” and while it looked like many of them could barely sing loud enough for the microphones to project their voices, all of them were in great spirits. Singers Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Mark Foster of Foster the People joined the Beach Boys on stage for the last half of “Good Vibrations”.
One of the most intimate performances of the evening was easily Paul McCartney’s, introduced by Stevie Wonder. The famed Beatles vocalist sang a new song of his in time for the holiday entitled “My Valentine”. Following McCartney was my favorite performance of the night, however short it may have been – a 60-second opening act for Taylor Swift by The Civil Wars. The performances were really the first folk-inspired spotlights of the night besides Bonnie Raitt’s earlier contribution, and Swift played a banjo for her entire performance with a set design that was rather reminiscent of early 20th century barn dance style. At this point, Neil Patrick Harris introduced Song of the Year which went to Adele for “Rolling in the Deep”. Lady Antebellum went home with Best Country Album with “We Own the Night”.
Having already appeared on last year’s Grammy awards, I thought that Adele would be seasoned in dealing with her fame, but at halfway point through the celebration and after she’d already won four awards, it was obvious to see the singer was tearing up after her performance. Other notable big winners were Foo Fighters with four awards, Kanye West (who wasn’t present at the ceremony) with four wins, Taylor Swift received two awards, and Skrillex rode to two awards on the back of electronic music’s growing popularity. It will be interesting to see how the awards integrate trends like Skrillex into their ceremony in coming year. As for the indie community, The Civil Wars took home Best Folk Album and Bon Iver took home Best Alternative Album for their self-titled released in June. Justin Vernon, vocalist and mastermind behind Bon Iver, also accepted their award for Best New Artist, and although is a rather awkward acceptance speech on camera, it spoke to his dedication to the music alone and his thanks were heartfelt and deserving.
Finally, toward the end of the ceremony Jennifer Hudson performed “I Will Always Love You” in honor of original singer Whitney Houston’s untimely death this past Saturday. Nicki Minaj performed a rather spastic and Gaga-esque performance where she was being exorcised while rapping and finished in levitation by wires. To round out the ceremony, Adele added another two to her four awards by taking Record of the Year with “Rolling in the Deep” and Album of the Year with “21”, totaling six awards for her this year.