The Grammys Should Focus More On Music and Less On #Moments
Awards shows are boring by definition, but the Grammys are supposed to be the fun ones. Nothing this year felt very fun; the strained, thirsty insistence on craaa-aaazy artists pairings in order create #Moments strips the fun out of what I think the Grammys are about: music?
I’m wrong. The Grammys are not about music. They’re about numbers, record sales, a mysterious algorithm that’s probably affected by the rise of streaming music and the fact that not a single young person has bought a physical CD ever. Music is what they do it for, but the relentless churn of the industry is what powers the whole thing. Enthusiasm and an industry’s desperate yearning to stay on top of itself equals #GrammyMoments, but sometimes something breaks through. This year, that was Kendrick Lamar, who performed a medley including “Blacker The Berry” and “Alright” from To Pimp A Butterfly.
He ended the performance with a new verse that was dedicated to Trayvon Martin.
Did the camera find the audacity to pan to, say, Taylor Swift to see how she was reacting to her best friend Kendrick? Nope. This is what they found instead.
A room of artists, humbled into silence by someone who actually brought a performance and a message and showed up. That, right there, is a moment.
As for the rest of it? Eh. Below are our favorite #Moments from this largely uneventful awards show!
Best red carpet #Moment: I could watch this Vine of Selena Gomez posing for the papos by herself while Taylor Swift thinks they’re posing together all day.
Creepiest #Moment: The duets Sam Hunt and Carrie Underwood did felt…meacing in a way for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Perhaps it was the eye contact, unwavering, steady, terrifying.
Most Confusing #Moment: The Lionel Richie Tribute was cute, but the assortment of humans they picked felt more like they made John Legend draw names out of a hat five minutes before they performed, and he just had to go with it. Demi Lovato, Meghan Trainor, Sam Hunt? I learned two very important things: (1) Demi Lovato can fucking wail and (2) Meghan Trainor is more tolerable as a redhead.
The #Moment that made me scream at the TV: Pentatonix, a scourge on music and a prime example of the hell that YouTube hath wrought, appeared with and sang next to Stevie Wonder, in a move that felt personally triggering to me and I assume many other members of the viewing audience to present Song Of The Year to America’s favorite tiny ginger, Ed Sheeran. No one was happier — not even his parents — than Taylor Swift. NO ONE.
Best actual theatre #Moment: The Grammys even live-streamed the opening number of Hamilton, which is incredible, if you think about it. But then, so is Hamilton, even though scores of children don’t know who he is. Honestly. There are no videos of it online! And there’s no way to get tickets unless you have a million dollars, basically, so the fact that we were all treated to this on TV is a blessing.
Worst #Moment in sound: Adele’s performance of the Bruno Mars cowritten song, “All I Ask” is a big, ol’ belt-y favorite, but there were some sound issues. She clarified: suffered from a weird piano/guitar/sound issue, which is what made the whole thing sound wonky.
Regardless, the key change in this song never fails to move me.
Best relative non-sequitur referring to Justin Bieber #Moment:
Best Theatre Kid #Moment: Lady Gaga’s David Bowie tribute was clearly where the entire production budget went. It’s clear that Gaga shines the most when she’s allowed to let her inner theatre kid out. If you love the unfettered earnestness of the kind of people who prefer jazz karaoke over anything else and can’t control their vibrato, then this tribute will be for you. If that makes you wince in mumbly embarrassment, then trigger warning: Theeeeaaaater.
Best actual Grammy moment: Taylor Swift chose to shade Kanye West, in her acceptance speech for Album of the Year. “I want to say to all the young women out there—there are going to be people along the way who are going to try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame,” she said, before smiling sweetly, thanking the fans and walking off the stage.
There will be many Hot Takes. I offer instead a Tepid Take: Swift’s win for Album Of The Year isn’t surprising. It’s not surprising that her album somehow won over Kendrick Lamar’s album, because that’s how the music industry works. What infuriates about Taylor Swift is that even though she’s an easy target, some part of me still wants to give her the benefit of the doubt. I want to see the good in people, but with Taylor, I struggle.
Instead of maybe saying something about her super-good friend Kendrick and his album, which deserved that award, no matter how meaningless it may or may not be, Swift found it necessary to come for Kanye West. Remember, Taylor Swift is not your friend.
Did you want a Grammy #Moment? There it is.