The written word is tremendously important to us here at Relatively Random, and when those words are called “lyrics” and set to music, we feel them in new ways. This year’s Grammy Awards were a good display of songwriting, musical artistry, fashion, and flare, and we were well entertained.
Taylor Swift opened, breathy and beautiful, sharing “Wildest Dreams,” a song from her new album, reminding us (in case we didn’t purchase her record) that she is growing up and expanding her musical horizons. While we enjoyed her performance, it was not perfect – audio problems seemed to trouble her and may to be blame for some of Swift’s pitch problems. Still, we are fans. She put on a good presentation, both in her opening number, and in the audience, where she enjoyed the show the way we would have it we had been there – giddy, giggly, and with adorably awkward dance moves.
Soon after, Sam Hunt and Carrie Underwood titillated viewers with their mash-up featuring Hunt’s most popular song (“Take Your Time”) and their new duet (“Heartbeat”) providing us both ear ecstasy and eye candy. We enjoy hearing these two on the radio, and watching them on our television screens was no problem, either. Before we could totally melt down, The Weekend had us dancing on our davenports with the first part of his performance (“Can’t Feel My Face”), and then brought us a moving antithesis with his pared-down “In the Night.” …but we didn’t get goosebumps until Andra Day and Ellie Goulding blended their talents in a classy merger of “Rise Up” and “Love Me Like You Do.” If you missed it, it’s worth a Google. At home, we did lots of singing along and lots of dancing, but we didn’t get rowdy until Kentucky native Chris Stapleton snagged the award for Best Country Album of the Year. If you haven’t met this new voice, you probably already know his words; Stapleton has written some of the biggest hits of the last several years. You’ll recognize his work. Look him up and you’ll see!
Well into the show, an extra-special event transpired. The Lionel Richie tribute was something close to spiritual. Watching him enjoy John Legend, Demi Lovato, Luke Bryan, Meghan Trainor, and others was a treat. It must be uncomfortable watching others perform your signature pieces, but Richie seemed to thoroughly enjoy the show, and it was great to see him sing along from his seat and celebrate the vocal achievements these artists accomplished. We especially liked Demi Lovato’s rendition of “Hello.” Whoo! … and we were happy when Richie left his spot in the audience to come and sing and dance “All Night Long” with the group.
To pay tribute to Earth Wind & Fire’s Maurice White, Pentatonix and Stevie Wonder took the stage. Pentatonix is a group that is the current musical master of all things acapella, and Stevie Wonder, well he’s pretty much the musical master of everything else. Together they put on a stunning performance of “That’s the Way of the World”.
As if these first two tributes were not enough, The Eagles took the stage, joined by Jackson Browne, to pay honor to Glenn Frey with a spectacular rendition of “Take It Easy”. In typical Eagles fashion, the harmonies were spot on, and Jackson Browne, who co-wrote the song with Frey, carried the vocal lead with perfection. But despite the musical completeness of the performance, there was a void felt by Frey’s absence.
Best new artist nominees, James Bay and Tory Kelly put on a powerful performance. Singing a mashup of their songs “Hollow” and “Let It Go”, it was very clear to all listeners why they were nominees for best new artist. It’s good to see that there’s new music that touches us in the same way as the songs and artists that have been the soundtrack of our lives for so many years.
We enjoyed Adele’s performance of “All I Ask”. We watched Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie with a bit of freakish curiosity. The medley of Bowie songs was performed well, Lady Gaga always delivers strong vocals, the band was spot on…seamlessly transitioning from song to song. Lady Gaga’s array of Bowie-esque costumes and her crazy choreography kept our attention in an “I’m not sure I’m enjoying this” kind of way, but overall it was probably a fitting tribute to a musician that didn’t really fit into any mold himself.
One of our favorite performances was the B.B. King tribute by Chris Stapleton, Bonnie Raitt, and Gary Clark Jr., three artists that always bring their soulful guitar driven style to the stage. Covering “The Thrill Is Gone”, it was great to see artists that have obviously been inspired King, paying their musical respects with the same passion that King brought to the stage for so many years.
And just when we thought the ‘good music’ was done for the night, Alabama Shakes took the stage bringing their funky, bluesy, soulful rock that inspires rambunctious toe tapping in the most conservative of viewers.
The energy level remained high as Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, and Johnny Depp and their group, The Hollywood Vampires, paid tribute to Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister. With a plethora of distortion laden six strings, guys wearing copious amounts of eye makeup, and sufficient fog covering the stage…this was a performance right from the “How to do Rock and Roll” cookbook.
Over the years we’ve learned that you never really know what the Grammy’s are going to deliver. We’re happy to say that the 58th Grammy Awards delivered touching tributes, perfect harmonies, high energy, and lyrics to stir the soul.