Well, the 54th Grammy Awards are over and done with, and overall, I’d call it a fun affair. The Grammys always feel like a somewhat fun reprieve from other industry award shows; while the Oscars are pretty monolithic, the Grammys feel looser and end up meaning less. Er, to me, at least. Let’s look at the performances this year, first.
Like last year, Bruno Mars proved to be one of the most stellar live performers with the shoddiest studio material through a shamelessly throwback, but too damn energetic to not like version of “Runaway Baby” (Raphael Saadiq and Bruno collab, anyone?). With as much energy, but way too arrogant and openly lip-synched-because-I’m-dancing (and using a fly system)-ness was Chris Brown in another forgettable performance. But aside from him, I think everyone performing did really well: Glen Campbell topped his own Band Perry/Blake Sheldon tribute that made everyone smile, and Taylor Swift smiled through a surprisingly on-target rendition of “Mean” (including the night’s least expected Banjo Rock moment).
Speaking of rock, holy hell was this a good rock ceremony. Adele might have left with the most awards, but Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl seemed to have the most fun. When his band didn’t plow through a fantastic version of “Walk”, or work with Dead Mau5 on a “Rope” remix, he rocked out with Paul McCartney and others on a phenomenal jam session over The Beatles’ “The End” (Grohl running on stage with a guitar might have been my favorite laugh out loud moment of the night), and gave one of the night’s most memorable acceptance speeches.
Other stadium rockers Coldplay performed a touching duet version of “Princess of China” with Rihanna, then gave a damn compelling Coldplay concert promo with “Paradise” awash in color. Bruce Springsteen opened the ceremony with new single “We Take Care of Our Own”, which showed The Boss aging surprisingly well. This year’s intergenerational collaboration, Maroon 5 and Foster the People with the reunited Beach Boys, went over fairly well, despite Adam Levine not blending with harmonies, and the Foster boys clearly nervous.
The pop scene didn’t really tank, either. Rihanna went through an energetic if somewhat insipid “We Found Love”, and Katy Perry debuted new single “Part of Me” during her Gaga-aping performance. And Adele, the night’s leading lady, had a surprisingly fiery rendition of “Rolling in the Deep”, even though we heard the song enough in nominations that she didn’t need to do it. And aside from the aforementioned Chris Brown, that’s about all of the pop performances. I was actually disappointed with the night’s lack of Gaga. No space eggs, no performances, and no awards; she just sat there looking like a supervillian. But, like I said, Katy Perry tried to bring the weird in her place.
And then…Nicki Minaj happened. I’m writing this on Sunday night after the Grammys, but I’m sure that her debut of “Roman Holiday” will be one of the more talked about moments of the night. Filled to the brim with Catholic imagery, “I Feel Pretty”, an Exorcism send-up, a Christmas carol sample, and Nicki in full Roman Zolanksi batshit mode (I cannot make this up), “Roman Holiday”‘s big showing was the spectacle of the night, even if it seemed to have no message to speak of.
But enough about the performances, let’s talk trophies: how wrong was I this year?
Before we get to the big ones, I did pretty well on the miscellaneous awards that I predicted. Rock Album went to the Foo Fighters, my number two pick, instead of Jeff Becks’ award baiting Rock N’ Roll Party. Kanye walked away with Best Rap Album for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, like I and everyone else predicted, which was great to see because MBDTF still holds up excellently. I also got to nail Bon Iver for Best New Artist, and Best Alternative Music Album. I did strike out twice, though: Best Country Album went to Lady Antebellum, confusingly enough, and Paul Epworth got Producer of the Year over my picks.
I did somewhat underestimate Adele, too. She had a clean sweep of Best Record/Song/Album, and Best Pop Album (I had her for 2/4: I gave both Album categories to Gaga). While I’m thrilled at Adele’s success, her music is great and she seems truly likable, she did make for an unsurprising ceremony; she was predicted to win where nominated, which killed any variety or suspense to the show. But still, she deserves it, and at least Song of the Year didn’t go to “Grenade” or some such bullshit. Anyway, I went five for ten on first guesses, eight for ten with second guesses, and completely missed twice. Not bad.