Ah, the Grammys. A fun-filled Sunday night. 81 awards given, but very few on live television, replacing the award ceremonies with live performances. A good plan, and clearly the 28mm viewers were thinking the same thing. The build-up was energizing, we were told “this is the biggest social media event ever” (LL Cool J mentioned hashtags gobs of times), and we even heard about the leaked memo with strong guidance on wardrobe requirements (as in, “don’t do anything to steal the thunder of the show, and don’t be the one with a wardrobe malfunction”).
So, my wife and I settled in to watch on a Sunday night — a perfect event following the Blizzard called Nemo in the Boston area. No, seriously, that was the name — I didn’t name it; just shoveled.
Couple of takeaways
- Pitchiness: Like, seriously. You may sound great in a studio with some auto-tuning help, but Taylor Swift keeps going flat. I was excited to see fun. but they took too long to get going, and weren’t well balanced. Mumford & Sons is a favorite of mine, and the opening was pitchy. Elton John, a long-time favorite, looked old and wasn’t nailing it in his duet with Ed Sheeran. Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley were pitchy. So, wait — 5 of the first 10 acts were pitchy? Thank goodness for Alicia Keys and Maroon 5.
- Justin Timberlake is impressive. Ok, I admit. I’m a fan. Like a 5-tool player in baseball, he’s versatile — he can sing, dance, and act. Have you seen him in Trouble with the Curve? That’s a good flick, and he plays the part well, bantering with both Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood. That’s no small feat. And the dude can move on stage. He’s a performer.
- The water was “fun”. No pun intended. But all I could hear was my mother saying “they let water pour all over the instruments?” How is that a good idea, with all the electronics out there? Someone had a “fun” idea but didn’t think this through.
- I love real people. Kelly Clarkson clearly had the most fun of everyone there. She hears her name and hugs some folks in the audience, and her dress catches on Miranda Lambert’s dress. She laughs — no diva moment. She literally goes on stage and says “this is wild. I did not expect this in the least.” And then says “Miguel, I don’t know who the hell you are, but we need to sing together.” Later on she photo-bombed Ellen. That lady knows how to have fun. Read more here.
- Nice touch from Gotye giving a shout-out to the other nominees, and other musicians who were not nominated. He seemed like a classy guy. And a nice compliment to Prince, who handed out the award.
- Advertisers, save your money. People are exhausted from the hype of the Super Bowl, and it was only one week later — it used to be spaced out more, but it’s not. No one talks about your commercials — they get up and get food or go to the bathroom after the performances. People wanted to hear the performances and nothing more. Commercials? That was “so last week.” But brands tried to get cute, and make it relevant to the music. Timberlake was everywhere. Whatever, they fell incredibly flat. I tried to like what Chevrolet was doing with their new campaign, but I have no bloody idea what they were talking about — my wife turned to me and said “wait, Chevrolet is selling robots?” Ouch.
So who shined? Here are my top 5:
Kelly Clarkson. Absolute biggest winner from the whole night. Killed it with her performance (now that’s how you perform live, people). Showed great range, an impressive set of pipes, and had you wishing for more. Add to that how much fun she clearly had, as noted above, and she was da’ bomb. Not even close in my book.
The Black Keys. Not only did they win several awards, but their performance with Dr. John and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band was excellent. It helped that I had seen the Preservation Hall Jazz Band during a trip to New Orleans a few years ago, but I thought they were good, energetic, and tight (Dr. John’s outfit notwithstanding).
Bruno Mars and Sting. I get why people love watching Bruno Mars and his band. That’s one seriously energetic bunch, and they have a blast. And you have to hand it to someone who keeps generating hits. And unlike some of the other “older crowd” performers whom I usually love (Sir Elton, you let me down), Sting was great. In tune, connected, and looked as if he belonged up there. By the way, the Marley additions were interesting (best hair ever on stage?) and brought back some memories.
Carrie Underwood. I’m not a big country fan, but that woman can sing. And she had to sing standing still so the light show could go on above her, around her, and on/in her dress. Whoa. Impressive.
Jack White. Yup, you never thought I’d admit that. The dude is wild, and his all-female band had equally wild-looking people, and the same goes for his all-guy band. An eerie mix of Boy George, Meatloaf, David Bowie, and Kiss. But it was captivating. The instrumentation was great, the performers were completely into it, and you couldn’t take your eyes off him. That counts as a win.
Taylor Swift. I keep trying to like her. She tries really hard. But her live performances (New Year’s Eve, Grammys) continue to be pitchy. Just can’t love it.
Rihanna. Oh my. She looked stoned. She looked disinterested. She looked out of place. I guess she can sing, but not her strongest performance.
Frank Ocean. Umm, all that build up, the awards, and then a frighteningly disjointed, out of tune, uninspired performance? Nope. Didn’t work for me.
Chris Brown. Really? Sit in the front row, in all white, and don’t stand up and applaud when Ocean wins the award over you? Show some class. But how good was it that Adele gave him a talking-to?
Hunter Hayes. I know, he’s dreamie. I’m sure my daughter thinks he’s hot. He’s a good looking 21 year old with a good reputation. But his songs were literally impossible to understand — he was pitchy, made you stop and wonder if he was even listening to his own piano playing, and he garbled all the words. Not his finest day, in my book.
Yes, there were others, good and bad. And no, I’m not weighing in on the fashion side of the Grammys. Even Katy Perry’s dress. And Kimbra’s dress. And Katy Perry’s dress. And some of the shoe choices. And Katy Perry’s dress. And, oh never mind.
There you have it. Thoughts?
I'm Glenn Engler, the CEO of Digital Influence Group, a full-service digital agency with social at its core. Husband, father, sports junkie.