The Grammys Play It Straight: 5 Takeaways From This Year’s Awards
Of deserving winners, Doja Cat’s threat to retire and strictly okay performances
After many delays, a full-fledged Grammys took place in Las Vegas, just a week after the now-infamous Oscars ceremony. While we’ll have to see if the Grammys got a bump in viewership courtesy of the slap that garnered headlines all week, the awards ceremony ended up being pretty tame. In fact, in many ways, it felt like the Grammys were playing it too straight. Is that a bad thing? Not really, but if you weren’t looking for a three-and-a-half-hour concert with a few awards handed out, then it was quite dull.
For a change, it seemed the love among winners was spread out, so thankfully we didn’t see the same artists during the telecast make umpteenth trips to the winner’s circle, which also certainly made for genuine acceptance speeches!
Takeaway 1: Trevor Noah is great, but we needed a bit “more”
I don’t want to take away from the fact that Trevor Noah was oh-so-present throughout the entire broadcast, a welcome return to having a host and the host actually interacting with the nominees, cracking jokes and serving as a true master of ceremonies. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s Noah himself, but there was just a slightly underwhelming energy level. This was the Grammys in Vegas! A little bit of glamor, show, something would have made the show feel more entertaining and energized!
Takeaway 2: Actual deserving winners!
Unlike most times where there is outrage over huge sweeps, big upsets or winners seeming undeserved, this year, even if we were rooting for one artist, we didn’t mind seeing the eventual win going to someone else. Silk Sonic towered over the stiff competition as expected in the Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year categories, respectively – but there was something about their reaction, their acceptance speeches and yes, their Vegas swagger that made us not mind the win. In fact, we cheered along. Additionally, even while most weren’t necessarily rooting for Jon Batiste winning Album Of The Year – his sheer talent, versatility and love for and by the community made his win feel less WTF than it normally would. Seeing Billie Eilish give him a hug before he went on stage made it feel even more impactful.
Takeaway 3: Jazmine Sullivan!!!
One of the nights best moments happened to be one of the most unexpected. Jazmine Sullivan winning for Heaux Tales, arguably the best album of last year (and noticeably absent from the Album Of The Year category). Seeing Sullivan win over H.E.R. (whose album was nominated for Best R&B Album and Album Of The Year) left the singer in pure disbelief. Even H.E.R. seemed to be rooting for Sullivan who thanked “all the black women” for just being themselves. It was nice to see critics, audience and Grammy voters align for a change!
Takeaway 4: Doja Cat DO NOT RETIRE!
While there have been rumors circulating all week about Doja Cat quitting music, here’s hoping her first ever Grammy win will change her mind. In what was possibly one of the most competitive categories this year – Doja Cat and SZA won over BTS, Coldplay, Justin Bieber (with Benny Blanco) and Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance with Vocal. Cat seemed stunned (more so because she came running from the bathroom) but also because after countless nominations in the last two years, it seemed likely she’d go home trophyless this year as well, but thankfully voters decided to acknowledge the multi-hyphenated talent. She’s proven every naysayer wrong while her album Planet Her still continues to give birth to Number One hits.
Takeaway 5: BTS rules. H.E.R. rocked. Eilish soared. Everyone else, meh.
BTS came to slay with their smash “Butter.” The single not only showcased each member’s vocal stylings but the performance itself became a 007/Mission Impossible-influenced routine that literally had every hater wondering, wait, why don’t I like them? Hands down, it was the performance of the night.
Beyond the K-pop band, H.E.R. proved once again why she keeps getting the love. From behind the piano to playing the drums to slaying the guitar with Lenny Kravitz, this was the Grammys I always love when performers come together and create a real Grammy moment. It was strangely one of the only times we saw unique collaborations on stage (besides the Steven Sondheim tribute during the In Memoriam package). I don’t know why they just had most performers just play their nominated song but it made the overall show feel quite just meh except…
Billie Eilish! The singer dressed in a T-shirt with the Foo Fighters’ late great Taylor Hawkins – was pure class and punk as she literally got drenched as she sang “Happier Than Ever”. It was the perfect performance and fitting tribute to the drummer.
All in all, the Grammys were enjoyable but something was just missing. There seemed to be a lack of energy. Maybe it was the host, maybe the Academy wished to keep the affair classier and more sobering. I will credit host Trevor Noah for being present and the show truly just being a series of good performances. What was missing was that spark of energy and also that synergy we normally see when artists come together rather than just do their own thing.
Think about when St. Vincent (a winner again tonight) and Dua Lipa shared the stage together and created magic. This year, Lipa was relegated to a silly bit with Megan Thee Stallion and Donatella Versace that just felt blah. Where were the best new artist nominees? Why didn’t we see Arooj Aftab on stage? Or Arlo Parks? Wouldn’t it have been nice to actually see Finneas as a performer given his nomination for Best New Artist instead of just supporting his sister?
I really hope collaborations return to the Grammys stage because that’s what has always made the ceremony so special. Who wouldn’t have loved to see Bonnie Raitt join Brandi Carlile or Lady Gaga and a Tony Bennett hologram? Okay I kid – but for a second week in a row now, Gaga has become the award shows MVP. While her performance was solid and a heartfelt ode to the retired Bennett, it is her helping SZA go up on stage while on crutches that showed her humanity once again.
Grammys, let’s have great performances but let’s have these amazing performers interact more with one another on and off stage. That will surely make for an even stronger show that no slap could derail.