By Collin Ward, Staff Writer
Music makes the people come together.
The Grammy Awards, music’s biggest night, took center stage this past Sunday.
As an audience we were treated to a who’s who in the industry.
While Sam Smith proved to be the evening’s biggest winner, the true highlight of any Grammy telecast are the performances.
AC/DC: It is hard to fathom that this was the rock groups first ever Grammy performance. Bless them for getting the show underway in the best way possible. “Highway to Hell” got all of the Staples Center to their feet and rocking out. No lasers, no fancy LED screens, a little pyrotechnics for good measure, and all about the rock and roll. A great start to the award show. GRADE: A-
Ariana Grande: Standing still and just letting your voice deliver is a concept many of today’s pop stars have forgotten, not Ariana Grande, she has pipes. That is why it is unfortunate she was upstaged by her large orchestra. Yes, the performance was fine but it is not going to be one of those “Grammy Moments” that people will remember tomorrow. It also didn’t help that this somber performance came so shortly after AC/DC’s energetic opening.
Tom Jones and Jessie J : Tom Jones is still silky smooth and Jessie J is still a criminally underrated singer. These two can sing! It is collaborations like these which make the Grammys such a special night. The duo should pull a Gaga and Tony Bennett and grace us with s full album of their beautiful voices. GRADE: A-
Miranda Lambert: Further proving that she is county’s sassy bad girl Miranda Lambert got heavily into character for her performance of “Little Red Wagon”. Not a huge fan of the song but have to give props to Lambert for fully committing to her performance and visibly having fun doing it. GRADE: B
Kanye West: In his first time on the Grammy stage in six years Kanye West goes in a different direction heavily relying on autotune for his performance of “Only One”. The song is full of beautiful lyrics and emotion but the autotune makes his words less human therefore the emotion did not register as much as it should. Kanye is a great performer so he sells it and it is also beautifully lit. GRADE: C+
Madonna: When you have a performer as prolific as Madonna you are expecting something grand. While it did have its fair share of diamond encrusted back up dancers the performance felt so basic. The back track on her new single “Living For Love” also fully overpowered her live singing. Madonna still gives off the feeling of trying too hard to be shocking and culturally relevant. What would be truly shocking of Madonna would be for her to take the stage by herself and let her power as a performer speak for itself. GRADE: C+
Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Questlove, Herbie Hancock, and Jeff Lynne : What a unique group of performers. John Mayer, Questlove, and Herbie Hancock all took supporting roles for Sheeran’s performance of “Thinking Out Loud”. Sheeran’s vocals were on point and Mayer’s bluesy guitar mixed with Hancock on the piano added more depth to the song. The collaboration continued as Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne was brought on stage and Sheeran backed him up for his performance of “Mr. Blue Sky”. GRADE: A-
Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani: When Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani are billed to perform together we are expecting some pop / rock hybrid with some serious attitude. Instead, we are treated to a frankly boring performance of a forgettable Maroon 5 song. They sounded just fine but not memorable at all whatsoever. GRADE: C-
Hozier and Annie Lennox: Annie freaking Lennox! No one came close to having the stage presence like she did tonight joining the bluesy Hozier in his hit “Take Me To Church”. Lennox then transitioned to her cover of “I Put a Spell on You”. Her presence on stage and the passion she puts into her performance is almost spiritual and on a whole other level. GRADE: A+
Pharrell: Gospel robed dancers, yellow bodysuit violin players, and Hanns Zimmer on guitar may sound like a club SNL’s Steffon has been to, but it was actually Pharrell’s smile inducing performance of his song “Happy”. Mission accomplished. GRADE: A+
Katy Perry: A shocking transition from Perry’s Super Bowl performance last week. Touching, powerful, and brilliantly simple this might be Perry’s best performance to date. GRADE: A-
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga: At 88 years old Tony Bennett can still phrase a song beautifully. It is wonderful to see Gaga so understated as well. A simple classy performance. GRADE: B
Usher: Usher has a perfect voice to honor the great Stevie Wonder, and he did sound really good, but Stevie has so many wonderful funk songs why was this such a slow un-funky performance? GRADE: C+
Eric Church: With various real life riots being projected on the screen behind him Church delivers a crisp vocal of his song “Give me Back my Hometown”. GRADE: B
Brandy Clark: Two guitars and a beautiful vocal by country singer Brandy Clark. It’s a simple performance that was just fine but will be utterly forgettable by the end of the show due to the fact it was crammed between two more prominent performers. GRADE: B-
Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney: When the most interesting thing about your performance is the moving blank white screen behind you, we’ve got a problem. GRADE: D
Sam Smith and Mary J Blige: Trading verses on Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” the two blended perfectly together for their soulful performance. A simple pleasure. GRADE: B+.
Juanes: Colombian singer Juanes took the stage for a funky and catchy performance. Most importantly, unlike many of tonight’s performers, he was visibly having a fun time. GRADE: B
Sia: The best set piece of the night! Sia performed her hit song “Chandelier” with her back faced to the audience and let the dancing speak for themselves. Guest dancer Kirsten Wiig was a brilliant touch. GRADE: A+
Beck and Chris Martin: Surprise Album of the Year winner Beck paired with Coldplay’s Chris Martin to deliver a perfectly alright performance off his winning album. GRADE: B-
Beyoncé: A stunning vocal. Dressed head to toe in white and flanked by an all male choir Beyoncé was all class as she performed a rendition of the hymn “Take my Hand, Precious Lord”. GRADE: A+
John Legend and Common: while it’s message and lyrics are strong and poignant this was an extremely interesting choice to close out the Grammy’s. Left the ceremony on kind of a bummer note. GRADE: C