‘A Live performance The place They’re Giving Out Awards’: Grammys Guess on Massive Performances in Spectacular However Entrance-Loaded Ceremony

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Whereas final yr’s COVID-compromised Grammy Awards hardly made for a scores success story, it did really feel just like the Recording Academy stumbled onto one thing new and fascinating with the extra intimate, largely outside broadcast. The performers had by no means felt so near the viewers, or to one another, leading to some unexpectedly thrilling little moments of star overlap — and a few uncomfortable ones, too, however even these couldn’t assist however be somewhat charming. Even the winners have been satisfying: 4 totally different artists splitting the Massive 4 classes (album of the yr, file of the yr, music of the yr and greatest new artist), all of them important modern artists, and all of them girls, simply three years after the disastrous “step up” incident. For a present that’d struggled somewhat to search out its modern footing lately, it was value questioning if the Las Vegas-set 2022 Grammys — if not formally the primary post-COVID Grammys, then no less than the primary with out the sort of pandemic-safety mandates that necessitate such formalistic reinvention — may nonetheless discover a technique to take classes from the earlier yr.

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And by the tip of the opening run of performances — Silk Sonic, Olivia Rodrigo and J Balvin — the reply to that question was clear: probably not. Slightly than persevering with to lean on going small, the Recording Academy as a substitute confirmed their intent to place the “Massive” again in Music’s Largest Evening, as evidenced by that first trio of big-name, big-production performances: Silk Sonic went Full Vegas glitz for his or her casino-themed “777,” Rodrigo introduced out a Mercedes-Benz and pretend suburban backdrop for “Drivers License,” and Balvin led a mini-auditorium’s value of seated backing dancers for “In Da Getto.” (In the meantime, a crowd-pleasing Trevor Noah labored a comparatively tame reference to The Slap into his internet hosting duties, a sigh-of-relief second contemplating how clearly one was coming and the way far more cringe-worthy it may have been.) Naturally, no award was given out between the performances; solely 9 complete awards have been handed out over the course of the three-and-a-half-hour broadcast. “Don’t even consider it as an awards present,” Noah tellingly suggested audiences early on. “This can be a live performance the place they’re giving out awards.”

It’s actually honest to ask if it’s insulting to the nominees (and to the load of the honors themselves) to de-emphasize the precise awards portion of the night so explicitly; the Oscars confronted heavy criticism only a week earlier for saying simply eight of their 23 classes of their pre-telecast, they usually nonetheless discovered a technique to excerpt even these wins on the principle present. However the Grammys have lengthy been trending on this course, as have televised awards exhibits normally, so it was additionally exhausting to get too labored up about Noah’s pronouncement — significantly when the present’s early performers have been so electrifying. Lil Nas X primarily advised the story of his profession since his final Grammys look in a three-song medley with dazzling design and convincing choreography. BTS gave most likely their best Stateside awards present efficiency up to now with a “Butter” so bursting with vitality and concepts (and one flirty/meme-friendly pre-song second between the group’s V and Olivia Rodrigo) that it felt just like the stage may barely maintain them. And Billie Eilish introduced the rain down together with her and brother Finneas’ explosive “Happier Than Ever” rendition, a satisfyingly definitive efficiency of a signature music of their careers.

The issue with all that? These three performances, together with these of Rodrigo and Silk Sonic, arguably comprised the 5 most-anticipated performances of the evening, no less than among the many modern hitmaking set — and there have been nonetheless practically two and a half hours to go within the broadcast as soon as the final of them (Eilish) was performed. After that, it was a stable however largely surprise-free run-through of performances from latest awards present standbys like Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, John Legend and H.E.R., the latter of whom no less than received to kick out the jams somewhat greater than normal alongside Lenny Kravitz and (after all) Travis Barker. Woman Gaga received in a pleasant second of tribute to Love for Sale accomplice Tony Bennett however with understandably little of her normal awards present shock-and-awe. Nas performed a medley of earlier hits as a suited-up massive band chief, proving such Rat Pack vibes incompatible together with his avenue rap classics. Justin Bieber’s “Peaches” with Daniel Caesar and Giveon was marred by some awkward refrain censoring and an absurdly drawn-out piano intro. It’d be powerful to keep up three-and-a-half hours’ value of livewire vitality for any dwell present, however significantly one the place the invoice is stacked with the would-be headliners occurring first.

It fell to the awards themselves, then, to cowl any lag in momentum, and… nicely, when you’re a Silk Sonic megafan, you bought to see Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars mainly reliving Mars’ triumphant 2018 Grammy evening, going 4-for-4 with their nominations — together with televised wins in each music and file of the yr for “Depart the Door Open” — and having fun with the second an excessive amount of to feign any false modesty (“Within the trade, we name {that a} clear sweep!“). Doja Cat gave each the funniest and most emotional speech of the evening, bemoaning the cut-short toilet break she needed to scurry again from to simply accept greatest pop duo/group efficiency together with SZA for “Kiss Me Extra,” after which shedding actual tears over what a “massive deal” the second was for her. And each Child Keem (greatest rap efficiency for “Household Ties”) and Jazmine Sullivan (greatest R&B album for Heaux Tales) received to take the rostrum for gratifying wins, the previous as affirmation of his rising star, and the latter as long-overdue validation for her glorious profession. However Olivia Rodrigo’s much-predicted massive evening didn’t fairly come to go; although she gained took house three statues on the night, just one was within the Massive 4 classes (greatest new artist), together with her “Drivers License” dropping each file and music of the yr to “Depart the Door Open,” and her Bitter additionally falling brief in album of the yr.

What album did take house that almost all coveted of Grammys, you may ask (assuming you didn’t watch and haven’t been on social media since Sunday evening)? That will be Jon Batiste’s We Are, a shock nominee when the class’s contenders have been first introduced in November, and now actually essentially the most sudden winner of the award in no less than a decade. (You might need to return to Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters victory in 2008 for an AOTY winner whose shock appeared as real as Batiste’s on Sunday evening.) It’s not an inexplicable choice: Batiste may be very well-liked amongst trade insiders, and his We Are album is a formidable and genre-spanning affair that doubtless appealed to voters with extra basic sensibilities, whereas the glut of latest pop stars within the class (Rodrigo, Eilish, Doja Cat, Lil Nas X, Taylor Swift) might have finally harm every of their particular person probabilities. Considerably jaw-droppingly, it’s additionally the primary album by a Black performer to win the award since Hancock, a streak we must always all be glad to see damaged. Nevertheless, Batiste isn’t in any other case the sort of winner to quell notions of the Recording Academy’s membership being out of contact with present tendencies; the set peaked at No. 86 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, spawned no hit singles, and acquired solely a handful of evaluations in mainstream publications.

Finally, it was most likely unrealistic to count on the kind of unplugged nature of the 2021 broadcast to mark a method ahead for the Grammys, slightly than a single-year aberration — nor was it sensible to count on one other repeat of final yr’s compelling array of well timed massive winners. For the Recording Academy, who already needed to delay the awards for 2 months resulting from omicron-variant scares, enterprise as normal is probably going adequate for these Grammys, which nonetheless packed their fair proportion of gorgeous performances and rewarding wins. However with scores which have lengthy been declining because the present’s runtime retains increasing, it feels fairly dangerous to ask followers to embrace a three-and-a-half-hour awards present that will get its largest stars out of the best way early, and ends with Jon Batiste accepting the marquee award and acclaimed nation duo Brothers Osborne enjoying over the tip credit. The Grammys might formally be Massive once more, however that doesn’t imply they’re too massive to fail.



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