Grammys 2013 | Recap
Ah, the Grammys. The night where music, its biggest stars (and even bigger diamonds) shine. Yet here we are, the day after, with our Grammy hangover, and it's all a glittering haze of WTF moments and memories of Katy Perry's cleavage. No seriously though, DID YOU SEE KATY PERRY?! Priscilla Presley "homage" aside, last night's awards were a ploy to remain relevant, from LL Cool J's incessant Twitter hash-tag jokes to J.Lo's leg. Let's recap, shall we?
My mom and I sat in my living room watching America's favorite lovesick post-teenager, 23-year old Taylor Swift, open the show with that song that we agreed we never, ever, ever want to hear again. To be honest, I forgot it even happened, I just remember the circus theme where Swifty's latest victim (a stand in for One Direction's Harry Styles?) was tied down to a target. Then returning host LL Cool J reminded the audience, both at the Staples Center and at home, that he had a music career that actually garnered some Grammy love…years ago. A lackluster performance by Taylor's tourmate Ed Sheeran featuring Sir Elton John followed—do you know what that song was called? Me either.
FINALLY an award was given out for Best Pop Solo Performance, which went to Adele for her live version of "Set Fire to the Rain"—obviously deserving, but an upset since she also swept last year's awards. As the beautiful and bubbly new mom accepted her ninth Grammy (she also won Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 2009), my mom threw in a "Could she look any more like a frumpy couch?" Fashion policing aside, the show at least began to resemble an awards event after about 20 minutes.
Anthemic hipster band fun. performed next, complete with gang vocals and dramatic rain. The group, which released its first studio album in 2009, won Song of the Year for "We Are Young," which still soundtracks many a drunken night for all ages, and Best New Artist, which was a bit of a slap in the face to actual, deserving new artists, cough Frank Ocean cough. Fun.'s joke of the night was, "We're so old." Well, yeah, we got that.
While the evening seemed to celebrate the excesses of pop music—the long awaited return of Justin Timberlake, and Kelly Clarkson, who gave a wonderfully drunken and rambling speech while accepting the award for "Best Pop Vocal Album"—rock also had its moments. The Black Keys cleaned up, period. The duo took home "Best Rock Performance," "Best Rock Song" and "Best Rock Album." Frontman Dan Auerbach also went home with the Producer of the Year, Non-Classical, award for his work on both the Keys' El Camino and Locked Down by Dr. John, who joined the Keys along with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a rollicking rendition of "Lonely Boy." Yet no one brought the real rock-star persona to life like Jack White, who played "Love Interruption" with his all-female band before destroying ear drums around the world with his all-male band on the song "Freedom at 21." Were those sparkling peacock feathers on his Grand Ole Opry–inspired suit? Someone tell me yes.
But wait, so far the show sounded fun, right? Nah. There was a randomly interjected Bob Marley tribute (maybe due to the 2012 doc Marley?) that featured exactly ONE Marley song, "Could You Be Loved" which featured Bruno Mars, Sting, Ziggy and Damian Marley, and Rihanna, but was really more of a showcase for Mars to show why he deserves a Grammy…eventually. Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley also performed, and then Zac Brown Band took home "Best Country Album" as my mom and I stared blankly at one another.
In a whopping three and a half hours of television, only 11 awards were given out. Another astounding misstep was the lack of diversity in the televised awards. There was a gross underrepresentation of hip-hop and R&B, easily two of the highest-selling genres of the past decade. Drake won for "Best Rap Album" while Miguel won for "Best R&B Song" with his baby-making future classic "Adorn," both of which were handed out during the pre-telecast portion of the ceremony (though Miguel turned in one of the night's strongest performances with that hit, despite Wiz Khalifa's unnecessary cameo).
An incredibly deserving Frank Ocean won for "Best Urban Contemporary Album" (Grammy committee: Explain "urban contemporary," please.) and "Best Rap/Sung Collaboration" for "No Church in the Wild," his collaboration with Jay-Z, Kanye West and The-Dream off Watch the Throne. This was the point in the show where Jay-Z, who had possibly been drinking, said "I want to thank the swap meet for his hat," referring to The-Dream and his Boyz N the Hood cap. Harsh. Anyway, Ocean also performed a stripped-down version of "Forrest Gump" from his major-label debut, channel ORANGE.
The biggest awards of the night, "Record of the Year" and "Album of the Year" fell so far to the end of the show that I almost stopped watching and went to bed. Prince, the night's diva (rightfully so; he's Prince), presented "Record of the Year" to Gotye for "Somebody That I Used to Know," and he may go down in history as the only presenter who managed to make the winner's moment all about himself due to Gotye's high praise. "Album of the Year" was a shock—I mean really people, let's face it. U.K. folk heroes Mumford & Sons won the award for their latest release, Babel. My mom shouted, "WOW, WHAT AN UPSET!" while I shed a happy tear (Mumford's "Lover of the Light" is perfect, don't judge me).
The greatest performance of the night was a tribute to the Band's Levon Helm, which featured Elton John, Mumford & Sons, T-Bone Burnett, Mavis Staples, the Zac Brown Band, and Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard singing "The Weight." In a perfect world, the entire song would've just been Staples and Howard exchanging verses and scatting with reckless abandon. A girl can dream.
As the ceremony drew to a close, LL Cool J took one final crack. "By night I'm a rapper," he reminded the crowd, which by then was probably ready to retire, as was I. His '90s rap-rock single called "Whaddup" (no really) featured Public Enemy's Chuck D, Rage Against the Machine guitar shredder Tom Morello, and Blink 182's Travis Barker on drums. There was a brief moment of excitement when a "No Sleep till Brooklyn" chant broke out in memory of the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, but other than that I think it's time Cool James hangs it up.
I can't really recall much else. Midway through I was bored and began writing this recap while my mom and I discussed what we were going to watch afterwards. Maybe the music industry will be saved when Justin Timberlake drops his forthcoming The 20/20 Experience, and the 2014 Grammys will actually be worth watching. Instead, here we are, wondering what the Grammy dress code memo really said and if Ellen DeGeneres really creeped Beyoncé out as much as it looked like she did.