All anyone wants to talk about this morning is the night’s biggest award, which somehow wasn’t the last award handed out for the evening. Not giving out the Album of the Year award to end the night is like the Oscars deciding to announce Best Motion Picture then getting on with the screenwriting awards. Who set this up?
In the night’s biggest shocker, Beck, who I mistakenly considered the Sara Bareilles of this year’s nominees, took home the Album of the Year honor over Sam Smith and Beyoncé. Kanye briefly took to the stage, much to the horror of Jay Z and Beyoncé (and Annie Lennox), before remembering how well that turned out for him the last time he crashed the stage of an awards ceremony.
The truth is – as tone-deaf as it may be having the Grammys award Beck for an album that’s not even in the top five of his discography, and to reward that album over Beyoncé’s magnum-opus – it is hardly out of character for the Grammys to award an artist for past misgivings. Beck’s Odelay and Midnight Vultures were snubbed when they were nominated for AOTY, losing to Celine Dion and Steely Dan respectively. In that context, Morning Phase‘s win is not as egregious. It’s unfortunate that the win had to come at the expense of an album that redefined how people consume music in the 21st century. If there’s any consolation for Beyoncé, she should rest well knowing that in fifteen years, after the release of her all-covers album, she’ll be walking on that stage to accept this same award, as a mea culpa for being shortchanged when she deserved the award the most.
Here’s a recap of the night’s best moments:
WORLD PEACE: ACHIEVED
It’s been done, you guys! Five and a half years ago, Kanye West helped make Taylor Swift the American sweetheart she is viewed as today. Little did we know at the time, but the event would help spawn Mr. West’s greatest musical achievement to date, while Taylor Swift would go on to become the music industry’s saving grace. When Kanye rushed the stage Sunday night in protest of Beck’s win, the prevailing sentiment was laughter. Oh, how far we’ve come.
SAM SMITH CLEANS UP
No one was surprised when Sam Smith claimed the awards for Best New Artist, as well as song and record of the year. The biggest surprise came when Smith performed “Stay with Me” and it was still somehow tolerable after being played ad nauseum this past year. While a “Latch” callback would have been nice, bringing out the always wonderful Mary J. Blige was a nice choice. That she didn’t shove Smith to the side and completely own the track was generous of her. That she made the performance worth watching is a bigger gift.
THE YEAR THE FEATURE DIED
Every year, the Grammys pair artists in performances that range from WTF to No, seriously, WTF. This year, the collaborations largely fell flat. Ed Sheeran with John Mayer? Jessie J and Tom Jones? Pharrell and Hans Zimmer? Hozier and Annie Lennox? Did they draw names out of a hat?
Overall, the performance-heavy broadcast didn’t have nearly enough energy to warrant the volume of performances. “FourFiveSeconds” may have been the most energetic performance of the night, and that featured no drums.
GENIUS LOVES COMPANY
Two Against Nature, O Brother Where Are Thou?, Come Away With Me, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, Genius Loves Company, How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, Taking the Long Way, River: The Joni Letters, Raising Sand, Fearless, The Suburbs, 21, Babel, Random Access Memories, Morning Phase.
Beyoncé, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, channel ORANGE, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy*, Merriweather Post Pavilion*, In Rainbows, Back to Black, Graduation, St. Elsewhere, Late Registration, The College Dropout, Elephant, Stankonia, Kid A.
(*not nominated, but totally should have been)
Honestly, which list would you rather be on?
If an album doesn’t produce massive singles along with a squeaky clean narrative (Random Access Memories, 21, Fearless, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below), it must be given the award as a token for a career’s worth of work. The line is long. Stankonia gets robbed, so they reward the duo’s double-LP instead. Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock: thank you for your contributions! U2, Dixie Chicks: sorry for leading you on in the past. Look, here’s how sorry we are! Robert Plant, I know we completely disregarded your work with Led Zeppelin, but Raising Sand totally nailed it for us.
If anything, the future looks bright for Beyoncé, Kanye West, and Radiohead.
As for my predictions, I went a very average 3 of 6, but I’ll bump that up to a 3.5 out of 6, since I knew either Iggy Azalea or Eminem would win Rap Album of the Year.
Sam Smith, as expected, won the awards for Best New Artist and Record of the Year. He also took home the award for Best Pop Vocal Album and Song of the Year, an award I thought was destined to go to Hozier’s “Take Me To Church.” St. Vincent’s win in the Best Alternative Music Album for her stellar self-titled release was much deserved, cementing her place among our generation’s brightest minds.
ONE LAST WORD