Highlighting three of the biggest parts of last night’s broadcast:
There was a feeling right after Kendrick Lamar’s searing, life-affirming Grammy performance Monday night that the show had reached its peak. That feeling turned out to be an accurate one, as the night’s many overwrought and mismanaged “tributes” and collaborations brought the whole event down with them. From the grab-bag group of collaborators brought together to tribute Lionel Richie to Johnny Depp and Alice Cooper honoring Motörhead’s Lemmy, these Grammy’s were the best example yet of the production’s surface-level planning. Every year, the Grammy’s collaborations are stretched more and more thin, but this year, there was seemingly no rhyme or reason for any of these artists to perform together other than, “Oh, hey, they’re both famous.” In a time when artists are teaming up and appearing on each other’s songs at a fast clip, Grammy producers ignored the great real-life collaborations of 2015 for these bizarre, Frankenstein monsters of performances.
As for the awards, things didn’t stray far from what the Grammy’s are known to do. I whiffed on a couple – Album and Song of the Year – as the Grammy’s awarded Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran where I thought they’d go with Kendrick Lamar and… Taylor Swift. None of the wins were egregious, if we’re basing the priorities of Grammy voters in commercial appeal and name recognition. If that’s the most important trait Grammy voters are looking for, then they acheived their main objective Monday night. But that line of action shows the true problems of an award show like the Grammy’s: they’re structured to follow commercial trends, not forge a new way. Because there would be no better way for Kendrick Lamar to become a household name than to win Album Of The Year.
Speaking of Kendrick Lamar, he delivered what I can only call the best Grammy performance of my lifetime. As he is wont to do, Lamar stuck in another untitled new track in the midst of his incredible medley of To Pimp A Butterfly tracks. And while watching his performance in the middle of Monday night’s telecast, I knew no matter the outcome of the night’s biggest awards, Kendrick Lamar was the winner of the night. He doesn’t need an award to tell him that. It’s also important to be duly recognized as the best, which Lamar was. While 1989 is a stellar collection of refined pop hits, Butterfly is a breathtaking work that largely defied categorization – featuring a fusion of jazz, rap, funk, soul and gospel. It’s hard to think what more Kendrick Lamar could have done to win the award for AOTY last night, but the more you think of what could have been done differently, the more irrelevant the entire night becomes. For many, TPAB will always be the album of the year. More importantly, it will also be seen as an album of a generation.