chris stapleton in the press room with awards for best country solo performance and best country album at the 58th annual grammy awards last night. photo by chris pizzello/invision/AP.
The good, the bad, the tacky and the sublime. It was all on display through three-and-a-half hours of live TV last night as the 58th Grammy Awards commenced. Here is The Musical Box’s annual Grammy post mortem of what happened as it unfolded
+ Taylor Swift opened the ceremony, full of requisite pomp, with Out of the Woods. Host LL Cool J proclaimed the performance “a new Grammy moment.” Same old pageantry.
+ The Weeknd: Unexpectedly straightforward performance of In the Night that proved there was a solid voice to go along with that Maltese Falcon hairdo.
+ Station break: Channel surfed to Fox during a commercial to watch Mulder line dancing to Achy Breaky Heart on The X Files in front of “some very frightened middle aged Texans.’ Don’t know about the truth, but this was definitely out there.
+ Best country album: Chris Stapleton won for Traveller and thanked Swift for glitter bombing him earlier in the show. Kentucky rocks the house. Stapleton also won for Best Country Solo Performance.
+ Little Big Town singing Girl Crush: All about the lighting and camera angles. The song wanted to sound empowering, but it was just more Nashville Play-Doh.
+ John Legend: Modern day soul maestro served up a sterling and stirring version of Easy during an otherwise lacking Lionel Richie tribute. Did he die, too? Nope. Richie watched from the audience before joining in for All Night Long.
+ Steve Wonder and Pentatonix: A toast to Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire with an a cappella That’s the Way of the World. Simple, unforced and profoundly emotive.
+ The Eagles: Legendary California band honored Glenn Frey by performing Take It Easy with Jackson Browne, the artist who co-wrote the tune with the late vocalist, singing lead. A solemn, pokerfaced and understandably dour tribute.
+ Tori Kelly and James Bay. Nicely unadorned duet between two Best New Artist nominees, but their medley of Hollow and Let It Go was a generic heart-on-sleeve pop confessional snoozer
+ Hamilton: Live broadcast from Broadway of Alexander Hamilton, the opening number to the smash musical that was as wonderfully original and it was commercially improbable.
+ Kendrick Lamar: Introduced by Don Cheadle. Less hip hop and more like beat poetry until the groove commenced. A fascinating mash up of The Blacker the Berry and Alright that incorporated rock, jazz, worldbeat and a lot of pyrotechnics.
+ Best acceptance speech: Lin-Manuel Miranda, who rapped his entire speech after Hamilton’s win for Best Musical Theater Album. As joyous and refreshing as the musical itself.
+ Alabama Shakes: Best Rock Performance for Don’t Wanna Fight. ‘I promise we’re going to keep going,’ proclaimed lead singer Brittany Howard. The band’s live performance of the tune later in the show, complete with the piercing James Brown squeal, was psychedelic soul heaven.
+ Adele: A disappointing delivery of All I Ask. Brash, noticeably off-key at times and horribly mixed. And what was that noise that sounded like someone pounding on a screen door as she sang?
+ Meghan Trainor: “I’m a mess. I have to cry.” An honest reaction to winning Best New Artist, but a flat choice.
+ Lady Gaga: An overly glammed up but obviously heartfelt tribute to David Bowie that compacted 10 of the latter’s hits into an exhaustive medley, from Space Oddity to Heroes.
+ Performance highlight of the night: Chris Stapleton, Bonnie Raitt and Gary Clark, Jr. paid homage to B.B. King with a patient, elegant and effortlessly reverential version of the latter’s signature song, The Thrill is Gone.
+ Hollywood Vampires: Long in the tooth teaming of Alice Cooper, Joe Perry and Johnny Depp saluted Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister with a loud and proud Ace of Spades.
+ Album of the Year: 1989 by Taylor Swift. Completely expected. No Chris Stapleton upset. No Alabama Shakes upset. Just business as usual.
+ Record of the Year: Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. Seriously? The Grammys couldn’t find anything better than that to celebrate? It was nice the crew openly acknowledged George Clinton in the audience, but really. This was wallpaper funk.