"I wasn't expecting this!" is what Bonnie Raitt exclaimed after she upset the Grammys' Album of the Year frontrunner, Mumford and Sons, in Best Americana Album. Those words can probably describe the 55th Annual Grammy Awards over all. The night was full of excellent performances, memorable speeches and surprise winners. Below, my take on Grammy day.
There were a slew of electrifying, soulful collaborations and performances. Elton John and Ed Sheeran, Mumford and Sons, Sting, Bruno Mars and the Marleys, Kelly Clarkson, Lumineers, Jack White, Carrie Underwood, Fun., etc. were all major highlights. Grammy producers made sure to spotlight talented singers and musicians.
Following her upset win for Best Spoken Word Album over two political superstars, Janis Ian proclaimed in the press room, "Apologies to the First Lady and Bill Clinton." Most of the upset winners, including pop album winner Kelly Clarkson, gave pretty witty acceptance speeches.
Grammy voters weren't afraid to go off script this year. There were multiple upset winners. Surprised Record of the Year champs Gotye and Kimbra ("Somebody That I Used to Know") were elated as they accepted their trophy from Prince who even confessed "I love this song" as he opened the envelope.
Lots of deserving acts, including Gotye and Kimbra, Miguel, Frank Ocean, Fun. and Pontoon, picked up their first Grammys this year.
It's always refreshing to see the Grammys grant performance slots to contemporary urban recording artists. Frank Ocean, Justin Timberlake, Miguel, Wiz Khalifa, Alicia Keys and Jay-Z all performed this year. In the past, viewers have complained about a lack of modern music being performed at the Grammys.
Tasteful, well-put-together tributes dominated parts of the evening. In particular, the Levon Helm tribute with Elton John, Mavis Staples, Zac Brown Band and Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard was a showstopper.
The telecast ended exactly on time!
It wouldn't be the Grammys without suffering through some bad, tuneless performances. Taylor Swift, Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert all had problems with their vocals.
Did Grammy producers really need to take 20 minutes to present the first award? Furthermore, can we please get more than 11 categories presented on the main telecast?
How can Mumford and Sons lose all of their nominations, including Best Americana Album, and then win Album of the Year for one of the category's least acclaimed releases?
Jay-Z and Kanye West have now amassed 37 Grammy Awards collectively. The majority of their wins, including the ones this year, are extremely deserving. However, their excessive wins in the rap field is overkill. Equally deserving artists cannot attain wins. Nas' highly acclaimed album, "Life is Good," earned four more nominations this year. Sadly, this rap legend is still Grammyless. Jay-Z and Kanye won Best Rap/Sung Collaboration with The Dream and Frank Ocean for "No Church in the Wild." Nas' luminous posthumous duet with Amy Winehouse, "Cherry Wine," would've made a much better winner and could've been a fitting way to anoint Nas with his first Grammy.
How can the Black Keys sweep the rock field, win Producer of the Year but then lose Album of the Year? Producer and Album (and sometimes Record) usually go hand in hand.