By Setota Hailemariam
As far as past shows in history have gone, the 59th Grammy Awards were pretty tame, to say the least.
There weren’t any shocking performances like Nicki Minaj’s Exorcist-inspired display at the 2012 Grammys, and no artist collaborations as calculated and controversial as Eminem and Elton John’s union at the 2001 show. As far as scandalous dresses a la J.Lo go, the most eye-raising was a Make America Great Again gown worn by Joy Villa.
In all seriousness, though, last night’s Grammys had a solid performance lineup of some of the most significant names in music and were a fairly good reflection of the past year in popular culture. Here’s a recap of the best (and worst) moments:
Best Line Within the First Hour: James Corden. The host of this year’s show performed what originally seemed like a campy opener as he fell down his grand entrance stairs and pretended to dismiss his background dancers. However, in a surprising turn of events, he proceeded to deliver a freestyle rap about the upcoming show (and the state of the country). My personal favorite lines were: “Live it all up because this is the best / And with President Trump, we don’t know what comes next” and “Sturgill Simpson [Album of the Year nominee] is here and Google just crashed / From everyone typing ‘who the hell is that?’”
Most Heartwarming Acceptance Speech: Chance the Rapper. In a speech claiming his victory of Best New Artist “in the name of the Lord,” Chance just made you want to join his team – if you weren’t already on it. As the first independent artist to win the award in Grammys history, he inspired hope about the future of the music industry, and his speech solidified his place in it.
Biggest You-Had-To-See-It Moment: Beyonce. Her performance was absolutely breathtaking. With its stunning visuals, holographic likenesses of her family and her never disappointing vocals, it’s one of those moments you have to have seen to stay in the loop the next day. If you did miss seeing Queen Bey in all her glory, this Twitter user has you covered.
Best Cameo: Blue Ivy. Speaking of Bey, the most adorable surprise appearance of the night went to her daughter, Blue Ivy, as she crashed a “Carpool Karaoke” rendition of “Sweet Caroline” featuring James Corden, Jennifer Lopez, John Legend and others. Most kids grow up listening to the song in their parents’ minivans – Blue got to hear it from Neil Diamond himself.
Worst Attempt at a Political Statement: Katy Perry. Perry flashed the words of the Constitution on the screen behind her during her first live performance of her new pseudo-Caribbean single, “Chained to the Rhythm.” We, the people, collectively decided to ignore her.
Best Actual Political Statement: Hip-hop legends A Tribe Called Quest and breakout artist Anderson .Paak performed together, threw up black power fists, called out the Muslim ban and were altogether a perfect example of how artists should use their platform to speak out about injustice, especially during these critical times. Calling Trump “President Agent Orange” was a nice touch, too.
Best Tribute: Bruno Mars/Prince. As we all know, 2016 was a devastating year of loss in the music industry, and the Grammys paid respect to the artists that left us and the music they left behind. Though Tori Kelly and Andra Day killed it during the Bee Gees medley, Bruno Mars was a showstopper in the Prince tribute as he sang “Let’s Go Crazy” while dressed in the late legend’s iconic purple suit – proving, as he did in his earlier performance of “That’s What I Like,” that he can do no wrong.
Biggest Upset: Adele. Album of the Year is arguably the biggest category at the Grammys. It’s usually a close competition, so whoever wins is bound to catch some flack from fans of the other nominees. But this year there was a clear standout – Beyonce’s Lemonade. No other album nominated had as much of an impact or was as consistently good from track to track. If you weren’t already a fan of hers, this album made you become one. Yet Adele’s 25 somehow managed to take home the award.
Adele, a picture of grace and class, even recognized that she shouldn’t have won. In her acceptance speech, she professed her love for Beyonce and her work, going as far as to say she couldn’t accept the award. It’s safe to say the British singer had an emotional night (“I can’t mess this up,” she blurted out after she swore and asked to restart her George Michael tribute earlier in the show), but she handled damage control nicely.
Though crazy antics make for an entertaining show, the 2017 Grammys reminded us why we watch in the first place: for the music.
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of James Munson on Flickr.
Setota Hailemariam is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.