2015 Grammys recap
Allie Tollaksen | Monday, February 9, 2015
LL Cool J hosted the Grammys. Annie Lennox stole the spotlight with a powerful performance. Madonna took the stage and with a crew of elaborately costumed backup dancers, put on one of the most dynamic performances of the night. The crowd got on their feet to dance to the best of ELO. Paul McCartney and his suit-clad friends sang a brand new song together. Beck took home Album of the Year.
If you’re trying to rack your memory for when these Grammy moments occurred — 1975? 1985? 1995? — it may be hard to process that they all happened on one night: at the 2015 Grammy Awards on Sunday.
While the biggest music awards show of the year wasn’t entirely one big Throwback Thursday, it seemed that the show was at its best and most surprising when it handed the microphone over to music’s veterans. In the hands of new young artists, Sunday’s three-hour block of awards and performances largely fell flat.
By the end of the awards ceremony, the night had become a blur of minimalistic ballad performances. Uninteresting duets were a central theme, with Gwen Stefani and Adam Levine putting on a lackluster show and Sam Smith and Mary J. Blige’s underwhelming performance of Smith’s hit “Stay With Me.”
Fortunately, pop-rock goddess Annie Lennox managed to breathe some life into the night when she joined Hozier and gave an energetic rendition of “Take Me To Church.” It was easily the best performance of the night.
Unfortunately, no one seemed to take a cue from Lennox, and instead we were bombarded with stale and repetitive performances from almost every other artist. By the show’s end, when Beyoncé took the stage to perform “Take My Hand” and “Precious Lord,” what should have been a beautiful, even spiritual, way to end the night felt like more of the same after hearing so many intimate, toned-down ballads throughout the night.
There were a few acts that managed to break away from the single spotlight, monochromatic trend. Along with an upbeat and at the very least, interesting performance from Madonna, AC/DC rocked the stage to kick off the night. Pharrell also made a statement, commendably using his performance of “Happy” to comment on recent events in Ferguson. The elusive pop artist Sia gave one of the most compelling acts of the night with the help of friends Shia LaBeouf, Kristen Wiig and pint-sized “Dance Moms” star Maddie Ziegler. It’s telling that the artist with one of the most exciting acts of the night never showed her face.
Sandwiched between mostly yawn-inducing performances were the actual Grammy awards. Still, the primetime awards handed out largely mirrored the performances. Sam Smith nabbed four awards — Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album. Beyoncé deservingly won Best R&B Song for “Drunk In Love.”
Luckily, one unexpected stir brought some drama to the stage. As Prince (dressed in an incredible bedazzled orange jumpsuit in all his glory) announced Beck’s “Morning Phase” as the winner of Album of the Year, Kanye West jumped on stage to protest the surprising win. The whole world held its breath for the microsecond when the rapper lunged towards Beck, anticipating another Taylor Swift moment.
But instead of jumping to Beyoncé’s defense (which would have been justifiable — her self-titled album was incredible), Kanye stepped back. A surprised Beck begged Kanye to come back on stage (likely in agreement that he didn’t deserve the award), but Yeezy joined his jilted friends back in the audience. The three-second interaction felt like a million years, and the result was the most hilariously awkward moment of the night.
After a strained acceptance speech from Beck, the night wrapped up with impressive but not particularly thrilling performances from Beyoncé and John Legend.
The fact that Kanye’s unfulfilled interjection, a half-executed version of an act we’ve already seen, was the most memorable moment of the 2015 Grammys is pretty symbolic of the night as a whole: it left us wanting more of what we’ve seen in years before.