There is something to be said about society when the phrase, “Best Grammys ever!” is (albeit pleasantly) surprising.
Nevertheless, those three words were splashed across social media for at least an hour after last night’s broadcast of the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, and for good reason.
In the middle of awards show season, it’s tough to be the Grammys. The viewing public only has a tiny sliver of breathing room between the acting-heavy Golden Globes, SAG Awards and Academy Awards (airing Feb. 26, don’t forget!). And in the middle of it all, The Little Awards Show That Could must bring in the star power and mainstream music that captivates audiences around the nation. Which can be tough, considering the demographic that put a song called “Sexy and I Know It” in the Top 10 on iTunes is not necessarily the same one tuning its televisions into CBS for the Grammys.
That’s not to negate the credibility of the Grammys. After all, this is the show that has introduced such breathtaking performers as Norah Jones into our lives in recent years, making famous the red carpet photos in which we worry about all those trophies falling out of the performers’ arms.
Still, it’s hard to forget some of the Grammys’ more tragic moments — remember that time Lady Gaga hid in an egg? Because that happened.
So, it’s understandable when audiences are a bit skeptical about the performances hitting the Grammy stage. Despite the talent that walked away with trophies last night, half of this year’s watercooler buzz will still be dedicated to Nicki Minaj’s ultimately polarizing performance, which included some of the most vulgar references to Catholicism pop culture has seen since “The Exorcist.”
But the other half, fortunately, will be dedicated to the simply stunning talent that was rightfully recognized at this year’s ceremony, none more deserving than the British pop powerhouse Adele, who walked away with one Grammy for every nomination she had (six in total!).
I’ve had Adele’s music on repeat since the days of “Chasing Pavements” and “Hometown Glory,” long before her stirring songs became the subject of “Saturday Night Live” sketches. But it’s all too heart-warming to see Adele finally be recognized for her unbelievably soulful voice and incredible songwriting ability, both of which are showcased on the five-times-platinum 21 album released in 2011. Five times! That’s a feat only accomplished by a handful of this generation’s musicians (including Taylor Swift, who was also in fine voice at this year’s Grammys), and it’s a testament to the kind of artistic talent that society is craving today.
Perhaps that’s why this year’s broadcast was (mostly) filled with veteran performers, ranging from Tony Bennett to Sir Paul McCartney (and, in a way, the late Whitney Houston, who could not have been immortalized any better than with Jennifer Hudson’s chill-inducing cover of “I Will Always Love You.”)
Viewers who are tuning into the Grammys do so to watch true performers do what they do best. We aren’t here to watch Chris Brown lip-sync his way through an acrobatics routine, then walk away with a Grammy in his hand for it. We aren’t here to watch Deadmau5 essentially throw a house party in the middle of the awards ceremony. We’re not even here to watch Katy Perry awkwardly transition from song to song as poorly as she changes her hair color.
We are here, though, to watch talents like Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson belt effortlessly across the stage to one another. We’re here to watch and listen while iconic acts like The Beach Boys and Glen Campbell are given truly genuine tributes by artists that adore them. We’re here to discover less-than-mainstream musical acts that are as haunting as they are quirky, like The Civil Wars and Bon Iver.
This year, for the most part, we got what we came for. And for that, we can breathe a sigh of relief.