Things We Need To Revisit From The 2017 Grammy Awards

It’s 2017, and we’ll take our heroes where we can find them. We love all our feet-on-the-ground workers and thinkers and doers, but even the Grammy Awards had their slate of performers and guests who saved the show from being a hum-drum night of pop hits and elevated it to the next level. Picks are in no particular order and there’s gonna be a lot of Beyonce. Just so you know.

Beyonce

My explanation for Beyonce’s performance: when you’re in an art museum, and you’re expecting to walk into another gallery room, but it’s actually a video installation and there’s movement, light, color and sound all around you.  Just a few of the amazing features of this performance, because we all know that YouTube video isn’t staying up:

  • Beyonce looking like some kind of pregnant Renaissance painting subject
  • Beyonce also looking like some religious fresco subject
  • Hologram Tina, Bey and Blue
  • That crown. Statue of liberty? Space queen? Egyptian deity? Halo? All of the above?
  • Every single one of those dancers
  • That kind of last supper thing.
  • Bey reenacting the move that always made our teachers tell us that we’d crack our head open if we leaned back in our chair like that.
  • My realization that almost 4 minutes passed before Bey even sang.
  • That time she sang right into all of our souls, personally and individually, all at the same time.
  • Jay-Z’s look of pride and adoration.
Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest is exactly the group we need, back exactly when we need them. This video’s going away soon too (we are waiting and hoping for an official, sanctioned vid), so here’s what we love:

  • The fact that they performed We The People, the same fantastic song they did on SNL just days after the election, which came true in the intervening months.
  • The moniker “President Agent Orange”
  • That classic throwback with Award Tour
  • When the wall broke down
  • The fierce looking hijabi standing center stage
  • Everyone processing down the aisles
  • The raised fist
  • The presence of Phife Dawg so strong it was almost like he was there
Chance The Rapper

Both his win and his performance. I included one of Lil Chano’s Acid Rap songs on our summer 2013 playlist. For a few years after, I was worried that one of the most promising and talented new rappers was out of the scene. Lucky for all of us, Coloring Book is making huge waves. These wins – Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Album – aren’t JUST huge for Chance’s career, they’re a huge moment for indie rap in general.

“I’m gonna talk. Y’all can play the music if you want. I want to thank God for my team. I know a lot of people think independence means you do it by yourself, but independence means freedom. I do it with these folks right here. Glory be to God, I claim the victory in the name of the Lord, let’s go!”

Adele

I think Adele is incredibly talented. I mean, we’re past objectivity with her: there’s no ‘I think’ about it; Adele IS incredibly talented. That said, I was pulling for Lemonade for the Album Of The Year win. Of all the nominees, I thought it was the best-crafted and most innovative: it was the album that would define 2016, above the others. Still, Adele seems like such a genuine and kind person that I can’t help but be happy for her good fortune. Besides, she was pulling for Lemonade too. She pulled a Cady Heron and broke up her award:

“My artist of my life is Beyonce and this Lemonade album is just monumental. It was so monumental and so well thought-out and soul-baring, and we all got to see another side to you that you don’t always let you see. And all of the artists here, we all fucking adore you. You are our light. And the way you make me feel, the way you make my Black friends feel, is empowering, and you make them stand up for themselves. I love you, and I always will.”

It’s 2017, we’ve come a long way as a people, and Adele just “I’m’a let you finish”-ed herself.

Blue Ivy

Blue Ivy in a pink Gucci power suit with a black panther on the back, because she’s Beyonce’s girl already and you can be adorable and make a statement at the same time.

Blue Ivy cheering for her mother’s win.

Hologram Blue Ivy.

Blue rushing in to the Carpool Karaoke car to save a failing bit.

Blue showing her purse to her bestie during Bey’s speech.

Blue Ivy Carter is our future. It’s her world, and we just live in it.

Blue Ivy’s Friend Madison

This woman of mystery is so enigmatic that I found myself searching “2017 Grammys seating chart,” “Jay Z niece” and “does Beyonce have a cousin.” It took days to learn that Blue’s gal pal is Madison Brown, daughter of Roc-Nation co-founder Jay Brown. Blue Ivy gets a front row guest when half of the entertainment industry can’t even get a ticket (okay, I GUESS Madison was there with her dad), and Madison was living her best life and making the most out of this awesome school night outing. I’d never really want to be famous,  but Blue’s mystery friend proves that having a famous bestie might be the best gig of all. Madison mugged for the camera and, wither her impeccable white-silver dress, proved that she won’t just be singing backup.

Drunk Chrissy Teigen and Helpful John Legend

Chrissy Teigen is hilarious, fun, and exactly the kind of person I would like to have in all of my group texts. She’s also one of my favorite famous people because she DOES.IT.RIGHT. Like, she really enjoys the perks and parties that go with her lifestyle instead of appearing blase or too cool for it. John Legend is every guy trying to figure out how girl clothes and jewelry work, and earned himself an internet Relationship Goals badge in the process (“why would I be mad at you? You’re perfect.” Cherish him, Chrissy. I mean, we know you do.)

True, but unfortunately when you’re single and drunk you have to take off all of your own jewelry, and it’s HARD.


In conclusion, the Grammys were great, A Tribe Called Quest just might save us, Blue Ivy is a blessed child of the light, and Chrissy Teigen is invited to all of my texts forever.

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Things We Need to Revisit From the 2016 Grammy Awards

I’m accidentally starting a new series for the blog called Things We Need to Revisit, which I kicked off with the Super Bowl 50 earlier this month. Today, we’re talking all about last night’s Grammy Awards, which was filled with highs and lows and Hamilton. All Hamilton all the time. Here are the moments I feel like we need to talk about again today, and yes, Taylor Swift’s maj shade is on the list.

Bow Wow Doesn’t Understand Time

As awards shows are wont to do, stars from that network randomly show up to promote their series in a slick way. It’s the reason why NCIS: Los Angeles star LL Cool J has hosted the show 5 times, and why Gary Sinise star of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders presented the Best Country Album with country singer Cam. And it’s why Shad Moss aka Bow Wow (CSI: Cyber) was chosen to co-host the pre-show with actual reporters from Entertainment Tonight. Approximately 2 minutes before the show started, Shad was in the audience giving viewers a preview of who was in the crowd, but at the 1.30 mark, he excitedly yelled, “The Grammys start now!” … except they didn’t. He attempted to do filler then throw away to the top of the show like two more times, looking at his watch WHICH SHOULD HAVE TOLD HIM THE TIME? before they cut away to the ET folks who know how time works. It was awkward and I can’t stop laughing at it.

Sam Hunt and Carrie Underwood Take Their Time

Apparently their performance was shat on by a lot of haters online, but I wasn’t paying attention – Carrie is one of my favorite singers and Sam is a smokeshow so this pairing was a GD dream. Plus, the sound system was already fucked up (see: Adele).

It’s an Easy Hello for Demi Lovato

Demi was part of an all-star tribute to Lionel Richie, with a medley that included John Legend, Meghan Trainor, Luke Bryan and Tyrese Gibson (?). While John kicked it off with a flawless version of Easy, Demi was a standout in the bunch, mainly because she knocked the socks off of people who have been underestimating her or just don’t know her music. They know her as a former Disney star who went to rehab, and over the past year, Demi’s been out there hustlin’ trying to prove them otherwise. IMO, the new era of her slay-age began with SNL back in October, and with her performance on the Grammys it took her to a whole new level. Demi has never even been to the Grammys before, which was a conscious decision on her part. She didn’t want to go unless she earned it, whether it be being asked to perform or having a nomination (one day), so her debut at the Grammys itself became an epic one with her powerful vocals. And she definitely showed them she was meant to be there.

Stevie Wonder Burns The Audience

After performing an a cappella tribute to late Earth, Wind, & Fire star Maurice White with Pentatonix, Stevie was responsible for reading the winner of Song of the Year. He brought out the envelope, which was a bit of a gag since, hey, Stevie’s blind (tell that to 19-year-old me who legit waved to him at TRL). But then he turned it into somewhat of a PSA.

Kendrick Lights Up

If you were not giving this man a standing ovation at the end of this performance – I don’t care where you were – you need to wake the fuck up.

Adele Still Better Than Your Faves

So not everything can go perfectly on live TV, even if you’re Adele. The only difference is that Adele can still make a fucked up instrumental and sound situation seem like NBD. Especially in a huge venue like Staples Center with thousands of screaming fans, it’s imperative for a singer’s earpiece to work, and for the music playing through said earpiece to be on tune. It definitely wasn’t her best performance, and everyone freaked out but ultimately forgave her because she’s Adele. However, she explained later that the piano mics fell on to the piano strings, and that’s what made it sound like a guitar was blaring every other beat and like she was off key. She’s also fine with it because she got In and Out after. Goals.

Sofia Vergara Did A Thing

Believe it or not, Sofia Vergara helped close out the Grammys. Backstory: Pitbull made a surprise appearance at Sofia’s wedding to Joe Manganiello last year by performing a few songs at their reception. I’m assuming to help pay him back, she agreed to dress up as a Taxi and dance around the stage during his performance. So, that happened.

Taylor’s Got It Made In the Shade

If you’ve been following the Kanye drama over the past week (there’s a lot so it’s fair if you haven’t), you know that he name dropped Taylor in his new song Famous. He says, “I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex / I made that bitch famous.” Long story short, Kanye isn’t apologizing and Taylor responded for the first time by throwing the most shade to him in her acceptance speech for Album of the Year. Like, if you need to describe to someone what shade is (which I’ve had to do), this speech is the textbook definition of it. PS: Remember the time Taylor thought she won Album of the Year in 2014 because “Red” sounds a lot like “Random Access Memories” by Daft Punk?? STILL FUNNY.

#Gram4Ham

Saved the best for last. While I think Kendrick had the best *awards show performance*, the cast of Hamilton had their own revolutionary performance in a different way. We both had a lot of feelings before the cast performed the opening number, Alexander Hamilton, live from the Richard Rodgers theater in NY, and one of those feelings had to do with the fact that it was the first time the cast has performed a full song on TV. We were going to be in the room where it happens, only if for a few minutes. It was just as beautiful and moving as I had imagined. And of course, to top it all off, they won Best Musical Theater Album (obviously. this category is usually relegated for the pre-telecast!) and Lin didn’t disappoint with yet another acceptance speech rap. That also made me cry. I’ve never been so proud of a group of people I’ve never met before than this cast. WEPAAAA

Playlist of the Month: Songs by 2015 Grammy Nominees

The Grammy Awards are this Sunday, and the nominees always remind me how much music I’m not listening to. There are whole categories – chamber music, regional roots, children’s  – that I can honestly say I haven’t played once in the past 12 months. Neither of us is concerned with what music is supposed to be highbrow or cool, which is probably why you won’t see anything from the more esoteric categories. We just like what we like. Here’s what we liked from the 2015 Grammy nominees:

Molly’s Picks

Jackie And Wilson by Hozier {Song Of The Year}

I have a rule that if there are more than three songs I want to download from an album, I just buy the whole thing. That was the case with Hozier’s self-titled debut. We all know Take Me To Church, the song for which he was nominated and the Top 40 constant for the past 3 months. But this is an album with, like, 10 standout tracks. It was hard to pick just one, but it felt right to introduce everyone to one of Hozier’s more uptempo tunes.

Bed Peace by Jhene Aiko ft. Childish Gambino {Best Urban Contemporary Album}

If you can watch this video without wishing that Donald Glover and Jhene Aiko would just be a couple already, I can’t relate. As someone who listens to a lot of … um… urban contemporary? music, Sail Out is really refreshing because it’s sort of floaty and beachy in addition to the typical rap solos and R&B beats.

Seriously. Does anyone still say “urban music” though?

Afterlife by Arcade Fire {Best Alternative Music Album}

Also, does anyone still say “alternative music?”

Usually I listen to Arcade Fire when I feel like revisiting 2005 (see also: Bright Eyes, Motion City Soundtrack). While Reflektor still sounds like Arcade Fire, they’ve definitely moved further into the synth-y, electronic, dancey direction.

Bad Blood by Bastille {Best New Artist}

It always feels like the Grammys use some fuzzy math for what’s a “new” artist. So, yeah, Bastille’s been around for a minute. I’ve been watching Twin Peaks so I had to pick the song named after pretty, dead Laura Palmer, even though this one sounds sort of surprisingly Phil Collins-y.

Severed Crossed Fingers by St. Vincent {Best Alternative Music Album}

I’ll admit it. This is my least favorite St. Vincent album. But it’s still really good, and I’m always in favor of artists trying new things instead of spitting out what they think their audience wants.

Traci’s Picks

3005 by Childish Gambino {Best Rap Performance}

Being a fan of Community, I was an early adapter to Childish Gambino. I saw him live in 2010, and as he became more popular over the past few years, the venues started getting bigger and, for some reason, the audience kept getting younger. Anyways, I was a hardcore Gambino Girl back in the day and am particularly partial to his earlier stuff. His Grammy-nominated album (!) because the internet was clearly an evolution of his sound, and although it was good, I just personally liked the tracks off Camp and his EP better (Kauai is really good too, tho). But one song I couldn’t (and still can’t) stop playing is 3005, which is reminiscent of that early sound I loved. A fun thing to do is listen to it on your car and when the beat kicks in on the chorus, turn the volume way up and then immediately turn it back down because you are old now.

New Flame by Chris Brown featuring Usher & Rick Ross {Best R&B Performance}

UGH CHRIS BROWN. STOP MAKING MUSIC I LIKE, BECAUSE YOU ARE LIT’RALLY THE WORST. But hi Usher. UGH CHRIS BROWn,.

Rather Be by Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne {Best Dance Recording}

I was in the unique position of reading about how this song was burning up the UK charts prior to actually hearing it. I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and immediately got addicted to it, and now am a fan of both Clean Bandit and Jess Glynne. Her voice is perfectly suited for Clean Bandit’s sound, and vice versa.

Something in the Water by Carrie Underwood {Best Country Solo Performance}

I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I’m particular to Carrie Underwood, specifically that hearing her sing usually makes me cry. This song is no different. It was a track she released in conjunction with her greatest hits album, and like a couple of her other songs, it’s classified under the Christian genre, and she even samples Amazing Grace towards the end. That song is so traditional that it can be overplayed and overused, but Carrie makes it sound brand new and makes you feel something within, no matter what you believe.

Day Drinking by Little Big Town {Best Country Duo/Group Performance}

So it’s February, and there may or may not be a blizzard going on outside your home right now, but if you want to feel like it’s summer and you’re throwing back a few margs or beers or alcohol of your choice, just listen to this song.

Honorable Mentions:

Bound 2 by Kanye West featuring Charlie Wilson {Best Rap/Sung Performance}, Ain’t It Fun by Paramore {Best Rock Song}, Automatic by Miranda Lambert {Best Country Song}

Point/Counterpoint: Televised Weddings – Gauche or Glorious?

On Sunday night, the world made a broad leap for marriage equality. Dozens of mixed- and same-sex couples were married by Queen Latifah at the Grammy Awards as Mackelmore, Ryan Lewis, and Mary Lambert sang “Same Love.” Madonna, dressed as a cane-wielding old oil baron from a more fabulous version of 1930s Texas, even warbled one of her classics. If the American public didn’t know it before, they do now — gay couples can be just as tacky as straight couples. Suck it, haters!

Not to be outdone,  at the very same time, Sean and Catherine from The Bachelor got married on LIVE TV. It’s the Great Gay/Straight Televised Wedding-Off, where whoever wins… basically loses.

Of course, for every person bemoaning televised weddings as super-cheezy, there’s another who thinks they’re, I guess, romantic and beautiful or something. The only way to settle this is through a point-counterpoint.

Point: Weddings should be about you, your spouse, and your loved ones — not you, your spouse, and the American Public.

Need I say it – same goes for proposals.

By getting married in front of a live television audience, you aren’t saying “I love this other person so much!” You’re saying “Look at how I love this other person so much!” It’s a fine distinction, but it’s a distinction.

Counterpoint: Weddings are about publicly declaring your love and commitment. What’s more public than TV?

I’m sorry… were you insulting TV? I know you weren’t insulting TV. Most of us spend more time with TV than we do with our friends and family. Why wouldn’t we invite TV to our weddings? TV should be at the head-freaking-table, if you ask me. TV should be the priest. TV should be the groom.

Point: TV weddings are super tacky. Do you really want to explain to your grandchildren that you got married live on the Montel Williams Show?

So, you got married in a camo dress. And you can’t even lie about it in 50 years, like my grandma did about being 5 months pregnant when she got married, because everyone can just look it up. Good work.

[In case you’re wondering, it all came to a head when my grandma, in a state of light dementia, really strongly opposed the 50th wedding anniversary dinner we were throwing them. Turns out, it was actually their 49th anniversary.]

Counterpoint: Will & Kate, and Charles & Diana before them, got married on live tv. They’re not tacky.

Viewers worldwide didn’t wake up or go to sleep at weird times to watch these weddings because they were tacky. They did it because they wanted to see what dress the bride wore (Will and Kate) or if Camilla would stand up and shout out an objection (Charles and Diana). You know, normal stuff.

Point: Yes, but the royals had the same wedding they would have if the cameras weren’t there. They weren’t mass-married by the woman from Living Single, who didn’t even sing U.N.I.T.Y.

So, my friends and I watched this video before the Grammys, and can I just say what a shame it is that Latifah can do this but chose not to? I miss when rap used to sound like this, and if I could get Latifah at my wedding, damn straight she’d be laying down some early 90s beats.

Counterpoint: TV weddings allow people to have features that they never would have been able to afford themselves, like a Badgley Mischca gown (Trista, of The Bachelor) or the woman from Living Single as the officiant.

These super-cute in-love people don’t look too unhappy with how this wedding thing is playing out – and other people seemed to love it too. Did you see the crowd shots? The only time I’ve seen celebrities look so giddy is when they’re pretending to be happy for somebody who won an award.

Point: By providing your own wedding budget, you also get to call the shots (read: you don’t have to worry that a frail Madonna will keel over while singing a song from the year of your birth)

I… I think she really needs that cane you guys.

What if you love Madonna, but you’re really more into Like A Prayer? Tough luck. A lot of money goes into these tv weddings, but as a wise man once said, mo money mo problems.

Counterpoint: At least on TV weddings you don’t have to audition wedding bands or yield to requests for The Chicken Dance.

#whitepeople

The whole televised aspect of the wedding gives couples an easy out when their families want them to do tacky stuff. Oh, sorry mom, ABC won’t let us do the dollar dance. I can’t do the garter thing because we have to take a commercial break then. Do you know how much it costs to license the Electric Slide?

Point: The Honeymoon Suite Cam.

From what we’re told (yet really do not need to know), Bachelor Sean’s wedding night was his first time. The ever-classy folks at ABC chose to highlight that by training a live cam on the Honeymoon Suite before the wedding. I can only guess that they kept it on until 2-4 minutes after the wedding, at which point there was nothing more to see there.

Counterpoint: There is no counterpoint. The Honeymoon Suite Cam was awful.

The Worst: Grammys Fashion Through the Years

Awards season continues this Sunday with the 56th annual Grammys, a brief distraction from the weekly January fete of movies and television. Like the grown-up version of the MTV VMAs, the Grammys are where the rules of the red carpet are thrown out the window. It’s a show for rockers, rappers, pop stars and singers who are artists and basically wear whatever the hell they want.

Over the years, there have a been quite a few stunning (I mean that in the way that ‘Oh my GOD I am stunned by the egg contraption Lady Gaga is arriving in’, not ‘Beyonce looks stunning in that gold gown’) outfits on the red carpet, and here are just a few to get you prepared for Sunday.

Annie Lennox (1984)

I’m gonna let you take a second and figure out which one is Annie Lennox. Okay good. Now remember when Lady Gaga became Jo Calderone? Yeah, Annie did it first.

Shirley Manson in Garbage – literally (1999)

There’s no better way to promote your own band than by sticking it to the front of your see through dress.

Jennifer Lopez in Versace (2000)

Ah, the infamous green Versace dress. I think this will go down as one of the most recognizable gowns in all of Grammys history. I remember when this happened and everyone making a reallly big deal out of it. 14 years later, it’s funny because I think people would still make a big deal out of it, despite all the Mileys and Lady Gagas of the world.

Christina Aguilera in Versace (2000)

The only thing that could make this more 2000/millennial is if Xtina was wearing butterfly clips in her hair to match the jeweled butterflies on her dress.

Missy Elliot in Versace (2000)

Supa Dupa Fly – and sharp.

Toni Braxton in Richard Tyler (2001)

Lawddd Toni, I know it’s LA but seriously wouldn’t you be cold in this dress? And by dress I mean piece of fabric cut like one of those paper snowflakes you make in elementary school.

Christina Aguilera in Trish Summerville (2001)

The 90s/00s weren’t the best for fashion and Christina wasn’t exempt from the horrors. I don’t know what to be more offended by – the dress that looks like pink fur or the cornrows.

Lil Kim in Chanel (2002)

Beep beep – who’s got the keys to my Chanel jeep? I think Lil Kim was hanging out with Sisqo a little too much.

Sheryl Crow in Henry Duarte (2002)

Honestly, who knew there was a period in Sheryl Crow’s life when she dressed like this? There is literally nothing she is wearing that is redeeming.

Alicia Keys in Christian Dior (2002)

I mean… it’s a nice… teal color?

Mary J Blige in Gucci (2004)

Mary J – you’re better than this. You’re better than a knock off version of Big Bird.

Imogen Heap in items picked from the earth (2007)

Imogen Heap OF TRASH, more like.

OkGo in tapestries (2007)

Two years after this abomination on the red carpet, OkGo went on to make this Grammy winning and viral video for Here It Goes Again, and that’s how most people were first introduced to them. Good thing their faces were covered at these Grammys because holy hell what in the actual fuck is this shit?

M.I.A. in House of Holland (2009)

*All I wanna do is BANG BANG BANG BANG and KACHINNGG dress you in something more appropriate for a woman who is about to pop out a human baby*

Nicki Minaj in Givenchy (2011)

Look, obviously Nicki Minaj has never been one to blend in with the crowd, but this is taking it too far. Even Elvira was probs like, ‘No, honey. No.’

Katy Perry in Armani Prive (2011)

I want to know what Katy’s (and her stylist’s) thought process was when picking this dress. Like, ‘Oh, I know what would make this BEYOND. ANGEL WINGS. YASS.’

Lady Gaga in Egg (2011)

Ok, we’re bouts to get personal for a second. In 2010 and 2011, I was lucky enough to be in the bleachers at the end of the red carpet at the Grammys. Both times, it was a complete blur, because every single artist that walked the red carpet was mere feet in front of me and I can’t even begin to list everyone I saw. From Beyonce to Rihanna to Miley, it was a veritable who’s who of the music business. In saying that, I was also there for this magic moment when Lady Gaga arrive in an egg.

There were rumblings trickling down the carpet, because obviously if Lady Gaga is coming to an event, you’re wondering what ridiculous getup she’s going to wear. This time around, it wasn’t what she was wearing that was buzzing about but what she was literally in that made people’s heads turn. IRL, it was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, because the egg was actually kind of see through and you could vaguely tell she was in there incubating. Not that weird for Gaga, but weird for everyone else.

That being said, in doing research for this post, I found a picture of me being SUPER excited to be inches away from Gaga because she was waving to us (especially the gay little monster next to me). I am crying laughing at this picture.

Photo Feb 13, 1 50 29 PM

Fergie in Jean Paul Gaultier (2012)

This dress is almostttt there. Almost. Except for the whole see through thing.

Nicki Minaj in Versace (2012)

This guy plays Santa during the holidays at the Glendale Galleria and needed the extra cash to play the pope*.

*Not true. But he’s wondering what he got himself into with this one.