The Best and Worst of the Grammys
Taylor Swift won album of the year (officially) and sharpest speech (unofficially), while Kendrick Lamar set the stage on fire. Here's a rundown of the Grammy moments that had our critics and reporters cheering and cringing: http://nyti.ms/1QmhVri
- •Flat-Out, Knock-Down Best Performance: Kendrick LamarKendrick Lamar’s marquee performance was was easily the evening’s best, and one of the most powerful ever on a Grammy stage. It’s fair to say Mr. Lamar himself was flames — furious, righteous, political, unstoppable — and his band, playing from within jail cells, kept up.
- •Most Ambitiously Confusing Tribute: Lady GagaLady Gaga performed a tribute medley to David Bowie with the guitarist Nile Rodgers by her side that went through one, two, three, four, five… at a certain point we stopped counting how many David Bowie songs, but too many. It could have used a lot more of Bowie’s gravity and elegance, his lingering on an idea — any idea.
- •Best Use of a Speech to Respond to Kanye West: Taylor SwiftInstead of a warm and cuddly acceptance speech, Taylor Swift used the stage to address a fresh wound.
- •Worst Stage Translation of a Good Song: "Girl Crush"An aria of jealousy rendered in almost vampiric terms, dark and tender as a bruise, “Girl Crush" was a worthy Grammys winner, and an intriguing outlier by Nashville’s commercial standards. But when Little Big Town performed the song at the ceremony, it felt trudging and , leached of its urgency. “I got a heart rush,” sang Karen Fairchild as the song tapered off. “And it’s slowing down.” No kidding.
- •Most Glorious Walk-On: Bonnie RaittWhen Bonnie Raitt sauntered on from the wings, a tribute to B.B. King took on a charged and ecstatic air. Playing a relaxed but gripping guitar solo with a slide before singing a verse, she was effortlessly commanding, a genuine presence. No one other than Kendrick Lamar had stood on that stage looking more like a boss.
- •Worst Grammy-fying of a Great Song: ‘Where Are Ü Now’Leave it to this show to feature the Grammy award winner for best dance recording as a rock song. Instead of their laptops, where the song was born, Diplo and Skrillex had been strapped with so-called real instruments for a more Grammy-appropriate arrangement that also included live strings instead of the song’s trademark ear worm. Justin Bieber gave it his all, but this version pulled “Where Are Ü Now” back from the future.
- •Best Elder Statesmanship: Tony BennettAt 89, Tony Bennett might seem like a sentimental pick for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Maybe so, but his winning album — “The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern” — is an absolute stunner, one of the finest of his recording career.
- •Best Representative for a Genre and a Generation: Kendrick LamarKendrick Lamar may have won more awards on the Grammy preshow than during the actual ceremony, but seeing him take the stage to accept best rap album, the first televised award of the night, was still special.
- •Worst Representation of Rock ’n’ Roll: Hollywood VampiresThis was the weirdly provincial aspect of the Grammys: in honor of someone whose best work was scuzzy and streamlined, here was a well-fed, heavy-drapery version of rock ’n’ roll that may have lost its cultural meaning about 20 years ago, outside of a couple of ZIP codes in southern California.
- •Best Transcendence of an Uncomfortable Setup: Joey AlexanderOne awkward Grammy tradition in recent years has been a lecture by the school principal. This year he livened it up by sharing the stage with the 12-year-old jazz pianist Joey Alexander. The framing was icky — but then Joey began to play, and for a few moments it didn’t matter.