Danny Licht, editor-in-chief
Opening a show that’s not a Beyoncé show with a Beyoncé performance is an egregious tactical error. Did you see her on that chair, with her hair looking wet and perfect? With her voice floating gorgeously? With her body swaying from side to side? In a tweet, Lena Dunham said it best: “When Beyonce giggles un-selfconsiously [sic] in front of the whole music industry it’s pretty clear she’s surpassed the earthly plane.”
After this otherworldly performance by the queen of the pop-music world and the world, everything went downhill. Ringo Starr (the fourth Beatle) sang “Photograph,” a song I don’t need to hear again. Some country-music people sang a song that made Beyoncé grin. My mom said, “They have the CMAs — why do they need to perform at the Grammys too?”
The show’s Lou Reed tribute was embarrassing. Actor Jared Leto casually spoke some of the lyrics to “Walk on the Wild Side,” which felt inappropriate on the occasion of the man’s death, and plus, “Walk on the Wild Side” isn’t even close to his best song. Before that I would have liked to see a cover of “I’ll Be Your Mirror” or “Sunday Morning” or “Pale Blue Eyes” or “Stephanie Says” or “Rock and Roll” or “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” or “I Found a Reason” or “Satellite of Love.” Maybe it’s just me, but the one minute of one song that was hardly even performed and by a guy who’s only vaguely famous didn’t seem like a proper tribute to the man alternately referred to as an “outsider whose dark, lyrical vision helped shape rock ’n’ roll,” “a giant of rock,” and “the real thing.”
The show post-Beyoncé did have some redeeming qualities, though, most of which were thanks to Yoko Ono, who managed to remain adorable the entire time: when she sat perfectly still during Kendrick Lamar, when she clapped along to “Blurred Lines,” when she struggled to see the stage past Taylor Swift’s dancing.
The awards themselves, though, were ridiculous, of course. And the reactions (“Surprises all around”) were even more ridiculous. First of all, why does anyone believe that anyone’s opinions are more valid than anyone else’s? Well, even saying they could be, potentially, hypothetically — even then, those of the Grammys voters certainly aren’t capital-T Truths. These people named “The Heist” one of the five best albums of the year. They said Mumford and Sons’ “Babel” was better than Frank Ocean’s “Channel Orange.” They said Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ album was better than “In Rainbows.”
If for nothing else, the show was worth seeing Beyoncé intermittently over a three-hour period, but the awards were a joke. If you want to hear valid opinions about music — not always perfect ones, but always well defended ones — head over to Pitchfork, where less Macklemore is more.