So the Grammys came and went, and I got to say that contrary to what I’d expected, the show was actually pretty good (that is why I’m writing about it so late, woops). Of course, I will not go as far as to assert that it was anywhere near how mind blowing the Grammys used to be back in the day when legends like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder or Prince would perform and take home the trophies; but I will say this: compared to last year’s Grammys that were a total let down and felt more like the Teen Choice Awards than anything else, this year’s show was much much better in terms of substance. Of course, there still were a few Teen Choice worthy performances (*cough cough* Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani) and nominations (Shake It Off by Taylor Swift, Fancy by Iggy Azalea, and All About That Base by Meghan Trainor, really?), but hey at least most of the wins were Grammy worthy. I think…
So without further ado, here’s Rebel’s top 5 Grammy performances of 2015:
#5 Pharell Willams, Lang Lang and Hans Zimmer – Happy
Now I know that this performance has had a lot of people torn, but I thought that it was a pretty interesting rendition of what is essentially THE happy-go-lucky hit of 2014. So I thought that it took some major balls (or tits) to give it such a dark and epic twist. Add to that the most unexpected of collabs and you got yourself a party! Speaking of unexpected collabs, believe it or not, I’m not referring to Lang Lang who is pretty famous for working with all sorts of artists (anyone remember his performance with Metallica last year?) I’m actually referring to Hans Zimmer on guitar. Now that was literally the LAST thing I was expecting, but I’m still loving it! Not sure though that I actually heard any of his guitar playing but my guess is that his role was more in the musical arrangement department. Plus, did you notice Pharell shaking in the beginning? Guess even the most successful of artists still get nervous even after being in the business for so long. I thought it was kind of endearing, so much that it almost made me want to forgive him for wearing a Native American headdress on the cover of Elle. Almost.
#4 AC/DC – Rock Or Bust & Highway to Hell
I don’t think this even needs explaining, but I will say that it was really cool seeing them reunited with drummer Chris Slade. Were they trying to make up for Malcolm Young’s absence? Still super bummed about that by the way…
#3 Sam Smith and Mary J Blige – Stay With Me
Let’s be honest, it’s impossible to go wrong when Queen Mary’s in the house. That woman has so much class and stage presence, it’s hard not to get hit with massive feels.
#2 Ed Sheeran, John Mayer, Herbie Hancock and QuestLove – Thinking Out Loud
Such a beautiful collaboration to an epically romantic and soulful song. John Mayer’s signature sound is so present in it that I was POSITIVE that he had written it and that it was his flawless guitar skills on the original track, so when I saw him on stage, I thought that it made so much sense. Herbie Hancock’s beautiful piano playing gave the performance an interesting and unexpected calypso feel and QuestLove is probably the most chill drummer ever. Who else felt all warm and fuzzy inside?
#1 Common and John Legend – Glory
That track – which is part of the score of the movie Selma – is so freaking powerful that it gives me goosebumps EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Have it performed Live, with a choir, an orchestra, and a few added verses and choruses, and you got me lying on the floor in foetal position balling with an overload of feels. When songs carry such an inspirational and powerful message, I find that it often is hard for a lot of performers to keep it real and not overdo it (yes, I’m looking at you Beyonce; who by the way totally Kanye Wested jazz singer Ledisi). Thankfully though, it wasn’t the case here and John and Common were able to remain natural and convey emotion in an effortless unforced manner. I find that both of them complement each other’s performance so well: Common with his natural class and John who just oozes with soul.
As a whole, I thought that most of the award recipients deserved their wins. I do have some reservations though on seeing Sam Smith win four Grammys; one would have sufficed, two at best. Given the overall track list of his album “In The Lonely Hour”, I don’t think it necessarily deserved to win “Best Pop Vocal Album”, that in my opinion should have gone to Ed Sheeran’s “X” album. But still, kudos to you Sam. As for Best R&B song, I honestly feel like New Flame by Chris Brown, Usher and Rick Ross which featured some mad vocals deserved to win. “All Of Me” by John Legend was also shamefully ignored.
There definitely were some other pretty noticeable snubs as well unfortunately. Some albums, despite being pure GOLD, either didn’t win or simply weren’t even nominated. Here are Rebel’s must listen albums of the year:
J Cole – Forest Hills Drive
An album full of substance, bringing rap back to its roots and asking all the right questions about life, love, happiness; which is so damn refreshing given how lately rap seems to have been reduced to “money, booze and hoes” and/or so unapologetically culturally appropriated. J Cole’s album wasn’t even nominated and has got to be one of THE most noticeable snubs. Best tracks: Fire Squad, Love Yourz, and Apparently.
Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear
Now it is my understanding that Sia’s album was released too late in the game for it to be eligible for the 2015 Grammys, so I really hope it will be in the running next year. I honestly haven’t been this obsessed with an album since Florence + The Machine’s Ceremonials. Entirely worth the listen! Sia’s raw vocals and insane choruses make you feel so empowered that I can guarantee you’ll be running around the room Maddie Ziegler style. Best tracks: Chandelier, Elastic Heart, Fire Meet Gasoline, Eye Of The Needle, Dressed In Black, and Free The Animal. I told you I was obsessed!
Aloe Blacc – Lift Your Spirit
Some classic upbeat R&B tracks that’ll make you dance along to Aloe’s deep soulful voice. The album was nominted for “Best R&B Album” and lost to Toni Braxton and Babyface’s “Love Marriage & Divorce”. Best tracks: Wake Me Up, The Man, Here Today, Lift Your Spirit, Wanna Be With You and Ticking Bomb.
Tinashe – Aquarius
Tinashe sounds a lot like Aaliyah in a peculiar blend of R&B, pop and hip hop, kind of similar to FKA Twigs’ psychedelic world, only more accessible. This album contains no less than 18 tracks, yet didn’t owe her a single nomination which really is a shame. Best tracks: Wildfire, Bated Breath, Feels Like Vegas, Cold Sweat.
Let’s be real, I just may have forgotten a ton of other talented artists who deserved to win.
What are your albums of the year and top 5 Grammy performances? Let me know in the comments section!