Grammys offer few thrilling performances

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Jared Geyer

Sunday, the Grammys aired on CBS. I have watched the Grammys annually since Daft Punk won Album of the Year for their 2013 album “Random Access Memories.” I find it interesting to see who performs and who wins, since the Grammys are somewhat an indication of the cultural shifts in music, which was prominent this year, as the popularity of hip-hop nominees and awards correlates with hip-hop and R&B becoming the most dominant genre of music for the first time.
Aside from interesting sets of nominees  and performances, the show overall was lackluster and not worth the watch. This year more than ever showcased the stagnation of not only the Grammys but award shows in general.
Let’s start with the host, James Corden. Hosts of award shows are important because they set the stage for how the comedy is going to be for the rest of the show, especially in music awards. Music award shows such as the Grammys are mostly a set of musical performances, transitioned through by the host and interjected by who won each award. Corden, aside from a couple of long and terrible skits, was okay. He did the job he had to do, transition from one performance to the next.
There was nothing really standout or horrible except Corden’s “Carpool Subway” skit. Cordens popular segment of his show, “Carpool Karaoke,” had a parody segment set on a subway about halfway through the show. The skit was so unfunny that the audience was probably told to laugh and only a quarter of them did. This was only a small blemish on an otherwise serviceable host.
With performances being the main draw to the Grammys besides seeing who wins the awards, it would make sense that the Grammys would pour out a lot of production budget to get the best performers they could. I’m glad to say most of the performances were pretty good. The set design and production was obviously top notch, and nothing seemed to go wrong as in previous years where mics cut out or people fell on stage.
I enjoyed four performances the most. Kendrick Lamar had an outstanding opening performance, giving lots of political weight to his performance along with intersecting Dave Chappelle throughout, a nice surprise indeed.
Kesha gave a heartfelt performance in support of the Me Too movement. While her voice was shaky, she was pouring her heart out and pouring all of the emotion she had into the performance, which more than made up for the vocals.
Bruno Mars had fun singing his new single, “Finesse,” showing off his ability to do the moonwalk.
While I enjoyed those performances, Childish Gambino’s was the best. Childish Gambino went an offbeat direction and played one of the lesser known cuts from hit latest album “Terrified,” which worked out well in his favor as the performance was outstanding. Childish was the lesser known choice this year for Album Of The Year, which resonated through his smooth, silky R&B/soul vocals and instrumentation.
So far I have only expressed distaste to a singular skit in a more than three hour show. So why did I not recommend you watch the Grammys at the beginning of the review?
Well, the best parts of the Grammys are on Youtube right now. There is absolutely no reason to sit through 180 minutes of filler and advertisements for a handful of good performances and seeing who wins. You can just see the winners by waking up the next morning and searching the results.
The egregious overuse of ad space also waned on my nerve very quickly. I haven’t watched television in a long dose for a long amount of time, and I can tell you it is a hard transition from the singular or no ads of Youtube and Netflix to the 15 minute ad spaces network executives shove into the program. The “Carpool Subway” skit is even more infuriating once you realize it was long enough to fill an entire space of programming between ad spots.
Ads were not the worst moment of the Grammys, however. That prestimed award goes to the Grammys itself. At this point, there is nothing redeeming about the Grammys besides the performances, and the list of who won illustrates this perfectly. Let’s put this into perspective. The Grammys are trying to appeal to a more teen demographic. With these performances and nominees, why else would they nominate only popular acts, and even acts such as SZA who have a mostly teenage and young adult audience?
However, like the Oscars, the Grammys are voted on by committees of a mostly older people. Unlike the Oscars, the Grammys didn’t choose Star Wars, Beauty and the Beast, and Jumanji as best picture nominees.
Here lies the problem: Bruno Mars won the three big awards of the night consecutively. This mirrors when Adele did last year; it also marked the moment I didn’t want to watch anymore. What’s the point of seeing a show that chooses the same picks and lets people walk up on stage three times in a row?
To clarify, Bruno Mars is a great performer and there is probably a good argument that he deserved to win each of those awards, but when you win three awards in a row, your show becomes predictable. Even if this was a popularity contest, Bruno Mars still wouldn’t have won, because Kendrick Lamar’s album “DAMN.” sold more records.
The Grammys’ formula is this: give the award to the artist mostly liked by all ages, and sometimes give it to someone like Beck to keep people on their toes. I always rooted for someone unexpected to snatch the award this year, and it happened only once with Alessia Cara winning best new artist, which I was only surprised by because her first big hit was released in 2014. Every other winner was the safest, most radio friendly pick. It’s a lackluster show overall that isn’t rewarding even if you enjoy the few acts that sweep almost each of their respective categories.
Watch the highlights on Youtube the morning after the Grammys and you will probably find more enjoyment than I did watching the predictable ad-bloated mess I witnessed on TV.