SOUND & VISION BLOG
Edition #6 – January 29, 2018
GRAMMYS ROCK NEW YORK CITY FOR 2018
Back in the Big Apple for the first time in 15 years, the 2018 Grammy Awards proved to be the most controversial show yet, with a heavy slant on political commentary and a full acknowledgement of the Me Too Movement. Although rap icon Jay Z had led with 11 nominations, he went home empty handed, watching his contemporary, Bruno Mars, score a whopping 7 gold statues, including the trifecta of Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Album Of The Year.
The show began with a powerful performance that paired rapper Kendrick Lamar with Bono and The Edge from U2. It was a profound statement on the state of race relations in America that undoubtedly left some viewers uncomfortable. Second time host, James Corden, followed the trend with a controversial (yet very funny) satire on the Best Spoken Word Grammy Award using celebrities to read segments of the Anti-Trump book, The Fire & The Fury.
When it came to The Recording Academy’s voting trends this year, however, politics seemed out of the groove. The big winners were mostly non-political or controversial artists such as Bruno Mars, Ed Sheeran, Chris Stapleton, and country-rockers Little Big Town.
There were some stunning highlights. Among them: a powerful and very simple performance by Pink
(no theatrics; just her dressed in jeans singing the beautiful ballad, “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken;” Sting and Shaggy doing a reggae-fused medley of songs; and Elton John and (believe it or not) Miley Cyrus doing a near-perfect rendition of his classic, “Tiny Dancer.” Bruno Mars used his segment to offer his upbeat pop hit, “Finesse,” which also included female rapper Cardi B and alot of Michael Jackson-inspired dance moves.
The pinnacle of the show was unquestionably the performance by Kesha doing a compelling version
of “Praying,” that also include a choir of Me-Too supporting women such as Cyndi Lauper and Andra Day. Kesha, who has recently emerged from a very public sexual assault trial against her former producer, sang the song like her life depended on it. In some ways, it did.
In the pre-telecast portion of the Grammys, Jason Isbell & The 400 won two awards for the brilliant
Nashville Sound album (- the best album of the year for my money-); and his poignant song, If We Were Vampires. Isbell beat out the late rocker Gregg Allman for the the Best Americana Album Grammy, a musician who had been a huge inspiration to him.
The show comes at the end of Grammy Week, which is five full days of events and celebrations. On Wednesday January 25th., the Producers and Engineer’s Wing honored Alisha Keys and her husband-producer Swiss Beats. Another event on the same night, featured the best high school musicians in the US, with the always incredible Grammy Jazz Camp band.
On Friday, the Recording Academy’s Entertainment Law initiative discussed the many legislative issues involving the underpayment of artist royalties from entities such as streaming music services, and the efforts to curb ticket scalping.
The MusiCares Person of The Year Gala, which raises millions each year for struggling individuals in the music business, honored Fleetwood Mac at Radio City Music Hall. A long list of A -list celebs such as Imagine Dragons, Brandi Carlisle, Lorde, Harry Styles, and Keith Urban did their own take on many of the Fleetwood Mac classics before the band, itself, closed the show with a mini-set.
But the hardest ticket of the week was undoubtedly the Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala, which honored rap icon and music business executive, Jay Z. It was the hottest show with amazing one of a kind performances from Jennifer Hudson, and Alisha Keys. It was held at the Sheraton Hotel Ballroom on 7th Avenue, and was the hottest ticket in town, eclipsing Springsteen On Broadway for one night.
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