The Grammy Awards are unpredictable. Not in the best way that the Golden Globes or the VMAs are – attendees are usually on their greatest conduct, saving the sauce for the after-party and sustaining a well mannered poker face all through the present simply in case the digital camera cuts to them for a response shot.
However in the case of Grammy performances, you by no means actually know what you’re gonna get till all is alleged and accomplished. There have been Grammy telecasts the place A-list stars who pack arenas have underwhelmed, and years the place rising stars stole the present.
On the 2024 Grammy Awards on Sunday (Feb. 4), neither occurred. As an alternative, the 2 iconic, reclusive folks artists made breathtaking comebacks, each supported by a few of at present’s most spectacular musical abilities. Joni Mitchell, backed by Brandi Carlile and a coterie of prime musicians, carried out her timeless traditional “Both Sides Now,” whereas Tracy Chapman hit the stage with Luke Combs to share a duet on her timeless “Fast Car.” Each performances elicited their justifiable share of misty eyes.
All in all, the Trevor Noah-hosted present on the Crypto.com Enviornment boasted a knockout first hour, adopted by one other two-and-a-half hours that alternated between riveting and decently entertaining. However for the size, the present was by no means boring (that shock Taylor Swift album announcement actually didn’t damage).
Right here’s our rating of all of the performances on the 2024 Grammy Awards, ranked worst to greatest. As per standard, we’ve disregarded the “In Memoriam” performances, so songs by Stevie Surprise, Annie Lennox and Jon Batiste will not be included on this roundup.
It’s all the time robust to make a beamed-in efficiency work on an awards telecast, so it was no shock that U2 – regardless of being one of many biggest dwell rock acts of the final a number of many years – didn’t fairly land with their efficiency of “Atomic City” filmed remotely at Las Vegas’ Sphere. The Sphere is a trailblazing venue constructed particularly for immersive experiences – so naturally, making that work for the small display is a problem. And on this case, the problem was not met: The digital camera swung across the enviornment like an out-of-control trapeze artist, making it tough to get a way of what the band was doing or what the venue was like.
In the case of Olivia Rodrigo’s recorded output and lyrics, there’s not a lot to fault, however her awards present performances have been a blended bag. This one was a powerful swing, however on “Vampire,” her bat didn’t join with the ball. The slow-building monitor elevated in depth however by no means fairly hit that time of cathartic launch, and the bloody aesthetic delivered to thoughts Woman Gaga’s much more ingenious 2009 VMAs efficiency.
Whereas it’s good to see the Piano Man again in motion – and his new single “Turn the Lights Back On” suits properly into his substantial legacy – it was exhausting to recover from the truth that in a present stuffed with beautiful moments and eye-popping visuals, this was only a man sitting at a piano. In 1989, Billy Joel assured the world that he didn’t begin the hearth – and that a lot remained true on the 2024 Grammys.
Previous to profitable track of the 12 months for his or her contribution to Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster Barbie movie, Billie Eilish and Finneas carried out “What Was I Made For?” throughout the present. With Billie seated on a stool and Finneas at a piano, they stayed true to the existential ballad’s simplicity and bought a standing ovation from the Crypto.com Enviornment crowd. Nonetheless, it felt a contact sleepy for almost all of us watching within the context of a 3.5-hour present.
Travis Scott – who has now gone 0-10 on the Grammys – channeled his frustration right into a rage-fueled efficiency of three tracks from Utopia. Dressed up like he raided a SWAT group’s closet, Scott began with “I Know?” and “My Eyes” earlier than unleashing his frustration throughout “Fe!n” alongside Playboi Carti. Channeling his internal WWE star, Scott picked up chairs and hurled them throughout the stage as flames licked at his elbows. “They slept on me 10 times!” he shouted whereas furiously rapping the monitor. Whether or not you agree with Killer Mike’s Michael besting Utopia, Scott’s frustration made for a riveting efficiency, and oddly sufficient, a pleasant counter-programming follow-up to earlier performer Joni Mitchell.
Dua Lipa opened the 2024 Grammys with some libidinous dance-pop, singing upcoming single “Training Season” whereas climbing on a rotating, cube-shaped jungle fitness center. She tossed in a line from “Dance the Night” earlier than segueing into “Houdini,” confidently strutting round a darkish, reflective stage that appeared straight out of a sci-fi villain’s lair. It set a high-energy bar that the remainder of the present, for probably the most half, lived as much as.
Burna Boy, Brandy and 21 Savage
For the primary Afrobeats efficiency on the Grammys, Burna Boy pulled out all of the stops. Backed by Brandy’s beautiful vocals and 21 Savage’s indifferent, assured cool, Burna sang “Sittin’ on Top of the World” and demonstrated that’s exactly the place he belongs. The luxurious, expansive stage — depicting a residential metropolis block – and intelligent costume design (the colour crimson tied all three performers collectively, despise their disparate types) delivered to thoughts an MGM golden period musical — and in truth, the Nigerian star’s infectious power and simple appeal wouldn’t appear misplaced in a Hollywood musical.
Okay, okay – if “In Memoriam” performances aren’t included on this roundup, why is Fantasia right here? Properly, her efficiency, by my reckoning, wasn’t a part of the In Memoriam phase. Sure, it saluted late rock trailblazer Tina Turner, however for the reason that video montage had stopped by the point she began singing, this counts as a correct efficiency.
And she or he deserved that highlight. As an American Idol champion, Fantasia actually is aware of easy methods to command a tough stage whereas singing one other artist’s track, and her tribute to the inimitable icon on “Proud Mary” was the proper quantity of homage and particular person character. The tassel-drenched outfit and dance strikes tipped to Tina, however the joyous, ebullient power was all Fantasia. It was actually a proud, merry second in her profession.
Miley Cyrus lastly broke her Grammy drought on Sunday, nabbing two trophies for her Sizzling 100 No. 1 smash “Flowers.” Boosted by that victory, Cyrus was free and joke-y throughout her efficiency of “Flowers,” exuding the irresistible magnetism of somebody who genuinely doesn’t give a sh-t what you consider them. “Why are you acting like you don’t know this song?” Cyrus goaded the viewers on the prime of the track, breaking the ice and letting everybody know this was a victory lap. She even modified one of many lyrics on the fly to mirror her pleasure: “Started to cry, but then remembered I just won my first Grammy.”
“Snooze” and “Kill Bill” are two pretty low-key songs, and it may be a problem to make low BPM songs stand out on an awards present. Properly, SZA solved that downside after which some on the 2024 Grammys. Singing “Snooze” in outsized garments subsequent to a flaming dumpster, SZA created a placing visible be aware earlier than a martial artist (evoking Beatrix Kiddo from Kill Invoice) leaped onto a desk within the viewers and confirmed off some severe swordplay (Phoebe Bridgers, seated close by, watched together with her mouth agape in delight). The swordswoman proceeded to take her struggle onstage, dealing with off towards a foe (presumably the soon-to-be-executed ex) as SZA and her leather-clad backup dancers executed their assertive choreo. On “Kill Bill” on the Grammys, SZA’s sword soared.
Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs
Final 12 months, Luke Combs improbably scored a rustic smash along with his cowl of Tracy Chapman’s deeply felt folk-rock traditional “Fast Car.” In line with Combs, it was his first favourite track as a child, and one of many first tunes he discovered to play on guitar. Amidst the track’s resurgence, the reclusive Chapman has remained out of the highlight – till Sunday evening’s Grammys. The residing legend made a shock look alongside Combs, acoustic guitar in hand, to commerce verses on her breakout 1988 monitor. Chapman sounded unbelievable, her resonant tone pairing comfortably with Combs’ gritty voice. As for the nation star, this was clearly a significant life second – he regarded over to Chapman a couple of dozen occasions throughout the efficiency as if to show to himself it was actually occurring, and when it was her flip to sing, he pulled again from the mic and mouthed the phrases anyway, unable to include his pleasure. It sounded flawless and was a heart-tugging delight to witness.
Joni Mitchell’s return to the general public eye has been one of many few welcome surprises of the final decade, and on the 2024 Grammys, these of us who haven’t seen her comeback performances in particular person bought a way of simply what we’ve been lacking.
On a stage surrounded by candles, Mitchell sat on a luxurious white chair, cane in hand, singing her all-timer “Both Sides Now” with Brandi Carlile, Alison Russell, Lucius, Blake Mills and Jacob Collier taking part in alongside gently. With the minimal, elegant backing music and Mitchell’s uncooked voice, it felt extra like a lounge jam session between cross-generational pals than one thing cooked up for Music’s Greatest Night time — and that’s precisely what made this stand out.
It’s exhausting to recollect something on the Grammys ever coming near this by way of warts-and-all intimacy. Mitchell wrote “Both Sides Now” when she was in her twenties, however the melancholy knowledge of the lyrics appeared to come back from somebody no less than twice her age. Properly, Mitchell is now 80, and she or he shaded these contemplative lyrics with a hard-won perspective that solely expertise can afford. Her weathered voice – one that nearly went silent eternally due to a mind aneurysm in 2015 – is a stark distinction to the crystal-clear tone from her authentic recording, however not in a miserable approach. If something, her age-worn voice imbued all the affair with a troublesome, leathery magnificence that one not often comes throughout in life – a lot much less on a TV awards present.
Removed from being a well mannered salute to a legend previous their prime, this felt like a significant, vibrant and crucial efficiency from a once-in-a-generation expertise with extra to show us all about what artwork can unlock in our souls.
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