Grammys Recap: Adele, Alicia Keys + More
?uestlove (and Uncle L!) presented. Kanye & Jay-Z boycotted. Whitney was remembered and Adele (as predicted) cleaned house. In between lots of power naps in the form of those safely stage-managed musical moments that often make award shows such a snoozefest, it was actually a fairly epic night at the 54th Grammy awards last night.
The whole thing unfolded, of course, in the long and elegantly-proportioned shadow cast by Grammys icon Whitney Houston who passed a scant 24 hours before, knocking a little bit of lustre off every spotlight and glittery dress. Although the subject of plenty of moving tributes, the spookiest thing about the timing of her death may have been the visible transfer of her aura–that “greatest voice of a generation” tag that every American Idol contestant aspires too–into the body of a thick-jawned, doe-lashed English woman. Not only have commentators been using the same superlatives to describe her as they once did Whitney, but in the end Adele took home all 6 Grammys for which she was nominated–exactly the number Houston won over her career (more numerology to support dantana’s illuminati theory). In case there were any doubts about whether she deserved them, though, Adele came back from a long silence to deliver an emotionally-charged and triumphant rendition of “Rolling in the Deep” (above)–only her second public performance since recovery from throat surgery to restore her voice. It was surely one for the history books and by the end even Rihanna was licking shots in the air.
A few days after an equally memorable performance of “Perth” live with The Roots on national TV, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver deservedly and somewhat uncomfortably accepted the Best New Artist award (they call that the ?uesto bump.)
There were sideshows. Kanye West–even though he swept the rap category, was conspicuously absent, lacking even a new baby as an alibi per Jay-Z, his partner in watching The Throne. Speculation is that he boycotted in a protest at being passed over in the Best Album category, although it is equally possible that he was afraid Taylor Swift would beat his ass or simply made a wise decision to pre-empt his uncontrollable impulse to grab the mic from LL and declare that Barack Obama doesn’t care about black people. And on the red carpet, Common and Drake apparently squashed a beef that seemed to be more headlines than dead! lines anyway (watch our dude Touré stick a fork in it here).
But there were also quieter moments which will resonate for just as long. Case in point Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt’s tribute to the late, great Etta James with “Sunday Kind of Love” (below) still raises chills on monday. And will next monday. And the monday after that…