By Caroline Meister
The 2017 Grammys were filled to the brim with performances, so many in fact that an in-depth review of all of them would fill five pages. Here is a brief summary of a select few of the sixteen-plus performances.
In the promos for the Grammys, there was mention that this would be the first time since 2012 that Adele would be gracing the Grammy stage. Adele performed her smash comeback single, “Hello.” This performance was good, but to me, it wasn’t anything special. Sure, Adele has a great voice and she is obviously very talented. However, I feel that her talent didn’t really shine through with the opener. The stage was stripped, perhaps in order to showcase her talent, which I’m all for. However, I felt it was lacking, especially for an opener.
In contrast with Adele, The Weeknd came out with a bang. He performed a remixed version of “I Feel It Coming” with a special appearance by Daft Punk, which automatically makes it a home run. Everything about this performance was done to the nines: the set, the light show, and the fact that the Weeknd really brought it. I am not a huge fan of the Weeknd, but I was very impressed by this performance and it inspired me to go back and listen to his album Starboy.
After eight months off the grid, there was a lot of pressure on Ed Sheeran to give a show-stopping performance. Known for his often stripped-back performances, Ed blew me away with the sheer volume of his talent. Performing his new single, “Shape Of You,” Ed played every single instrument (including backing vocals) by himself, utilizing a tool called a loop pedal, which allows one to record aspects of a song and play them back during the song. Now that’s a comeback performance.
Lukas Graham and Kelsea Ballerini
I am not a fan of mash-ups; I think it is very difficult to bring completely different artists together and make them blend well. This performance proved me wrong. Lukas Graham performed “7 Years” while Kelsea performed “Peter Pan” at the same time, taking time to alternate between the two songs. As the first mash-up of the night, it put all my doubts about mash-ups to shame. I was shocked at how well the songs fit together, and the artists both showcased their individual talents while artfully playing a game of give and take.
Obviously, you already have high expectations once you hear Beyoncé is performing. And Queen Bey knows that, so she brings it. She had one of the longest performances, and interestingly enough, there was not that much singing. The amount of visual art was incredible. I felt like I was watching a short film more than a musical performance. That being said, I feel like Beyoncé’s true talent as a singer sometimes gets lost in the theatrical nature of her performances, this performance included.
Bruno Mars is one of the coolest people in the world. Honestly, he might even rival Beyoncé. His Grammy performance was no exception to this. He performed “That’s What I Like,” an interesting combination of pop and R&B, which was one of the only true R&B performances of the night. Bruno truly is a performer; he is an excellent dancer and everything about his performance just made you want to watch. It was more of a party and less of a performance, as it even included audience participation.
Katy Perry and Skip Marley
Katy Perry arrived on stage after a prolonged absence in the music industry (her last album was released in 2014). An interesting thread that I noticed (starting with Katy’s performance) was that it was often hard to hear the performer over the background music. This made it difficult to focus on the performer, which was rather bothersome. Katy performed her new single, “Chained To The Rhythm,” which is a very catchy pop song with a splash of reggae, an almost forgotten genre in the mainstream industry. I felt that, overall, the set in the background was more distracting than anything, except for at the end, when it turned into a clear stand against President Trump’s flagrant discrimination against minorities.
Lady Gaga and Metallica
I was surprised to hear that Lady Gaga would be performing, due to the fact that she had performed at the Super Bowl only a week earlier. This alone is impressive and perhaps makes up for the fact that this performance missed the mark for me. Lady Gaga definitely immersed herself in metal head culture, obviously trying very hard to appease Metallica fans. Her vocals, as always, were fantastic, but her dance moves, which involved a lot of awkward writhing, were misplaced. Not to mention that at times the awesome instrumentals of Metallica overshadowed Gaga. Also, at the beginning, the singer of Metallica’s mic was either turned off or not working, so you could not hear him for a good 2-3 minutes of the performance, which was awkward.
This performance was, at first, very jarring. The rappers were very aggressive, jumping around on stage and yelling their words. While I do appreciate the emotion they put into the performance, I felt that it was almost too distracting, not to mention a little off-putting. However, as soon as my brain adjusted to their style, their performance connected as an incredible protest to Donald Trump’s presidency. They brought in a line of people (actors?) who were all minorities and stood next to them as they encouraged others to fight and resist. It was refreshing to see people take such a clear stand, especially in a performance on national television.
George Michael Tribute: Adele
I felt the same way about this tribute that I did about Adele’s earlier performance: overall disappointing. I did really enjoy the moving graphics that were playing behind her. It really seemed like George Michael was watching over the Grammys. That being said though, Adele actually stopped the performance about two minutes in to start over, apologizing to the crowd and George for giving a performance that she felt wasn’t honoring him. That’s a really big thing to do, especially when you are someone as famous as she is. She definitely gained more of my respect after that.
Prince Tribute: Bruno Mars and The Time
Just like Bruno’s earlier performance (are you seeing a pattern yet?), this tribute was simply incredible. In a touching, accurate tribute to Prince, Bruno Mars even looked like him, embodying his spirit. Although not a huge (or knowledgeable) fan of Prince, I was entranced by the performance, and I imagine anyone who was a huge performance fan would agree that Bruno and The Time did right by him.