Best Performance: Natural Woman – Yolanda Adams, Fantasia, and Andra Day
There were many excellent performances at the 61st Grammy awards, from Jennifer Lopez’ Motown medley to a perfectly choreographed piece from Janelle Monet, but none of the were quite as powerful as the tribute to the queen of soul herself, Aretha Franklin. All three women gave heartfelt and moving performances of one of Aretha’s most infamous tracks. The harmonies were air tight and the solos were remarkable. A fitting tribute to the queen.
Worst Performance: Shallow – Lady Gaga
Let me preface this by saying that I not only love this song, but the soundtrack from which it came as well. It’s a strong centerpiece to a great album and I also generally like Lady Gaga. That being said, her performance here was jarring to say the least. Her decision to sing Bradley Cooper’s part as well as her own was strange and hurt the conversational aspect of the track, her pronunciation and vocal inflections were manic and distracting, and worst of all, her dancing was simply bizarre. It’s a shame as she’s very talented and the track is excellent, but this performance was a big missed opportunity.
Most Surprising Win: Invasion Of Privacy – Cardi B (Best Rap Album)
Cardi B became the first solo woman to win a Best Rap Album Grammy last night and I certainly couldn’t have guessed this before it happened. Judging by Cardi’s nervous but endearing acceptance speech, neither could she. While Invasion of Privacy was one of the better records in the lineup, it was up against several juggernauts. Drake’s Scorpion and Travis Scott’s ASTROWORLD would have been infinitely less surprising as both featured their fair share of radio hits and name recognition. Ultimately, however, Cardi B took home a much deserved win for her studio debut.
Worst Win: Pharrell Williams (Producer of the Year, Non-Classical)
I went back and forth on whether I should mention this one as the only reference to it came from a quick mention by Alicia Keys. However, it’s just too egregious to ignore. Kanye West produced five albums this year, each of which was not only extremely successful, but found much of their success thanks to Kanye’s production. His decision to cut the albums’ runtime below 30 minutes and his more raw style has been incredibly influential this year. While I haven’t loved all of his output this year, there is simply no way to deny the impact he’s had on the industry this year.
Best Win: Golden Hour – Kacey Musgraves (Album of the Year)
This was another of the most surprising choices by the committee. I would’ve ranked Golden Hour as the single least likely winner as country music gets very little recognition in this category and other records offered more of a cultural importance and diversity factor. That being said, this was an extremely fun listen with great instrumentation and really heartfelt lyrics and vocals from Kacey. It’s nice to see some reward for an album that made an attempt to step out of the box and though it wasn’t the most experimental piece of work to come out this year, it was daring and unique in it’s own right. It’s an exciting win for very talented young woman with a bright future.