The 61st Annual Grammy Awards: Tryna get Some Respeck Back on Their Name

Grammy Awards
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So, I’m not going to spend this entire article talking about the disrespect of Jennifer Lopez performing the entirety of the tribute to Motown (side eye) because for the first time in a while the Grammy’s – kept my attention, got my applause, and actually excited me. So, the question is, are the Grammy’s trying to make a comeback?

We all remember the moments when the artist we know deserves to win gets taken over by the mediocrity – Adele winning over Lemonade for a regular ass album, Ed Sheeran winning over a category FULL of women artists. The Grammy’s have been a popularity contest for who knows how long, and you know – it still is, but this time around I thought wow! They gave these artists some actual thought. I may show my age when it comes to music because I sure as hell didn’t know about 40% of the artists on the red carpet, and when I hear some music on the radio – I keep asking, who dis? And Sunday night I was like ooooo! Who dat? And YAAASSS! Here are the reasons why this year’s Grammys gave me hope for the future of the award show yet.

BEST PERFORMANCES GO TO…

Janelle Monae – what else did we expect, nothing less than greatness – bringing out the modern addicted to love girls and slaying! She not only did flawless choreography, her vocals – on point – glamour – on point AND remixed her own ish to orchestral strings and made us all feel the way it makes her feel! Greatest travesty is Dirty Computer did not win that night, and that is a bit of the Grammy reputation showing face.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock (10095020in)
Janelle Monae
61st Annual Grammy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA – 10 Feb 2019

Cardi B – We were all waiting for it and it delivered as expected. You know I don’t even care that she was rhyming to her own track, she wanted to look fly, and she openly talks about wanting to look perfect 24-7, so I ain’t mad at it. Cardi’s music video for “Money” came to life at the Grammy’s flooding the stage with badass lady F*kery. Laced in diamonds and black, her dancers sexy and fierce, a stark difference from Cardi’s acceptance speech where she had to hold on for dear life from shock and excitement. The MVP of her performance tho – the piano player Chloe Flower. Chloe played dem black and white keys hard like Miri Ben-Ari plays the violin. Flower has played for Jay Z, Céline Dion, Timberland, and Nas. We are about to see her take over, if you listen closely her skills shine throughout the whole performance. And congratulations to Cardi for being the first solo woman to win Best Rap Album of the Year. (No tea no shade, how Missy never won?) But for real all accolades to Cardi for her hard work and the come up for sure – I def be leaving Invasion of Privacy on repeat sometimes.

THE TRIBUTE GOES TO…

Dolly Parton, Katy Perry, and Miley Cyrus – never thought I’d be writing Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus on this outlet in my life, but I’ll be honest, I was loving this performance. Dolly Parton is a national treasure and anytime we get to hear “Joleen” and “Nine to Five” sung good and right, I am all for it. I hate to say it, but Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus did it justice, hitting the notes, giving it power and just the right amount of twang – I’m not above giving credit where credit is due. Country music itself is not my favorite category for many reasons, but who can deny Dolly and good music.

As mediocre as Alicia has been in recent years, she really pulled out the stops in her tribute moment to “great songs she wished she had written” – yes there is sarcasm in between my words. Alicia attempted to wow us with her two-piano playing interlude. I will applaud this feat, you cannot deny playing two pianos side by side is not amazing, but her performance style has been lacking for me since “Girl on Fire.” There’s always some sort of rehearsed speech with uninspiring blah and then music I’m not itching to listen to these days. She did play some greats, and yes played two pianos so hats off to that. This performance and her hosting for the night was nothing to remark at. Honestly, the best part of her hosting was when Michelle Obama said two words… The roar was so loud – it was like as soon as the true First Lady spoke we all realized she wasn’t a hologram yelling “what’s up Coachella!!” It was magical, so… next year Michelle hosts??

So that thing we don’t like about the Grammys – when they just miss the mark, give the award to not the best artist, or completely dismiss the best for the popular – yes that happened, and to be honest, I don’t know if the world we live in can come back from that path at this point. But this year in a world where James Blake and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey join Travis Scott on stage – we got a tribute to Motown… MOTOWN one of the most influential eras of Black music history performed by Jennifer Lopez… wth. Now, I am known to be a hater from time to time – but this is beyond that. I’m not hating on the infamous J-Lo– Lord knows my Bronx status cannot do this–BUT this is the biggest moment of “stay in your lane” I have ever seen. I couldn’t even believe it – I didn’t want to believe it. As the performance began, I thought – oh no, she’s gonna sing a couple of songs that could fit her voice just to mix it up and then Neo will come on and take over, or Smokey Robinson will take the mic away and Alicia will take the stage. Nah nah nah nah – it was the J-Lo tribute to Motown featuring all the people who should have done the performance without her. She’s an entertainer, I get that…she is a dancer, we can all see that – is she a phenomenal singer nope, is she Black… by way of the diaspora and how everyone was a slave I guess. Is she worthy to do a tribute to the likes of Sam Cooke? No! Why can’t we get nice things?? Yolanda, Andra Day, and Fantasia were there!! They gave us a well needed tribute to Aretha – why did J-LO honor the entirety of MOTOWN?? With Yolanda in the audience… the disrespect. Ok *breathe* I’m done – on to one of my favorite parts.

BEST NEW ARTIST

This category this year opened my ears. Nominated in this category were, Chloe X Halle, Luke Combs, Greta Van Fleet, H.E.R., Dua Lipa, Margo Price, Bebe Rexha, and Jorja Smith. These artists caught my attention in that quick 10 seconds of “here are the nominees.” I immediately searched almost all them on Spotify and added them to my rotation. H.E.R winning Grammys in the night for Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance – this EP (as she made it clear in her acceptance speech) is a sexy ass album, I mean… EP

I do need to give it up to the winner in this category Dua Lipa, her music is electric, resounding, and also plain fun to groove to. I admit that I was not mad at this win – although I was convinced H.E.R was gonna take this one too. I do want to give a hand to Dua Lipa and St Vincent’s performance in the evening. It was haunting in an EDM electric way. Keeping to the addicted to love girls theme of the night, St Vincent played the guitar with a hypnotic gaze as Dua Lipa came out to compliment the mood and sound. A simple, enrapturing performance that reminded me of how the Grammys need variety. Although Dua Lipa and St Vincent aren’t exactly the unsung – this was for sure a glimpse of hope for creativity and a new wave at the Grammys.

Before I close out with my favorite moment of the night, I want to give a jaw dropping, heart stopping, tears in my eyes salute to, Brandi Carlile. This is where my lack of knowledge comes in because I had not heard of this hardened angel before. Her voice strong and lasting – unique and powerful like Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks, I was speechless at her performance. Simply playing the guitar with her colleagues while beautiful script animates her astounding lyrics, a classic move that accentuated her music. I was floored. Flawless vocals and radiant presence, why had I not heard of her before? I gotta explore so much more. Brandi took home three Grammys during the night, and I am convinced they are definitely well deserved – no one could argue it after that performance – damn.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock (10095018ic)
Brandi Carlile
61st Annual Grammy Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA – 10 Feb 2019

Finally for my favorite moment of the night that shook me to my core in all the right ways.
Chloe X Halle did a rendition of “where is the love” to honor the Lifetime achievement award winner Donny Hathaway that transported us to a whole other plane of existence. The dissonant harmonies and complete in sync melodies vibrated my soul. The staccato riffs and innovative rhythms of the song blew my mind. It’s elegant in black and locks on point, bringing a aura that resounded off the balconies and reverberated through our chests. If you saw the Superbowl, you probably knew they were going to bring down the house, but… “Not Like This.” If you watch nothing from the Grammys this year – you better find a way to watch this short performance. It’s like cool fire that hypnotizes you into some Afro-futuristic ethereal plane.

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!

So do all of these moments mean the Grammys have my respect? No. So much more would need to happen for this award show to truly honor music and the talents that are out there, but I do give it a bit of praise for the change it has taken this year. It still honors the popular and seeks out those who they believe will make a big splash or will rule the charts, when many other talented artists don’t get the stage. It doesn’t mean these artists’ hard work, perseverance, and success are not warranted. They are, this year more than others. I just hope this energy and direction the Grammys has taken can continue to evolve. That it will work harder to honor new artists of great talent, more variety, and push the boundaries of art and music to inspire the new generation of innovative musicians that don’t follow the molds.

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  • Aisha Jordan bio: Actor, Writer, Arts Administrator. I am a movie nerd. Born and raised, action and adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, cartoon enthusiast, and aficionado. Raised by a Trekkie mom in a world of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and Lord of the Rings. Foundation in social justice theater and playing in the nerd and entertainment world.

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