“I’m having a really, really good night,” enthused Sam Smith, before the acceptance-speech-blowoff music started playing. It really only gave winners about 3 seconds before they were urged off the stage, to make way for the 23 performances that took place during Sunday night’s ceremony. Most of which where downbeat and languid, from Ariane Grande to Usher. Madonna tried to spark things up a bit with her glam True Detective / Maleficent stage set-up, and although she is still in top shape, it was the duets between Smith and Mary J Blige, who did an immaculate Stay With Me, and Hozier and Annie Lennox (well more Annie than Hoz, but we’ll give him some of the points) that truly won the night over.
The subdued tone of the night did play to the Grammys message against domestic violence, as delivered in a video by President Barack Obama, and a flash-back to events in Ferguson and a not-so-urgent call for them not to be repeated.
As for prizes, it was Smith’s night – thanks to an ex who, like Adele, broke his heart and led him to write In the Lonely Hour, and score 4 out of the 6 statues he was up for. Beck beat out him and Pharrell Williams, Ed Sheeran and, to the chagrin of the Beyhive, Beyonce, for Album of the Year. I agree that it was a surprise, but I don’t want to discredit an album I deeply loved last year for winning. Besides, I know we haven’t heard the last of Kanye about it, even if he did pretend to get up and sit back down again when Beck’s name was announced. Morning Phase also won Best Rock Album.
As for South Africa’s interests at the Grammys, which you know I always have on my mind, flute player/flutist/flautist Wouter Kellerman picked up Best New Age Album for a record he made with Indian composer Rick Kej called Winds of Samsara. It took three years to make, they recorded it in India and South Africa, and used 120 musicians for it. When I spoke to him just after the win was announced, Kellerman told me he was so thrilled because it was a “life-long dream come true.” The Grammys may still be that for many for now, but with the memes (Rihanna’s dress) and split-second moments (Kanye’s would-be outburst) that shoot out into the world over the Internet to become viral, it may be that younger artists will soon grow up with different dreams. At least musically, that it.
Also, no matter how many Grammys one wins, when Prince shows up – and we so love it when he does – it’s pretty much game over.
For the full list of winners, click here.