Grammys 2014 - What Worked And What Didn't

Jan 27 2014, 3:04pm CST | by

Grammys 2014 - What Worked And What Didn't

And there you have it folks, music’s biggest night–and audio’s biggest night–has come and gone again. Here’s a music critic’s perspective of what worked and what didn’t at the 2014 Grammy awards.

What worked:  

The Sound

I had an opportunity this year to view the show in a decidedly unorthodox way: streamed via Aereo through Apple TV onto a friend’s television. Though the video lag left something to be desired for, the audio quality was surprisingly crisp, clean, and buoyant, even as the telecast leapt from genre to genre.

The thumps of Beyonce’s staggering 808s on “Drunk In Love”, the perfect ’70s approximation of “Get Lucky” and its various mash-ups, the excellent balancing between all the players on Trent Reznor’s set–be they acoustic (Lindsey Buckingham), electric (Josh Homme), or just plain loud (Dave Grohl)–all of it translated through the wayward jumps of media.

This is a testament to the work of engineers like Eric Schilling, who mixed the bands for broadcast audio, and Ron Reaves and Leslie Ann Jones, who ensured that what happened in the house sounded as good as it possible, thereby amping up the energy for the bands and their fans. These people don’t get enough credit unfortunately; remember this: if you were blown away by the sound and the energy of these performances, well, you wouldn’t have even heard it if it weren’t for the engineers.

The Spectacle

Ever since the “Grammy Momentconcept gelled into full sway, people have been wondering what the ceremony would do to top itself year after year. In 2014, the bar was raised yet again with a mixture of exciting mash-up performances and an attempt to make some groundbreaking history that actually felt well-earned.

Everyone is surely buzzing over Daft Punk’s performance featuring Nile Rodgers, Pharrell, and Stevie Wonder and deservedly so; the energy off that performance was so intoxicating that one could feel its nervy presence lingering in the spirited performance of Carole King and Sara Bareilles shortly there after.

But what truly impressed me was the collaboration between Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons. Of the latter, I had absolutely no idea that the drummer played with such bombast and swagger. He’s so good at what he does, it makes me wonder why I’ve never heard him on the singles – why program the drum parts when you have a monster like this backing you up?

Of course, the talk of the town will invariably focus on Macklemore’s performance of “Same Love”. With thirty three couples–some of them homosexual couples–getting married on stage en masse, how could you not talk about it?

Watching that moment, I felt the scoffing of my father in my head: he’s not a homophobic man, but he’s a decidedly unsentimental one. A stunt like this would surely earn his raspberries. But the sheer magnitude of what happened on stage soon shut out the paternal voices–with Macklemore’s impassioned performance (hearing every word crystal clear, one cannot deny the man has chops), the band’s stirring, gospel-inflected playing, and the truly unprecedented nature of what happened, this was one of the few moments billed as “historical” that might actually be just that.

Indeed, I was watching the performance with a former executive at NBC Universal, and even he had to give it up to CBS for having the stones to do something so profoundly loving and accepting as this.

The Pacing 

The show might have been as long as any other awards ceremony is these days, but I’ll say this: it was a full three hours before anyone at the party I attended looked down at their watches to check the time./>/>

What Didn’t Work:

The Graphics

The squiggly lines encapsulating each award’s presentation were not a hit with my crowd; one of the people in attendance–a graphic designer/artist–complained of the “bad vector images and random vines,” likening it to distinctly un-hip design trends of the ’90s.

A paltry criticism on my part, to be sure, and one perhaps unworthy to bring up, except that it directs us to something interesting: as those in the world of fashion have long suspected, we now have more proof that the 90s are, in fact, “back.” Other indicators of the flannel decade include a prominent representation of vintage 90s performers like Dave Grohl, Metallica, and of course, Daft Punk, who took home Record of the Year for “Get Lucky”.

Neil Patrick Harris may have been the only person to point out that this was Daft Punk’s “second coming,” but the resurgence of this duo is an apt thing to hone in upon: Daft Punk is not only hugely famous–they used to be, too. Bolstered by recent releases by more similar ’90s acts like Crystal Method, it’s now much safer to proclaim “the ’90s are back” than it was last year. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see an exciting collaboration this year between Aphex Twin and some of the EDM heroes he helped to inspire.

Though one hopes the dated look of ’90s graphics won’t be a part of the looming trend.

The Old Guys 

Though many “Grammy moments” stole the show, virtually none of them belonged to the older generation (though Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson provided the exception that proves the rule). Poignant as it was, the “Same Love” spectacle faltered a bit when it sought to add the woefully out-of-tune caterwauling of Madonna into the mix.

As for the performance of a Metallica classic “like you’ve never heard of before”, one could feel the overblown weight of “One” sapping all the energy that Daft Punk had earned only a handful of moments prior; indeed, what does it say about a metal performance when Lang Lang–the classical pianist teemed up with Metallica–completely out-rocked the rest of the band?

And as for Ringo and Paul, well, I invite you to look here.

In summation:/>/>

If pressed to review this ceremony as I would an album, I would give it a good grade on the whole. The performances covered a great emotional range, giving us something exciting (Imagine Dragons, Kendrick Lamar, Daft Punk), something sad (Ringo and Paul), something accepting (Macklemore, Kacey Musgraves), and of course, something just plain weird (Taylor Swift’s hair). The bad patter was kept to a minimum, the show moved swiftly along, and of the awards that were televised, most of the artists got (what the public probably felt) they deserved. Lorde certainly did, anyway.

Now for the coming trends: in the wake of Grammys, there’s certainly a lot to look out for in the intersection of music and business. For one, the aforementioned trend of the 90s coming back: they might have been popular in the indie circuit for sometime now–try going anywhere in Brooklyn without running into a beard or a flannel shirt–but I suspect the decade is truly ready to take on the mainstream now, so look out for that.

Also, look out for more expensively-made single-play ads. There was a veritable flood of them last night, as my friend, the former NBC big wig, was quick to point out. Justin Timberlake, Pink, Katy Perry, those are just a handful of the artists who made cameos in big, targeted commercials yesterday.

The former NBC executive certainly sat up and took notice: “Each of those is at least a half million dollar ad, I’m guessing–plus airtime” he said, though he made sure to indicate that he had no way of knowing specifically. Still, he sat there on the couch, pointing out every time another single-play ad came on the screen.

If someone with such deep ties to the advertising world pays such close attention to what the commercials were doing, than you better take note too; they probably indicate a change in trends.

Source: Forbes Apple

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

70 scientists focussing on Bigfoot research
San Francisco, Sep 15 (IANS/EFE) Seventy scientists from around the world, defying widespread scepticism, have been involved for the past four decades in the search for "Bigfoot", the large and hairy beast allegedly seen in remote areas of the US, Rhettman Mullis, founder and chair of the Western Bigfoot Society, said.
 
 
Why marijuana users end up feeling worse
New York, Sep 15 (IANS) Adolescents and young adults who smoke marijuana frequently may attempt to manage negative moods by using the drug but end up feeling worse, says a new study.
 
 
Schizophrenia a group of eight distinct disorders: Study
Washington, Sep 15 (IANS) The debilitating psychiatric illness schizophrenia is not a single disease but a group of eight genetically distinct disorders - each with its own set of symptoms, new research indicates.
 
 
'Old climate change formula no longer exists'
Washington, Sep 15 (IANS) The traditional formula on climate change that says that regions that have a moist climate will experience additional rainfall is no longer valid, scientists say.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Pakistani court orders murder case registration in activists' killing
Islamabad, Sep 15 (IANS) A court in Pakistan Monday ordered registration of cases in the killing of opposition activists during the anti-government protests in Islamabad, lawyers said. Clashes erupted between the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood chief gets 25 years in jail
Cairo, Sep 15 (IANS) Egypt's Giza Criminal Court Monday sentenced terrorist Muslim Brotherhood (MB) supreme guide Mohamad Badie along with 14 other leaders to 25 years in prison over clashes in Bahr el-Azam, Giza, the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Was MH370 plane crash actually suicide by pilot?
London, Sep 15 (IANS) The pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 killed himself and passengers by switching off oxygen supply in what is the sixth example of such a suicide, an aviation expert has...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
China, Maldives agree to establish all-round partnership
Male, Sep 15 (IANS) Chinese and Maldivian leaders agreed here Monday to establish a future-oriented all-round friendly and cooperative partnership between their two countries. "For the sake of upgrading bilateral...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
ICRC provides emergency relief for thousands displaced in Syria
Geneva, Sep 15 (IANS) The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Monday said it provided emergency relief for over 50,000 Syrian people amid the recently intensified clashes between Syrian government forces...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Six killed in fresh fighting in Ukraine
Kiev, Sep 15 (IANS) Six civilians were killed during renewed intense fighting between government troops and independence-seeking insurgents in Donetsk, the main rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine, municipal authorities...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Kenya to host regional conference on Ebola
Nairobi, Sep 15 (IANS) African governments are due to meet in Nairobi from Tuesday for a regional conference on Ebola virus disease preparedness, Kenya's health ministry said Monday. The Sep 16-17 regional conference...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Angus Lennie has died aged 84
'The Great Escape' actor Angus Lennie has died. The 84-year-old star passed away at a nursing home in Acton, west London last night (14.09.14), the Daily Record newspaper reports. The Glasgow-born actor was best known...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Ben Affleck hoping for Batman education
Ben Affleck hopes starring in 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' will be ''an education''. The 42-year-old actor was a controversial choice to appear as the Caped Crusader in the sequel to 2013's 'Man of Steel', but...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Sikhs open free school in Britain
London, Sep 15 (IANS) After facing a lot of disappointment in Britain's Coventry schools, members of the Indian-origin Sikh community have set up their own school for their new generation. Opened in Coventry, a city...
Read more on Politics Balla