Awards shows are to brevity what Kanye West is to humility. And, judging from his recent Twitter activity, to solvency and sanity. But at least the fifteen hour shows (or do they just appear to be that long?) are sprinkled with memorable performances in between the cheesy monologues, awkward silences after ill-judged attempts at jokes (hey, that’s my job) and lovely forced smiles from the losers.
Ah yes, the memorable performances. Who could forget Madonna’s dance routine at The Grammys last year? Well, quite a few of us I suppose, especially after she flashed her arse on the Grammy red carpet and then got pulled off by dancing Matadors at The Brit Awards the following week, something that only previously happened at an awards show in 1998 to Ricky Martin. Possibly.
The first chance to steal the show fell to Taylor Swift. She wore a jump suit, that traditional wear so beloved of kids TV presenters, and sang “Out of the Woods” – a great pop chorus in search of a song – surrounded by trees, in a literal translation of the song that would have impressed Legs & Co’s choreographer. It was a decent performance, but with no pratfalls, twerking or wardrobe malfunctions it left plenty up for grabs.
With Adele and Lionel Ritchie present there was plenty of scope for “Hello” mix-up jokes, and presenter LL Cool J won his first awkward silence of the evening with a brave attempt to link the two in a humorous way.
Kendrick Lamar won Best Rap Album, Sam Hunt and Carrie Underwood sang a ballad and The Weeknd came onstage. Was it an awrd for spellng? Alas nt.
A medley of two songs included a ballad. And I’m sorry to say it was a little slw and a little borng.
The Weeknd also appeared to have a small cat asleep on his head. It was a bold, potentially show-stealing move, but the cat remained asleep, clinging on like a panther, and the moment passed.
At this point I wondered if all the recent bereavements (Bowie, Lemmy, Cole, Frey) were making people a little thoughtful about presenting anything too happy and up-tempo.
If so, it’s not a great prospect for the future of the awards show. Most of our most beloved performers are knocking on a bit, and these events could end up a little morose if we’re not careful. Bowie’s passing was a bitter blow, but hopefully people will have a sense of perspective. Not wishing for the early demise of anyone, but when say, Sting shuffles off this mortal / tantric coil, perhaps we’ll give him a decent, cheerful send off. I mean, it’s sad for his family and everything, but it’s only Sting isn’t it? Ditto Peter Frampton. God bless you Peter, and I hope you live to be a hundred or more, but when you do go, I’ll be there celebrating your life with a six pack of beer and a rousing chorus of “Show Me The Way”.
Another song. Another ballad, this time with Ellie Goulding and Andra Day, neither of whom were as interesting as Selina Gomez’s attempt to pronounce “Hereford”, Goulding’s home town. Their voices blended just like the edge of a knife being blended against a China plate, or fingernails blended against a chalkboard. It wasn’t a show-stealing performance.
It comes to something when we are looking for a sixty six year old Lionel Ritchie to liven up an awards show, but that’s what happened. Sadly, John Legend, singing “Sunday Morning” failed to live up to his surname. Perhaps “John NiceVoiceButABitDull” would be a more honest billing. It took Lionel’s entrance to liven things up, but the show remained up for grabs.
Stevie Wonder sang a Capella with Pentatonix before handing Ed Sheeran a gong for Best Song, reading out the winning name written in Braille – a nice, inclusive touch from the organisers.
Kendrick Lamar came on in prison chains. At last, some drama. Flames! Tribal dancing! Very intense stuff, finishing with Lamar standing against a map of Africa, marked, presumably meaningfully, with the legend “Compton”. This was a proper grab for the evening’s headlines.
Difficult to hum along to, mind you.
Adele was next, singing like an angel, and then giving a cheeky cockney shout-out to Kendrick Lamar.
More ballads though. Even Bieber was at it.
Then Gaga. Doing Bowie.
I thought Gaga did a decent job, because, let’s face it, no-one could do Bowie complete justice. How decent will become evident at next week’s Brit Awards when (most likely) the organisers will have a medley featuring B*Witched and Little Mix playing that Bowie classic “Dancing In The Street”…
So it appeared Gaga had stolen the show, right until Taylor Swift received her Album of the Year Award. Then, instead of a performance, all it took was Swift to make a pointed remark towards the absent K West, and the night was hers. “There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your… fame” she said, with a steely Head-Girl stare, making all onlookers feel relived it wasn’t they who had upset her.
Performances? Songs? Who needs ’em when you have a celebrity Twitter slanging match that can steal a very long show. Welcome to the world of pop music 2016 style…