10 Hasty Takeaways From Grammy Night, Starting With Adele

5 hours ago
Originally published on February 13, 2017 1:22 am

My Twitter feed is still roiling. As I write this, it's been mere moments since my friends and colleagues (and a few assorted celebrities) started taking a break from praising the 2017 Grammys' most vital and viral performances — A Tribe Called Quest, Beyoncé, The Time, a bonkers Lady Gaga-Metallica mashup — to fume about Adele's sweep of the night's top three prizes. The pop star won Album Of The Year for 25, as well as Song Of The Year and Record Of The Year for "Hello," and filled the night's final speech with notes of regret that she'd just beaten Beyoncé (of all people) in all three categories.

As we soak up the rich, creamy silence that follows the end of every awards show, here are 10 quick-hit takeaways from the 2017 Grammy Awards. (We'll post a Pop Culture Happy Hour Small Batch discussion by midday tomorrow; look for it on this page or in your podcast feed.)

1) There's much to unpack in Adele's speech, but among other things, I think she understands the degree to which history will not be kind to that Album Of The Year win. While nowhere near as controversial as Macklemore sweeping Kendrick Lamar a few years back — 25 is highly regarded, and "Hello" has been a juggernaut for 16 months now — Lemonade is far more ambitious, tells a richer story, and retains greater relevance in the cultural conversation. Adele knows she beat a classic album, and to her credit, she devoted much of her final speech to acknowledging as such.

2) Compared to other recent awards shows — most notably the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards — the politics were surprisingly muted Sunday night. Paris Jackson shouted out the #NoDAPL protesters and Katy Perry said a few unkind words about Donald Trump, but only one performance really sustained a tone of resistance: a furious medley by A Tribe Called Quest, Anderson .Paak and Busta Rhymes.

3) Though nowhere near as thematically bold, Lady Gaga and Metallica paired up for an enjoyably intense hot mess of a performance — James Hetfield's mic went out early, robbing him of his first couple verses — that seemed engineered to produce what the show likes to call a "Grammy Moment." Compared to some of the night's waterier performances, it was a welcome jolt.

4) Speaking of wateriness, Lukas Graham (whose "7 Years" was heavily nominated) and Kelsea Ballerini (who lost Best New Artist to Chance The Rapper) drew arguably the evening's least desirable time slot: the moments before Beyonce presided over a grand, effects-filled set in which she performed "Love Drought" and "Sandcastles." Visibly pregnant with twins, Queen Bey needed about five seconds to extinguish any and all memories of what had come before it.

5) It was hard for most nominees to stake out much space to shine, given the degree to which Adele and Beyonce dominated the proceedings. The two not only won multiple Grammys on Sunday — Beyonce took Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Music Video for "Formation" — but their performances also sparked some of the most conversation. Adele performed twice Sunday evening, opening the telecast with "Hello" and later paying tribute to George Michael with a take on "Fastlove" that needed to be aborted and started over. (Visibly flustered, Adele quickly apologized; the crowd's reaction could best be summed up as, "Dude, you're Adele. Do whatever.")

6) Though he couldn't topple Adele for Album Of The Year, Sturgill Simpson had a nice night, winning Best Country Album and making a fine appearance alongside The Dap-Kings, who pop up several times on his A Sailor's Guide To Earth. The set even kicked off with a nice little momentary tribute to Sharon Jones, one of the many amazing musicians who'd died since the 2016 telecast.

7) Bafflingly, Merle Haggard didn't fare nearly as well; country performances dotted the evening, yet the late legend received only a single mention, during the "In Memoriam" montage. (Over his name, producers played "Okie From Muskogee," a song about which Haggard was publicly ambivalent.)

8) Chance The Rapper won big: He took home the first-ever Grammy for a streaming-only album, winning Best Rap Album (for Coloring Book), Best Rap Performance ("No Problem") and Best New Artist (for which he beat out The Chainsmokers, Anderson .Paak, Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris). As a bonus, Chance gave one of the night's most riveting performances: a medley of "How Great" and "All We Got" that featured a guest appearance by gospel giant Kirk Franklin, among others.

9) The night's tributes to Prince yielded the monumentally welcome return of The Time, who performed "Jungle Love" and "The Bird" — both of which Prince cowrote — before giving way to a take on "Let's Go Crazy" by Bruno Mars. Mars had the star power, sure, but if one young person googles "the time jungle love" tonight, the entire evening will have been worth it. Teach the children well, people.

10) Finally, the members of Twenty One Pilots accepted their award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance — for the ubiquitous "Stressed Out" — by stripping down to their underpants before taking the stage. This may or may not have actually happened. I'm pretty tired.

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