Grammys 2016: The Force of Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar Awakens

For a show that exists to honor the best in music for the past year, the 58th Annual Grammy Awards did not seem all too interested in giving out, well, awards.

Of the 81 awards disseminated by the academy on Monday, only eight happened live on television. The rest of the three and a half hour broadcast was filled with performances.

Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Acceptance speeches are widely considered the most boring part of an awards show.

Taylor Swift Grammy winBut there are just so many artists and bands who  won Grammys, who, for all intents and purposes, may as well have not existed on Monday because their category didn’t make the live show.

Consequently, anyone who doesn’t stay up to date with music but only tunes into the Grammys officially thinks the only musicians that exist right now are Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Meghan Trainor and the Weeknd.

But I digress.

Anyway, like any awards show, there was the good and the bad last night.

The talk of the town are the first two people I mentioned above. Taylor Swift, who became the first women to win Album of the Year twice, and used her speech to not only empower young woman, but to apparently throw some serious shade at Kanye West. 

Taylor, I’m on your side. But when you publicly shame Kanye, it does not go quietly. The man may be a musical genius, but mentally, he’s not all there. Keep Selena Gomez and the rest of your female posse close by. You may need it.

The other highlight was Kendrick Lamar, whose 2015 release “To Pimp a Butterfly” swept all the rap categories but fell short on Album of the Year to Swift’s “1989.” But what people will remember most was his spellbinding, socially conscious performance, which will probably upset the same white people who didn’t like Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime performance last week — which, might I add, Saturday Night Live hilariously chimed in on this weekend.

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What people also will likely remember was Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie, which frenetically rushed through 10 of his songs in a matter of minutes. While ambitious, the whole thing seemed too chaotic and over the top, which, apparently was the same sentiment expressed by David Bowie’s son.

And what gives with Justin Bieber’s performance? It was his first time getting to perform nationally in the Post Everybody Hates Bieber era (which, correct me if I’m wrong, is somewhere between the Jurassic and Pleistocene era on the epochal timeline), and they took his song that is grounded in electronic, computer-made sound and instead performed it with actual instruments? It changed the entire complexion of the song.Lady Gaga Bowie2

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the mess that was the Hollywood Vampires. That was just scary.

But let me say this. The Grammys seem to be obsessed with medleys, unusual artists pairings, and experimental performances. It’s the Grammys, so they want everything to be unique.

And that’s what made the performance by the Eagles, joined by Jackson Browne, singing “Take it Easy” as a tribute to the late Glenn Frey so special. They simply sang a classic song, from start to finish, telling people to take it easy in an era when people are no longer physically capable of taking it easy.

It was the most honest, sincere and heartfelt moment of the night, in my mind.

On that note, I can’t think of any better way to pay tribute to their tribute by spending the rest of the evening taking it easy by pulling my own Eagle.

That did not come out right at all.

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Turn and face the strange: Goodbye, David Bowie

Color me ignorant when it comes to David Bowie.

I know what everyone else knows. “Space Oddity.” “Changes.” “Under Pressure.”

So rather than regurgitate his Wikipedia page to you and pretend that I’ve spent my life becoming the consummate David Bowie expert, I figured I’d just keep it real.

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What I did know about the man, however, is his iconic status not only in music, but as a global figure. What’s so prevalent now in music — the drama, the cross-dressing, the general weirdness and the free rein for any artist to explore their own sense of freedom and self-expression, David Bowie was doing that 40 years ago.

To say that he was ahead of his time isn’t just an understatement, but an injustice to the real impact he had on our culture. Nearly every artist that exists today was inspired by David Bowie in some way, and that’s the reason why any one with a social media presence took to the Internet today to express their grief over his death on Monday.

“I can never express into words how you will continue to inspire me… Thank you for showing a pimple-faced, curly-mopped kid that DIFFERENT was the THING TO BE.

A GENIUS for the ages and the ages to come.”

Those were the words typed by Justin Timberlake on his Instagram page. He was just one of the many who paid tribute. And those memorials came from not only musicians, but from politicians, to religious leaders, to astronauts. 

David Bowie3Read any obituary on David Bowie, or survey his extensive discography, and one thing is made immediately clear — he left his mark. Death is always sad, obviously, but if the deceased lived a long and fulfilling life spent sharing their craft with the world, with the evidence to show, then it can also be a cause for celebration.

Don’t be ashamed if you’re not familiar with David Bowie’s work. I’m not. But I look at this as an opportunity to dive in and see for myself what all the fuss is about.

I received a $10 iTunes gift card for Christmas, and I spent all but one cent of it today on a David Bowie compilation album. I’m clearly not the only one, as sales of his music have soared — including his final album, “Blackstar,” released two days ago on his 69th birthday.

Bowie was known for his ever-changing look, and his tendency to push conventional boundaries and challenge social norms. As someone who has sported a completely generic look his whole life (besides that one experimental phase in middle school when I bleached my hair, but let’s not talk about that), I can’t say that his exploits really left a true mark on me.

But for all the people in the world who don’t feel comfortable in their own skin, and who often felt misunderstood by all those around them, well, it’s easy understand why they may have found a kindred spirit in David Bowie.

Her may be gone, but he left behind 66 albums for us to enjoy.

And now is when the fun begins.