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.

Kendrick Lamar Grammys2.jpg

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.

2016 takes another: Spread your wings, sweet Eagle

I was super ready to come back this week all happy and upbeat and move forward from the startling amount of deaths of iconic artists that have taken place in this young year.

And then, around midday on Monday, the news broke that Glenn Frey, the founding member of the Eagles, has died.

God freaking dammit. Come on. Like seriously. What gives?

Is this like some warped version of Final Destination? Are the heavens taking away every celebrity, one by one, until the line ends at Kevin Bacon, or something?

Because if that’s true, just take Kevin Bacon right now. Skip everyone else. I’m sorry, Kevin. I promise I’ll remember you fondly every time I eat a piece of bacon.

Glenn Frey EaglesIn all seriousness though, if you’ve never listened to the Eagles, drop what you’re doing right now and change that. You will never hear more smoother, melodic, effortless music in your life. Listening to the Eagles is the musical equivalent to running your hand over a velvet surface.

And next time you’re due for a lengthy road trip, just plug a few Eagles albums into your iPod, and it’ll pass the time so quickly that you could drive to Alaska without once becoming bored. Except maybe when you’re waiting in line at Customs to cross into Canada, and the border patrol agent makes you turn your music down and asks you trivial, superfluous questions to gauge your reaction and make sure you’re not smuggling drugs into the country.

Anyway, everyone knows “Hotel California,” “Desperado,” “Take it Easy” and “New Kid in Town,”  but try other some other stuff in the coming weeks. I recommend “Doolin-Dalton,” “Certain Kind of Fool,” and my personal favorite, “The Last Resort,” to get you started.

Heck, the last album the band released in 2007, “Long Road Out of Even,” is excellent from start to finish. That’s the true mark of a talented band. Even after 45+ years of making music, and spending much of that time apart to embark on solo careers, they can still reunite and make something spectacular.

Side note: I know there’s no “The” in front of the band name, but it just sounds so awkward to say it that way grammatically.

The beautiful thing about music is that, once it’s made, it’s not going anywhere. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a death to remind us about a good thing. But between David Bowie and Glenn Frey, their legacies left us enough music to keep us occupied for at least the first half of 2016.

Before I go, I’d be remiss not to acknowledge that today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It’s a time for us all to remember an American hero, to appreciate how one man, when fueled by determination, can make a difference, and to also consider how much progress our nation has made over the last several decades.

Or, in the mind of some in the movie industry, it provided a platform to blast the MLK.jpgAcademy Awards for its lack of recognition for black actors.

I’m referring to the actress Jada Pinkett Smith, and director Spike Lee, who each took to social media to make their point. Come on. I get that this is something that should be talked about, but is today really the day to do it?

Playing the race card to make people feel guilty is not the way to honor Martin Luther King. If he knew this was going to be taking place 48 years after his death, it would probably lead him to believe that we have made almost zero progression over that time.

And since when did the Oscars become a symbol of race relations? When it’s come to the point that we need Straight Outta Compton to be nominated for Best Picture to prove that our nation is making strides in racial equality, then we have a problem.

Instead, let’s talk about a proper way to honor MLK, like the words offered by President Obama on his Twitter account.

“It is our mission to fulfill his vision of a nation devoted to rejecting bigotry in all its forms.”

That I can jump on board with.