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.

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Is Kendrick Lamar supposed to make me care about rap?

I was watching Saturday Night Live this weekend — of course not actually live, I have a life people — when I saw that Adam Levine was the host. I thought, “Oh cool, so he’s going to host and sing?”

Typically when a musician hosts SNL, they also provide the musical entertainment. It’s a lot of work for one person, but I’ve seen others do it. However, not only was Adam Levine not singing, but the musical guest was somebody that does not even belong to the same genre.

Kendrick LamarThe guest was a rapper who goes by the name of Kendrick Lamar. I’ve heard of him, solely by name, and apparently he is blowing up right now. It seems like he’s the biggest thing in rap. Because, firstly, for a rapper to land a gig on Saturday Night Live, you have to be a pretty big name.

I don’t listen to rap. You won’t find any on my iTunes and I couldn’t even begin to tell you what any hip hop stations are on the radio. It’s just not my thing. At all. I couldn’t care less about “ill beats” or “mad flows.”

I just don’t associate rap with music. Do I think rap is form of art? Of course. Like def poetry or just… regular poetry, it requires talent and skill to be able to recite words in an eloquent way, and to be able to do it alongside a beat obviously takes some ability. However, it’s still not music. Music is formed by instruments, like guitars, or a piano, or that weird wooden fish thing that your elementary school music teacher used to have in her classroom.

But I listened to Kendrick Lamar perform anyway. And I’ll admit that I actually made it to about one-minute in before I fast forwarded. That means a lot, because typically when I listen to rap I have to turn it off after five seconds. I think those 45 seconds of listening to Kendrick Lamar surpasses the amount of time I’ve spent in my entire life listening to Lil’ Wayne. And I’ve actually heard Lil’ Wayne about one hundred times — I just make sure I turn off the volume or change the station within the same second it turns on.

I’ll never be adverse to young talent coming up and making a name for themselves. Kendrick Lamar is just 25 years old, and he’s reppin’ us 1987ers pretty well. In addition, he can only be better than the likes of Kanye West, Drake and the aforementioned Lil’ Wayne, right? Right??

Plus, he took part in a pretty awesome Digital Short that marked the temporary return of Andy Samberg, who left SNL last year because he thought he was ready to embark on a successful film career, but when he looks back on that decision a decade from now he will probably realize that he should have waited at least another year or two. Here is the video, titled You Only Live Once, which we all know what that shortens to.

So to answer the original question posed in the title of this blog post — No. I do not think Kendrick Lamar is going to make me suddenly begin to have the slightest interest in rap. He is not the next Eminem, who aside from Tupac Shakur and possibly Run DMC, may be the only rappers in the history of the world who are universally liked.

However, I figured I should take a moment and acknowledge the newfound popularity of Mr. Lamar since he seems to be making waves in the industry these days. And I should also acknowledge that Kendrick Lamar’s birth name is actually Kendrick Lamar Duckworth.

One can understand why he chose to drop his surname. I don’t think “Duckworth” would have branded him with a ton of street cred.

So what else happened this weekend? Oh, there’s apparently a national controversy regarding whether Jennifer Lawrence’s dress ripped while she accepted her Screen Actors Guild Award yesterday during yesterday’s awards show.

I had absolutely no desire to discuss this at length, but if you Google the phrase “Jennifer Lawrence dress,” you’ll be saddened to see that there are pages worth of articles on the topic. Between this and the Meryl Streep joke during the Golden Globes, J-Law has had a very successful yet controversial awards season. I’d still date her though.

Also, many of you may have seen this new ad by Microsoft, as they are trying to get back in the technological game with brand new phones and tablets. What was their marketing plan? It was to manipulate and tug at the nostalgic heartstrings of all those who were born in the mid-to-late 1980s. And by god did they do it well.

It really brings a tear to your eye. Hungry mother f’n Hippos!

Nokia LumiaIt was a brilliant strategy by Microsoft, who is heavily associated with pioneering the technological revolution in the 1990s. They’ve since been outdone by Apple and Google, but they appear to be making a comeback.

And as somebody who recently purchased a Windows phone in the form of a Nokia Lumia 920, I can vouch that they are officially back in the game. I’ve owned it for a few weeks now and I can honestly say that I love it. it has a very aesthetic and simplified interface that really appeals to me, a lengthy battery life and it fits very comfortably inside my pocket.

It also makes phone calls, and other stuff.

Of course the irony is that Microsoft is playing off their 90s appeal, and yet during the 90s, none of us carried cell phones. Also in the 90s, I didn’t know what a blog was yet. Instead, I actually spent my recreational time going outside and doing productive things.

But there’s still hope for us Generation-Y folk. If a young, nerdy black kid named Kendrick Duckworth, who spent his childhood in the 90s by probably wearing glasses and overalls and looking like Steve Urkel, can grow up to become Kendrick Lamar and perform on Saturday Night Live, then who knows what the rest of us can accomplish.