This weekend's telecast of the 2014 Grammys was marked by interesting wins and strong performances, from Daft Punk taking home Album of the Year for Random Access Memories to Mackelmore, Ryan Lewis, Queen Latifah, and Madonna collaborating on a wedding ceremony for thirty-three couples. In fact, collaboration was a unifying theme for the best moments of the evening (Katy Perry with Juicy J, Beyonce with Jay-Z), including my favorite of the night: Carole King and Sara Bareilles singing a medley of their hits "Beautiful" and "Brave" (respectively). Their duet was an important and sweet performance because it highlighted notable if unappreciated trends in pop music, as well as both artists' careers.
By singing a medley of "Beautiful" and "Brave"--two songs written four decades apart but boasting very similar themes of optimism and self-confidence--King and Bareilles reinforced how singer/songwriters continue to create comfortable, nurturing, and important pop music, even if that music doesn't necessarily make for the flashiest hits (i.e. through edgy videos, media controversy). Carole King pioneered this kind of music in 70s, namely on Writer, Tapestry, and Music. Artists like Sara Bareilles (but also Ingrid Michaelson, Mandy Moore, and many others) keep this tradition alive, making sturdy records that sometimes get less recognized than they deserve in our dance pop era. (Though, I should say, I adore dance pop.)
There was palpable compassion, warmth, and mutual appreciation between King and Bareilles as they sat at side-by-side pianos, playing together, exchanging verses, and harmonizing. This sense of community between generations of singer/songwriters shows how vibrant their tradition continues to be, and that strength will keep this kind of music alive as trends ebb and flow in our exciting era of pop music.