The Grammy Awards are always long, but this year seemed to drag more than usual thanks to so many artists singing languid ballads. Perhaps that's just what happens at an award show that repeatedly honors one of more mundane pop singles in the last 12 months, Sam Smith's sweet but dull "Stay With Me." While I was not thrilled with the telecast, there were some standout performances and notable awards.
Let's start with the awards. I was very happy about three of the honors handed out during the non-televised part of the evening: Clean Bandit's "Rather Be" won the much-deserved Best Dance Recording statue, Joan Rivers posthumously won Best Spoken Word Album, and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical won Best Musical Theater Album. Beyond those awards, the rest of the evening was a bit of wash. Beck's surprise Album of the Year win was a nice way to honor his career, even if it may not have been the most interesting project in the past year, and Sia not taking home a statue for "Chandelier" is a crime.
Which brings me to last night's performances: all of them were perfectly passable, but also pretty sedate. You know it's a slow night when Kanye West sings an auto-tuned ballad. That said, three performances did stick with me because their numbers had energy and gusto. Madonna gave a solid performance of her single "Living for Love;" it was the only dance track performed, and it brought energy back into the room. Sia also rocked her latest incantation of "Chandelier," featuring special guest Shia Leboeuf (reading a poem), Maddie Zeigler, and a surprisingly wonderful Kristen Wiig. Both numbers are worth watching.
Yet, the artist who won the night was the incredible Annie Lennox. After joining Hozier for "Take Me to Church," she brought the house down with her version of "I Put a Spell On You." Her performance was vocally spot-on and delivered with passion. She seemed in the moment, and as a result was captivating. She may have released a standards album, but she is no less of a rock star. Lennox is a treasure.