The 87th Annual Grammy Awards took place on Sunday night, February 8, 2015, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, and was broadcast live on CBS on the east coast (the west coast had a tape delay). There were stand-out performances at the Grammys by AC/DC, Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Annie Lennox, and Madonna, with the big winners of the night being Beck, Sam Smith, Beyoncé, and Pharrell Williams.
Below are some of the highlights of the evening, along with the full list of Grammy winners at the end.
Host LL Cool J, resplendent in blue, came out and spit a few measures of “Going Back to Cali” and they rolled right into the show. He did not really do anything else except announce things, but still the show wasn’t too bad. Can somebody call NPH?
The Grammys’ opening act was none other than classic hard rock staples AC/DC, looking great and sounding great in their first-ever Grammy performance! They started with “Rock or Bust,” the title track of their lastest album, and then went right into their classic tune “Highway to Hell” (cue camera on Dave Grohl and Blake Shelton singing along, with many of the audience members — including Katy Perry — wearing devil horns), ending in fireworks and a standing ovation. Singer Brian Johnson and lead guitarist Angus Young look like they transported from 1987, that’s how ageless they are.
Some of the other highlights included:
Tom Jones and Jessie J: Loved Tom Jones’ voice singing The Righteous Brothers’ song “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”! Jessie J had a lovely voice as well, but his timbre is so unique, and tonally rich. He still looks pretty good, too. Viewers could see the band Haim singing along in the audience. After they announced Best Pop Solo, hatless winner Pharrell came up and bowed to Tom Jones, appropriately so.
Miranda Lambert sang “Little Red Wagon,” which rocked out and is surprisingly catchy for a country tune.
Ed Sheeran performed “Thinking Out Loud” with Questlove of The Roots (gasp!), Herbie Hancock, and John Mayer, the camera went to an adjacent stage for Jeff Lynne‘s ELO “Evil Woman.” Paul McCartney in the front row was so cute dancing and singing to it until he noticed the camera on him, then he quickly sat down. Ed Sheeran joined in for the second song, “Mr. Blue Sky”.
Ryan Seacrest introduced Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani: Performing “My Heart is Open.” That is a pretty, pretty pair, despite the fact that I don’t care for Adam Levine’s voice too much. She is a goddess though.
Hozier did “Take Me to Church” and Annie Lennox (looking sexy as ever) came out during the song and just wailed a heavenly “Amen” before turning that good song into a masterpiece duet-ing with him until the end. She then went right into “I Put A Spell On You” and used her voice and hand as a harmonica.
Pharrell did a fancy take on “Happy.” This fantastic performance had Hans freakin Zimmer on guitar, and was just wow! Violins, gospel singers, yellow glitter sneakers, dancers with tambourines, and a classical piano solo by Lang Lang in the middle of the song. He snuck in a “hands up, don’t shoot” moment during the song. “Happy” went on to win Best Music Video and Best Pop Solo Performance.
President Obama delivered a violence against women message: “It’s not ok and it has to stop,” urging all the celebrities and their fans to sign a pledge at ItsOnUs.org. Domestic violence advocate Brooke Axtell spoke, “Authentic love does not devalue another human being. Authentic love does not silence shame or abuse.”
Then Katy Perry, on stage by herself clad all in white, sang “By the Grace of God.” I really liked the effect of the shadow dancer(s) behind Katy. It gave the right amount of seriousness and grace.
Lady GaGa, looking elegant, performed “Cheek to Cheek” with Tony Bennett. Anytime I hear a standup bass, I’m in love. You forget sometimes, amid her crazy wardrobe choices, how phenomenal her voice is, and he is just class, a timeless performer.
Kanye West performed “Only One,” after a six-year Grammys performing hiatus. The whole place was dark with only a spotlight on Kanye, who was overly autotuned for this one.
Miley Cyrus and Nicky Minaj introduced their “bitch” Madonna, who sang “Living for Love.” Her dancers were dressed as minotaurs wearing horns and leather, of course. She looks 30. It’s amazing and the performance was such a production. She got lifted to the ceiling at end the song.
Usher sang “Is It Magic” by Stevie Wonder. (Next week on February 16th, there will be an all-star Grammy salute to Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life.) Usher’s voice and a harp intertwined, until Stevie walked out with his harmonica. The crowd (and me) went wild. A little while later, Stevie walked out on stage with Jamie Foxx, who then morphed into his Ray Charles character from Ray.
Taylor Swift is “obsessed” with the man she introduced, Sam Smith, who was joined by Mary J. Blige, singing that song every person on Earth has heard, “Stay With Me.” Not a bad song in its own right, but Blige stepped up its game a notch, along with the violins in the background.
Viewers finally got to see Kanye West’s protege, Sir Paul McCartney, and Rihanna performed “FourFiveSeconds.” Thanks for discovering him, Kanye!
Prince came out and everyone jumped up and screamed much like I would if I saw Prince. He says, “Albums still matter, like books and black lives.”
Prince then read the nominees for Album of the Year, with the winner being Beck for Morning Phase. Once Beck, whose album was up against Beyonce’s in the category, came up to accept the award, Kanye West ran up and looked like he was going to do another “Imma let you finish” rant because Beyonce didn’t win (he did this back in 2009 when Taylor Swift beat out Bey). (he stole it from Beyonce!). Seemingly a joke, Kanye immediately ran back down and everyone laughed. Beck, being the cool dude he is, try to get Kanye to come back up. Turns out, Kanye was serious, as he ranted about Beck should have given the award to Beyonce. Yeah.
Here’s the full thing:
Sia‘s performance was more like performance art. I did watch the whole thing, trying to figure it out. Kristen Wiig was fantastic as one of the dancers. I was surprised by how good she danced and unsurprised by how funny she was. I did like Shia Lebeouf coming out and reading off a purple napkin.
The night ended with first a duet by Beck and Chris Martin of Coldplay, and then Beyonce singing with a church choir to the gospel song, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.” Then John Legend and Common did their Golden Globe-winning song “Glory” from Academy Award-nominee for Best Picture, Selma. While the presentation was well done, the production managers could have made the ending a little more exciting.
Sam Smith credited his Grammy to his ex saying, “Thanks so much for breaking my heart, because you got me four Grammys.”
Here below are the nominees with the winners in bold from tonight’s telecast; there were many more awards given out earlier in the day during a Grammys Premiere Ceremony. For the full list of winners (including classical, latin, R&B, and more), visit grammy.com.
RECORD OF THE YEAR
“Fancy,” Iggy Azalea Featuring Charli XCX
“Chandelier,” Sia “Stay With Me (Darkchild Version),” Sam Smith
“Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift
“All About That Bass,” Meghan Trainor
ALBUM OF THE YEAR Morning Phase, Beck
X, Ed Sheeran
In the Lonely Hour, Sam Smith
SONG OF THE YEAR
“All About That Bass,” Kevin Kadish & Meghan Trainor, songwriters (Meghan Trainor)
“Chandelier,” Sia Furler & Jesse Shatkin, songwriters (Sia)
“Shake It Off,” Max Martin, Shellback & Taylor Swift, songwriters (Taylor Swift) “Stay With Me (Darkchild Version),” James Napier, William Phillips & Sam Smith, songwriters (Sam Smith)
“Take Me To Church,” Andrew Hozier-Byrne, songwriter (Hozier)
BEST NEW ARTIST
Haim Sam Smith
BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE:
“All of Me (Live Version),” John Legend
“Stay With Me,” Sam Smith
“Shake It Off,” Taylor Swift “Happy,” Pharrell Williams
BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE
“Fancy,” Iggy Azalea Featuring Charli XCX
“A Sky Full Of Stars,” Coldplay “Say Something,” A Great Big World With Christina Aguilera
“Bang Bang,” Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj
“Dark Horse,” Katy Perry featuring Juicy J
BEST TRADITONAL POP VOCAL ALBUM Cheek To Cheek, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
Nostalgia, Annie Lennox
Night Songs, Barry Manilow
Sending You A Little Christmas, Johnny Mathis
Partners, Barbra Streisand With Various Artists
BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM
Ghost Stories, Coldplay
Bangerz, Miley Cyrus
My Everything, Ariana Grande
Prism, Katy Perry
X, Ed Sheeran In The Lonely Hour, Sam Smith
BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE
“Gimme Something Good,” Ryan Adams
“Do I Wanna Know?,” Arctic Monkeys
“Blue Moon,” Beck
“Fever,” The Black Keys “Lazaretto,” Jack White
BEST METAL PERFORMANCE
“Neon Knights,” Anthrax
“High Road,” Mastodon
“The Negative One,” Slipknot “The Last In Line,” Tenacious D
BEST ROCK SONG “Ain’t It Fun,” Hayley Williams & Taylor York, songwriters (Paramore)
“Blue Moon,” Beck Hansen, songwriter (Beck)
“Fever,” D. Auerbach, B. Burton & P. Carney, songwriters (The Black Keys)
“Gimme Something Good,” Ryan Adams, songwriter (Ryan Adams)
“Lazaretto,” Jack White III, songwriter (Jack White)
BEST ROCK ALBUM
Ryan Adams, Ryan Adams Morning Phase, Beck
Turn Blue, The Black Keys
Hypnotic Eye, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Songs Of Innocence, U2
BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM
This Is All Yours, Alt-J
Reflektor, Arcade Fire
Melophobia, Cage The Elephant St. Vincent, St. Vincent
Lazaretto, Jack White
BEST R&B PERFORMANCE “Drunk In Love,” Beyoncé Featuring Jay Z
“New Flame,” Chris Brown Featuring Usher & Rick Ross
“It’s Your World,” Jennifer Hudson Featuring R. Kelly
“Like This,” Ledisi
“Good Kisser,” Usher
BEST R&B SONG “Drunk In Love,” Shawn Carter, Rasool Diaz, Noel Fisher, Jerome Harmon, Beyoncé Knowles, Timothy Mosely, Andre Eric Proctor & Brian Soko, songwriters (Beyoncé Featuring Jay Z)
“Good Kisser,” Ronald “Flip” Colson, Warren “Oak” Felder, Usher Raymond IV, Jameel Roberts, Terry “Tru” Sneed & Andrew “Pop” Wansel, songwriters (Usher)
“New Flame,” Eric Bellinger, Chris Brown, James Chambers, Malissa Hunter, Justin Booth Johnson, Mark Pitts, Usher Raymond IV, William Roberts, Maurice “Verse” Simmonds & Keith Thomas, songwriters (Chris Brown Featuring Usher & Rick Ross)
“Options (Wolfjames Version),” Dominic Gordon, Brandon Hesson, William Roberts & Jamaica “Kahn-Cept” Smith, songwriters (Luke James)
“The Worst,” Jhené Aiko Chilombo, songwriter (Jhené Aiko)
Although it wasn’t part of the broadcast, we wanted to point out who won the Best Metal Performance category: