Big Sean has had a rough couple of years. If it weren’t for his support from big name rap artists such as Jay-Z and Kanye West, Big Sean wouldn’t even be releasing a third album like Dark Sky Paradise. Commercially, his records haven’t performed well since 2011, but Big Sean’s recent features have given him the jump start he needed. If Dark Sky Paradise becomes a success, Big Sean could make a comeback from near obscurity.
The name of the album, Dark Sky Paradise, reflects the duality of Big Sean’s situation. “Dark Sky” represents the first half of the record, in which Big Sean contemplates his career and how far he still has to go. “Paradise” reflects Big Sean’s pursuit of his own personal nirvana. Big Sean is in a peculiar position. His fame is at just the right level where he can’t be humble, but he still needs to avoid appearing like an overly ambitious up-and-coming rapper.
Throughout the album, Big Sean fails to establish a consistent identity. His lyricism has improved drastically since his first album in 2011, but Big Sean throws the album down the drain with horrible deliveries in songs such as “Win Some, Lose Some.” He raps about the classic topic of how fame has changed him and how fame has stretched him so thin — but his lack of inflection and emotion makes it sound as if he’s reading off a teleprompter.
Big Sean would be a great poet if he didn’t have to vocalize his own work, but when it comes to rapping and making the listener feel emotion, Big Sean flops.
Production quality is where this album shines — but no thanks to Big Sean. “One Man Can Change the World,” which pays tribute to Big Sean’s grandmother, avoids being the cliché track the title suggests because of the production work from Amaire Johnson.
This high level continues throughout the album. DJ Mustard’s work on “I Don’t Fuck With You” and “Deep” stand out with their fluid beats and great use of drum machines. The production throughout is consistently well done and stands out as some of the best in the business, equal to production on albums by Kanye West, Drake and Jay-Z.
In addition to the production work, the features on this album also outshine Big Sean’s own contributions. Drake does a great job on “Blessings,” but Kanye West steals the show with his work on “All Your Fault.” At times, it feels as if Big Sean wants to be Kanye West and adopt his style. Instead, Kanye West nearly swipes this album out of Big Sean’s hands and leaves Big Sean dwarfed by Kanye’s ego and delivery. Mentorship has proven to be an effective tool in rap, but, if Kanye West is supposed to be Big Sean’s mentor, he fails at improving Big Sean’s vocals.
This album featured some great verses by Kanye West, Drake and E-40, but nothing on this album made me believe Big Sean is on their level. Big Sean’s delivery and style make liking him a struggle, and, from what I can hear, it’s not worth the effort.
The music portion of South By Southwest is the most unpredictable aspect of the festival. Unlike traditional music festivals such as Austin City Limits or Fun Fun Fun Fest, where schedules are solidified months in advance and seldom change, the schedule given out by SXSW is more of a general guide. There’s no telling when and where Kanye West, Lady Gaga or De La Soul might show up, and half the fun of the music festival is being in the right place at the right time when a surprise guest appears.
This year’s festival had its share of surprise performances and hyper-exclusive sets that SXSW has become known for in recent years. For the lucky Samsung Galaxy owners and winners of a ticket lottery, Kanye West performed with Jay-Z at Austin Music Hall. Those who made it to The Mobile Movement showcase caught a glimpse of Lady Gaga running the light show.
The Daily Texan made a list of the best shows of each day of SXSW.
AT&T Interactive Music Showcase at The Mobile Movement
Arguably one of the most rumor-filled nights of SXSW, AT&T hosted DJ Shadow, Machinedrum and Reggie Watts. The venue featured several nights of music in the interactive warehouse on Cesar Chavez Street, all leading up to Monday’s rumors of a secret Lady Gaga or Kanye performance, both of which were just that: infamous SXSW rumors. The lineup kicked off with the always innovative comedian-musician Reggie Watts beat boxing his way through a lively set, leaving room for one-liners between each song. DJ Travis Stewart, performing under the name Machinedrum, followed Watts in what felt like the longest but most cohesive set at SXSW as Twitter was flooded with pictures of Lady Gaga in the building. The rumors were dissuaded altogether just before DJ Shadow’s energetic set, leaving the audience dancing through an impressively artistic, beat-heavy performance.
Pitchfork Show No Mercy Showcase at Mohawk
Mohawk hosted a showcase that displayed the full potential of what SXSW can be. Highlights included the slow-churning Indian from Chicago and Los Angeles’ Youth Code, a dark electronic act that put on a highly energetic set that resembled a much better version of Sleigh Bells. The best of the night were Brooklyn’s Sannhet, who won over a small crowd with striking visuals and grand and sweeping instrumental black metal, and Texas’s own Power Trip, who delivered the most intense set of the entire week. Vocalist Riley Gale opened the set by announcing that he had just found out a close friend passed away, but that the band was just going to play through it and try not to think about it and, in turn, delivered an extremely heavy and emotional set that easily had the most energetic pit that’s taken place at an official showcase.
Kanye West and Jay-Z at Austin Music Hall
The first joint performance in two years from rap’s biggest stars made for one of the biggest sets of the week, but, because of poor planning, it was almost a disaster. Samsung, which put on the show, gave out wristbands that “guaranteed entry” to more people than the venue could hold. Hundreds outside left in anger when the fire marshal announced a “one in, one out” policy before half of the people in line with wristbands had entered. Kanye and Jay-Z essentially played greatest hits sets. At one point, each stood on large installations on opposite sides of the venue and went back and forth, playing hits such as “Runaway” and “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.” The two reunited onstage together at the end for fan favorites such as “Gold Digger” before launching into “Niggas In Paris” three times in a row. The fans that made it in were treated to an incredible, rare show from Kanye and Jay-Z.
Future Islands at the 4AD Showcase at Cheer Up Charlie’s
Like most bands at SXSW, Future Islands played several sets throughout the week. Their show as part of 4AD’s showcase at Cheer Up Charlie’s was their last for this year’s festival, and lead singer Sam Herring announced that it would be their “most punk-rock fucking set” yet. This prompted the audience at Cheer Up Charlie’s to launch into a thrashing mosh-pit that lasted the entirety of the performance. Herring’s on stage energy was not only matched, but maybe even topped, by the vivacious crowd. The band played songs off of early albums as well as their newly released single, “Seasons (Waiting On You).” Future Islands’ set at Cheer Up Charlie’s was quite possibly their best set of the entire festival.
Pitchfork Official Showcase at Central Presbyterian Church
Friday at SXSW hosted one of the biggest showcases in the world of independent music. Pitchfork’s 2014 SXSW showcase at Central Presbyterian Church started with an up and down set from synth rockers EMA. Angel Olsen followed, delivering a powerful performance with songs off of her newly acclaimed album, Burn Your Fire for no Witness. The surprise of the night was a wonderful set from Hundred Waters, combining beats and synth lines with piano and soaring vocals from frontwoman Nicole Miglis. The electronic beats and raw emotion of Mas Ysa and the ethereal textures of Forest Swords complimented each other well, setting the stage for an impactful set from Sun Kil Moon frontman, Mark Kozelek. The ringing guitars of Real Estate closed out the night as they combined hits from their previous works as well as tracks from their newly released Atlas.
Phantogram at the Guitar Center Rooftop Sessions
Phantogram’s Saturday rooftop jam session was easily one of the most authentic acts of all the official SXSW showcases, but due to some technical difficulties and a lack of audience participation, it was also vastly underappreciated. The duo owned the stage with a killer vocal presence, despite a microphone malfunction midway through their set, after which vocalist Sarah Barthel yelled offstage, “I guess we’ll just take care of it, all by ourselves.” The noticeable lack of energy from the audience could be blamed on the performance being taped for television. The looming TV cameras and restrictive boundaries around the stage made any sort of excitement, outside of an occasional cheer, almost impossible. Regardless, Phantogram delivered with a powerful, punchy set heard across the rooftops of downtown Austin.
For the rest of the Daily Texan’s SXSW music review, see the Daily Texan Life & Arts website.
Those who didn't get into the monstrous Jay-Z/Kanye West reunion Wednesday night were most likely at the NPR Showcase. At Stubb’s Bar-B-Q, arguably the headquarters for live Austin music, a strong lineup of bands of every persuasion came together to put on an entertaining night of music.
To open the night, Syracuse noise-rockers Perfect Pussy brought their unmatchable intensity to the stage. Though the lyrics were mostly indiscernible over the sound of the band, the visible emotion on singer Meredith Graves’ face left no doubt in the audience’s mind about the sincerity of their songs.
Following Perfect Pussy was UK post-punk five-piece Eagulls. Embracing the “wall-of-sound” technique that many rock acts use, the fullness of Eagulls’ sound was never in question. Although, after three songs, the formula that they use to write their songs was very evident. A driving beat would start, and both guitarists would play nearly the exact same thing, creating plenty of sound, but cutting off opportunities for the band to create a more complex sound.
Kelis, the nationally-renown R&B/hip-hop singer famous for her provocative single “Milkshake,” brought her full band to the stage. Horns, back-up vocalists and keyboards created grooves and beats that had the entire crowd dancing along to the undeniably infectious music. She covered “Feeling Good,” returned to it several times throughout the set, and of course, brought all the boys to the yard with “Milkshake.”
The last act I stayed for Wednesday was the artistic yet precise St. Vincent. As the only show she would play for the entire festival, the crowd was fittingly electric with anticipation. Her purposefully robotic choreography paired with her impeccable guitar playing abilities showcased her undeniable talent. Full of energy and confidence, the beautiful set was a fitting way to end my SXSW Wednesday.
Horns Up: University recasts ‘In The Heights’ Musical
In November of last year, the College of Fine Arts promised to recast its upcoming production, “In the Heights” — a musical that follows the lives of 12 Dominican-American teenagers living in New York — after receiving backlash for casting professional guest actors instead of students. In the original casting, nine of the 12 lead roles were given to professional actors, as the outside creative team felt there were not enough qualified students of color in the theatre department to fill the need. On Friday, The Daily Texan reported that the theatre department both recast the production with minority students and hired an entirely new creative team to oversee the play’s production. Not only are we pleased that the college has made good on its casting promise, but we are glad that it has chosen to start fresh with a new director, musical director and choreographer, signaling that they aren’t afraid of making drastic changes in response to well-deserved criticism.
Photo: Debby Garcia, Daily Texan Staff. Theater department officials have a discussion with students about the casting of "In the Heights" in November.
Horns Down: Macklemore beats out Kanye and Kendrick
On Sunday, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis won three Grammys for Best Rap Album, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance, effectively sweeping the rap categories at this year’s ceremony. And while Macklemore is certainly a talented artist worthy of the accolades he’s gotten over the past year, it’s both disappointing and disheartening the awards didn’t go to Kanye West or Kendrick Lamar. Sure, The Heist is a great album, and “Thrift Shop” will go down in history as the first single to reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 without the support of a major record label. But at the end of the day, Macklemore’s fun, accessible pop pales in comparison to the heartfelt and deeply meaningful music of the other nominees. The intense racial commentary of West’s Yeezus is definitely harder to listen to than The Heist, and the harsh narrative of Lamar’s Compton upbringing on Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City is less accessible than a silly song about buying second-hand clothes. But the path of least resistance is seldom the most worthwhile, especially when it comes to art. Horns down to the Grammys for overlooking two veritable hip-hop masterpieces in favor of Macklemore’s easily digestible pop.
Horns Down: Students don’t know much about recycling
Though Austin continues to encourage recycling efforts and reduce wastefulness, information on how and where to recycle properly is not reaching UT students living in high-capacity dorms and apartments, according to an article by The Daily Texan released Friday. The city requires complexes with more than 50 units to allow 25 percent of waste disposal space for recycling, but the city’s policies and ordinances are not well enforced. Property owners and managers, consequently, don’t put in the effort to inform student tenants, who are often unaware of these recycling opportunities. Any student who has gone grocery shopping since last March is aware of the city’s stance on limiting wasteful plastic bags, and many students make an effort to utilize the recycling containers on campus. Educating students about apartment recycling options could lead to a similar surge in compliance. Property owners should take the time to point students in the right direction, instead of assuming that they already know their recycling options.
2013 has been the year of album hype, and the hype is not limited to one genre. Daft Punk, Kanye West and Arcade Fire have all had over-zealous campaigns accompanying their releases this year.
Daft Punk first unleashed the news of its new album publically with a 15 second clip that aired during SNL, which was quickly spread online. At first, people thought the stranger robots were saying “mexican monkey,” but anticipation for the group’s first true album in years caught on quickly. A slightly longer clip was shown at Coachella, and was talked about more than any of the actual festival performances. It was at Coachella that the world heard the first murmurs of “Get Lucky,” which would soon be the song of the summer for teenagers and young adults everywhere. The release of collaborators and production techniques used on the album only enhanced anticipation, leading to the duo’s most successful album ever.
Arcade Fire had a more guerrilla-roots campaign its its rollout, consisting mostly of cryptic symbols marked on streets. The ominous words “Reflektor” originally didn’t hold any relation to Arcade Fire, but the band revealed that it would be the title of its next album through a reply on Twitter. An official Instagram account documented the symbols, which then began featuring the date "9/9/9." On Sept. 9 at 9 p.m., Arcade Fire officially released a video for its single “Reflektor,” and expectations grew. By the time the album was finally released, anticipation was higher than for any album in the band’s history.
Perhaps the most subversive and interesting album rollout of 2013 was Kanye West’s Yeezus. It began with his tweet “JUNE EIGHTEEN,” which led to a map on his website that targeted spots around the world. Fans and bystanders at the locations were then graced with a projection of Kanye’s face rapping “New Slaves” — including one spot on the UT campus. He then put the album art — which is blank — on his website, only adding to the enigma that is Yeezus. Kanye consciously decided not to put a single out for the radio or do any major promotion for the album, instead relying on his individual vision to carry the anticipation for it. More popular and well known than Daft Punk or Arcade Fire, West used his far-reach to make an event and album that will be discussed for many years to come.
This pattern of pre-release hype and elaborate album rollouts could soon become the norm for all artists desiring credible exposure in the future. Moving away from traditional ways of promoting an album … Could this be the beginning of a new era?
Kim Kardashian rang in her 33rd birthday with a big announcement. She is engaged!
Kim Kardashian is set to wed rapper Kanye West, and from the looks of it, West pulled out all the stops for his proposal.
According to People Magazine, the 36-year-old rapper rented out San Francisco’s AT&T Park for the perfect setting. The stadium was filled with Kim Kardashian's closest loved ones including "momager" Kris Jenner, sisters Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian and Kim Kardashian's friend Jonathan Cheban. Not to mention a live orchestra that played Lana Del Rey’s hit “Young and Beautiful,” Kim Kardashian’s favorite song.
Once inside the stadium, in true Kanye West fashion, the message, “PLEEEASE MARRY MEEE!!!” flashed across the jumbotron. Sealed with a kiss and a 15-carat engagement ring, Kim Kardashian immediately took to Instagram to document the momentous celebration captioned with a simple “YES!!!”
Kim Kardashian’s sister Khloe Kardashian also took to social media, posting, “Tears of JOY!!!!!!! Wow!!!!!!”
West and Kim Kardashian began dating in 2012 after the reality star divorced Kris Humphries after only 72 days of marriage.
On June 15, 2013 West and Kim Kardashian welcomed their first child together, North West.
This will be the first marriage for West and the third marriage for Kim Kardashian, who was first married to Damon Thomas in 2004.
As the saying goes, the third time’s the charm and here is hoping for Kimye’s sake that this is true.
It’s wild to think that, after more than a decade in the industry, Pusha T is releasing his first official debut album. The ultra-talented rapper first partnered with Malice in the group Clipse, which released several classic albums. After Clipse and Pusha’s other group, Re-Up Gang, split up, Pusha signed to Kanye West’s label, and has been prominently featured on many singles in the past three years while also putting out mediocre mixtapes. Many who know him now aren’t familiar with his rich history as one of the most brutal rappers of the century, and only know him as that random rapper who shows up on a bunch of West’s tracks to deliver half-decent verses. My Name Is My Name will change all of that.
Pusha has a reputation for boastful, hard-hitting raps that frequently mention his former days as a drug dealer. He lives up to that throughout My Name Is My Name, delivering fiery verses that often take shots at other rappers — Drake especially. Pusha brags that he doesn’t “sing hooks” on the manic opener “King Push.” On the wonderful “Suicide,” which features slippery production by Pharrell Williams, Pusha explains that he “built mine off fed time and dope lines. You caught steam off headlines and co-signs.” What’s great about these attacks is that Pusha backs them up throughout the record.
The rapper thrives when playing the villain, and he gets the chance to rhyme over sinister and lurking beats by West and Hudson Mohawke, among others. There are plenty of guest rappers here, as Pusha outshines label mates 2 Chainz and Big Sean, pushes Rick Ross to actually try on a verse and holds his own with the equally hungry Kendrick Lamar. The only guest stars that don’t really fit in are Kelly Rowland and Chris Brown, who show up in an attempt to help Pusha craft radio-friendly tracks. Pusha loses some of his edge on those songs, and they falter in comparison to standouts like “Nosetalgia” and “Numbers On the Boards.”
My Name Is My Name is an exceptionally strong rap album that serves as a true return to form for Pusha. There are a few filler tracks, but as a whole, this is one of the better rap albums of the year — a true showcase of what a great traditional hip-hop record can sound like. Best of all, it serves a reminder of who Pusha is — not the rapper of the past three years who sounds like he was phoning it in, but the fiery hothead who made some of the best rap albums of the last 15 years. My Name Is My Name serves as another fine entry into his rich career.
Brad Pitt wears leather pants at the Moscow International Film Festival screening of "World War Z."
Kanye West walks on stage during a sold-out benefit concert at Madison Square Garden for victims of Hurricane Sandy — not wearing a suit or any typical runaway attire that we all know he can afford. No, he is wearing a leather shirt matched with skintight leather pants.
One of these two articles of clothing has taken off, even being seen on street-wear nuts in New York City. Leather skirts were cool for about a month, with A$AP Rocky and Kid Cudi following West’s lead, but it looks like those skinny leather pants are here to stay for a while.
Leather pants aren’t just a thing for rockers in the ‘80s and motorcycle gang members. During the NBA All-Star Weekend Dwyane Wade and Lebron James both wore matching leather pants on the floor — which also proves it’s not something exclusively for the hip-hop game. Brad Pitt even busted out a pair of the glorious leather pants for a “World War Z” premiere in Moscow.
OK, let’s look at this trend for a second. Leather pants first and foremost are very hot, temperature-wise. Now this might be great for someone on the East Coast, but here in Austin it’s just a bit silly. There are alternatives for the same look, such as waxed denim, which gives the same look as leather pants without the sweat. Also, unless you’re riding a motorcycle, you’re going to bring a lot of attention to yourself, so the look is not for the shy or reserved.
Still, that is precisely the reason why the look is so popular on the red carpet. It is almost impossible for any celebrity to wear leather pants without at least a brief article written about it in paparazzi magazines. This can be good (Scott Disick has been compared to Kanye in terms of style when he’s wearing leather pants) or bad (just think about Rick Ross in huge red leather pants for a second).
The biggest winner of trend is French luxury clothing boutique Givenchy. Although they do not make every single pair of skinny leather pants, they are the go-to brand of some of these stars. There are plenty of hip-hop lines about Givenchy, which started right around the leather pants revival. Does this mean that Givenchy could become the new Gucci as the bravado brand of choice for rappers? A keyword search for “Givenchy” on RapGenius.com gives 92 songs as a result. Givenchy has their leather pants (and probably Kanye) to thank for.
There’s a high to be had in cheating, whether it’s to gain an edge, satisfy a guilty pleasure or test how far laws and boundaries will bend before they break, just for the hell of it.
Cheating is a notorious, infamous part of our pasts. There’s a lore to it, something fascinating about risking everything to get what would otherwise be unattainable. In some cases, we mythologize cheaters — John F. Kennedy and his innumerable women or the 1919 White Sox who threw the World Series. Most often, however, to be caught cheating is to have a reputation forever tarnished: Tiger Woods, Barry Bonds, New York Times reporter Jayson Blair.
USA Today dubbed 2012 the “Year of the Cheater,” pointing to Lance Armstrong, David Petraeus and the 125 Harvard students who were investigated for cheating on a take-home final exam.
Along those lines, here’s this week’s Tuesday Topic, a localized, interdepartmental look at our nation’s favorite pastime, from Kanye West's songs to Adderall abuse.
The two artists who undeniably garnered the most attention preceding the 54th annual Grammy Awards were triumphantly Adele and tragically Whitney Houston, each of them indelibly gifted with standout voices of their generation. Between the award announcements and performances, the attention seemed to bounce between Adele’s success and Houston’s untimely death. As predicted, Adele swept up six awards including Record of the Year and Album of the Year for her album “21.” With almost every performance came an artist’s impromptu dedication to Houston, ultimately leading to singer Jennifer Hudson’s chilling tribute performance.
Backed by a full orchestra, Bruce Springsteen kicked off Grammy night with enthusiastic kicks from underneath his electric guitar. In the audience, Paul McCartney clapped along to the Boss and the E Street Band’s latest single, “We Take Care of Our Own.”
Host L.L Cool J followed up with a prayer to honor Whitney Houston, who passed away Feb. 11, a day before the show, at age 48. The audience—from Katy Perry to Faith Hill and Tony Bennett—bowed their heads as L.L. Cool J finished with, “Whitney, we will always love you.”
Nominated for six Grammy awards this year, Bruno Mars performed “Runaway Baby,” from his album Doo-Wops and Hooligans. Mars synchronized costumes and choreography with his band, looping dapper in a gold blazer as he slid into the splits mid-song, never once missing a beat or his key.
Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt joined country and R&B forces on shortened yet soulful version “Sunday Kind of Love” in tribute to another lost artist this past year, Etta James.
As expected, the award for Pop Solo Performance went to Adele for “Someone Like You,” despite competing against pop mega-forces Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Pink. In her acceptance speech, Adele said that the song changed her life. With this win and a classic look of voluminous curls and red lips, Adele proved not all pop hits are the result of sugar-coated dance beats and scantily-clad songstresses.
Chris Brown made his Grammy comeback with three nominations after a three-year absence following the release of violent images of his assault on then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. His signature pop-and-lock dance moves dominated his song “Turn Up the Music” against a technicolor stage that times flashes of rainbow colors and skyline images perfectly as each beat dropped. With this performance, Chris Brown reminded the audience of his stage presence as he pleased the crowd with his dance moves despite his likely lip-syncing and court record of violence against women.
The clementine-clad Fergie and Marc Anthony presented the award for Best Rap Performance. Nominees include Jay-Z and Kanye West for “Otis,” Drake and Nicki Minaj for “Moment 4 Lyfe,” and Chris Brown featuring Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne for “Look at Me Now.” Watch The Throne’s Jay-Z and West won, though they unfortunately were not in attendance to accept the award. Perhaps there was another event substantially cooler and more worthy of the rap stars’ attendance?
In typical Grammy fashion of pairing performers with clearly different sounds, the unexpected duo of Rihanna and Coldplay performed together. Rihanna slithered on the ground to her hit “We Found Love,” tossing her newly blonde locks as the song’s signature techno dance beat kicked in. As her song ended, the camera cut to Chris Martin of Coldplay on an acoustic guitar playing “Princess of China" when Rihanna joined him after only a few lyrics. After a quick duet, Martin raced to stage where the rest of Coldplay was waiting to perform hit single, “Paradise.” The performance didn’t prove to be an authentic collaboration but rightfully gave two of this year’s biggest acts much-deserved stage time on music’s biggest night.
The Foo Fighters in all their bearded glory beat out rock cult favorites Radiohead, Coldplay, The Decemberists and Mumford & Sons for Best Rock Performance. The band’s winning single, “Walk,” comes from album, Wasting Light, which was recorded on tape in the garage of lead singer Dave Grohl’s garage. Grohl marks the first winner of the night to be cut off by the show’s outro music as he screamed out, “Rock 'n' Roll.”
In celebration of The Beach Boys reunion, Maroon 5 performed the California band’s classic, “Surfer Girl.” Foster The People was up next with even more well-known Beach Boys’ staple, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” Finally, The Beach Boys swung slowly along as they sung “Good Vibrations” which ended with a standing ovation by the audience and smiles all round.
It seems that only a legend is worthy of presenting another legend. Stevie Wonder introduced Paul McCartney, who crooned “My Valentine” in front of a full orchestra which included the sorrowful yet sweet strings of a classical guitar.
Surprisingly not dressed in her usual sequins, Taylor Swift took the stage in a modest boho dress. With a bango slung around her shoulders, Swift sang a lackluster version of her single “Mean.” She winked and smirked through the “I told you so” lyrics, reminding her audience that despite her poor track record as a live performer, she’s unbearably charming.
Song of the Year nominations included “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons, “All of the Lights” by Kanye West and Rihanna,“Grenade” by Bruno Mars, “Holocene” by Bon Iver and “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele. Not surprisingly enough, Adele happily skipped up the stage hand-in-hand with the song’s producer Paul Epworth to accept the award.
However, in a surprising turn of events, country’s girl-next-door Taylor Swift did not crush her country competition for Best Country Album. It was instead Lady Antebellum who won for Best Country Album with Own The Night.
Adele’s much-anticipated performance lived up to the hype as she crooned a hauntingly beautiful rendition of her song “Rolling In The Deep,” which won Song of the Year earlier in the night. With each second of her performance, from the acapella beginning to the bridge she belted out, Adele continued to outdo herself, clearly showing the world that she’s not the next big thing; she has already arrived.
Country stars The Band Perry and Blake Shelton honored Glen Campbell. Their performances pleasantly primed the stage for the true star, Glen Campbell, who proudly sang “Rhinestone Cowboy” while the audience clapped and sang along.
Jazz legend Tony Bennett sang alongside a refreshingly less-country version of Carrie Underwood’s voice that swapped southern twang for fluid jazz harmonies on “It Had To Be You.”
Bon Iver beat out The Band Perry, Skrillex, J.Cole and even Nicki Minaj who had an undeniably explosive year for new artist. He humbly accepted the award, tipping his theoretical hat to the musicians who have yet to be discovered.
In honor of the tragic death of Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson, who just a couple nights ago was praising Houston’s voice on “Piers Morgan Tonight,” took the stage. Hudson stood under a spotlight while she delivered an impressive (though not quite on par with Houston’s) version of “I Will Always Love You.” Considering the obviously short notice of this performance and Hudson’s chilling rendition, you have to wonder if this is a song she’s dreamed of performing since she was a little girl.
Deadmau5, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, David Guetta and Foo Fighters attempted to rouse the crowd with what the Grammy’s had been calling a “dance party” preceding the performance. David Guetta’s electronic beats slunk up and down as background music for Chris Brown and Lil Wayne in a haphazard performance that lacked cohesion. Strobe lights and smoke distracted from a performance that the show could’ve done without. As it turns out, a Deadmau5 and Foo Fighters collaboration make for a pretty abysmal performance.
Looking fresh in a tuxedo, rapper Drake teases us with an introduction of his “good friend” Nicki Minaj, instead of a performance of his own. It’s quite obvious through Minaj’s typical clothing style, that she strives to be different than your average pop or hip hop star, so her bizarre acting and rapping hybrid performance doesn’t come as much of a surprise. After rap lyrics littered with the word “bitch,” she sampled the Christmas carol, “O Come, All Ye Faithful” resulting in an odd performance that left the audience cheering but completely confused nonetheless.
The Band Perry presented the Record of the Year to Adele, sharing the same attitude as the rest of the audience with a simple, understated, “No surprise, 'Rolling in the Deep!'” At this point, does it even really matter who else was nominated?
Adele pulls off a six-for-six clean sweep with tears in her eyes as she accepts the final award of the night, Album of the Year. Despite a runny nose and a little voice cracking, she maintains a level of class and grace that other pop stars can only dream of having. “It has been the most life-changing year,” she sobs. And that is perhaps the understatement of the night.