Dress by Roberto Cavalli
Shoes Christian Louboutin
Jewels by Lorraine Schwartz
Photographed by a Kevin Mazur
WHAT? All hail the Queen.
It’s been an interesting day. I’m recovering from being quite sick most of last week. I was quarantined in my house most of the time. Last night I went over to my parents house with a friend to watch The Grammy’s due lack of cable. The Grammy’s usually have 3 moments for me - ”Wow, that was really incredible.” “That was….random/interesting/unexpected.” “Well, that was quite shit wasn’t it?” This years wasn’t any different from other years.
I had some strong investment in this years show. End of 2012/2013 was an amazing year in music. We had some fantastic albums from every genre of , which usually makes for great end of year lists and award shows. One of the biggest bummers for me last night was Kendrick Lamar getting passed over. His album has to be the best hip hop debut in the last decade. The music, the lyrics, the story - everything about his album was remarkable. It was the hip hop album that grabbed me the most out of those nominated, and in regards to Album of the Year - it was my biggest hope. I was disappointed. However, Daft Punk wasn’t a disappointment at all.
As always I got a bit confused my some of the performances (Robin Thicke and Chicago). Kacey Musgraves has had the breakout country career this year, not really my genre, but I recognize her impact, especially since the last person to get her kind of buzz was Taylor Swift. I still didn’t get the light up cacti and boots.
The performances that blew my mind however really took it to the next level. Beyonce’s debut performance of “Drunk in Love” was just perfect. It was sexy, raunchy, and beautiful. She sounded amazing, and it had this simplicity to it that was refreshing. It might have been due to the lack of water that came pouring down, but I digress. P!nk was my second favorite. If Bey hadn’t performed, this would have stolen the show. She has a had a bit of a rough go of it in the US and The Grammy’s have never given her the showcases she deserved. That has changed with her most recent album, and after her renowned Grammy showing of “Glitter in the Air” a few years back. Last nights was flawless, beautiful, daring. Lorde showcased something I’ve been wanting to see from her for a while - strong vocals and a refreshing melody. She somehow stripped back her number one and she really let herself show. I was newly excited about her after really giving her album time the last few months. Daft Punk, Pharrell, Stevie Wonder, and Nile Rodgers were just fantastic. It was such a fun performance, and it really exemplified those random collaborations that turn out to be really special and unique. Which leads me in to my final and most unexpected performance highlight - Kendrick and Imagine Dragons. I have to be honest, I haven’t followed Imagine Dragons at all. I’ve heard the singles, but that’s it. Apparently they are doing an arena tour next, so I’m a bit out of the loop with them. When I heard Kendrick was with them, I was really hesitant and a bit bothered by it - it seemed like shade toward Kendrick. I was proved wrong real nice and quick. They brought it. It was stellar. It was exciting, special, and really cool.
So there you have it, my top performances. However, the performance that got the most shade from me last night was Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis with “Same Love.” It was came out of multiple factors. One, I don’t really like the music, it’s not my kind of hip-hop. Along with that, Madonna as a guest on it seemed a bit tasteless, especially after her controversy this week. I perceived it to be one of the random collaborations that happens that doesn’t quite work. Then finally, the 34 couples getting married DURING the performance. I just couldn’t handle the gimmick in all of this. Through the entire show, I was tweeting a rather ridiculous amount, living in that social media experience of cultural/music moments. I couldn’t help myself, and I quite enjoy it as narcissistic as it can be (as I write this post, I know). With that said, I’ve realized today that I got a bit too caught up in the shade of it all. Seeing tweets from people who were feeling something just remotely similar to me. After this performance, I talked to a friend who didn’t get to watch the whole show but saw some performances and was going to watch the rest. I just went off about this “Same Love” performance and how much it bothered me and I didn’t like it. I just got so negative towards it. This is how I went to bed last night.
This morning, that same friend texted me something rather wise and profound for me:
"You really never let me say that I hate any artist without encouraging me to really take a balanced look with a generous spirit and give everyone the benefit of the doubt, so I’m trying to do the same to you."
This text had an enlightening impact on me today. So much so that I stopped what I was doing at work and rewatched the performance - twice. I realized how caught up I was last night into the haters perspective of Mackelmore. Sure, I don’t like his music, but not enough to warrant my extreme dislike at the time. When it comes down to it, still not into his music, loved Mary Lambert, Madonna sounded terrible, and yes, there were some sweet moments of those 34 couples, but it was still rather gimmicky and rather exploitative. The millennial generation has created this unique and rather terrifying platform for us to throw shade, judgement and our perspective into the world because it needs to be heard. I’m a part of it. I live in it, and contribute to it, with a concerted effort of both positivity and critique…that walks around looking like negativity more times than I would like.
With all that said, that’s what makes cultural moments impactful. If we can take it in and let it make us more introspective, self aware, and thoughtful, then even those “quite shit” moments are valuable.
This year was a pretty damn good year in music. There were genre defying musical moments, new marketing tactics (Bey, Jay, Kanye), and true art in popular music. I thought this would be a perfect year to try my hand at a first ever Top 10 List. I have never done this, and wanted to challenge myself. Originally my plan was to give a few sentences as to why each album made my list, but I became a bit redundant.
Here we are: My top ten, in no particular order, with the exception of Beyoncè, because to me, that is the best album of the year. Each album was one of the most interesting, impactful and attention grabbing albums of the year.
Beyoncè - BEYONCÈ
Janelle Monae - The Electric Lady
HAIM - Days Are Gone
Fantasia - Side Effects of You
James Blake - Overgrown
Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience: Part 1
Jessie Ware - Devotion (US Release was 2013, had the album in fall of 2012)
J. Cole - Born Sinner
Ariana Grande - Yours Turly
The Civil Wars - The Civil Wars
Honorable mentions: Jay Z - Magna Carta Holy Grail, Drake - Nothing But The Best, Kanye West - Yeezus, and Sara Bareilles, The Blessed Unrest.
Oh, you know, just Beyonce taking my breath away. Normal.
An Interview with Yogi Bibi McGill
“A dazzling flurry of sparks emerged as guitarist Bibi McGill stood toe-to-toe with Beyonce, shredding a blazing Jackson Randy Rhoads guitar in all her awesome glory. This year’s Superbowl half-time show had many memorable moments, but none quite like that. In a recent phone interview with EBONY.com, McGill confirmed that the performance was “extremely exciting,” but focused more on her mission to share good energy, love and light through her efforts. “I’m not thinking about how I look and how it feels to have sparks come out of my guitar,” said McGill. “I’m just kind of up there going, ‘I’ve been given the opportunity to be here. I want to let my light shine, so light shine through me.’
Now the guitarist and musical director for Beyonce’s tour band, “The Suga Mamas,” acclaimed yoga instructor, and health food entrepreneur, this Renaissance woman shatters notions of race and gender attached to each of these occupations. Here, she speaks about struggling before her big break, almost passing on the “I AM” auditions, and juggling multiple passions at once.” —Patrice Peck
Read the interview HERE.
Thanks forwarding this article!
Beyoncé - Standing On The Sun (Live in Antwerp, Belgium)
Oh look….my jaw is on the floor again due to a Beyoncè related video.
Beyonce’s new track, “Bow Down / I Been On,” goes pretty hard, dang.
I was in no way, shape, or form prepared for this. I’m bowing down.
The best women.
Beyonce’s display of imperial charisma at the Super Bowl comes off as an historical inevitability, and as something that benefits us all. Ann Powers says it’s an illusion, but what a substantial one.
Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
If you are going to read any piece on last nights flawless performance, read this one.