Ever wonder what it would be like to get in “formation” while cycling your life away? Well wonder no more cause IMAXShift is making your Beyonce dreams come true. [Read more…] about Cycling Your Inner Superstar with Beyonce at IMAXShift
Manhattanites can finally rejoice in heading out on the nightlife without having to bundle up too much because the warmer weather is finally here! That means more reasons to head to several rooftop parties, clubs, bars and enjoy a night out on the town with your friends. Obviously, music is a necessary and vital part to one’s night out and keeping the crowd going, and this year’s music has been nothing short of plentiful with the type of club bangers you can jam to at any NYC club or bar. [Read more…] about Five Great Songs from 2016 to go Clubbing to in Manhattan
Last night at Super Bowl 50, we saw some pretty incredible and amazing moments, both from the sports and music field. Peyton Manning and The Denver Broncos triumphantly won over the favored Carolina Panthers, which is a pretty great punctuation mark for Peyton’s amazing long sentence of a career. Millions of people were ecstatically waiting for the halftime show, in which superstars Beyonce, Bruno Mars and Coldplay rocked the house to commemorate the 50th year of this legendary game being played. Upon closer look, you would have noticed that Chris Martin was wearing a Global Citizen armband, an organization that has a goal of ending extreme poverty by the year 2030. There is, however, a Manhattan connection to this story.
[Read more…] about Coldplay’s Chris Martin Rocks Global Citizen Armband at SB50
Super Bowl 50 is just around the corner! We here at Manhattan Digest already entertained you with some recipes from some local restaurants here in NYC, and now we have even more delicious yumminess to share with you and your friends. One of my favorite food brands to shop for, Boar’s Head, have come up with some really tasty and simple recipes to create and enjoy while watching the big game (And the halftime show with Coldplay & Beyonce! Yay)! Check out what they have in store for you to make this coming Sunday.
[Read more…] about Need More Super Bowl Recipes, NYCers? Boar’s Head To The Rescue!
Budweiser’s “Made In America” festival is coming up shortly on September 5th and 6th. The annual festival, held in Philadelphia, is boasting some of the biggest names in music from Beyonce, Modest Mouse, The Weeknd and J. Cole just to name a few. Well famed hat maker New Era is putting their two cents into the mix by exclusively dropping a one of a kind hat for the festival.
Roc Nation teamed up with New Era Cap to create the Roc Nation 9Fifty snapback. With great American colors with an awesome black background, it is an essential for any hat loving aficionado to rock during this festival and well beyond it. What is even better is that it is listed only at $45, which is a steal for the hat wearing community. It is being made available to people showing up to the festival but can also be purchased on Roc Nation’s official website and their store Roc N Sole in Brooklyn.
Hope you all have a great time at Made In America for any of the Manhattanites who are making the trek there this weekend, and if you wanna rock a stylish hat that will grab attention then go out and get it!
Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!
As sad as it is for me to say this, I was not invited to the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards that are happening tonight in Inglewood, California. I repped Manhattan Digest to the fullest at last year’s show when they were held at Brooklyn’s very own Barclay Center, and gave us one of the most epic performances in VMA history- Miley Cyrus. If you don’t know what happened then you have been living under a rock for the past year. Needless to say, this year’s VMA’s is sure to be unpredictable and insane as it usually is. The lineup of performances look sick, with the opening being pop divas Jessie J, Arianna Grande and hip-hop songstress Nicki Minaj doing their current top 10 single “Bang Bang”. Other noteworthy performances of the night should be Taylor Swift, who will be performing her new hit “Shake It Off” from the much anticipated new album “1989” due out October 27th. And of course, the lady of the night will be eight time nominee and already multiple VMA award winner Beyonce, who will be receiving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award later in the evening. This award has been bestowed on several legends in the industry, from Madonna, Janet Jackson, The Rolling Stones and most recently pop pioneers Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. Should be a performance of epic madness and one that I cannot wait to see.
So let’s breakdown the other thing that people are there to see- who will win each category at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. This year’s pack is stacked with some of the biggest artists and songs of the year, and is making it tough for this journalist to choose who will win and who should win. It is still funny to me that MTV broadcasts something like this when I believe I was wearing JNCO Jeans the last time they actually aired a block of music videos, but it is the most highly anticipated award show of the season, so I can see why they keep it going each year. Let’s breakdown each category, starting with the “Artist To Watch, Presented by Taco Bell”.
Artist to Watch, Presented By Taco Bell
5 Seconds Of Summer- “She Looks So Perfect”
Fifth Harmony- “Miss Moving On”
Sam Smith- “Stay With Me”
Schoolboy Q- “Man Of The Year”
Charli XCX- “Boom Clap”
Who Will Win- 5 Seconds Of Summer, Who Should Win- Sam Smith
5 Seconds Of Summer really came out of nowhere and has won the hearts of millions of adoring teens, who are the ones voting on this particular category for the most part. They are One Direction with talent, drums and guitar for the most part, so I sure as heck see them easily winning this won as it is a fan based vote. Fifth Harmony could’ve been a heavy contender for this if 5SOS wasn’t in it, but they won’t win this one. Schoolboy Q is amazing, as well as Charli XCX’s song from “The fault In Our Stars” but not enough to garner this. If Sam Smith doesn’t win this at the VMA’s, he sure as hell will win at the 2015 Grammys and several other prestigious awards. His solo work this year on “Stay With Me” on top of his brilliant performances with other artists such as Disclosure and Naughty Boy prove what a threat this guy is to the industry, and I hope he gets some love on VMA night.
Best Rock Video-
Linkin Park- “Until I’m Gone”
Imagine Dragons- “Demons”
Black Keys- “Fever”
Arctic Monkeys- “Do I Wanna Know?”
Who Will Win- Imagine Dragons. Who Should Win- Black Keys.
Imagine Dragons have had a pretty awesome two years, and this was only the 2nd song released off of their amazing debut album. “Royals” is not a rock song, so I don’t get why it is in this category. Lorde has a better shot in other categories than this one, and sadly I don’t think Arctic Monkeys have a shot in this category either. Black Keys should win as “Fever” is an amazing video, but no doubt Imagine Dragons will be the one taking this home tonight.
Best Pop Video-
Arianna Grande Featuring Iggy Azealea- “Problem”
Iggy Azalea Featuring Chari XCX- “Fancy”
Avicii Featuring Aloe Blacc- “Wake Me Up”
Jason DeRulo Featuring 2Chainz- “Talk Dirty”
Pharrell Williams- “Happy”
Who Will Win- Arianna Grande & Iggy. Who Should Win- Pharrell.
This really has been the year for Arianna and Iggy, however I think because Arianna has a bigger tween and teen fanbase she should lock this one up. “Wake Me Up” should be more in the clubland award than this one, and “Talk Dirty” just seems too urban for this as well, as is “Fancy”. “Happy” is a freaking brilliant video that screams pop with a R&B flare, and should be the one to win in this. But expect pop ingenue Arianna Grande to be leaving with not just one but a couple of VMA night.
Best Female Video-
Arianna Grande Featuring Iggy Azalea- “Problem”
Iggy Azalea Featuring Charli XCX- “Fancy”
Katy Perry Featuring Juicy J- “Dark Horse”
Who Will Win- “Royals”. Who Should Win- “Dark Horse/Partition”
I think “Royals”, even though it is quite simple, kept my focus a lot more than the colorful pops that Iggy and Arianne presented in each of their videos, and the song is better than both so based off that it will and maybe should win. I loved the video for “Dark Horse” as Katy keeps bringing us really unique and out there videos that she has done so well over the years. “Partition” isn’t the best video from the Beyonce album, but the look and feel of it should really make her a good contender for this category tonight.
Best Male Video-
Ed Sheeran Featuring Pharrell Williams- “Sing”
Sam Smith- “Stay With Me”
John Legend- “All Of Me”
Eminem Featuring Rihanna- “Monster”
Pharrell Williams- “Happy”
Who Will Win- Ed Sheeran. Who Should Win- All of them (Minus John Legend).
This is quite possibly the strongest category of the bunch this year, as all videos and songs are incredible in their own unique ways. John’s song is amazing and is this generation’s new wedding song, however the video was basic and more of wedding video than an actual music video. I happen to love Ed Sheeran’s vocals and video for “Sing” so that gets my vote easily. I wouldn’t mind multiple VMA winner Eminem winning this for old times sake, however I think this is Ed’s to lose.
Best Hip-Hop Video-
Childish Gambino- “3005”
Drake Featuring Majid Jordan- “Hold On (We’re Going Home)”
Kanye West- “Black Skinhead”
Wiz Khalifa- “We Dem Boyz”
Who Will Win- Drake. Who should win- All of them.
Another really amazing category. I have to say Drake will win just based off of how popular the video and song was, however Eminem might be knocking at Drake’s door for this so don’t be surprised if he pulls an upset. Kanye’s video is one of his best ever with his own social message that makes this video and song one of the standouts off of his last album. Wiz hasn’t really had the biggest success since “Black & Yellow” however “We Dem Boyz” is a great video and keeps his street hustle going in the hip-hop game. Childish Gambino deserves a lot more success than then man is given, and I am super pumped the “3005” got the nod this year.
Video Of The Year-
Pharrell Williams- “Happy”
Miley Cyrus- “Wrecking Ball”
Beyonce Featuring Jay-Z- “Drunk In Love”
Iggy Azalea Featuring Charli XCX- “Fancy”
Who Will Win- Miley or Beyonce. Who should win- SIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“Chandelier” is such an AMAZING song and video that I really just want to see Sia make a public appearance and win this. She’s like the female Daft Punk, you really never see her so I think it would make an AWESOME VMA moment if she won. I don’t get why Iggy is in this, the video is great but not at this level, she’s too new. As much as “Wrecking Ball” is a great video it is more 2013 than 2014, so I don’t think it deserves to win this. “Happy” is amazing, but I fear Pharrell may be shut out due to the younger demographic. Seeing as this is Beyonce’s night, expect her to win her second Video Of The Year trophy (done once before for “Single Ladies” back in 2009). But this is quite the unpredictable category, so you never know.
Who do YOU think will win tonight? Comment here and for a full list of nominees check out the official website for more info.
Similar Artists: Janet Jackson, Ciara, Missy Elliott, Jenifer Hudson
Genre: Pop, Contemporary R&B
2013 is over, and overall, it’s been a pretty great year for me: I’ve started a new job, moved into a new apartment, and got accepted to graduate school. It’s been so good, in fact, that I think I owe it to myself to strip myself of my reservations and really fucking enjoy this new Beyoncé record. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been known to enjoy a Beyoncé tune or two in the past, but digesting her work through repeated and immersive listens to one of her full-lengths is something that until now I didn’t have the effort to do.
And as it turns out, what a record BEYONCÉ is to finally become accustomed to this era defining pop singer through. The secretly released record is already being hailed as a career highlight for the artist, as here she dabbles in themes that are darker, more sensual, and more complex than her previous work — one such representable track being the monstrous and intricately woven highlight “***Flawless”. She’s returning to some of her grimier, more southern influenced sounds with big breakneck beats and ominous, ghostly textures on tracks like “Haunted”, which couldn’t be further from the soul bearings of her last record, 4. Here Beyoncé is proving that even though she may be a mother quickly approaching her mid 30’s, she can still sound young, modern, and increasingly relevant regarding the current state of femininity. In other words, this queen isn’t ready to retire quite yet, and as she points out on “Blow”, she can still get her ‘cherry turned out’ (whatever that’s supposed to mean). What BEYONCÉ is really about though, is the artist’s life cycle, and all the endless phases that have come along with it: hence her reasoning behind making this a ‘visual’ album. There’s quite a lot of Beyoncé backstory tucked into the corners of this release as well — told through cleverly placed vocal snippets — and it’s enough to make you feel a connection with a woman who otherwise lives a life that is incomparable to anyone else’s.
What I found to be the most striking with BEYONCÉ though, is how overtly sexual it is. Particularly on “Rocket”, which is gorgeous and sensual in the way that only D’Angelo can do better. At 6:32 though, it’s also too long, as you could say about the album in its entirety. With the bulk of these tracks being over 5 minutes, BEYONCÉ does occasionally fall into some of the same pitfalls of Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 experience — another 2013 album that proved to be a strong reevaluation of one of pop music’s biggest icons. I mean, how long can we truly continuously listen to someone with a perfect voice, singing about their perfect life, living in a perfect home with a perfect family?
But for the most part, it does work — mostly for the fact that we know Beyoncé has had to work violently hard to get to the point she is at now. As clearly told through the opening beauty queen inspired number “Pretty Hurts”, the main theme of BEYONCÉ is a debunking of society’s unrealistic interpretation of perfection. Beyoncé wants to show us how she’s just a regular human being: she gets jealous, she gets drunk, and she wants to impress people — specifically her husband, Jay Z: who unlike his wife, hasn’t done an adequate job of impressing us through his increasing age with a string of noticeably sour verses (including one here on “Drunk In Love”).
With the exception of perhaps “XO”, these 14 tracks are far away from the cookie cutter pop songs that have been endlessly rehashed through the decades in mainstream pop. Both in terms of spot on vocal delivery and interesting, layered production, BEYONCÉ — while not 100% perfect – pretty much beats out every other major pop release of the year. It might just be filled with more rawness and honest emotion than you’ll get out of Katy Perry’s Prism, Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP, and Miley’s Bangerz combined.
1.) Pretty Hurts*
3.) Drunk In Love
5.) No Angel
Album Highlight – *
2013 was pretty much an amazing year when it came to the variety of songs that were provided by a bevy of artists in their own respective genre. We had a couple of really good late in the game entries as well that really gave some of the bigger artists and songs this year a run for their money. From pop to alternative, to hip hop blending with EDM, these in my opinion were the ten best songs of 2013. Billboard Magazine had a similar list to mine in what they were thinking as well. They are in no particular order, but are all pure awesomeness. Take a look.
A$AP Rocky Featuring Skrillex- Wild For The Night
A$AP is one of the best rappers out there right now in a field that seems to be lacking in original talent. The only other guy out there right now that is on a similar level and new to a degree is Kendrick. That being said, “Wild For The Night” charts on this list for me because it was the best club banger of 2013. Masterfully collaborating with the biggest EDM producer out there right now, Grammy-Award winning Skrillex, A$AP spits lyrics at an elevated speed to compliment Skrillex’s mind numbing beats and what is the result? Pure awesomness.
Daft Punk Featuring Pharrell Williams- Get Lucky
Pharrell had two big songs this year, this being one of them and of course being featured in “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke as the other. If I had to choose one of the two songs to be in my top ten, this would’ve been the better one. The Niles Rogers assisted track catapulted Daft Punk back into the top of the charts stratosphere with “Random Access Memories” being one of the best reviewed and selling albums of 2013. This is another one of those songs where two completely different acts came together and struck pure gold. The beat to this song is incredibly infectious, and it also served its purpose for many Gay Americans as it proved to be somewhat of a theme song when Prop 8 was overturned in early Summer 2013. Definitely one of the best songs of the year if not the best.
Lorde in my opinion is the anti Miley Cyrus. This song kind of proves that thought process. The fresh faced 16 year old from New Zealand quietly made her way into being one of the biggest new artists of 2013, with a song that has a simple drum beat, backup singers and a message that speaks profoundly about the industry itself today. With lyrics like “We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair”, she basically talks truthfully about how she was raised and why she refuses to conform in a somewhat “Bling Bling” society. Expect big things for this girl in the new year, and beyond.
P!nk & Nate Ruess- Just Give Me A Reason
I for one am always a big fan of when a man and woman duet with each other. From “Endless Love” to “Almost Paradise” it always seems to be a formula that works well. P!nk, who is not really known for her duets as her voice is powerful enough on its own, struck a huge chord with millions of people with the number one single “Just Give Me A Reason”. Side by side with Fun! frontman Nate Ruess, the breakup to makeup song became one of her biggest hits of her career and scored her a Grammy nomination for Song Of The Year. P!nk proves why she is still one of the best out there after being in the business for over 15 years.
Beyonce Featuring Jay-Z- Drunk In Love
Beyonce had the best music story of this year, and the funny thing is that it happened less than 2 weeks ago. it’s insane how she was able to pull all of this off and practically NO ONE knew what she was doing. On December 7th at 12am, she released her self titled new album to the world exclusively on iTunes, and just like many Stans out there, we all ate it up. There were plenty of songs on her album that I could’ve included on this list (XO and Flawless as examples) but I am always a sucker for whenever she duets with Jay. This duet with him is the best one yet, and she proves why everyone else needs to bown down and respect the Kween.
Miley Cyrus- We Can’t Stop
Say what you want about Miley, but she really took the fuck over this year for sure. You can take her two different ways- annoying slut or marketing genius. I prefer the latter, because as much as people want to say she is a terrible influence and all this other stuff she is just doing the same thing that other pop divas like Madonna and Britney have done before. She is just a more modernized version of it. “We Can’t Stop” is another club banger and a completely different side of the re-upped Miley. With risque talks of partying, to that one video of her naked on a Wrecking Ball, this really was the year of Miley and I myself am looking forward to seeing what she has in store for 2014 and beyond.
Justin Timberlake- Mirrors
Facts are facts- Justin had the biggest comeback of a year. Without a doubt. Keeping his return to music a bit hush hush like Beyonce did, he came roaring back in early 2013 with “The 20/20 Experience”. “Suit & Tie” wasn’t exactly a very loved track, but the follow up “Mirrors” was much more well received and worth the 7 minute listen. Just a beautiful song and his crooning voice blends beautifully with the orchestra like music in the background. Here’s to hoping he keeps with this music thing for a while, because it is what he is best at.
Drake Featuring Majid Jordan- Hold On We’re Going Home
For me, Drake is at his best when he is singing, not when he is rapping. “Hold On We’re Going Home” is a great example of this. Billed as the second single off his platinum selling “Nothing Was The Same”, “Hold” was a softer approach from his first choice “Started From The Bottom” and really showcased his vocal abilities. Set to an 80’s type throwback, the song jumped to the top of the charts and further solidified the dude as a pop/R&B/hip-hop crossover and further away from his mixtape/DeGrassi persona that we all knew about him. Keep it going…
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Featuring Mary Lambert- Same Love
Macklemore is a guy that has been in the game for a lot longer than people realize, he just happened to jump off at the end of 2012 with a sick saxophone beat to the song “Thrift Shop”. His unique approach to his rapping along with helping other undiscovered artists from Ray Dalton to Wanz. He is the first guy to really tackle the issue of gay marriage in a rap song like no other has before. The song beautifully states the society that we are in, where saying the word gay has become the norm, and ultimately how we shouldn’t treat people differently just because they don’t fit the mold that we have created. Featuring the great vocals of Mary Lambert, the song boldly goes where hip-hop never has before, and has earned him respect from millions gay or not. Well done Macklemore, well done.
Passenger- Let Her Go
This song is light, touching and amazing. Already big overseas, the band Passenger quietly hit the airwaves with this passionate song about love lost and the realization of wanting something only when you need it. Kind of Adult Contemporary with an edge. Definitely should be ones to look out for in 2014.
Who do you think should make this list? Check out more music artists on Manhattan Digest and let us know who was your favorite in 2013.
Sometimes repetitive words for a restaurant can be unappealing.
Sometimes that thought is stupid and the result is amazing.
That can be said about Pok Pok, located on the Columbia Street Waterfront District. After my friend from Syracuse was raving about it all weekend, we took our hungry little mouths to Brooklyn and had quite the delightful experience indeed that left said mouth with a smiley face upon leaving.
As a wing connoisseur myself, I feasted my eyes on our first treat called “Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings”. My first ever experience in
trying wings with fish sauce, I was instantly enthralled with its spicy and delicious sauce and shockingly enough came to be my favorite meal of the night.
Granted all the others came in a close second, as they were all Beyonce worthy and none of them reeked of LeToya Luckett realness. The Kung Op Wun Sen combines two of my favorite foods- Pork Belly and White Prawns and mixes it with several other yummy ingredients that blend well incredibly together.
I now know what Taylor Swift’s song “I Knew You Were Trouble” is about. It’s about Pok Pok . It’s the best kind of trouble, and it’s one that is worth getting into over and over again.
Go check it out! Worth the trip to Brooklyn and then some.
127 Columbia St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
8pm Eastern Time tonight, CBS
7:30 pm Eastern: Good Evening! Welcome to what will be the first of many Manhattan Digest awards ceremony liveblogs! LL Cool J hosts the ceremony, which starts at 8 pm Eastern time on CBS. This should be an interesting evening tonight, with the Album of the Year award showing a surprisingly rock heavy slate with Mumford and Sons’ Babel, Fun.’s Some Nights, The Black Keys’ El Camino, and Jack White’s Blunderbuss, with Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange being the sole R&B outlier. Personally, I think that Babel and Channel Orange are the clear favorites, with Channel Orange being my pick to win the whole thing.
That being said, I’m here mostly to look at the show in terms of its’ presentation than to heavily critique the award choices themselves. The Grammy’s are known mostly for being the safest show on the February awards season, often only garnering attention for a killer performance (such as Elton John and Eminem’s killer performance of “Stan” in 2001), or some truly horrendous fashion calls (see Jennifer Lopez’s infamous green dress from the 2000 show). The latter is under intense scrutiny this year, as earlier this week CBS standards and practices sent out a letter vilifying the use of thongs or costumes that allow for exposed “breasts and buttocks”, singling out that earth-shattering corrupter of morals: the thong. Needless to say, my gut instinct is telling me that someone is going to find a way to defy this (odds on favorite here? Rihanna).
I would love for tonight to be a dialogue as we all react to the show together (and get different opinions at the same time), so feel free to use the comments section below and get involved in the conversation! Stay tuned to Manhattan Digest for more updates as the ceremony unfolds!
7:45 p.m.: Some early updates from the red carpet. Generally speaking it looks like the artists are complying with the S+P guidelines, with only a handful of particularly deep plunging necklines (including Miranda Lambert and Ashanti). Similarly the men seem pretty buttoned up, with a surprisingly large number of skinny ties. I think Taylor Swift’s dress was pretty impressive from a fashion standpoint. Conversely, Adele’s floral print design leaves a lot to be desired.
For me though, the highlight of the red carpet was Jennifer Lopez’s angry shrieks of protest after Ryan Seacrest noted that her dress was skirting the lines of what CBS was allowing screaming “I’m just showing a little leg and a little shoulder!”.
7:57 p.m.: Three minutes to the curtain and a large number of the awards have been given off camera already. Notable award winners included Gotye (who won two awards including Best Alternative Music Album, and Best Duo/Group Pop Performance – the latter with Kimbra for “Somebody that I Used to Know”), Skrillex (who also wont two awards for Best Dance Album and Best Dance Recording both for Bangarang), Rihanna (for her video for “We Found Love”), and Taylor Swift (for Best Song Written for Visual Media ).
Additionally it was announced on the red carpet that Ms. Swift will be the opening performance tonight, so expect to see her on your TV screens sometime in the next few minutes.
8:15 PM: And on cue we open with a weird man on a bike with a torch to introduce Taylor Swift who opens the show with “We are Never (Getting Back Together)” in a very sideshow circus vibe that involved a boyfriend strapped to a carnival wheel, trapeze artists, fire spinners and a large amount of pyrotechnics. The performance itself was pretty mediocre in spite of the spectacle, but it seemed like a fine way to amp up the crowd for tonight’s show.
Afterwords, we see our first appearance of show host, LL Cool J. He devotes his somewhat meandering opening monologue discussing music as a vehicle for bringing people together before pitching it to Eddie Sheeran and Elton John to perform Sheeran’s song “A Team”. I love Elton John as much as anyone, but it seemed like he was off for most of the song and it adversely affected the vocal harmonies. I did enjoy the off in the crowd staging aspect that they used, as it seemed to highlight the “lighter song” vibe that one gets when listening to “A-team”.
8:27 PM: LL Cool J asks us to use #Grammys when talking about tonight’s show before kicking it to J-Lo and Pitbull (with a split screen to the infamous green dress from 2000) with Pitbull fawning over J Lo before announcing the nominees for best solo pop performance:
The nominees are:
“Stronger” (Kelly Clarkson), “Set Fire to the Rain” (Adele), “Wide Awake” (Katy Perry), “Call Me Maybe” (Carly Rae Jespen) and “Where Have You Been?” (Rihanna)
AND THE WINNER: Set Fire to the Rain by Adele.
Adele gives a very brief speech (in which she called back to last year’s six wins) before Neil Patrick Harris enters to introduce Fun. (whom have six nominations this evening). Fun. then took the opportunity to play “Carry On.”, which started a little slow but picked up once the instruments kicked in. Once it built, we got a performance with a very strong cinematic vibe, including the obligatory downpour towards the end. One thing did bother me about the performance however, and that is why frontman Nate Ruess wore those Capris?
8:48 PM: Bonnie Raitt and John Mayer appear to introduce Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley. The duo play a couple of country tracks in “Over You” and “Home”. Their performance was perfectly fine and fairly low key compared to the immediately preceding performance before cutting to LL Cool J on American Bandstand in an awkward transition. LL then takes the opportunity to pay tribute to Dick Clark.
LL Cool J then makes an another abrupt transition, introducing Miguel and Wiz Khalifa, whom perform “Adorn” . The performance was sizzling, with Miguel showing off his pipes and performing the standard issue R and B theatrics. From there, our performer then announced the nominees for…wait for it…best country solo performance (because that made sense to me too right?)
The nominees for best country solo performance:
“Home” (Dierks Bentley), “Springsteen” (Eric Church), “Cost of Living” (Ronnie Dunn), “Wanted (Hunter Hayes), “Over (Blake Shelton), and “Blown Away” (Carrie Underwood)
AND THE WINNER IS: “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood.
8:58 PM: LL Plugs social media again before telling everyone in the Northeast to stay warm and kicking it to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, whom are presenting song of the year.
The nominees are: “Adorn” (Miguel), “The A-Team” (Ed Sheeran), “Call Me Maybe” (Carly Rae Jespen), “We are Young” (Fun. Feat Janelle Monae), and “Stronger” (Kelly Clarkson).
AND YOUR WINNER: “We Are Young” by (the now completely dry) Fun.
Nate Ruess gives a speech that has the first real crack of the night in “I don’t know what we’re thinking writing this chorus, now that we’re in HD and you can see our faces, we are clearly not young.”. They then thank Jay-Z (who mouths a “You’re Welcome” from the crowd) and Chick Corea before the orchestra kicks in to introduce Johnny Depp. I want them to win more awards now because they are clearly the only people so far who have not taken this awards show too seriously tonight.
Depp is there to introduce Mumford and Sons in 20 words or less. They play their hit “I will wait” in front of a large display of lights and had an excellent performance aside from some sound issues that seemed to keep the backing vocals from coming through, though the remainder of the sound was very impressive.
9:15 PM: We return to Ellen Degeneres and Beyonce (in a pantsuit tonight) whom do a shticky introuction for Justin Timberlake, whom is here to perform “Suit and Tie”. The screen goes black and white, which is probably not a right call because it makes Justin Timberlake look disturbingly like Rick Astley. Jay-Z then climbs on stage to perform his verse. The screen then goes color befor Justin does a new song with a full orchestra and band (Update: The song is titled “Pusher Love Girl”). All internet memes aside, the performance is excellent and realizing the irony in saying this about someone whose only a few years older than myself, he still clearly has it.
Following that performance, we next see presenters Kelly Rowland and Nas, whom announce the nominees for a new category: Best Urban Contemporary Album
Fortune (Chris Brown), Kaliedoscope Dream (Miguel), Channel Orange (Frank Ocean)
AND THE WINNER: Channel Orange by Frank Ocean
During the commercial, we saw a hard release date for Justin Timberlake’s new album, which will drop on March 19th.
Dave Grohl and Pauley Perette (Abby from NCIS) whom are here to announce that Dan Auerbach won producer of the year earlier in the day, before presenting the award for best Rock Performance
“Hold On” (Alabama Shakes), “Lonely Boy” (The Black Keys), “Charlie Brown” (Coldplay), “I Will Wait”, (Mumford and Sons) and
“We take care of our own” (Bruce Springsteen).
AND THE WINNER: “Lonely Boy” by the Black Keys
Following that, Maroon 5 and Alicia Keys perform “Room on Fire” and “Daylight”. While Maroon 5’s performance of Daylight was fine, “Girl on Fire” felt a little flat at points. This was a bit troubling as if there are two vocal artists who not only can, but are expected to let their vocals soar, it’s Adam Levine and Alicia Keys.
Kaley Cuoco and Keith Urban next came out to introduce the award for “Best Pop Vocal Album”. The nominees were:
Stronger (Kelly Clarkson), Ceremonials (Florence and the Machine), Some Nights (Fun.). Overexposed (Maroon 5), and The Truth About Love (Pink).
AND THE WINNER: Stronger by Kelly Clarkson
Kelly comes up and wings an acceptance speech, where she mentions being “stuck to Miranda Lambert” and expressed interest in working with Miguel. It was truly spontaneous and very welcome in this very overstuffed and seemingly overscripted show.
9:55 PM: After a performance from Rihanna that had shades of Adele’s performance of “Someone Like You” from last year, Carly Rae Jespen and Ne-Yo come out to present the award for best Rap/Sung collaboration
“Wild Ones” (Flo-Rida f. Sia), “Tonight” (John Legend f. Ludacris), “Cherry Wine ‘ (Nas f. Amy Winehouse), “Talk that Talk” (Rihanna f. Jay Z), and “No Church in the Wild” (Jay-Z/Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean and the Dream)
AND THE WINNER: No Church in the Wild by Jay-Z and Kanye West featuring Frank Ocean and the Dream.
In a classy move, Jay-Z gave most of the speech to Frank Ocean and the Dream, whom both give quick shout outs. Jay-Z on the other hand, simply thanks “The swap meet, because that’s where he (The Dream) got that hat.”
10:02 PM: The Lifetime Achievement award was announced with The Temptations, Carole King, Ravi Shankar, Patty Page, Glenn Gould, Charlie Haden, and Lightning Hopkins amongst the recipients.
After the break, Kat Dennings comes out to introduce the Black Keys, Dr. John, and the New Orleans Preservation Hall Band. All parties involved come out rocking, performing the Black Keys’ hit “Lonely Boy”. While I am typically not a fan of brass instruments in Rock Music. Adding to the proceedings was Dr. John, whom was dressed about as outlandishly as one could possibly be on a grammy stage, in full Hoodoo gear. It was a great performance, I do with it would have highlighted Dr. John a little more.
This was then followed up by Kelly Clarkson performing a medley including “Tennessee Waltz”, “Natural Woman”, in order to honor Patti Page and Carole King. This then segued into the nominations for best country album.
The nominees are: Uncaged (Zac Brown Band), Hunter Hayes (Hunter Hayes), Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran (Jamey Johnson), For the Record (Miranda Lambert), The Time Jumpers (The Time Jumpers)
AND THE WINNER: The Zac Brown Band’s Uncaged.
10:13 PM: We now get the Grammy’s tribute to Bob Marley with Bruno Mars, Sting, Damian and Ziggy Marley. The tribute started with Bruno Mars, who performed his hit single “Locked out of Heaven”. After the first chorus Sting came out in a fun moment as “Locked out of Heaven” is really Bruno Mars’ attempt at writing a police song. This then segued into The Police’s “Walking on the Moon”. This performance has been the best of the show so far, as Bruno hung out there with Sting and didn’t look out of place, though it looked like Sting initially hindered by the fact that “Locked out” was sped up.
Midway through the performance, Rihanna, Damian and Ziggy Marley came out and performed “Could You be Loved”. This actually created a largeness to the performance that made it feel more worthy of the Grammy stage, eclipsing even Rihanna’s prior appearance 15 minutes earlier.
10:30 PM: LL introduces The Lumineers, whom perform their hit single “Ho Hey”. The performance seemed perfectly servicable, and it seems like they have fixed the microphone problems from earlier. This then swept into Jack White’s performance of “Love Interruption”. After the completion of “Love Interruption.” Jack then exploded into “Freedom at 21”, giving the perfect loud kick after two quieter songs.
Katy Perry is now out to present the Best New Artist award. She marvels at the dedication it takes to get to that point before offering a little solace for those who didn’t win, saying: “I didn’t even get nominated for best new artist, but now I have my own eyelash line!”
The nominees are: Alabama Shakes, Fun., Hunter Hayes, The Lumineers, Frank Ocean
AND THE WINNER: Fun. (Fun has taken two Grammys tonight, I think they are now very much in the discussion for Album of the Year).
I think this one is a little bit of a shocker, I was pretty sure Frank Ocean was going to be a mortal lock for this one.
Hour three right now seems to have been a lot kinder to this show than the first two hours.
10:45 PM: And apparently I jinxed everyone (sorry!).
Hunter Hayes is out to sing (I wasn’t impressed, but I’m not a country guy) before introducing Carrie Underwood, who then sung two of her songs. Carrie’s vocals did not feel particularly impressive, but the lighting for this was particularly impressive as they used Carrie’s dress as a proxy for a projection screen, allowing for a neat visual that worked out superbly.
After this, Prince made a rare appearance to present Record of the Year, looking like a hybrid of Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Puff Daddy.
The Nominees are:
“Lonely Boy” (The Black Keys), “Stronger” (Kelly Clarkson), “We are Young” (Fun.),“Somebody That I Used to Know” (Gotye f. Kimbra), “Thinking About You” (Frank Ocean), “We are never ever Getting Back Together” (Taylor Swift).
AND THE WINNER: “Somebody That I used to Know” by Gotye f. Kimbra.
11:04 PM: We come back to “Take Five” (no introduction, but it’s one of my favorite Jazz songs of all time, so uh, I know it…and now you do too.) for what I’m assuming is the tribute to Dave Brubeck as performed by Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Kenny Garrett.
Neal Portnow and Ryan Seacrest (who’s now the honorary chairman of the Grammy Foundation) are out to introduce Justin Timberlake. Mr. Timberlake comes out to shill for the Grammy Foundation and the new “music educator” award.
We now get the in Memorian Montage, which includes Dave Brubeck, Donna Summer, Andy Williams, Chuck Brown, Robin Gibb, Patti Page, Davy Jones , Dick Clark, Fontella Bass, Hal David, Marvin Hamlish, Richard Adler, Andy Griffith, Ravi Shankar, Adam Yauch (Adrock of the Beastie Boys), Levon Helm and others. Looking back at that last sentence, it seems like every genre of music took a heavy loss in 2012.
This then leads to a tribute to Levon Helm fronted by Elton John, Zac Brown, Mumford and Sons, T-Bone Burnett, Mavis Staples, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes as they played “The Weight”. This performance had a looser jam band performance due to the larger nature of this collaboration. Elton seemed a lot stronger in this performance than his earlier performance with Eddie Sheeran. This performance is easily in the upper echelon of performances tonight.
11:18 PM: We return to Juanes paying tribute to Elton John singing “Your Song” in English and Spanish in a very intimate acoustic vibe before kicking it to Frank Ocean, who’s performing his single “Forrest Gump”. They start with a cool visual effect where Frank is running on a video screen before completing his run up a hill to his keyboard in person. Frank wrenched a ton of emotion into this one and it created an excellent and haunting performance
We’re down to one last award, Album of the Year, and Adele is here to award it after making a quick crack about she got knocked up after winning Album of the Year last year.
The Nominees are:
El Camino (The Black Keys), Channel ORANGE (Frank Ocean), Blunderbuss (Jack White), Some Nights (Fun.),Babel (Mumford and Sons)
AND YOUR WINNER: Babel by Mumford and Sons.
A pretty deserving winner and one of my favorites from earlier. They managed to spread the love around somewhat with only Jack White not making the winner’s podium during the course of the show tonight.
11:42 PM: We’re down to the grand finale, a performance by LL Cool J, Chuck D, Tom Morello, Travis Barker, and DJ Z-Trip, whom performed “Whaddup”, which was a fun way to end the show if only because Chuck D’s voice IS rap to me, and LL was game. It was a pretty solid performance and I would kill to see the single, though it would not have killed CBS not to stick fee plugs in the middle of the song.
My Final Thoughts: This year’s Grammy ceremony felt a little overstuffed with tons of abrupt transitions and sequences and with a little bit of breathing room we could have cut some of the weaker performances (notably the lacking Maroon 5/Alicia Keys collaboration and Hunter Hayes’ introduction of an introduction). Additionally, at times the show had a somber, joyless feel at points during a night that should be the biggest party for the music industry of the year. That being said, what you expected to deliver did deliver (the Marley and Levon Helms’ tributes, as well your Album of the Year candidates’ performances), so check out those seven performances.
Also some enjoyable moments I didn’t get to point out amid the I Love Lucy Conveyor Belt pace of the show:
- Taylor Swift was rocking out to EVERYTHING. I’m not sure why, but this is really amusing to me.
- The full extent of Kelly Clarkson’s gushing about R+B artist Miguel
- Once the show hit hour three and it slowed down a little bit, it seemed like the show was able to gel a little more as the orchestra wasn’t cutting off awards speeches at the 30 second mark as it did for Fun.’s first speech
Final Verdict: If you haven’t seen the whole show, it’s probably not worth watching all three hours. You owe it to yourself to YouTube up the Marley tribute though, and I would probably check out Fun.’s , Jack White’s, and the Black Keys’ performances as well. LL Cool J was passable as a host, but the role of host honestly felt superfluous with the rapid pace that the show took.