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TAM’s Top 5 Moments from the Grammy Awards

Musics only major award show is now behind us. Last Sunday, the Grammy Awards were broadcasted on CBS. A once great award show, it has been replaced in recent years by the more flashy MTV Video Music Awards. Still, winning a Grammy Award is significant for artists as they progress through their careers. Furthermore, the producers of the Grammys have done a great job in recent years bringing in more and more performances and cutting back on the acceptance speeches and awards.

This years show was one of the best in recent memory. It had a really solid combination of nominees and featured a ton of big name performances. Opening with a tribute to the ailing Aretha Franklin and ending with an impromptu encore by Album of the Year winners Arcade Fire, the show was a spectacle of all things music. While some usually great performers stayed the course with performances similar to those of the past (Lady Gaga was great but unoriginal with her performance of “Born This Way”), other performers broke the mold and did things completely out of the box. While Matt Hoffman and company riding around on BMX bikes during The Arcade Fire’s first performance was a little too much for us, here were five moments that stood out at this years Grammy Awards.

Janelle Monae

1. Bruno Mars, B.o.B. and Janelle Monae Kick It New School: Here’s the word you’ll want to remember here. Talent. These three artists teamed up on Grammy night to show the world what the future of music would look like. All three artists feature an R&B meets Hip-Hop feel and are almost always backed by instruments live on stage. The other thing that makes these three stand out is that they are young. Mars and Monae are both 25 and B.o.B. checks in at just 22.

The person that really ended up standing out in this performance was Monae who, before the show would of been considered the least known artist. While Mars and B.o.B. have both had big radio hits, Monae has not. In spite of this, all three gave awesome performances. Another thing that truly put these three above the rest was the evidence of their musical prowess. Each one of them played at least one instrument during someone else’s performance. Mars began on Piano with Monae on backing vocals and synthesizer. Eventually Mars would switch to drums and B.o.B. would help back Monae’s song “Cold War” on guitar.

It was truly impressive to see these three artists show the stage presence of artists well beyond their years. I think it’s safe to say that we’ll see all three of these young talents back on that stage over the next few decades.

Mumford & Sons

2. The Avett Brothers Join Mumford & Sons to Back Bob Dylan: We had a tough time with this one. There were really three separate performances here. One by each band and then a combined effort featuring a mumbling and stumbling Bob Dylan. While I have the upmost respect for Dylan, I thought it was bordering on embarrassing for him. What was great about this performance was the implied passing of the torch from a folk legend to two of the best and brightest in the genre today.

The Avett Brother performed “Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise” a song that I had never heard. Without knowing much about the band, I went back and listened to the song after the weekend. I can’t say I was very impressed. Similar to other groups in folk world, the song came through brilliantly live (even on television). On the record, the energy was gone and it came off flat. The same could be said for Mumford & Sons who performed their song and second single from Sigh No More, “The Cave.” While the song comes off as just above mediocre on the record, it was stunning in the live environment. This passing of the torch was touching on so many levels and showcased two of the best crossover bands in music today.

Cee Lo Green

3. Cee Lo Green and Gwyneth Paltrow Tear The House Down: Something that can often be forgotten with serious performances and heated battles for the nights top awards is that music is fun. The reason most people begin to love music is that it takes us away from a situation and transforms our world into collage of sounds and images. While other performances were better, Cee Lo Green won the award for most fun performance. Backed by Jim Hensons Muppets (who were in fact lip syncing), Green took the stage in a colorful bird costume in hopes of paying homage to Elton John’s 1977 appearance on the Muppet Show.

He did just that and better. Playing a rousing rendition of his smash single “Fuck You,” he was joined on stage at the midway point by Gwyneth Paltrow who had performed the song on Fox’s Glee just a few weeks earlier. The two artists did a fantastic job with the song and really made everyone in the audience smile. It reminded us that while Lady Gaga can wear a meat dress and Kanye West can piss off a country music star, a great performance that isn’t taken too seriously can lighten the mood in any situation.

Rihanna

4. Rihanna, Eminem and Dr. Dre Unite Onstage: Whether it won any awards or not, “Love The Way You Lie” will always be remembered as a highlight of both Rihanna and Eminem’s careers. While they had performed the song just a few months earlier at the MTV Video Music Awards, they teamed up once again to perform the alternative version recorded for Rihanna’s album Loud. With an absolutely stunning set, Rihanna was backed by Maroon 5 lead singer Adam Levine in the middle of the crowd before Eminem hit the main stage to tear into one of his most hate filled verses.

As the song concluded, the world was introduced (very briefly) to Skylar Grey who began to sing the hook from “I Need A Doctor,” one of two songs she has been featured on early in 2011. After Eminem returned to the stage for another verse, he was joined by Dr. Dre and the two rapped in each others faces for the next few minutes. It was really cool to see this pair on stage. Eminem owes so much of his success to the Doctor and it seemed that the usually pissed off looking Eminem might of even cracked a smile during their time on stage.

Justin Bieber & Jaden Smith

5. Justin Bieber and Jaden Smith Show America Who Has Talent: This has been an interesting month for Justin Bieber. With hopes of avoiding the black hole that has claimed Miley Cyrus and is in the process of claiming the Jonas Brothers, Bieber has released a movie that points to the true talent the young man has. Taking the stage backed by the sentimental story between himself and Usher, Bieber took another step in showing the world that he actually can sing. Starting off with an acoustic guitar and a stool, he belted out the chorus to his hit single “Baby” before joining his dancers on stage for the title song from his movie “Never Say Never.”

I can’t lie to you. I was very skeptical about Jaden Smith even being near this performance. With only a few small movie roles under his belt, it seemed odd that he would be joining Bieber on stage in any capacity. What happened next was somewhat surreal. Popping out from the stage, he hit the audience with a great rap verse that completely complimented Biebers song. With mom and dad looking on, Smith made his music debut in a big way and is setup to follow in his dads footsteps as an actor gone singer.

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