Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we are going to discuss one of the most important nights in Country music…the CMT Awards! This award show had it all, great artists, a hilarious host, fun performances, and lots of beards (I promise I’ll explain this later. Veteran host Kristen Bell was back again, only this time she hosted the show solo. If you missed the show, don’t worry I’ll catch you up. Are you ready? Are you sure? I’m just kidding, of course you are…ok let’s get started.
The 2014 CMT awards were hosted by award winning actress Kristen Bell (probably best known for her roles in ‘Veronica Mars’, ‘Frozen’, and as the voice of ‘Gossip Girl’ on, you guessed it, Gossip Girl. The opening sketch begins with Kristen on accounts depressed because she didn’t have a co-host to help host the show. She was then held by two former co-stars who introduced her to an app called Holla (which is supposed to be like Tinder only “more country”). She went on a number of “dates” with several men but was unlucky in finding a co-host. She was then given a pep talk by her former co-stars and decided to embrace the concept of girl power and host the show solo. When she went into the hallway to begin the show several country music stars gave her “advice”, which only made her more nervous. When she went to the elevator, she found Luke Bryan trying to break up the guys from Florida Georgia Line, who were fighting Solage/Jay-Z style. When the show began Kristen rose from under the stage and informed the audience that they wouldn’t have to worry about Luke Bryan falling off the stage tonight (the camera then panned to Luke who was wrapped in police caution tape). She then declared that the CMT awards would be ladies night and said that the power invested in her by CMT and her princess title in the movie ‘Frozen’ gave her the power to do so ( yup that made it official!). She then sang a song about male country artists having very tight jeans and belt buckles there were too large. After Alan Jackson was honored, later on the show, Kristen came out dressed exactly like Alan Jackson, beard and all (see told you there would be beards in this blog). She then poked fun at the Billboard Music Awards’ use of a Michael Jackson hologram by saying that she had a Jason Aldean hologram, but it was only comedian Tom Arnold. Later on in the show Kristen said that she forgot to make the VIP gift bags, so she “took” several objects from numerous artists such as Eric Church’s sunglasses, Luke Brian’s hat (which he knew nothing about) and The Band Perry’s trophy. As you can see Kristen did an excellent job hosting the CMT Awards, and had us laughing, singing, and constantly wondering what hilarious joke she would make next. I really hope that she hosts the show again next year because with Kristen Bell, you never know what is going to happen, but you know you’re going to love every minute of it. Now let’s get to the awards!
Group Video of the Year:
The Band Perry ‘Done’
Although the competition was extremely stiff, it makes sense that The Band Perry won this award, due to the critical acclaim that this song has received from critics and fans, and the amount of radio play it had last year. Ever since the group’s breakout hit ‘If I Die Young’, The Band Perry has made their presence known in country music.
Breakthrough Video of the Year:
Cassadee Pope ‘Wasting all these Tears’
Cassadee has certainly had an amazing 2 years, after winning the 3rd season of ‘The Voice’. Since then, she has had a top charting debut album, has perform with numerous amazing Country music artists, and has successfully transitioned into a well respected country/pop artist. Because of all of his hard work, it definitely doesn’t come as a surprise that Cassadee won at the CMT awards. My favorite part of her win was when Blake Shelton (Cassadee’s coach on ‘The Voice’), not only announced her win, but also “coached” her when he directed her to give her acceptance speech after she became too overwhelmed with emotion to speak.
With an amount of awards that must require another house to hold, and decades of hits, I can see why Alan Jackson is considered an artist with vast impact. I also loved all of the respect that the crowd gave Alan Jackson after he won the award; it was really heartfelt to see all of the admiration in the room. I also thought it was really sweet that Alan Jackson seemed like he wanted to cry when he received his award, it was nice to see how appreciative he was, despite the fact that he is a legend.
Male Video of the Year:
Blake Shelton ‘Doin’ What She Likes’
Again, this is a category that had some stiff competition, but it was no surprise that Blake came out on top. ‘The Voice’ coach and Country music superstar has definitely had a track record for winning awards with his chart topping hits lately, so it was obvious that his odds of winning this award were high. Congrats Mr. Shelton!
CMT Performance of the Year:
Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie ‘Oh No/All Night Long’
Ok, I think we ALL saw this coming. When you take Country star Luke Bryan, and R&B/Soul superstar Lionel Richie, and have them perform together, greatness happens. I was honestly very surprised when I first saw this performance because I found the combination to be an interesting choice, but once I saw the performance, I couldn’t believe that it took so long to get these two artists together. My only hope now is that they perform together again. Maybe they could form a Country/Pop/Soul power duo!?! Please!!!
Florida Georgia Line feat. Luke Bryan:
Florida Georgia Line feat. Luke Bryan ‘This is How We Roll’
Ever since this song first dropped, it has been ruling radio airwaves and is definitely a fan favorite (it peaked at #1 on the U.S. Country Hot Songs chart and #2 on the U.S. Country Airplay chart). Because of how infectious and catchy this track is, the appeal and longevity of the song is easy to understand.
Female Video of the Year:
Miranda Lambert ‘Automatic’
Yeah, just like we said earlier about Blake Shelton earlier, Miranda is also currently dominating award show season. With talent, fun tracks, and just a dash of a Rock n’ Roll influence in her songs, Miranda is definitely inspiring change in Country music, and fans are loving it.
Duo Video of the Year:
Florida Georgia Line ‘Round Here’
Ever since this amazing duo first released their album ‘Here’s to the Good Times’ (which peaked at #4 on the Billboard 200, and #1 on U.S. Top Country Albums charts), they have been ruling Country radio with their feel good, party music. Because of this, it is completely understandable as to why this duo has also ruled award season.
Video of the Year:
Carrie Underwood ‘See You Again’
Carrie has taken the music industry by storm ever since she won American Idol, and hasn’t slowed down since. She’s released hit after hit, so it was no surprise that fans loved ‘See You Again’ too. Carrie is also known for releasing great and often powerful music videos, and the ‘See You Again’ video is no exception. The video is beautifully shot, and definitely showcases the emotion found in the lyrics.
ZZ Top, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, and Jason Derulo:
The show began with Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill of ZZ Top kicking off the show, and then Florida Georgia line appeared and began performing ‘This is How We Roll’. Luke Bryan then came out joined in on the next portion of the song. The staging was really cool, and used multicolored lights and smoke to add extra flair to the performance. Before ‘This is How We Roll’ finished, Jason Derulo came out and everyone joined him in performing his latest single ‘Talk Dirty’. The backboard of the stage then displayed pictures of multicolored lips (which was awesome!), and Jason, Luke, and the guys from Florida Georgia Line all began dancing. Then, everyone on stage finished ‘This is How We Roll’, which was the PERFECT ending to this amazing opening number.
‘The Voice’ season 4 winner Danielle Bradbery made her CMT performance debut by performing a snippet of her latest single ‘Young in America’ on the ‘Nationwide’ stage (which is the stage where the new artists perform). The performance was short, but showed the same unique qualities that made fans fall in love with her on ‘The Voice’.
Lindsey Sterling presented an award at the show, but before she did, she demonstrated her AMAZING skills on the violin. As always, Lindsey did a PHENOMINAL job and made her playing (and dancing…while she was playing) seem effortless.
Hunter Hayes was up next, and performed a track entitled ‘Tattoo’ off of his sophomore album ‘Storyline’. The performance was really fun to watch, and the staging featured blue spotlights shooting out everywhere. The audience seemed to really love Hunter, and as always he wasn’t short on energy during his performance (he jumped around A LOT…and I mean a lot). He finished the performance with an amazing guitar solo that really had the audience excited.
Kacey Musgraves & Lee Ann Womack:
These two amazing Country music singers performed the song ‘Living on Love’, as a tribute to Country music legend Alan Jackson (who received the first ever ‘Impact Award’). During Kacey and Lee Ann’s performance, clips from Alan Jackson’s music videos were played on the stage’s back screen. It was a really touching performance, and I really loved how Alan Jackson looked as if he was going to cry during the performance, it was a very nice moment.
Next up was new artist Tyler Farr, who performed a snippet of his hit heartbreak theme song ‘Redneck Crazy’. If you listened to Country music radio at all this past year, then you have heard this song.
Country star and ‘American Idol’ coach Keith Urban was up next, and performed an acoustic version of his hit song ‘Cop Car’. He performed via video, from the ‘Bluebird Cafe’ (a historical cafe where numerous Country music stars have been discovered) in Nashville. The song was definitely a different sound for the star, because the performance did not include an amazing guitar solo (which has become Keith’s signature move). But hey, you gotta love an artist who keeps you on your toes.
Jake Owen then performed his new song ‘Beachin’ on the ‘Kia Outdoor Performance Stage’. The staging really brought the vibe of the song to life, and made the performance really fun to watch. The audience threw beach balls in the air, and the back screens on the stage showed images of beach balls (lots of beach balls in this performance). The vibe of the song was a really cool fusion of Country and Rap music, and the high energy in the track kept the audience dancing.
Eric Church & Lizzy Hale (from the band Halestorm):
Now this was a really interesting and unexpected duet. The two artists performed ‘That’s Damn Rock & Roll’ off of Eric’s newest album ‘The Outsiders’. Eric wore his signature dark sunglasses, and both he and Lizzy played the guitar. The performance had a very 70s/80s Rock n’ Roll feel to it, and drove the crowd crazy (in a good way don’t worry). It was cool to see such a different type of performance on the CMT awards, and really went with this year’s theme of introducing various different genres in the show.
New artist Thomas Rhett performed a snippet of his new track ‘Get Me Some of That’. This track (and Thomas’ other hit song ‘It Goes Like This’), have been all over Country radio over the past few years. His performance was very energetic, and he was very confident, so I can definitely see that he will have a lot of staying power as a Country artist.
John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, and Hunter Hayes:
Next up, Jennifer Nettles joined John Legend in a special duet rendition of his hit track ‘All of Me’, with Hunter Hayes on the guitar. This version definitely strayed from John Legend’s original version, and had a more bluegrass vibe to it. However, this change was not surprising due to the fact that Hunter was asked to produce the new version. I really loved how the revisions gave the track such a fresh feel, that it almost seemed like an entirely new song. I definitely hope that these three work together in the future.
Dierks Bentley performed his new track ‘Drunk on a Plane’. He came on stage playing a guitar, and had dancers who were dressed like flight attendants, and danced down the main aisle leading to the stage. They also danced around boxes off and on stage at different points of the performance. The staging was really simple (the back screen was red with yellow circles), but the dancers were a unique touch.
New artist Cole Swindell performed a snippet of his hit track ‘Chillin It’, which contains a cool fusion of Country and Rap influences. Cole kept the crowd engaged, seems confident in stage, and was just “chillin’ it” (sorry I had to make that joke).
Brantley Gilbert definitely had a physically demanding performance with his track ‘Bottoms Up’. Brantley continued the trend of being a little Rock n’ Roll into the CMTs, by rocking a camouflage muscle shirt, blue jeans, a cap, and having a drummer in his band who rocked a Mohawk. My favorite part of the performance was definitely Brantley’s back flip off of one of the small stages that the drum kit was set up on. After he did this really cool back flip, walked around in the crowd as he sang (which the audience absolutely LOVED). It was certainly a fun performance that made the fans at the show fall more and more in love with Brantley Gilbert.
Dan + Shay:
One of the newest duos to bust onto the Country music scene is Dan + Shay, who performs their incredibly infectious love song ’19 You + Me’. Although they were only able to perform a snippet of the track, both guys had very strong live vocals, and left the impression that they are a duo to watch this year.
Country music superstar Luke Bryan was up next, and performed his latest hit ‘Play it Again’. Luke tried something different with his performance, and entered from the back of the venue, and made his way through the crowd to the stage. Above where Luke entered, there was a sign that read ‘OMG Play it Again’ (this was sort of awesome…ok it was really awesome). As Luke traveled through the crowd, he touched the fans’ hands, which made them go completely crazy. Once Luke was onstage, he danced around (I think there was some minor twerking involved), and drove all of the people in the audience crazy (particularly the women). The performance definitely showed why Luke is currently one of the top guys in Country music…and this doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.
Next up was the phenomenal trio Lady Antebellum. They performed their newest hit ‘Bartender’, at the ‘Kia Outdoor Performance Stage’. The staging was really cool, and had amazing green and white lazer lights that shot out at the audience. The laser lights definitely added a cool “concert” vibe to the performance, and helped hype up the audience during the performance.
Next up was a new artist who you definitely heard on Country music radio this year. David Nail performed a snippet of his track ‘Whatever She’s Got’, and although it was a short performance, he did a great job. His live voice sounded very similar to his voice on the studio recorded track, and he seemed to be very comfortable on stage.
Little Big Town:
Little Big Town performed their newest track ‘Day Drinking’. One thing that really brought attention to the group was the fact that the stage, the instruments, and all if Little Big Town, were dressed in the same shade of bright white. The back board of the stage had really cool grey and black patterns, and lots of white spotlights. At the end of the performance, multicolored streamers fell on the crowd (which they went absolutely nuts over).
Country superstar/’The Voice’ coach performed his fan favorite ‘Boys ‘Round Here’. The staging had the frame of the front of a house (which was a nod to the track’s music video. Blake did an extremely good job, and proved that his knowledge of music/performance is one of the reasons why he has had such success finding artists who transition into the mainstream music scene (one of his former contestants Danielle Bradbery performed, and another one his contestants, Cassadee Pope won an award). So needless to say, it was a good night for Blake.
Brett Eldredge was the last new artist to perform on the ‘Nationwide Stage’ (the new artist stage). He performed a snippet of his radio hit ‘Beat of the Music’. I thought that Brett did a really good job with his performance, because he was confident, looked liked he had fun, and definitely had the audience dancing to “the beat of the music”.
Miranda Lambert & Carrie Underwood:
Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood wrapped up the show with their performance of their new duet ‘Something Bad’. With this performance, the two country superstars proved why they are powerful forces in Country music. They wore very tight, black, short outfits, which added a Rock n’ Roll feel to the performance. There were lots of cool spotlights, and Carrie and Miranda danced around and got the audience really into their performance. They definitely proved that they are Country girls who can rock…and we all loved every minute of it.
Well as y’all can see, the CMT Awards was unpredictable, fun, and certainly showcased all of the bright stars of Country music. I loved how artists from numerous other genres of music also participated in the show, and demonstrated just how universal music really is. The show also had the perfect blend of featuring artists that we know and love, and introducing us to the stars of tomorrow. It will be hard to top this year’s show, but I have faith in you CMT.
Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘YouTube Wednesday’ we are going to discuss a new band of brothers that is quickly taking over the radio waves and the hearts of millions of fans around the world. This band’s amazing musicianship and unique vocals has turned heads of some very important industry officials and has subsequently landed them on some very impressive tours. Who are we speaking of? None other than the INCREDIBLE band, Before You Exit. If you don’t already know who they are (which I can’t imagine is possible), then remember that name because this band is set to be the next big thing in Pop music. People of the internet please allow me to introduce you to Before You Exit.
Before You Exit is a Pop/Rock band from Orlando, Florida. The band was formed in 2007 by Connor McDonough, Braiden Wood and Thomas Silvers. A year after they formed, Before You Exit added Connor’s younger brother, Riley to the lineup. On August 12th, 2009, they self-released their debut EP, ‘A Short Story Long’. In 2010, Before You Exit opened on All Time Low’s ‘My Small Package’ Tour (which was the first major tour they were apart of). On March 4th, 2011 they released their next EP, ‘Letting Go’. In 2011 they played a few shows on All Time Low’s ‘The Dirty Work’ Tour, and also had their own mini headlining tour entitled ‘The Next Big Thing’ tour. In 2012, Before You Exit supported Allstar Weekend on their ‘All the Way’ Tour, alongside popular Pop/Rock bands Hollywood Ending and The After Party. Also in 2012 Toby McDonough (the youngest of the McDonough brothers) joined the band, which then changed the lineup to feature the three brothers, and included Braiden and Thomas for live performances. The band also did work to expand their global recognition by performing in Brazil at the NoCapricho Festival in 2012. The band’s 3rd independent EP ‘I Like That’ was released on February 4th, 2013. Also in 2013, the band was able to support ‘I Like That’ by touring with Action Item on their ‘Resolution’ Tour (alongside Paradise Fears and Hello Highway), Olly Murs on the North American leg of his ‘Right Place Right Time’ Tour, and Cody Simpson on his ‘Paradise’ Tour (alongside Ryan Beatty). The band continued to expand their international exposure by performing in the Philippine, Singapore, and Malaysia. On March 18th, Before You Exit began their headlining ‘Dangerous’ Tour, on the east coast on support of their latest single of the same name. In February of 2014, Braiden Wood announced through his official Tumblr page that he would be resigning from the band to pursue a career as a solo artist. On February 11th, the band announced that they were going to release an official music video for their track ‘Soldier’ from ‘I Like That’. The ‘Soldier’ video premiered on Radio Disney’s website the next day.
Along with their amazing original music,Before You Exit has also accumulated an impressive catalog of cover songs that truly show off the band’s musical range. The first cover we’re going to discuss is a cover of ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ by U.K. Pop band One Direction, and was uploaded on January 1st, 2012. One aspect of this cover that I really loved(One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful Cover by Before You Beautiful) was that Before You Exit kept the song’s original pop vibe, but made the track a rendition instead of a replication by adding rock influences in their vocals. I loved how they were able to truly blend their foundations within the Pop and Rock genres to make a unique take on this popular song. One of my favorite Before You Exit covers is their take on the song ‘Some Nights’ (Fun. – Some Nights Cover by Before You Exit, originally by Grammy award winning Indie Pop band Fun), which was uploaded on August 4th, 2012. Again, I loved that Before You Exit kept their rendition close enough to the original, that fans of Fun would be happy, but also tweaked the track enough to show off their individual artistry. In their rendition, the band was able to show off their incredible harmonies, and proved just how meticulously they work in order to achieve the best sound possible. I also loved the cool drum break that the band added in the middle of the track, which added a cool flair to the song, and was also visually cool to watch. The final cover that we are going to discuss is the band’ stake on the heart wrenching ballad ‘All of Me’ by John Legend (John Legend – All of Me Cover by Before You Exitwhich was uploaded on April 22nd, 2014). I really loved how this cover allowed the band to demonstrate their soulfulness, and this added another layer to their versatility. This is definitely a really challenging song to sing, and due to the fact that the band handled this task so skillfully, speaks volumes about their natural talent and well-developed artistry.
Along with their impressive catalog of original and cover tracks, Before You Exit has also released several music interesting music videos. The first official music video that they released was to promote their single ‘I Like That’ (Before You Exit – I Like That (Official Music Video) which was released on May 30th, 2013), off of the EP of the same name. The ‘I Like That’ music video starred Disney Channel Stephanie Scott (from the hit show ‘Ant Farm’) as the band’s love interest. The video began with the guys in the band meeting a girl (Stephanie) in an amusement park on a pier. They then leave her arrows throughout the amusement park, so she can find them. She follows the arrows, and they wait for her, but when she arrived to where they were performing the band has already left, so the girl is left to walk away awkwardly. I really loved this video because the ending was unexpected and funny, which made it memorable, and the concept also went along with the upbeat, fun vibe I the song. It was a really interesting direction to go with the track (which is about “liking” the beautiful things about a person that they don’t necessarily see), and this risk definitely paid off. The next music video that Before You Exit released was to promote their track ‘Soldier’ (Before You Exit – Soldier (Official Music Video) which was released on February 12th, 2014). ‘Soldier’ tells the story of a teen girl whose parents fight due to her father’s alcoholism. The girl writes a letter to Before You Exit, one night her mom leaves. That night she runs from her room while her dad is in a rage, and he sees the letter on her desk, he reads it, and then realizes how what he and his wife are doing is affecting his daughter. The next morning the daughter comes back home after riding her skateboard all night, and the mom and dad hug her, while she cries. The video the ends with the girl riding her skateboard into the sunrise. I felt that the video was very emotionally charged, and perfectly illustrated the song’s message of being there for someone as their “soldier” in times of need. The latest music video that Before You Exit has released was to promote their latest single ‘Dangerous’ (Before You Exit – Dangerous (Official Music Video) this video was released on March 22nd, 2014). The video begins with the guys in Before You Exit getting arrested, and then cuts to a flashback to tell the story of how this occurred. The next shot begins by showing 3 girls who steal money from a safe, and then take the police on a chase. The girls stop the car, and then run out of it and hide. The guys in Before You Exit see the car and begin to look at it curiously. The police then arrive and arrest the guys. Throughout the video, there are also shots of the guys performing in a warehouse. This video once again kept the upbeat, fun, vibe that the song projects. I really enjoyed this video because the concept was unique, and unexpected, which made the video memorable. The song itself is a very unique track for the band, due to its’ jazzy, Rock n’ Roll infused Motown vibe, which is the perfect combination of old school Pop meets modern Rock.
So as you have probably already figured out, Before You Exit is a band with talent, vision, dedication, artistry, and the potential to go as far in their career as they aspire to go. These guys have built an impressive touring resume, accumulated a great catalogue of catchy and emotionally driven songs, and have put out impressive, creative music videos that their fans love. With all of this, It is truly not a matter of when Before You Exit will become huge stars, but rather how huge they will become.
Stay up to date with Before You Exit:
YouTube: Before You Exit YouTube
Before You Exit Twitter: BeforeYouExit
Connor Twitter: ConnorMcDonough
Riley Twitter: RileyMcDonough
Toby Twitter: TobyMcDonough
Before You Exit Instagram: beforeyouexit#
Connor Instagram: connormcdonough#
Riley Instagram: rileymcdonough#
Toby Instagram: tobymcdonough#
Hello people of the internet!!! The 56th annual Grammy Awards was hosted by multiple Grammy award winner LL Cool J. In his opening monologue, he spoke about the power of music, and allows us to be the person we really want to be. He used example such as Taylor Swift (who he said inspire a generation of girls to tell boys exactly what they’re doing wrong), and Bruno Mars (who was able to release his inner showman because of music). LL Cool J also spoke about how music connects the world and unites us all, he cited Keith Urban (who grew up in Australia),and Daft Punk (who formed their group in France) as examples.
The Winners!!!!!!!: (on a side note, I predicted that Zedd would win Best Dance Recording for ‘Clarity’ and Imagine Dragons would win Best Rock Performance for ‘Radioactive’ and they did win these Grammys ypou an check that blog post out here: 2014 Grammy Award Predictions, before the award show aired…good job guys! For a full list of winners, go to www.grammy.com)
Best New Artist: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
2013 was definitely a HUGE year for this hip-hop power duo, and I anticipate 2014 to be no different. The duo’s independently recorded, produced, and released their album ‘The Heist’ in 2012, and the album became a huge, chart topping success without the promotion of a record label. The album has gone platinum and gold in 8 countries, and produced several hit singles, including ‘Thrift Shop’ and ‘Can’t Hold Us’. Personally I think that the fact that this album has done so well without the aid of a label, is a true testament to the insane talent that this duo posses. It seems like an extremely daunting task for Macklemore & Ryan Lewis to top ‘The Heist’, but I am fully confident that they will find a way.
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: ‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk
If you listened to the radio at all this year, then you are very familiar with this song. This disco/funk inspired track features the vocals of Pharrell Williams, and was an insanely big hit for the French duo. The single went multi platinum and gold in 13 countries, and lead to numerous covers by many notable artists such as Fall Out Boy and Pentatonix.
Best Rock Song: ‘Cut Me Some Slack’ by Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, Krist Novoselic, & Pat Smear
With such rock star power such as: Paul McCartney (legendary entertainer, and of course a member of the Beatles), Dave Grohl (drummer of grunge band Nirvana, and founder/lead vocalist and guitarist of The Foo Fighters), Kris Novoselic (bassist and co-founder of Nirvana), and Pat Smear (live guitarist of Nirvana/guitarist of the Foo Fighters….do you think Dave, Krist, and Pat ever thought about playing together before recording this song?) how could this track not win?!? I think the accomplishments and resumes attached to these men speak volumes as to why the song did so well this year.
Best Pop Solo Performance: ‘Royals’ by Lorde
Ok where did this amazingly unique vocalist come from? I mean seriously, it seems like this 17 year old New Zealand native just appeared out of nowhere and completely changed pop music. There is no denying that ‘Royals’ has become increasingly more popular ever since its’ release last year. The fact that her first single released in the U.S went #1, is definitely a good indication that this is just the beginning to a long career for Lorde.
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: ‘Holy Grail’ by Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake
I don’t believe that this win really needs an explanation, because Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake’s resume’s speak volumes. Each of these entertainers are incredible by themselves, but when they combine their talents, the result is musical gold. At this point it is evident that they both know the power that their collaborations have, so they definitely use this knowledge for the common good (they get more hits, and we get great music!).
Producer of the Year (non-classical): Pharrell Williams
Pharrell has certainly been a force for more than a decade, due to his work as a producer on several hits such as ‘Tonight’s the Night’ by Blackstreet, ‘I’m a Slave for You; by Britney Spears, and ‘Hot in Herre’ by Nelly, just to name a few. Although Pharrell has been linked to so many amazing projects, he really made a splash in 2013 for his work on, ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke and T.I., and of course ‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk (which won 2 Grammys last night).
Best Pop Vocal Album: ‘Unorthodox Jukebox’ by Bruno Mars
Although this was a tough category to compete in, I definitely think that Bruno Mars deserved this award. ‘Unorthodox Jukebox’ was an amazing album which produced a lot of huge radio singles, so it was no surprise that the album won. Bruno’s music certainly has a very different vibe than a lot of the other artists that are currently on Pop radio, which is exactly why his music is so infectious and popular.
Best Country Album: ‘Same Trailer, Different Park’ by Kacey Musgraves
This was certainly one of the biggest surprises of the night, due to the tough competition that this category contained. Although Kacey is a new artist to many, she is already a seasoned performer and writer, so the fact that he album took home the top prize for country music is completely understandable. The fact that Kacey was able to make such a huge splash with her first wide-released studio album, proves that she is at the beginning of an amazing career.
Song of the Year: ‘Royals’ by Lorde
Lorde strikes again! Yes, the 17 year old was the star of the show at the Grammys, due to her multiple wins on her debut album. If she won multiple Grammys on her debut album, I can’t wait to see what her sophomore album will produce. Good job Lorde!!!
Record of the Year: ‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk
You can’t keep a good robot down! Daft Punk proved that you don’t have to be seen or say anything(they didn’t say a word when accepting any of their awards) in order to be heard at the Grammys. The French duo certainly made a impact, and I think that everyone will be waiting in anticipation of what they will do in the years to come.
The Music Educator Award: Kent Knappenberger
This music teacher from Westfield Academy and Central School in Westfield, NY was the first person to ever win this award. The Grammys have a long history of supporting music education, so I am glad that they now have a student nominated award, which honors those who dedicate their lives to inspiring the next generation of musicians.
Album of the Year: ‘Random Access Memories’ by Daft Punk
Robots! Robots! Robots! Yes between Daft Punk, Kacey Musgraves, and Lorde, new acts ruled the Grammys. Who knew that Robots would control music’s biggest night!? I repeat…Robots! Robots! Robots! Daft Punk is now officially added to the long list of why we must thank the French. Good job everyone!
Beyoncé certainly gave the Grammys an interesting opening, with her performance off ‘Drunk in Love’ off of her new album. The performance began with Beyoncé on a chair, with an extremely cool light show. The thing about the performance that I found to be the most interesting, was the fact that Beyoncé was dancing on her chair, as the chair was constantly ROTATING! I just found this to be so cool, because it’s not a common prop characteristic. I liked that Beyoncé didn’t have any back-up dancers but was still able to control the stage, it truly shows the kind of entertainer she is. Later on in the song, jay-Z appeared and danced with his wife. Everyone seems really excited to see the power couple together on the Grammy stage, and they did seem very much in love during their performance. There was quite a bit of controversy surrounding Beyoncé’s performance, regarding whether or not it was too racy. Whatever your opinion of the performance was, it was definitely memorable.
Next up was the big winner of the night Lorde, who definitely proved that she meant it when she said “you can call me Queen B”(yes I quoted ‘Royals’, no I’m not sorry). Lorde performed her hit ‘Royals’ for the crowd, and gave the hit a fresh sound by performing a completely different arrangement of the song. She had a very simple staging and a low-key outfit (a white blouse and black pants), which certainly match the artists’ very low-key demeanor. She proved that her voice can capture the attention of a large crowd without all of the added effects and stage distractions. I thought that it was a very interesting performance.
Hunter Hayes used his performance slot to debut his new song ‘Invisible’, which has quickly become a new favorite song for me. Hunter stated in interviews a few days before the Grammys, that the new song was inspired by his personal encounters with bullies and haters. I really love the message behind this song, and think that it is a very important topic to discuss. I love when music has a message, and Hunter definitely delivers this with this track. Hunter began his performance by playing the song on the piano, and then later on grabbed the mike, and walked around the stage for the rest of the number. My favorite part of the whole performance was the passion in which Hunter had while he was singing. A few times during the song, he looked like he was going to cry and I personally love when artists cry or look like they want to cry, because I feel that this really shows how connected they are with their song. Hunter also had very cool inspirational quotes on the back screen from celebrities and influential individuals such as John Lennon, Lady Gaga, Johnny Depp, and Steve Jobs. I loved that this visual aid added to the overall vibe of the performance and showed that Hunter is evolving as a showman.
Chicago and Robin Thicke:
They performed a medley of the Chicago hits ‘Does Anybody really know what time it is?’, ‘Beginnings’, ‘Saturday in the park’, and then transitioned into Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit ‘Blurred Lines’. I am such a sucker for horns, and this performance had A LOT of amazing brass elements, so I loved it. I was also amazed that Chicago had such a great performance, and proved that they haven’t gotten rusty at all through the years. You go Chicago! Robin Thicke also proved that although he is loved for his looks, he also has the vocal talent to back up his fame.
Keith Urban and Gary Clark Jr.
Keith Urban and Gary Clark Jr.
Keith Urban and Gary Clark Jr. (who’s from Austin, Texas originally…yay! Yeah I had to include that because I gotta support my fellow Texans), performed Keith’s newest hit ‘Cop Car’. In usual Keith Urban fashion, the performance was more about the music than having an elaborate stage. The two artists’ vocals simply blew me away, and I have I give Gary A LOT of credit, because he could keep up with Keith Urban on the guitar (which is not an easy task!). Towards the end of the song, Keith and Gary went head to head on guitar solos, and it was so epic! I’m seriously still recovering from how amazing their guitar skills are.
John Legend performed his hit song ‘All of Me’, which was made even more beautiful due to the fact that he looked at his wife during his entire performance (everybody say it with me “AWWWWW!”). John played the piano as he sang, and had a very simple staging that led to a very beautiful performance. The simplistic staging really went with the theme of the song, and left the audience in awe. John once again proved what a talented artist he is, and proved that his voice is all he needs to put on a spectacular performance.
Now can you imagine an award show without a performance form Taylor Swift? Go ahead I’ll give you a moment. Ok time’s up! See what I mean, no award show is complete without a Taylor performance. Anyway, Taylor performed her hit song ‘All Too Well’ from her newest album ‘Red’(which was also up for a few Grammys but didn’t win). Taylor accompanied herself on the piano throughout the song, and really gave a fun performance with lots hair flipping. I am such a huge fan of this song because it is beautifully written, and the lyrics take the audience on such a rollercoaster of emotions, and I thought that Taylor did such a great song expressing these emotions through her performance.
Ok the next performance was definitely one of my favorites of the night! P!nk began her set with her hit song ‘Try’ off of her newest album ‘The Truth about Love’. Now this song is already amazing enough on its own, but when you add the fact that P!nk sang the song while doing really difficult acrobatics on wires above the audience, the result is nothing short of spectacular! After P!nk was done amazing everyone with her awesome acrobatics, she landed on the stage, and finished the song while stage fighting with one of her dancers. This part of the show was also amazing, because the P!nk never missed a beat ( or note) while performing this really difficult stage choreography. After P!nk finished singing ‘Try’, the music transitioned directly into Nate Ruess’ part of ‘Just Give me a Reason’ ( the duet that he and P!nk sing on P!nk’s newest album). P!nk then joined him on the track, and completely killed her notes, the performance was simply amazing. All in all, Nate Ruess did great, but P!nk completely stole the show, and left us all with one question…who’s her personal trainer!?! I’m serious, she has to be in some seriously amazing shape in order to perform at the level she performs. Two thumbs up P!nk!!!
RIngo Starr performed his song ‘Photograph’ next, and of course brought the audience to their feet (what else would you expect from a Beatle!?). As RIngo sang, photos from the Beatles’’ prime flashed on the back screen, and brought a sense of awe, due to how long it’s been since The Beatles changed music forever. This was definitely a performance that everyone was in great anticipation for, and RIngo did not disappoint. The only thing that I wished he had done differently, is play the drums. C’mon RIngo, why couldn’t you have given us a little drum solo…please? But this aside, the performance was great and proved that RIngo is definitely ready to embark on his latest tour (which he will kick off on June 6th in Ontario).
Imagine Dragons and Kendrick Lamar:
I found this to be a very interesting performance, and I really enjoyed it. It began with Imagine Dragons playing a few lines of their hit son ‘Radioactive’, and then Kendrick Lamar joined in and performed his hit rap song ‘m.A.A.D City’. After Kendrick performed the majority of his song, imagine Dragons finished ‘Radioactive’ as Kendrick joined them on the drums. He then rapped a few more lines of his song, and the number ended. I loved the artists’ fusion of the best elements of both songs, and it made for a very interesting rock/rap combo. The staging of the performance was also amazing, due to the use of red and blue lights, as well as strobe lights.
Kacey Musgraves :
I really loved this performance, because it showed off Kacey Musgraves’ quirky and fun personality. Kacey preformed her newest hit single ‘Follow Your Arrow’, and she had a very cool country western bar theme going on as her staging. The set was complete with fake cactuses lined with different colored lights, and honestly I found the whole setting to be a very interesting change. I also found the staging to be very influenced by Kacey’s Texas roots, which I found very cool. I definitely have a lot of respect for artists who can play an instrument as they sing, and Kacey did a great job singing and playing the guitar at the Grammys. I also loved how comfortable and confident Kacey looked on stage, it spoke volumes about how seasoned Kacey already is as an entertainer, and I see her giving even better performances in the future.
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr:
Well the rumors rang true, a mini-Beatles reunion happened! Yes, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr shared the Grammy stage together, and sang Paul McCartney’s newest song ‘Queenie Eye’. Paul played the song on a very 60s style, multicolored piano, which was very reminiscent of the Beatles era. Ringo also accompanied the song on the drums, and this arrangement was definitely a flashback for all Beatles fans. Just like I previously said with the Chicago performance, I love when older entertainers prove that time has not made them rusty, and that they can still perform just as well as the young current artists. I certainly hope that this is just the beginning of a long line of performances by the two former band mates!
Blake Shelton, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard:
Ok I found this performance to be so unique because it was a perfect complement to the rest of the program. The men performed ‘The Highwaymen’, ‘Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys’, and ‘Okie From Muskogee’. I really loved that when Chicago, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr performed, that the Grammys paid tribute to some of the legends that made rock music what it is today. On that same note (see what I did there…you may now laugh J), the performance by Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard paid tribute to these men who helped carve country music into what it is today. I also loved the addition of Blake Shelton to this performance, because he is not only one of the current faces of country music, but is also on the road to become a country music legend. It was truly a night of not only showcasing the current and next generation of stats, but also honoring those who paved the way.
Pharrell Williams, Stevie Wonder, and Daft Punk:
This was certainly one performance that had everyone in the audience on their feet (everybody dance!). Pharrell Williams, Stevie Wonder, and everybody’s favorite robots Daft Punk joined together to perform an outstanding rendition of Chic’s ‘Le Freak’, Stevie Wonder’s ‘Another Star’, Daft Punk’s ‘Harder, Faster, Stronger’, and Daft Punk and Pharrell’s hit ‘Get Lucky’. Stevie Wonder was phenomenal as always, Pharrell did an amazing job, and proved why Daft Punk is here to stay. This was certainly a fun number, good job Robots!
Carole King and Sara Bareilles:
I thought that this was such a beautiful performance by two amazing vocalists/pianists. Carol and Sara did a medley of Carol’s song ‘Beautiful’, and Sara’s song ‘Brave’. I thought that this performance had a very cool vibe, and made for an interesting number. I also thought that it was very sweet that Sara has said before that Carol was an inspiration for her growing up, and you could certainly see this in Sara’s face as she performed ( don’t you just love when celebrities fan-girl over other celebrities!?). I definitely hope to see them perform together again, on TV or even in concert. C’mon people in charge of Sara and Carol’s careers, let’s make this happen!
Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Queen Latifah, and Madonna:
This was definitely the performance that had everyone talking for numerous reasons. The performance began with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis performing their hit single ‘Same Love’, with vocals from Mary Lambert (the women on the original track). Later during the song, Queen Latifah came out and married 33 couples (gay and straight). Queen Latifah and Macklemore have stated that some of their friends/family members are among those who got married on the Grammys. After the precession Madonna came out and sang a part of her hit song ‘Open You Heart’, and then finished singing ‘Same Love’ with Mary Lambert. It was certainly a very emotional part of the show, due to the fact that it had many celebrities in tears.
Miranda Lambert & Billie Joe Armstrong:
Miranda and Billie honored the late Phil Everly, by performing The Everly Brothers’ track ‘When will I be loved’. As they were performing, the back screen had photos of the Everly Brothers. After the performance, all of the entertainers that were lost this year were shown. I really loved the performance that Miranda and Billie gave, because it was so unexpected yet still amazing. I also loved how well their voices blended together, and I definitely think that they should record a duet (you know that you want this too!). What really surprised me is that Billie Joe seemed to have a bit of a twang in his voice as he sang, and I thought that this was a really interesting surprise that actually really suited him. Two thumbs up Miranda and Billie Joe.