I watched the Grammys 2021

I may have mentioned before that despite everything, I love watching awards shows. So of course, when the Grammys were on last night, I sat myself down and watched the entire thing.

I was especially interested to see how they would do the Grammys in the age of COVID. Most awards shows have been very zoom heavy, including varying levels of sound, video quality, and formality from the nominees. Those with performances have taken a variety of approaches, from not being held at all, to using at home performances, to being a combination of at home and performances filmed in other venues and countries.

When it came down to making the show feel like an actual awards show, I think the Grammys have been the most successful (so far) in terms of shows with performances. All the performers were in the same venue–including some performances that were pre-taped in that same venue earlier in the week–and they circled in performers to be each others audiences. This meant that several performances were held in the same space, with their fellow artists watching and enjoying. The stages weren’t massive for these performances, but it didn’t seem to matter. The covid precautions weren’t perfect–there was rather a lot of hugging considering people were in masks and sitting spaced out, for example, but I think the quality of performances were really high overall and it made for a more enjoyable awards show.

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to the Grammys. I watched the entire red carpet (which was strangely quiet) and I do have some scattered fashion opinions. There are the awards themselves; I won’t go step by step but I will say I’m generally happy for everyone who won! There has also been some controversy and discourse surrounding the awards themselves that you may have heard about. If not, I will direct you to this YouTube video here (its forty minutes long, so you may want to come back to that later). But the part I was most looking forward to? The performances. I love music of all kinds, I love pop, I love dancing, I love spectacle. Often even if I don’t listen to an artist regularly, I will enjoy a solid live performance. There were a lot of solid live performances last night, and a lot of interesting choices.

And so, the Grammys performances in order:

“Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles: I’m not even going to pretend to not be biased here. I’ve been a big fan of Harry for a long time, so I was never going to dislike this performance. It was on the more minimal end of the night stage set-up wise, but still a great way to open the show. His vocals were fantastic, his outfit was great, the backing musicians were super talented. He’s generally a very charismatic performer who clearly has fun and loves what he’s doing, and it’s so much fun to watch as an audience member.

“Everything I Wanted” by Billie Eilish: Another song and artist I already know and love. I’m glad she kept this performance very close to the original recording, because the music and minimal production paired with her vocals is what gives this song such a beautiful, haunting feeling. She performed this on a car submerged in fog–a reference to the music video–with low lighting, matching the tone of the song perfectly. Sometimes that kind of simplicity is all you need. Loved it.

“The Steps” by HAIM: You know it’s a good performance when it makes you want to listen more to an artist you don’t listen to very often. This was another simpler performance, just three sisters jamming out on their instruments in the middle of the room. And it worked. I felt, in the best way, like I was in a small indie music venue in the late nineties. I need to listen to more HAIM and so do you, probably.

“Colors” by Black Pumas: After this performance, I saw so many tweets from people saying “I need to look up Black Pumas now” and I get it. I had never heard of them before the Grammy nominations came out, but they absolutely delivered during this performance. Another simple set up, but the performance was so impassioned and soulful and the song was fantastic. I was really into this and will definitely be looking up more of their music.

“Rockstar” by Dababy and Roddy Rich: This is an example of when a performance can elevate a song for me. I don’t dislike this song; I’ll keep it on when it’s on or starts playing, but I don’t make an active effort to listen to it. However, for this live performance, they added violins. They added a gospel choir. I love both of those things, and they meshed perfectly with this rap song. I also really enjoyed Dababy as a performer, from his amazing bedazzled outfit to his commitment and intensity. Very good.

“Dakiti” by Bad Bunny and Jhay Cortez: There was nothing inherently wrong with this performance. I thought the lighting in the shape of an eye was cool, I think both performers are obviously talented. But I didn’t connect to the song enough to connect to the performance. If this is a style of music you really enjoy you would probably like it, but it didn’t really hold my interest.

“Levitating/Don’t Start Now” by Dua Lipa ft DaBaby: More songs I already love! Dua Lipa is always committed to spectacle in her performances and I love that. Her album was disco pop, how could she not marry those songs with over the top performances?? There were costume changes!! There was choreography!! There were sets!! What’s not to love? This was one of those performances I kind of wished I was in, which is always fun.

“Leave The Door Open” by Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak as Silk Sonic: I missed Bruno Mars. He always makes bops and his awards show performances are always fun and cheeky and flawless. This was no exception! I had already heard this song that he has out with Anderson.Paak–like I said, I missed Bruno Mars–and the performance was perfectly suited. I love that they took the 70s lounge energy of the song and leaned all the way into it. They didn’t take themselves too seriously but that doesn’t mean they didn’t perform well. Worth a watch!!

“Cardigan/August/Willow” by Taylor Swift ft. Aaron Dessner and Jack Antonoff: I loved both of Taylor’s albums last year so yet again, no surprise that I enjoyed this performance. This was likely one of the pre-taped performances, with an elaborate whimsical forest cottage set. The set was really beautiful, and I was happy to hear Taylor sing these songs live, since her vocals really shine through on the songs on these records. A very good and also aesthetically pleasing performance.

In Memoriam Tributes by Bruno Mars ft. Anderson.Paak, Lionel Richie, Brandi Carlile, and Brittany Howard ft. Chris Martin: The in memoriam tribute was longer than I have ever seen it before, which just feels appropriate after a year like 2020. All of these performances were excellent. Not only are each of these artists strong vocalists (definitely recommend Brandi Carlile’s “The Joke” if you have never heard it), but you could tell that each of them had a connection to the song and artist they were honoring. Unsurprisingly, my favourite was Bruno Mars’ tribute to Little Richard. He had the perfect energy for it and it was so much fun.

“Black Like Me” by Mickey Guyton: I was not familiar with this artist before the awards. She’s a country singer, which is not what I would call my favourite genre. Her voice was really beautiful, and I appreciated the meaning behind the song, but it was not my top performance of the night.

“Bluebird” by Miranda Lambert: This really was the country music portion of the night. I went to get myself a snack halfway through this. Again, no disrespect to Miranda Lambert, but this style of music really is not for me the majority of the time and I was not feeling it.

“Bones” by Maren Morris ft. John Mayer: Now this is a country crossover hit which I actually quite like? It’s a sweet song with a really nice message and Maren has a lovely voice. I wished she could have brought over Hozier, who I ADORE and did a duet version of this song with her previously. Not my number one of the night but a pleasant performance.

Body/Savage/Up/WAP” by Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B: When I heard WAP was going to be performed on TV, my first thought was, “how the hell are they going to do that?” The answer is: in the most over the top way possible so the bleeping out doesn’t even matter. I cannot even start to explain this performance. If you don’t watch any other performances from this night, please watch this one.

“Hollywood’s Bleeding” by Post Malone: I think this is a great song and that Post Malone is another one of those artists who is really good live. He goes all out every single time. Every performance I have seen from him is different and perfectly suited to the venue and the event and to the song itself. This performance was really dark and intense and felt almost claustrophobic. Loved the drama of it.

“The Bigger Picture” by Lil Baby: This was a very intense performance. He brought out actors in order to dramatize the song and make the message he wanted to send clear. It was a very powerful and effective performance.

“Say So” by Doja Cat: I have seen multiple performances of this song by Doja Cat, and none of them have been the same. She chooses a different theme and different genre to blend the song with every single time. I really admire that and love the level of creativity. At another show, she did a performance inspired by “Roxie” from the musical Chicago, which is always going to win in my eyes, but this robot themed performance was also very cool.

“Dynamite” by BTS: BTS has a very fervent fan base, to say the least. I would not call myself a “stan” by any means, but I have enjoyed the songs I have heard and I think they are very talented dancers. I think I have seen better awards show performances by them than this one. It was almost too clean and too slick, and I wanted some more edge to it. But overall it was an enjoyable performance, the song is very catchy, they’re excellent dancers, and I enjoyed their matching suits.

The performances were really solid overall, and it made for a really good Grammys night. I appreciate that they tried to find new and different ways to make this awards show work during the pandemic. If you’re going to hold The Grammys during this time (and there are arguments to be made as to whether they should or not), you might as well use this opportunity to make it fresher and brighter.

I talk about Golden Globes nominations because why not

I know the problems with awards shows. I know I often curse the choices made, or the lack of women in certain nominations, or lack of POC, or lack of queer people.

But I still love an awards show. And I MISS awards shows. Even the ones that have been held in the last year just haven’t been the same. And I would know–I watched them all regardless because goddammit, I miss awards shows.

When it comes to awards shows for movies and television, I admit while I have often heard of most of the nominees, I’ve never seen them all. I love TV and I love movies, but these awards shows (especially the Oscars) have a tendency to award certain kinds of films and disregard others (see this excellent YouTube video on the concept of Oscar Bait). Sometimes though, I simply haven’t seen the films or shows yet and end up thoroughly enjoying them whenever I do (examples include: Parasite, Jojo Rabbit, Hidden Figures, The Favourite, and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel for TV, all of which I watched after their awards run). Every year I mean to watch all the nominated films and at least one episode of each the shows, and every year there’s something in the line up I either just cannot bring myself to watch or have no interest in. And so I never do.

While Oscar noms aren’t out yet this year (the ceremony was pushed for obvious reasons), the Golden Globe nominations were announced today. So why not go through them and talk about what I have seen, what I haven’t, what I have heard of, and if I am interested. I won’t bore you with every single performance category, so will stick to the main ones.

Best Motion Picture: Drama

The Father: Vagurely remembered the trailer so went to go rewatch. It looks deeply depressing so I honestly probably won’t watch it. The cast is amazing though so I’m sure it’s good, maybe one day I will watch it if I want to be sad.

Mank: Have yet to watch, but it genuinely looks interesting. I think it’s cool that it’s in black and white. Biopics can be hit and miss but this looks like it was told through an interesting lens.

Nomadland: Had no clue what this was and had to google. Reminds me of books I did not like to read in school. But it has Frances McDormand and as usual I am sure she put in a great performance.

Promising Young Woman: REMIND ME TO WATCH THIS. I have been really interested but just have yet to take the time to sit down and watch. It looks really good and I am amazed I managed to avoid all spoilers.

The Trial of the Chicago 7: LOVE this entire cast. I have also not watched this, which makes me 0/5 in the drama category. Not super surprising honestly.

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: I didn’t even watch the first one in full. It just gave me too much mass secondhand embarrassment. Props to Sacha Baron Cohen for being in two nominated movies though (he is also in Trial of The Chicago 7)

Hamilton: I may have mentioned once or twice or three times on this blog how much I love Hamilton. It won many Tonys during its musical run for this same original cast, which I think is extremely well deserved. It deserves awards for the speed of Daveed Diggs’ rapping as Lafayette alone. I don’t expect it to take this category but know I love it.

Music: There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this movie, as is expected when a non-autistic person makes a film about autism also starring a non-autistic actress. Haven’t seen it, do not plan to do so.

Palm Springs: I have been wanting to watch this since it came out but we don’t have Hulu in Canada, for some strange reason. It was recently released on Crave here so it’s on my to-watch list after Promising Young Woman. I love Andy Samberg.

The Prom: This was a surprising one, but I am aware there aren’t as many options for nominations this year due to COVID-19. This was fun and cute and light. It’s a musical and I can never hate a musical. I would not choose it as the winner though.

Best Motion Picture: Animated

The Croods: A New Age: I have seen the trailer for this and I will say I am not the intended demographic and leave it at that.

Onward: I really enjoyed this film. It was cute and charming and really heartwarming. I’m also a big Tom Holland fan and am happy he is having such a successful year.

Over The Moon: I had never heard of it but it looks very cute. Again I think a bit specifically younger skewing.

Soul: This movie is absolutely beautiful both visually and in its plot and message, so I am 100% cheering for it to win. Fantastic. I need to watch it again already even though it gave me an existential crisis and then fixed it again.

Wolfwalkers: I had never heard of it but I looked up the trailer and LOVE the animation style. It looks really good honestly, I will add it to my to watch pile.

Best TV Series, Comedy

Emily in Paris: I watched Emily in Paris. I enjoyed Emily in Paris. It was fun and fluffy and I was obsessed with Emily’s outfits (me and the actress, Lily Collins, are really similar in size, so I just kind of…imagined it all on me). But why on earth is this show nominated?? I’m truly baffled. It’s cute, but I think there are so many other shows in the comedy category that should have taken its place. Especially since this category turned out very white.

The Flight Attendant: This show honestly took me by surprise with how good it was. It was so well written and I really loved the visual choices made in the show. I’m happy that lead Kaley Cuoco was nominated because I think she deserves it for the work done here. Watch it if you haven’t, you will just want to keep going.

The Great: I watched one episode of this show the other day. I love the leads, and I like the basic concept. But as someone who is into Serious Period Pieces, I kind of…wish it was one of those? Or at least slightly more historically accurate? I will probably try another episode though to see how it goes.

Schitt’s Creek: Am I a bad Canadian if I never religiously watched this show? I’ve watched a few episodes here and there and always enjoyed it, I just wasn’t watching from the beginning. This show SWEPT the comedy Emmys, so wondering if it will do a repeat.

Tad Lasso: I have heard of it, but have never seen an episode. It’s apparently quite good hearted which is promising. Maybe will check it out.

Best TV Series, Drama

The Crown: Oddly enough I am a period piece lover who…has never watched The Crown. My mom likes it? I heard good things and the acting was very good from episodes I have seen, although sometimes leaned almost a bit too much into impressions.

Lovecraft Country: Anyone who says there isn’t good horror in TV shows hasn’t watched this show. Some of the horror and supernatural elements in some episodes are truly horrific and yet I could not look away. I think the way it handled historical events and combined them with classic film tropes and horror elements was very well done. Loved the musical choices made as well, including old Black spirituals and speeches from activists.

The Mandalorian: I tried so hard to get into this show. I love Star Wars! Pedro Pascal is great! I LOVE SPACE. I LOVE SPACE SO MUCH. But I could not get into it. I’m sorry Space.

Ozark: I’ve seen parts of this show walking into the room while my dad had it on. I don’t think it’s for me, but I like the grey aesthetic and acting looks great.

Ratched: I’m almost surprised I haven’t given into this Ryan Murphy series yet. I just don’t understand why anyone thought we needed background for this particular villainous character? But that’s Ryan Murphy for you.

Best Limited Series or Movie

Normal People: One of the biggest shows of 2020 and I have not watched it and kind of have no interest in doing so. It just doesn’t draw me in. The cast seems very charming though. Love the accents.

Small Axe: I have not watched, but JOHN BOYEGA WAS NOMINATED FOR THIS and I am very happy for him. This also doesn’t particularly draw me in as a show, but I may watch the episode with John.

The Queen’s Gambit: I LOVED THIS SERIES. I know everyone did, but for good reason. This mini series about chess, of all things, managed to keep me riveted the entire time. Anya Taylor-Joy was a big part of that, and I’m so happy she was nominated for this as well as for Emma. The costumes were also magnificent, I love that era in fashion.

The Undoing: Everyone talked about this show while it was airing and I honestly still don’t really know what it’s about. I think there’s a mystery so I will probably watch it eventually.

Unorthodox: Another one that got quite a few nominations at the Emmys, and another one that doesn’t personally appeal to me. I’m sure it’s very good.

Clearly, I have homework to do.