the grammys 2015: beck, sam smith, and tons of performances
Three and a half hours feels like an eternity to watch people win awards. But this year’s Grammys forged forward with a full load of performances (some epic, some forgettable) and categories with suspensefully close competition.
Photography Nick Dorey, Styling Hanna Kelifa
The stars of the 2015 Grammys were Sam Smith, Beck and throwbacks. Flashback fodder came from the night's host, LL Cool J, plus appearances and performances from the likes of AC/DC, Prince, Stevie Wonder, ELO, and Tony Bennett (with jazz convert, Lady Gaga).
Smith cleaned up with those soulful pipes of his. He took Best New Artist, beating tough competition: Haim are darlings of the industry, Bastille churned out a bunch of earwormy singles this year, Iggy Azalea exploded onto the scene, and Brandy Clark is apparently an exciting country person. Smith then won Best Pop Vocal Album, Song of the Year and Best Record of the Year. Beck won Best Rock Album and Best Album of the Year for Morning Phase because he is still the coolest.
Beyoncé won Best R&B Performance, sky is blue, grass is green. Pharrell Williams won Best Solo Pop Performance for Happy, but his wife's jumpsuit was the scene-stealer. St. Vincent won Best Alternative Album and Kendrick Lamar won Best Rap Performance for I.
There were so many performances, though, one could forget awards were supposed to be happening. Madonna proved her other-worldly agelessness with an OTT performance of Living for Love, triumphing that matador theme she loves so much. Moody Hozier crooned Take Me to Church because we haven't heard it enough this year - he did spice it up by bringing out the still-amazing Annie Lennox. Pharrell came back out dressed as a bellboy to do a Wes-Anderson-meets-the-Manson-Family version of Happy. Katy Perry sang a moving By the Grace of God, introduced by an abuse survivor in the Grammys' statement against domestic violence. Kanye did Four Five Seconds with Rihanna and that up-and-comer he discovered, Paul McCartney, and Smith proved he deserved those wins by singing Stay With Me with Mary J. Blige. Sia's Chandelier provided the opportunity for her incredible voice, Maddie Ziegler's dance talent and Kristen Wiig's comedic genius to merge. Finally, Beyoncé brought the house down with a heavenly gospel moment, and John Legend and Common performed the powerful Glory from the film Selma.
This year's eclectic array of performances, appearances and nominations made all genres feel celebrated, which is what this night should always be about. You could tell how much fun the audience of A-listers was having, and that translated to us watching, unglamorously, on our couches.
Text Courtney Iseman
Photography Nick Dorey
Styling Hanna Kelifa