By Richard Pryor III
As some of you may know, the 60th Grammy Awards were recently held, hosted by professional fun British person, James Corden. I have many thoughts about the ceremony; here are just a few for your edification.
First, God heard my prayers and Justin Bieber did not perform with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee in their hit song “Despacito.” That is proof that there is a God – checkmate, atheists! Katie Holmes was there for some reason. What does she do now that Dawson’s Creek is over and she’s out of the hell that is Scientology? If you know, please tell me.
The artist formerly known as Ke$ha made maybe my favorite supergroup of all time (and that includes the Heatles) by inviting Camila Cabello (formerly of Fifth Harmony), Cyndi Lauper, Julia Michaels, Andra Day, and Bebe Rexha to sing with her on her hit ballad “Praying.” In a tribute to Tom Petty and a moment of personal preference, Emmylou Harris, one of my favorite artists, a folk musician, sang Petty’s “Wildflowers” with Chris Stapleton.
There were two important things to take away from the evening.
Kendrick Lamar’s fourth album, DAMN., is maybe one of the greatest rap albums OF ALL TIME. It’s that good. It was culturally conscious, commercially successful, and critics loved it. So here’s the question – why did Bruno Mars’ album, 24K Magic, win Album of the Year? First off, it was released in 2016 (and wasn’t even the best album of 2016, that goes to Lemonade).
Bruno’s best song of the last four years isn’t even on the album, because he was only a contributor on “Uptown Funk.” Literally ANY of the other albums nominated would have been better than 24K Magic. Jay-Z’s, 4:44, another work of genius from Hov and a wonderful retrospective. Childish Gambino’s, “Awaken, My Love!”, the crown jewel of his career so far. Lorde’s Melodrama, a top pick by critics, has a real emotional tinge to it.
But I shouldn’t be surprised; the last time the winner for Album of the Year wasn’t the most crowd-pleasing option was when Beck won in 2015 for Morning Phase.
In case you don’t know who Patti LuPone is, let me educate you. She is a theatre legend, having originated the role of Eva Peron in Evita on Broadway (where she won a Tony), originated Fantine in Les Miserables in the West End (where she won a Olivier), and has been in everything from Anything Goes to Sweeney Todd, to Gypsy (where her turn as Mama Rose is maybe the best of all time). She is also 68 years old.
When LuPone stepped on stage at the Grammys to sing “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” from Evita in tribute to its composer, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, she rocked it! LuPone was on pitch, never wavered, and sang in the original key, the same as her first time when she was 30. Just think about that. Almost 40 years later, she can still sing the song almost as well as she did the first time. AND SHE DID HER HAND RAISE THING AT THE END!
After 40 years of TV and musicals, berating people for cell phone usage in the theatre, taking on some of the most beloved roles of all time, several films, and writing a memoir, she’s still got it. And that’s what we should be celebrating at the Grammys – musical greatness like #QueenPatti.