A METHOD TO THEIR MADNESS
Mother Monster returned big time, Janelle Monáe mesmerized and Brandi Carlile shouted with a whisper. Some of the winning Grammy performances Sunday:
Lady Gaga sang an emotional rendition of “Shallow” at the Grammy Awards, turning the duet from the Oscar-nominated film “A Star Is Born” into an allGaga affair that further propelled Sunday’s performance-driven telecast.
The singer returned to her fierce pop roots, and unlike her film alter ego, Gaga did not shy from the camera. Instead she embraced the extreme close-ups and dance elements of the song, opting for glitz on the smokefilled stage rather than the stripped-down performance of the single. — Nardine Saad Janelle Monáe: Dressed in black-and-white rubber, Monáe commanded more than a pianist for her frenetic, mesmerizing take on “Make Me Feel.”
Few contemporary artists command a stage as confidently as Monáe, and her precisely choreographed performance served as a reminder. In her first Grammys telecast in 2011, she joined Bruno Mars and B.o.B. for a medley. Fittingly, on a night when women owned the stage — as performers and winners — Monáe was solo, front and center, singing the “Make Me Feel” lyrics: “It's like I'm powerful with a little bit of tender/An emotional sexual bender/Mess me up, yeah, but no one does it better/ There's nothin' better.”
The same could be said of her Grammy set. — Randall Roberts Camila Cabello: In an extraordinary year for Latin music, the Grammys asked Cabello to kick off the telecast. Her zesty, colorful “Havana” was a fine start for the telecast, the performance opening inside a neonlighted bedroom set that, within a minute, dropped her out into a Havana street scene.
She was joined by the immaculately dressed Young Thug for his verse, along with peer J Balvin and standard-bearing Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval.
Bonus points to Ricky Martin, who emerged at the end of her show with a new rakish mustache and a welcoming nod of recognition from one Latin-pop crossover hit to another. — August Brown
Brandi Carlile: She sent a powerful message at the Grammys on Sunday: Sometimes less really is more.
On a cavernous stage filled with just her band and the softest of spotlights, the Americana darling brandished an acoustic guitar for an unvarnished version of “The Joke,” which was up for song and record of the year. The accompanying album, “By the Way, I Forgive You,” also was up for album of the year and scored Carlile three awards in the Americana categories in the pre-telecast ceremony. — James Reed Dua Lipa, St. Vincent: The tag team performance by British dream pop singer Dua Lipa and St. Vincent — teased during a commercial break as “two exciting artists sharing one Grammy moment” — saw them connecting as if mirror images of each other.
With matching black bobs, they moved through a medley of St. Vincent’s Masseduction and Lipa’s hit with Calvin Harris, “One Kiss,” and did so as if hoping to mass-seduce all 25 million or so viewers. — Randall Roberts Travis Scott: The Grammys couldn’t get Donald Glover or Kendrick Lamar to perform, but Travis Scott brought enough guests to the stage for the both of them. Scott’s mini-medley started regally, with guest vocal turns from James Blake and Philip Bailey (of Earth, Wind & Fire) for Scott’s “Stop Trying to Be God.” But soon enough, dozens of dancers rushed the stage to head-bang and circle-pit or climb a mesh cube, where Travis rapped “No Bystanders” from the inside.
Scott’s performance was in line with his moshing, noise-driven solo sets where he artfully translates that basement-show energy onto arena stages. He makes aggression poignant, and melancholy melodies feel allconsuming. No box can contain him, and this one didn’t either. At the end, he too scaled the cube and dove off the side to crowd-surf. If the Grammys couldn’t land many of rap’s biggest names tonight, Scott did his best to help carry the genre on his own shoulders. — August Brown
CAMILA CABELLO is joined by Ricky Martin for a performance of her hit “Havana.” Martin’s appearance was a nod from one Latin-pop crossover star to another.