The Grammy Nominations Concert had its share of surprises in the shortlists for many of its big awards Friday night, but the performance aspect of the show also included a few fairly interesting collaborations and renditions of some of the year’s biggest songs, providing what could be a nice precursor to a jam-packed Grammy telecast in February.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis continued their big year by kicking off the night with the inescapable “Thrift Shop.” “Can we go thrift shopping?” a young girl asked outside the arena before the rapper and producer barged in, busting through door security with deep-voiced hook man Wanz and their trumpet player in tow. After performing the tried-and-true sing-walk down the aisles of the venue, Macklemore and Lewis bounded onto a stage lined with various thrifty come-ups, featuring similarly-clad backup dancers and Lewis in particular adding extra percussion. The duo also proved one of the night’s most formidable artists in terms of nominations, garnering nods for Best New Artist, Song of the Year (“Same Love”) and Album of the Year.
|THE GRAMMYS | Full Nominees List|
The Grammys are often known for intriguing mashups and collaborations one might not normally expect — and the nominations concert was no different, first featuring a Bill Withers tribute performed by Keith Urban and Miguel. The duo met in the middle of their respective genres — country and soul — to croon a soulful, rocking “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Urban wailed on the guitar while Miguel provided backing instrumentation on a laptop — including a forlorn violin — while trading off on lead vocals. “Blurred Lines,” the inescapable hit of 2013’s summer, got its own collaboration performance as Robin Thicke and T.I. teamed up with Earth, Wind & Fire to put a horn-infused, slightly reggae slant on the tune.
“Royals” may have finally been conquered on the Hot 100 this week, but that didn’t stop Lorde from putting in a commanding performance of her No. 1 (and Song of the Year-nominated) tune. The antithesis to over-the-top production, the live performance of “Royals” accentuated the track’s minimalist production with, at first, nothing but occasional percussion and the slightest underlying bass. Lorde herself? Captivating; even if one had heard “Royals” a thousand times, it was tough to look away.
Though she was caught in the midst of an Australian tour, Taylor Swift took some time to perform for the Grammy crowd during her Sydney set. The country-pop chameleon leapt into a rousing rendition of “Red” cut “I Knew You Were Trouble.,” performing in a church- or castle-esque setting in a flowing white dress while a masquerade ball of dancers surrounded her. Right before the second chorus, the dancers tore off Swift’s dress, revealing a short, tight black dress beneath.
Also on the international beat was Katy Perry, performing “Roar” in front of fans in Canada. “I hope this song has inspired you guys and helped bring out that kind of self-strength,” she said before delving into the “Prism” tune, which hit No. 1 in the U.S. and earned her a Song of the Year nomination. “I hope you guys have found your roar through all of this.” The performance itself was largely acoustic, shedding bombastic tendencies for intimacy with an acoustic guitar and stand-up bass backing her.