Every 2015 GRAMMYs Performances Graded from AC/DC to Pharrell


The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards debuted last night, Sunday, Feb 8 with much old school fanfare and culminated with poignant, socio-politically relevant “glory.” It just took about 3 million years to finish. With an abundance of performances (More than ever before! Yeah, no shit. I had to tape The Walking Dead AND Better Call Saul!), how did the venerable (and not-so venerable) talents of the music industry fare?

AC/DC, “Highway to Hell”

Yes, they’re old. Yes. there are better performances to come. But it’s AC/DC! If I could be half as happy as AC/DC performing at the 2015 GRAMMYs by the time I’m their age, then I’ll consider my life fulfilled. B+

Ariana Grande, “Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart”

Hm. Airy. Nice. Boring. Ariana Grande had a big year in 2014, but I for one won’t miss her if she suddenly becomes irrelevant. C-

Jessie J and Tom Jones, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”

Oof. No one cares about this song, no one really cares about Tom Jones (anymore), and no one really cares about Jessie J (at least in America). Sorry, Jessie J! I still kinda like you when I remember you’re a thing! D

Miranda Lambert, “Little Red Wagon”

I’m normally not a fan of country music but count me in for feminist rock with a country twang. Miranda Lambert rocks! I might have to pick up her album. Well done, GRAMMYs making me buy music. Well done! A

Kanye West, “Only One”

As a total Kanye evangelist, I’m going to love anything he does. (Knock him for whatever he does in the public, but his music is always interesting.) His performance of “Only One,” an ode to his late mother and young daughter, captures Kanye’s understated, vulnerable side that people don’t often give him credit for sharing with the world. He can be an asshole, but he can also be emotional and sweet. B+

Madonna, “Living for Love”

Madonna knows how to put on a show. She’s strange, pretentious, Autotuned to hell, and a consummate performer. She may be (way) more style over substance, but why should we be surprised? She’s the original Material Girl, after all. B-

Ed Sheeran feat. Herbie Hancock, Questlove, and John Mayer “Thinking Out Loud” 

I know I’m stuck in 2013 but I just realized Ed Sheeran is kinda hot. Dat vest! I could’ve used more Herbie Hancock, though. B+

ELO, “Evil Woman” plus ELO and Ed Sheeran, “Mr. Blue Sky”

Old pleasant rock meets new pleasant rock with this heartfelt, adorable mashup. Paul McCartney dancing and singing along is probably my favorite part of this whole GRAMMYs moment. A-

Gwen Stefani and Adam Levine, “My Heart Is Open”

What was that? Why is Gwen Stefani singing like that? Why is Adam Levine still Adam Levine? Can we get more No Doubt? All this performance leaves me with is questions. C-

Hozier and Annie Lennox, “Take Me to Church” and “I Put A Spell On You”

Let’s put one of the darkest, catchiest songs taking over today’s culture and segway into one of the darkest, catchiest songs of all time. Sounds good to me! A++

Pharrell, Hans Zimmer, and Lang Lang “Happy”

Is this a political statement? Is this an ironic intense version of Pharrell’s light (read:annoying as fuck) song of joy? Well, it’s definitely a cultural touchstone (or at least trying to be). B-

Katy Perry, “By the Grace of God”

Beautiful and understated, this is a side of Katy Perry that we don’t often see in her performances. (See: The Superbowl or worse her racist AMA outing.) Preceded by a beautiful statement by Brooke Axtell, this ode to survivors of domestic violence shows that music matters. Additionally, when music matters to the artist performing, then the song feels all the more significant. A-

Imagine Dragons, “Shots”

Um, is this a commercial or actual GRAMMY performance? It was a Live commercial for Target. F for fuck commercials. (Not like the entire GRAMMY awards ceremony isn’t a giant commercial for the mainstream Western music industry!)

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, “Cheek to Cheek”

Something my grandmother and I can both enjoy, Gaga and Bennett are a match made in New York Italian heaven. As a Puerto Rican from New Jersey, I can totally relate to that. A-

Usher and Stevie Wonder, “If It’s Magic”

Usher doing Stevie Wonder accompanied by a harp and then by Wonder himself on the harmonica? SIGN ME UP! A

Eric Church, “Give Me Back My Hometown”

Country music = bathroom break! It’s performed well, but it’s not my thing. Plus, the name of the song terrifies me a bit. Who took your hometown? Why do you want it back? What exactly is different about your hometown? Hmmmm? I do like the bit of post-rock sound the beginning of the song has, though. Post-rock: it’s a thing. C

Brandy Clark and Dwight Yoakam, “Hold My Hand”

More country, but I’m a sucker for acoustic guitar. Okay, okay not all country is that bad. #NotAllCountry B

Rihanna, Kanye West, and Sir Paul McCartney, “FourFiveSeconds”

I’m all about it—Rihanna kicks ass. This is the strongest I’ve ever seen her perform. McCartney and West make this all the stronger. Surprisingly raw and powerful for how conventional this anthem could sound (as in if just McCartney performed it),  A+ 

Mary J. Blige and Sam Smith, “Stay with Me”

I don’t know if this is the Darkchild version, but I know it’s wonderful. Smith had a great night (winning four GRAMMYs), and he showed us exactly why he deserves the recognition. Holding his own with the incomparable Queen of R&B, Smith makes us all want to stay with them. Can they tour together? I would LOVE that. (More hypothetical money spent, thanks to the GRAMMYs!)  A

Juanes “Juntos”

I like Juanes, and the message of “Juntos” is powerful. (Juntos means together in Spanish.) But “La Camisa Negra” imprinted itself onto my brain so deeply that every single one of his songs now sounds like “La Camisa Negra.” Every. Single. One. B but downgraded to C for invoking horrifying memories of “La Camisa Negra” played on loop for months and months and months.

Sia feat. Maddie Ziegler and Kristin Wiig, “Chandelier”

Weird and wonderful, as per usual. Until Ziegler started to perform with Wiig, I thought Wiig was Ziegler after a growth spurt. Thanks to Twitter, I know that it was really #WiigInAWig.

Chris Martin and Beck, “Heart Is a Drum”

Hm. I went downstairs to the other TV to tape The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul for most of this performance. B-

Beyoncé, “Take My Hand, Precious Hand”

Sexy, futuristic angel of soul, Beyoncé doesn’t disappoint. Not even the impossibility of her tiny waste could distract from the emotion and cultural resonance of this moment. A

Common and John Legend, “Glory”

Urgent, vibrant, and beautiful, Common and John Legend end the overwrought GRAMMYs on an important note with their rendition of “Glory” from Ava Duvernay’s Selma. Have you not seen Selma? Ignore everything you’ve heard except for this post: GO SEE IT. Ugh, fine, GRAMMYs. I’ll buy this song, too. A+

Every 2015 GRAMMYs Performances Graded from AC/DC to Pharrell

3 thoughts on “Every 2015 GRAMMYs Performances Graded from AC/DC to Pharrell

  1. Haha thanks for this! Very fun to read. I LOLed at “Why is Adam Levine still Adam Levine?” I unfortunately missed out on the Grammy’s this year, but this post makes me want to scour the internet for some of the best [and worst, tbh] performances. Some of them sound so awesome! Like Hozier and Annie Lennox omgggg!!

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