Music industry analytics — sabermetrics aren’t limited to sports geeks — indicate that the biggest boost in sales comes from performing at the Super Bowl halftime show. Second best is making an appearance on the Grammy Awards.
So rest assured that Justin Timberlake’s “Man of the Woods” will top the Billboard charts after the Super Bowl. But who’s likely to get a big bounce after Sunday’s 60th annual Grammy Awards? Here’s our analysis. Analytics will follow in a few days at your favorite music nerds’ website. For the record, during the 3½ hours of the televised Grammys, only nine trophies were presented while 18 performances took place.
Bruno Mars. Even if he dresses down in track pants and a hoodie to do some fancy dancing in tennis shoes, he charms. It’s his voice. His moves. His beats. And his likability. No matter how many trophies (six plus best engineered album) he took home, he wins. Again. And again. While collecting his album of the year prize (a safe move by the Recording Academy), he gave a shout-out to Minneapolis’ own producer/writers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for being an influence.
Kendrick Lamar. The rapper extraordinaire opened the Grammys with a four-song medley, with each number featuring a different vibe dealing with the state of the nation. U2’s Bono and the Edge joined him for one tune but the songs weren’t familiar to the masses even if the rapper’s “Damn” was 2017’s biggest seller. Yes, Lamar, who captured five prizes Sunday, is mainstream but he’s not household famous. His performance was powerful but hard to define. However, his acceptance speeches were honest, direct and humble. That’s an admirable way for a freshly minted star to act. He’ll get a bigger bounce from the Grammys than Bruno.
Pink. She dressed down in baggie bluejeans and off-the-shoulder white blouse. Accompanied only by a pianist and a sign language interpreter, she delivered the ballad “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.” As Pink, arguably the most believable pop singer on the planet, became more intense vocally, her skin turned redder and redder. Stunning.
Las Vegas tribute. Three country acts — the little known Brothers Osborne, rising star Maren Morris and superstar Eric Church — each took a verse and shared the choruses on a stately reading of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” with the names of 58 country music fans killed at a Vegas concert in October. Very moving.
Jim Gaffigan. Besides being a finalist for best comedy album, he had the unlikely assignment of introducing Little Big Town, the country quartet. But he seized the moment with some quick quips. “I’ve never heard of me either” ... “I’m looking forward to seeing Dave Chappelle win; it’s great he let me write his acceptance speech” ... “My father was in the group ABBA; my mother is Elton John.” Three zingers means Gaffigan was memorable.
Dave Chappelle. He did capture best comedy album — and the hearts of all viewers. “I’m honored to win an award — finally,” he deadpanned. He then thanked his staff and family and abruptly ended with: “See you Monday.” The audience at Madison Square Garden roared.
Janelle Monae. The singer/actress gave an impassioned — no, fiery — speech about “coming in peace but meaning business.” She spoke about equal pay, harassment, discrimination and abuse endured by women in the music industry and the world in general. Then, she introduced Kesha singing “Praying” with an all-star cast.
If you win multiple trophies in the pre-telecast (during which 76 Grammys were presented), does that give you a bump? Good question. Probably not if you don’t get on the televised portion, which was the case with double Americana winner Jason Isbell.
Jay-Z. He may have had the most nominations (eight) but he chose not to perform. And host James Corden’s shout-out to him early in the evening for receiving an industry icon award a night earlier (“you’re inspiring, uplifting and challenging to your fans”) seemed patronizing. Jay-Z doesn’t need a consolation prize even if he didn’t take home any trophies.
Alessia Cara. She won best new artist early in the show and had a cute line about pretending to win a Grammy in the shower when she was a kid but forgetting to work on an acceptance speech. However, she didn’t get to perform until the end of the overlong evening. That’s a long time to connect the dots. She deserved better.
Ed Sheeran. He merited two trophies in pop categories but the voice of one of the biggest albums (“Divide”) and biggest songs (“Shape of You”) of 2017 didn’t earn nominations in the top three categories in which he was eligible — album, song and record of the year. So he stayed home.
Kesha. It’s hard to argue with the sentiment and power of her “Praying,” about that man who did her wrong. But, accompanied by Andra Day, Cyndi Lauper and others, she became so wrapped up that she ventured into the territory of excessive histrionic overemoting.
Sting. Singing “An Englishman in New York” was too obvious. Doing “Subway Karaoke” with Corden and reggae star Shaggy was corny and stagy. At least Sting showed he has a sense of humor.