Despite being designed to award artists for the greatest achievements in music, the Grammy Awards have become more about the performances than the actual prizes in recent years, and 2014 was no exception. Although they only gave out 10 trophies on air, the show ran an hour and a half over, filled with performers from every genre of music, featuring legends and newcomers alike. From Beyonce to Macklemore to Pink, everyone tried to have the biggest, the best, or the most spectacular performance of the night, and so we thought it only fair to reward their efforts with some awards of our own.
Best Indicator of What the 2015 Grammys Will Look Like - Beyonce and Jay ZDon't pretend that you haven't already learned this routine. Her surprise, self-titled album came out too late to be eligible for this year's awards, but Beyonce still had the honors of kicking the night off, and she did so with a performance of "Drunk In Love" with a performance the blended Flashdance with the "Cell Block Tango," and served as an excellent preview of what to expect from next year's show, when she will likely be nominated in every category she's eligible for (and probably a few she's not). If this is what the future holds for the Grammys, we're completely on board.
Most Likely to Be Your Dad's Favorite Performance - Paul McCartney and Ringo StarrLast night's awards spent a lot of time celebrating the legacy of The Beatles and their influence on music, including two separate performances by the group's two living alumni, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. First Starr busted out his best "dad at a wedding" dance moves for a rendition of his latest single, "Photograph," and then, after a long-winded intro from Julia Roberts, he joined McCartney and his technicolor piano for "Queenie Eye." We're all for honoring musical legends, but it seemed pretty clear that these two performances were aimed squarely at the middle-aged father demographic. On the bright side, though, we're glad to have found out that we have a lot of the same dance moves as Yoko Ono.
The "Pay Attention, Gentlemen" Award - John LegendJohn Legend busted out all of his smoothest moves to perform his latest single "All of Me," including several meaning ful camera pans to where his wife, Chrissy Teigen was sitting in the audience. Teigen was conveniently the only person sat under a spotlight, which allowed him to ensure that the entire world knew exactly who inspired his heartfelt ballad. That sound you heard in the middle of the song last night? That was women all around the world, smacking their boyfriends and husbands in the arm, and demanding to know why they can't be as romantic as Legend.
Most Likely to Make You Dance Around Your Bedroom - Daft Punk, Nile Rogers, Pharrell Williams, and Stevie WonderIt's a testament to "Get Lucky" that even when Pharrell swapped out his absurd, giant Mountie hat for one that was somehow bigger and weirder, everyone was too busy getting down to notice. And we do mean everyone: from Beyonce and Jay Z to Steven Tyler to Yoko Ono to Bruno Mars, everyone stopped what they were doing the second that bass line kicked in and danced, and for five minutes, the Grammys stopped being a long slog of commercials and piano ballads and felt like a proper celebration.
Best Tribute to a Previous Performance - PinkIn 2010, Pink gave one of the most memorable Grammy performances of all time, when she sang "Glitter in the Air" while in midair, performing tricks on aerial silks. This year, she decided to pay tribute to to that performance by busting out the aerial tricks on more time to sing "Try." Unfortunately, all of the incredible flips and spins only served as a reminder of how much the previous instance blew everyone away, and left most people feeling as if they were experiencing deja vu. However, she did help guilt everyone watching into renewing their gym membership, so she still comes out on top.
Bonus: Best Supporting Moustache - Nate Ruess. We don't know what possessed the lead singer of fun. to grow that facial hair, but it only served to distract everyone from the powerhouse vocal competition that was happening between him and Pink when they duetted on "Just Give Me a Reason."
Performance of the Night That Nobody Saw Coming - Kendrick Lamar and Imagine DragonsWhen it was first announced that Kendrick Lamar would be performing with Imagine Dragons, everyone was skeptical of what would result. Sure, the Grammys are all about surprising collaborations, but it seemed impossible for these two artists to mesh well. Turns out that we were all wrong: once they hit the stage, the audience both at home and in the arena woke up, and their mash up of "Radioactive" and "MAAD City" was the most exciting, addicting, memorable performance of the night. For five minutes, it seemed like the Grammys finally lived up to their promise and delivered something worthy of "the biggest night in music."
Most Unfortunate Performance Slot - Kacey MusgravesBeing the next big country star wasn't enough to save Kacey Musgraves from the thankless task of attempting to follow Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons. Before anyone had the chance to recover from having the roof blown off the Staple Center, everything immediately shifted to Musgraves, who performed her hit single "Follow Your Arrow." If she had performed at any other point in the evening, everyone would have been able to appreciate the song's clever lyrics and sweet message, but the abrupt tonal shift didn't accommodate her charm and left everyone feeling slightly underwhelmed. At least she has two shiny Grammy awards to take comfort in.
Best Guest Appearance - Queen LatifahWhen it came time for them to perform their hit song, "Same Love," Macklemore and Ryan Lewis decided to make some history by marrying 32 couples, both straight and gay, on air at the Grammys. Unfortunately for them, their touching performance was overshadowed by the presence of Queen Latifah as the officiant. She didn't do much other than invite the couples to exchange rings, and then pronounce them to be married, but somehow, in that short period of time, she managed to steal the show with nothing but sheer enthusiasm and a great dress. Not even Madonna could drag anyone's attention from the Queen, and couples all around the world put in requests to have her officiate their weddings as well.
Runner Up: Ryan Lewis, the silent, mysterious counterpoint to Macklemore, who popped up at random points throughout the performance to help guide people to their mark. Part producer, part choreographer, all enigma.
Most Cathartic Head-Banging - Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift won the Battle of the Melancholy Piano Ballads with a performance of "All Too Well," arguably the best song on her album Red, and the exact moment of victory came when she started whipping her hair back and forth as the song build up the the bridge. Swift gets a lot of flack for her dancing, but her head banging may be her best move of all - at once cathartic, ridiculous and a little bit melodramatic, it embodies everything that a good break up song should.
Most Likely to Remind You to Catch Up on Sleepy Hollow - Katy Perry and Juicy J Well, now we know what's on Katy Perry's DVR. The pop star took her new song "Dark Horse" in a distinctly witchier direction last night, with a performance that included skeletal trees, wishing wells, and a pole dancing routine performed on oversized broomsticks, all of which served to answer that eternal question: how do 18th century witches feel about hip hop beats? It might have seemed like an odd aesthetic choice at first, but it was one of the most visually stunning performances of the night. However, we do feel like she missed a trick by not having Juicy J dress up as Ichabod Crane. If anyone can pull off those giant gold buttons, it's him.
Biggest Middle Finger From CBS - Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Lindsey Buckingham, and Dave Grohl One of the most hyped performances of this year's Grammys featured Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age teaming up with Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham and Dave Grohl to close out the night and bring the house down. Unfortunately for fans who sat through the entire evening in anticipation, the performance was interrupted by random ads and the credits started rolling halfway through Queens of the Stone Age's song. That the Grammys decided to cut everyone off halfway through was surprising, considering the amount of press the collaboration had gotten in the run up to the awards, but interrupting one of the few exciting, energetic performances really added insult to injury. We're not the only ones upset, either - Reznor tweeted about being upset later in the night.
The single girl is by no means the new girl in town. In fact, as a culture, we’re kind of obsessed with her.
She’s been the subject of chatter throughout 2011 and 2012. Women’s magazines have catered to the single girl by creating lists of cities most likely to end her unaccompanied plight or techniques for keeping a boyfriend. When that didn’t stick and the collective started to realize “Single Girl” wasn’t an affliction to be cured, but rather a state of being to be acknowledged, we switched to praising her for her strength and for changing the makeup of the single man and traditional relationships, like in Kate Bolick’s 2011 Atlantic cover story. The U.S. Census bureau reported that a record 17.8 million women were living on their own in 2011, bringing some much needed numerical support to this supposed phenomenon. Plus, women's health issues were some of the most hotly debated topics in the 2012 presidential election. But throughout all of this, we’re often talking about the upper echelon of single-ladydom – the benefits of being on one’s own, kicking ass and taking names in what used to be a “man’s world,” so to speak. But in 2012, the topic of the single girl reached new levels of legitimacy, especially on television.
The exalted (and equally despised, as Fox News recently reminded us) Single Girl of cultural note gained layers and stages within her seemingly one-note solo path. The most notable layer being that of the Poor, Single Girl life stage.
Series like HBO’s Girls, CBS’ 2 Broke Girls, Fox’s New Girl, and even reality shows like Bravo’s Gallery Girls bring the plight of the broke girl into homes across the country. (In its heyday, Sex and the City may have been all about the single girl, but certainly never the financially strapped one.) It brings into relief the fact that women exist in this space where our hair isn’t always perfect. Our makeup doesn’t look like it does in the movies. Our socks don’t always match and sometimes we struggle to pay the gas bill. It’s not just a punchline and it doesn’t make us deadbeats or outliers, it’s simply a life stage. Bringing that fact into the stark light of television for the masses brings an air of legitimacy to what is very much a reality for many girls in the no-man’s land between college and middle age.
When it comes in the form of Zooey Deschanel’s doe-eyed New Girl, the pop culture advent isn’t universally embraced. The polka-dot-loving, grade-school-sing-a-long, Christmas-morning-pajama-loving girl becomes a beacon of infantilism. In fact, Deschanel’s on-screen and off-screen personas are to blame for the notion “that it's never been easier, more fun or more acceptable to remain locked in the warm, comfy embrace of childhood,” according to a Jezebel post by Girls writer Deborah Schoeneman.
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But in Season 2 of the Fox series, Deschanel’s Jess added another characteristic to her former Manic Pixie Dream girl: a lack of cash flow. Jess lost her job, and with it, her schoolgirl antics. She became a penniless weirdo struggling to find a sliver of happiness in a reality that just handed her a fresh dose of harsh reality. This manifested itself in Jess’ multi-episode quest to displace her unhappiness by finding an emotion-free sex-friend set-up with a Creed fan, which took over and let the foundation of the problem take a back seat until Episode 7, when Jess’ financial constraints finally caught up to her. Schmidt cut off the gas to the apartment and Jess finally had to face the music and get a job that probably wasn’t going to pay her big bucks so she could suffer along with the rest of us.
Of course Girls has been throwing down the broke lady gauntlet since day one. Lena Dunham’s Hannah is cut off by her parents, sending her on a journey through awful job interviews, thankless jobs, unpaid internships, and uncomfortable discussions about where she’s going to get money for her next rent payment. The series brings into focus a range of circumstances that might befall a single, broke girl living in Brooklyn, and the diverting and rarely blissful moments that help to distract from the truth of her precarious lifestyle. It’s cathartic for those living the awful (and sometimes awesome) truth, and comprehensive enough to allow for audiences at different life stages to embrace the reality they may not know themselves.
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But the broke girl isn’t a phenomenon pegged to the folks willing to shell out 15 bucks a month for HBO or risk the virus-ridden expanse of pirated Internet television. Even sweeping, broadcast audiences get a watered-down, broad stroke version of the broke girl thanks to Whitney Cummings' 2 Broke Girls sitcom. However, Max and Caroline get a punchline-chasing raw deal. It’s one thing to be broke and scraping by, allowing oneself to be tempted by the evil incarnate that is a pre-approved credit card, it’s quite another to dine out at a soup kitchen to save some dough. However, CBS’ broke girls have done both in Season 2 of the hit series. But broad strokes or not, the series is bringing the plight of the poor girl into the larger pop culture consuming consciousness.
Of course, the true mark of the poor girl as a trend is that she’s even infiltrated the realm of reality television. It’s a place that generally embraces personalities in three distinct categories: the rich and/or famous, the ridiculous and wacky, or the suckers competing for some overblown prize. Gallery Girls is admittedly a subject for hate-watching, but its content raised a question about this “poor girl” trend. Could it be a real movement in television?
Yes, it could. Not everyone in Bravo’s set of art-world ladies treads the broke girl line, but for the most part, finance as a struggle is a recurring theme for the series. Freelance photographer Angela Pham has to supplement her sporadic income with a waitressing job and modeling jobs here and there. Gallery owners Chantal Chadwick and Claudia Martinez Reardon struggle to pay the bills for their business and Reardon frets about making good on a business loan from her parents. Kerri Lisa works two full-time jobs in order to pursue her art world dreams… and keep her dream apartment in the West Village. By most stretches of the imagination, these reality starlets aren’t exactly the picture of the broke girl that we’ve come to expect (how many struggling ladies can drape themselves in such luxurious couture?), but the way in which their struggles are picked out and emphasized in the editing room before the episodes hit the television is an indication of the stories audiences are seeking.
It’s not enough for a post-graduate girl to be fun and fancy-free, wearing high-wasted pinstripe skirts and twirling her hair. That’s not what a “girl” is anymore. In 2012, the definition in popular culture evolved and diversified. Girls, in the non-pig-tail-appropriate sense of the word, became pre-adults, with all the faculties of a full-fledged grownup, but none of the practical experience. She’s a gawky fawn, learning to stand on her own two feet. Every once in a while, she won’t have enough dough for the electricity bill. She’ll hoof it home to mom and dad to get a short-term loan to stay afloat. She’ll accept a series of odd jobs to stay in the black. But all the while she’s growing; she’s working toward something other than a big, handsome man to hold her hand. Television series like Girls and New Girl have taken even the most adorable little lady off her pedestal, bringing her down to the level at which we feel free to explore, dissect, judge, and be entertained by her journey to full-on adulthood.
It’s a product of a changing environment – Pew Research reports that the number of nuptials has decreased by 29 percent since 1960, the average marrying age has risen from early 20s to 26.5 for women, and since the early ‘90s U.S. Census data has shown that there are more women than men attending college. That girl isn’t an anomaly and she isn’t hiding. She’s sitting next to you on the subway. She’s unavoidable. But the shift is also a product of acknowledgement. Every time audiences tune into one of these shows touting a broke girl heroine, they’re buying in. They’re accepting this financially-challenged, almost-adult. She’s not a stoned slacker or lost little lady. She’s a human, dealing with the struggles of early adulthood and she’s getting there.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: Patrick McElhenney/FOX; Cliff Lipson/CBS]
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Accepting the Career Achievement Award at the Casting Society of America’s annual Artios Awards on Monday night (29Oct12) in Beverly Hills, Affleck revealed he initially signed on to oversee the gripping drama, starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, but he had to pass due to a deal he has with his wife to always put family first.
The actor/director said, "I was sure nothing would happen with the show. Now I hate the f**king show. I’ve never seen it."
Libby Goldstein, who helped assemble the cast for Homeland, poked fun at Affleck during the awards ceremony by reading a poem she had written about his decision to step down as director.
Other 2012 Artios Award winners for Outstanding Achievement in Casting included:
Big Budget Feature (Drama) - The Help (Kerry Barden & Paul Schnee)
Big Budget Feature (Comedy) - Crazy, Stupid, Love (Mindy Marin & Kara Lipson)
Feature - Studio or Independent (Drama) - My Week With Marilyn (Deborah Aquila, Tricia Wood & Nina Gold)
Feature - Studio or Independent (Comedy) - The Artist (Heidi Levitt & Michael Sanford)
Low Budget Feature - Martha Marcy May Marlene (Susan Shopmaker)
Television Pilot (Drama) - Homeland (Junie Lowry Johnson, Libby Goldstein, Julie Tucker, Lisa Mae Fincannon & Craig Fincannon)
Television Pilot (Comedy) - Girls (Jennifer Euston)
Television Series (Drama) - The Good Wife (Mark Saks & John Andrews) and Homeland (Judy Henderson, Craig Fincannon & Lisa Mae Fincannon)
Television Series (Comedy) - Girls (Jennifer Euston)
Television Movie or Mini Series - Game Change (David Rubin, Richard Hicks, Pat Moran, Kathleen Chopin & Anne Davison)