A match made in Grammy heaven? Not so much: Both Cyrus and John were on their absolute best behavior. Or, put less charitably, their performance of John’s “Tiny Dancer” was straight down the middle of the road and never captured what makes them both so magnetic.
He ceded most of his 1971 classic to Cyrus, who took lead on the verses as John tickled the ivories. In a bit of comic relief, Cyrus, who recently debated Stephen Colbert over who’s the bigger Elton John fan, looked like she was on the verge of crawling atop his piano.
Kesha wore country-tinged suffragette white when she took the stage at the 60th Grammy Awards. So did all of the women around her – Camila Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Julia Michaels, Andra Day and members of the Resistance Revival Chorus, a collective of women who come together to sing protest songs – who all joined her onstage for what was nothing less than a show of force.
The performance served as a vulnerable, triumphant indictment of her years being disbelieved, left in the wilderness and unable to do the thing she was born to: sing on a stage like this.
If there was a dry eye in Madison Square Garden when she hit the quivering high notes of “Praying,” I defy you to find them in there. After Janelle Monae’s assertive, insistent Time’s Up speech, Kesha finally got the forum she was due.
It’s turning into a Bruno Mars kind of evening — unless Kendrick Lamar has anything to say about it. In the song of the year category, the Mars single “That’s What I Like” took down the mighty “Despacito,” which ruled the charts across 2017, and furthered Jay-Z’s losing streak.
Jay-Z was nominated for “The Story of O.J.,” one of his night-leading eight nominations, but he once again came up short. Also on the losing end were Julia Michaels’ “Issues” and “1-800-273-8255,” by Logic with Alessia Cara and Khalid.
“That’s What I Like” was written by Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus and Jonathan Yip.
In performing “Tiny Dancer,” Elton John and Miley Cyrus opted for a song that, while now a certified classic, never earned John or his co-writer Bernie Taupin Grammy recognition.
Released as part of John’s 1971 album, “Madman Across the Water,” the song was issued as a single in early 1972, but neither the album nor the song passed muster during their eligibility periods in the eyes of the Recording Academy.
Eligible for the 14th Grammys, “Madman …” had some tough competition. Carole King’s “Tapestry” won album of the year, her “You’ve Got a Friend” won song of the year and “It’s Too Late” snagged record of the year. A year later when “Tiny Dancer” was eligible – but snubbed – Roberta Flack’s soul ballad “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” won both song and record of the year.
"That's What I Like" songwritersChristopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Bruno Mars, Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus and Jonathan Yip won the 2018 Grammy Award for song of the year.
The other nominees were:
"Despacito" — Ramón Ayala Rodriguez, Justin Bieber, Jason "Poo Bear" Boyd, Erika Ender, Luis Fonsi & Marty James Garton, songwriters (Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber)
In one of the most emotional performances of the night, country artists Maren Morris, the Brothers Osborne and Eric Church sang “Tears in Heaven” in honor of the victims of the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas.
Each of the performers onstage was on the roster of the festival, which was interrupted by gunfire on Oct. 1. Fifty-seven people and the gunman died in the shooting.
The four singers performed the Eric Clapton weeper “Tears in Heaven,” written by the artist after the death of his son. Before doing so, they acknowledged the tragedy -- but sound issues garbled some of the comments.
Janelle Monáe addressed the crowd at the Grammys on Sunday night with a speech about the #TimesUp movement. “We come in peace, but we mean business," she said. "And to those who would dare try to silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s Up.”
Janelle Monáe opened a poignant Time’s Up segment on Sunday’s Grammys with an impassioned call to action.
We say Time’s Up for pay inequality, discrimination or harassment of any kind and the abuse of power. Just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us well… We come in peace, but we mean business.
The Grammys are all about “moments,” and one that maybe stood out for the wrong reasons was Sting performing his 1987 hit “Englishman in New York” onstage at Sunday’s Grammys.
The performance was fine, if missing the loping bounce provided by its original band, which included saxophonist Branford Marsalis and drummer Manu Katché on Sting’s second solo album “...Nothing Like the Sun,” which was, as mentioned, released 30 years ago.
Sting wore a striped shirt and blazer getup that looked very early Police, and then pop-reggae artist Shaggy showed up to lead a watery dancehall breakdown before the song settled back into it’s pleasant midtempo home. Oh, and Shaggy’s biggest song, “It Wasn’t Me,” was the big punchline on the Grammys’ earlier sketch, “Subway Carpool Karaoke,” which was previously filmed with James Corden. That song was released only 18 years ago.