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Grammys 2022 Review: Dancing Over a Low Bar

At least the show wasn't as messy as the months leading up to it

grammys 2022 review
Jon Batiste and Silk Sonic, photos by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; BTS, photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy; Olivia Rodrigo, photo by Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images
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    The Return of Music’s Biggest Night: The stage was set for another divisive showing from the Recording Academy in the months leading up to the 64th annual Grammy Awards. Delays aside, the byproduct of rules changes led to some controversial nominations, like Marilyn Manson and DaBaby getting nods via Ye’s Donda, while more purposeful acknowledgements gave credence to the “cancel culture isn’t real” conceit. Add in the weird omission of certain shoe-in talents from their expected categories, and the 2022 Grammys were lining themselves up for the “irrelevant” reviews all over again.

    By the skin of its teeth, the awards show generally avoided that branding. There were low points, to be sure, but considering how basement-deep the bar was set in the first place (both by the previous week’s Oscars and all awards shows in the history of industry plaudits), the Grammys danced into “decent” status without outright outlandish controversy.

    While producers decided not to stick to the pandemic-induced, kinetically entertaining “in the round” format of 2021, this year’s show was still focused heavily on the music. Not awarding the music, mind you; only nine trophies were awarded during the three-and-a-half hour broadcast, with most gramophones being dolled out in the pre-show Premiere Ceremony. However, with a number of memorable performances, the Grammys earned their “Music’s Biggest Night” branding — at least early on.

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    And Now Coming to the Stage…: Opening with Silk Sonic’s performance of “777” made sense: The show was in Vegas, where Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak have been performing their residency, and the duo were essentially designed for this kind of showmanship. Interesting? Perhaps not, given how much the Academy clearly loves Mars and this project (they gave the pair stage for their live debut last year), but at least it was entertaining.

    Soon after, the year’s biggest breakout story, Olivia Rodrigo, essentially recreated her “drivers license” video, right down to the lightning design. While a bit on the nose, it showed off Rodrigo’s true vocal talents, erasing doubt that she could be just another TikTok-elevated pop blip. That said, it’s likely more discourse will come from her moment with V during BTSspy-themed “Butter” rendition than her own stage time. The K-pop megastars completely stole the night with their undeniable energy and appeal, all slick moves and impressive vocals. (Although the breathiness in the mics was probably a mark against the sound engineer/microphone placement, it proved the boys were singing live while doing those intricate dances.)

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