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TGJ Roundtable: Grammys 2018 Review

Published: Monday 29th Jan 2018 by Sam

Welcome to the latest TGJ Roundtable!

Over the years, That Grape Juice has established a distinguished voice that – whether loved or loathed – sparks discussion, debate, and on occasion drama!

Though comprised of seasoned writers who share a similar outlook on Urban Pop culture, the idiosyncrasies of the TGJ team members often lend for quite heated debates “behind the scenes” about the hottest topics.

Now, we give you a front row seat to the show. In a format similar to ‘The View’ or ‘The Real’, TGJ editors – Sam, David, Rashad, and Joe – get real in a very candid way.

Today’s roundtable topic asks each anchor their thoughts on the…

Grammy Awards 2018

Sam

For a show that ran for 3-and-a-half hours and celebrated a milestone anniversary, the 60th Annual Grammy Awards dropped the ball by being one of the most boring award broadcasts in recent memory. And problematically predictable too.

But before delving into why, let’s first unpack…

The Good

Bruno Mars and Cardi B brought hyper heat with their live offering of ‘Finesse.’ Stage slayage is a given with Mr Mars, but I was on edge to see how Cardi delivered in such a high-pressure setting. Needless to say, she impressed and alongside Bruno proved an arresting watch. Hands down the most enjoyable moment of the night.

Elsewhere, Kendrick Lamar reminded why he’s deserving of the acclaim he’s receiving. He’s pouring a lot of his artistic resource into performance; something, I’m just going to be honest and say that not enough rappers do.

Lady Gaga was also one of the few highlights. Sure, I long to throw my paws up and “ra ra oh la la” like it’s 2009 again, but I appreciate her adamance this era to spotlight her vocal talent.

The rest of the show veered from mediocre meh to “what am I watching?”

The Bad

I haven’t the slightest clue why Rihanna opted to waste her comeback momentum on a performance that, while not awful, didn’t feel like a must-see moment. Anyone who’s followed her trajectory has to admit that she’s come leaps and bounds on the live front. And her staging is slowly but surely becoming stellar too. Still, none of that is enough to distract from the pitchy, winded vocals she routinely blew into that mic. Again, not terrible, but not necessarily needed either.

Wrong song choices plagued Pink and SZA, who I feel would have served themselves (and viewers) better had they performed the more familiar songs they were nominated for.

I, like millions the world over, empathize with Kesha. But I don’t see myself ever watching her live offering of ‘Praying’ again. Joined by the likes of Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello and Bebe Rexha in a timely sisterly showing of solidarity (see: #MeToo), it’s clear this was designed to be a “moment.” However, in calling a spade a spade, the vocals were excruciating. It’ll no doubt be passed off as emotion (which I’m sure elements of it were), but it begs the question of how effective this ultimately was. Because, for me, the vocals took away from what could have been a powerful performance.

As for the actual awards won, the narratives that played out were, for the most part, oh so predictable. Hence, wins were male dominated with a heavy lean towards those whose releases appealed to the “middle mass” and were least controversial. Case in point, Bruno sweeping the board and Ed Sheeran besting the likes of Gaga in a Pop VOCAL category. Like, really?!

We’re sold the story of Kendrick, who has been serially snubbed in previous years, somehow being “triumphant” this year with his most socially and politically charged project. But that’s not enough to distract me from the fact he’s still yet to bag anything in the BIG categories. Note all of his his wins – sans one – were Rap specific. Catch that.

The SZA snub hurt too. Five nominations and nothing to show for it. She was bested by Bruno in most of the R&B categories and then lost out to Alessia Cara for Best New Artist. Things that make you go hmm.

Then there’s JAY-Z.

8 nominations and no wins? Not even…one?! No matter which way it’s diced or sliced, it’s a woeful outcome and one I feel may impact The Carters presence at future shows. Especially after what went down with Beyonce’s ‘Lemonade’ last year.

There’s talk of split votes between Jigga and K.Dot essentially benefitting Bruno. And there’s also murmurs of Jay’s decision not to perform potentially impacting his chances. Because, while it’s largely votes that decide winners, there is a presiding panel that can override the tally and have final say.

It’s worth mentioning that I actually prefer Bruno’s project over everyone’s and under normal circumstances should be elated at his six wins. But the Jay snub and Kendrick low-key being ‘Lemonade-ed’ has left a sour taste. I just feel like the distribution of awards was hella uneven.

The Ugly

Holistically, the 2018 Grammys was a dismal disappointment.

**************

David

Last night had several highs but some disappointing lies.

Let’s start with the positive.

On a line-up front the show offered viewers a brilliant group of live performers who-for the most part- delivered brilliant performances.

From Cardi B and Bruno, Kendrick and Bono to Kesha and her all-star choir, the event’s musical showcases were a ten.

The highlight for me? Kendrick.

For, while some of his peers seek to address social issues in ways which are self-serving, Lamar’s performance was a reminder that he remains committed to using his platform and art to tell powerful stories with a level of creativity I’d say he doesn’t get enough credit.

Now for the lows.

‘Lemonade’-related drama aside, Jay-Z’s ‘4:44’ is a poignant body of work deserving of all the acclaim it has received.

With its brilliant storytelling and unforgettable videos in mind, I was sure that it’d bag at least one of the eight awards it was up for. I was wrong and this morning I’m disappointed.

Why?

Not because I feel Jay’s work and impact is diminished in any way by the snub, but because I think the snub speaks to problems some members of the committee may have with he and Beyonce now that they have decided to address issues they may have shied away from in the past.

Anyway, let’s head back to the positive. Rihanna.

As it’s been a while since the performer has rocked out on a platform as big as the Grammys I forgot how awesome she is on stage.

Armed with new energy, sweet staging and South African-inspired choreography, Rihanna soared with ‘Wild Thoughts‘ and saved it from whatever DJ Khaled threatened to turn it into with his yelling.

All in all, it was a great night and I look forward to seeing how next year’s ceremony celebrates the plethora of exciting releases due this year.

**************

Rashad

Before I even get started, am I the only one who is slightly annoyed when acts who tribute a genre are often more awarded than full-time practitioners of said genre? No shade to Bruno, whom I love. As the Grammy nominations confirmed, 2017 was easily one of the worst (worst = most boring) years in recent Pop history.  Sadly, last night, the Grammy wins reiterated the fact.

Possibly due to the pressures of last year’s backlash (and the sociopolitical climate overall regarding women and people of color) [click here to read more], it seems the Recording Academy thought it best to lure viewers with the guise of the spectacle’s leading nominees being all people of color only to have them all shut out at showtime…just like last year.

As we reported here, SZA led the night’s nominees among women, but left empty handed and Jay-Z led the overall tally, but left with zero wins.

But, in hindsight I wonder how much of an uproar there would have been had ‘4:44’ won Album Of The Year, but ‘Lemonade’ did not. Now, I am not going to act like ‘4:44’ was groundbreaking or even Jay-Z’s best work, but it’s really the principle of the matter. Then, Ed Sheehan – the only male in the ‘Pop Solo Performance’ category – walks away with the award. What gives?

On the performance front, the show was an overall snoozefest.  Standouts always come courtesy of Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga, and Kendrick Lamar as all three very rarely let down when it comes to their award show performances.  Rihanna gave her usual shaky vocals, but overall rendered an enjoyable performance alongside Bryson Tiller and DJ Khaled. Everyone else, from where I was watching, either looked like they either prepared for their performances at the last minute or just didn’t care.

**************

Joe

I will start by saying that although I feel Jay-Z got snubbed, Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar deserved everything they went home with. Just as much as he did. Still, the whole situation seems a bit “weird” – especially after reports that he refused to perform at the ceremony.

To be honest, I’m more concerned about SZA not swooping anything as her debut LP is amongst my favorite releases of 2017 and I feel like what she brings to the table is unparalleled. Even when compared to the amazing competition she had in the Best New Artist category. Perhaps it just wasn’t her time, but I feel her “moment” coming. For sure.

Kendrick’s opening performance was nothing short of stellar and it was also great seeing Gaga slow things down with a beautiful medley. She really turned the tables around for the ‘Joanne’ over the course of last year into this year and it was warming to see her back on the Grammy stage as a premium act.

Elsewhere, it seems Rihanna has finessed the art of winning Grammys as a feature-act. No one’s mad at that. While her vocals were pitchy to say the least, I enjoyed seeing her back on stage in full-on Pop-star mode performing her latest classic ‘Wild Thoughts.’

Could yesterday mark the complete transition of Cardi B into a mainstay act? It certainly looked that way to these eyes. With incredible energy, she turned a fantastic performance by Bruno Mars into an even bigger celebration. Kudos to him for gifting her enough room to shine (see: ‘Bartier Cardi’ verse). It seems like the only way is up for the Bronx belle who has been making all the right moves over the past few months. I get a feeling we’ll see her again on that very stage a year from now, don’t you?

Also a huge shout out to Camila Cabello’s management team for somehow making her the center of attention for a good 10 mins (Kesha performance, #Dreamers speech and L’Oreal commercial immediate). Homegirl had no song nominated, but showed up as the big star they’re pushing her to be. I guess that’s what a #1 song and album will do to your status… Do you, Mila.

For better and for worse, the Grammys remain the biggest night in music, so it will be interesting witnessing the aftermath of this year’s ceremony. Both chart-wise and on a strategic note for artists such as Jay-Z and wife Beyonce.

**************

Do you agree with our picks? Who was spot on? Let us know your thoughts on the latest TGJ Roundtable and your thoughts on the 2018 Grammys.

Your thoughts?

[Photo credit: Getty]

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  1. King z January 29, 2018

    I agree with everybody. To sum
    It up, jay was robbed, show was boring

    No performance was worth watching again

    • Stand Up January 29, 2018

      The Grammy Awards is just a bunch of self righteous oxygen thiefs spewing anti American garbage and getting a worthless statue for something they consider music! Congrats Bruno..he doesnt bother anyone! 👏👏👏

      • Hot Tea January 29, 2018

        Jay z told nothing but the overatted and secret society. He is not helping anyone other than his sinking ship named Tidal!!!

      • Make America Great Again January 29, 2018

        Black people proves they cant produce something artistic. Thats why sales are down. Hip hop is dead and hopefully Jay-zzz will go down in the sewage just like Diddy!!!

      • Ed Sheeran January 29, 2018

        Poor aunty Joanne! I stole her award…

        🤣😂😅

    • Ammarossa January 29, 2018

      Slap in the face for Jay and Bey. They lost their leader- Obama.

      Nobody cares about them anymore…the end is near for this Illuminati puppets for The Rothchilds. Repent!

    • Justice for Becky January 29, 2018

      Blacks have to stop looking for accolades and acceptance at White award shows. Just write a goddam music for once! Bring back Babyface and Ne-Yo!

  2. blue January 29, 2018

    surprise surprise…y’all are so predictable. Sam forever hating on anything rih does. The Jay ass kissing was predictable as well…4:44 was not a great record nor did it create any buzz around it, Bruno and Kendrick are still ruling the charts and they delivered the hits, so did Ed by the way.

    • We are the grandchildren of the slaves you couldn’t kill – tyler January 29, 2018

      Its the truth! Rihanna’s vocals were DEAD at the scene…NEXT CASE!!!!

      • Ed Sheeran January 29, 2018

        Sorry Monsters, I sent aunty Jo to hell again last night!!

    • JOHNVIDAL January 29, 2018

      It´s nobody´s fault is Rihanna is basic in general and cannot show any special type of talent when singing on stage. It´s nobody´s fault.

      • Hmnnn January 29, 2018

        Rihanna was awesome. She was not pretentious… unlike Gaga who scream “entitlement”.

      • blue January 29, 2018

        It’s 2018

      • Whoops January 29, 2018

        Lies, it’s her fault. She has no control over the lack of natural talent she was endowed with, but Rihanna spent a near decade being contentedly lazy and mediocre. At any moment she could’ve put the crackpipe down, got off her ass and practiced singing and dancing. Instead she got used to getting on stage for the easily impressed and proceeded to talk sing while patting her crotch and shooting finger guns. She tried to get outside of her needed yearly albums but given how she won a paperclip and some pocket lint for Anti and got a Grammy for Loyalty, maybe this is just her thing. 6 out of 9 of her Grammys are from features. If we care to count WFL, 7 out of 9. I don’t know why the Navy thinks we’re imagining Rihanna’s mediocrity. It’s very much a reality.

      • Mariah January 29, 2018

        Gaga is the white Janet. So overrated darlingssss! 😪

      • In Ed Sheeran We Trust January 29, 2018

        A bunch of closeted Little Moronster trying to kiss each other salty ass! 🤭🤭🤭

      • JOHNVIDAL January 29, 2018

        Well yes Whoops it´s her fault. I meant nobody´s fault but hers lol

      • ??? January 29, 2018

        @ Mariah lmao white janet? gurl bye dont be mad cuz mariah is now an irrelevant poor mans ariana….dahling lmfaoooo

  3. Whoops January 29, 2018

    HOOOWWWW did Bruno sweep???? How?!? 24K magic did not deserve AOTY.
    And furthermore, Ed sheeran winning best pop album?? Alessia Cara winning Best New Artist??? Trash. Trash. And Trash. SO many robberies took place last night, I can’t deal.

    Nothing from last night was memorable. You know the show was bad when a Rihanna performance is the highlight. Wild Thoughts is WAY to easy of a song to sing for her to have been so winded like that. At least she’s trying though. Anyways, Congrats to Kendrick. Congrats to Bruno on the 1 maybe 2 Grammys he actually deserved. Congrats to us for Despacito not winning anything.

    “It seems Rihanna has finessed the art of winning Grammys as a feature-act.” -Joe. Accurate.

    • cora January 29, 2018

      Bruno didn’t deserve Aoty. I don’t dislike him, but it was something fishy about him being showered with so many Grammy wins. That’s what I like winning soty was even a reach.

      • Whoops January 29, 2018

        Yesss. I forgot all about that. That’s What I Like shouldn’t even have been on the soty radar. It wasn’t anywhere close being song of the year. I like Bruno but how he won every category he was nominated in and took the big categories is so fishy. It’s not surprising though. The Grammys suck.

      • JOHNVIDAL January 29, 2018

        Maybe because he is still one of the few that move some real album units and has been consistently serving music, success and a total package for 8 years already. I´m sure some grammy voters also thought about that when deciding. To me Lorde´s was better. But she is also so young and may get more great bodies of work, and she already has Song of the Year no less at only 17 years old (when she won it). These type of thinkings also count in awards.

      • JOHNVIDAL January 29, 2018

        Would have you prefered Despacito?? Or what? No hits from last year were really better than Bruno´s.

      • Whoops January 29, 2018

        @JOHNVIDAL I think Lorde’s was better too, but your logic is that Lorde, who is 21, did not win because the Grammys were thinking that she’s young and will make more great music??? Where was that thinking when Adele was the exact same age and they gave her AOTY and 5 other awards including Song and Record of the year in 2012? Where was that when Taylor won AOTY at 20 years old?? That’s not good reasoning. At all. And I HATE that song Despacito, but its win would’ve made a lot more sense.

      • John’s Vidal Father Mistress January 29, 2018

        24 Magic at the Apollo was aired on CBS twice because of popular demand. Bruno Mars is a great entertainer, where you can bring your kids. Jay..only interested to bring profits to his illuminati cronies. That guy is a snowflake…

      • JOHNVIDAL January 29, 2018

        I know. That thinking works soemtimes and some other times it doesn´t. Voters for these big awards doesn´t reunite to decide. Each one of them vote on their own. Some ways of thinkings prevail over others despending on the year. Adel… not a good example btw, she just had had an era like we hadn´t seen since the 90s. It was universal in ways none of these other names have seen in tehir careers. It was time to give it to her regardless. If she was been 5 years old in 2012 she would have won too 🙂

      • RoyalKev January 29, 2018

        I don’t quite get either! I expected Bruno to be the big winner of the night, but those wins for ROTY and SOTY were just a NO! Humble deserved ROTY way more! ‘That’s What I Like’ was just pretty forgettable! I don’t even like Sza’s ‘Weekend’, but even that song’s impact was felt more (within that genre) and deserved the Grammy over that track for Best R&B performance as well! I think they just wanted to basically send the message out that Bruno’s the man this decade, which is true!

    • Yawn January 29, 2018

      Stfu..get over it!!

  4. Suicide Blonde January 29, 2018

    I can’t with y’all pretending that Jay-Z’s album was groundbreaking, (Rashad is always the most honest) that album is not even good, let alone a masterpiece, I feel like the only reason TGJ ass kiss him is because he’s Beyoncé’s husband, otherwise, you wouldn’t even mention him. Rihanna’s performance was enjoyable but she’s chunky now, not feeling that, Gaga’s was good but it wasn’t her best performance, Bruno and Cardi B were awful, Pink was great, simple but powerful, Kendrick was ok, Kesha, I still don’t get her appeal, it was a boring show, Bruno didn’t deserved to win AOTY, his album wasn’t that good, it has a couple of good songs but that’s it, The Grammys are trash, always have been.

    • Black Republican January 29, 2018

      Bruno Mars is very talented. You need to know his story. Stop letting Illuminati delusional couple like Jay!Bey get into your head. America is getting tired of their self-absorbed attitude.

    • Kendick Lamar January 29, 2018

      Stfu…go to work, losers!!

  5. JOHNVIDAL January 29, 2018

    Kendrick and Gaga had the best performances of the night just like it happened two years ago. Talent is talent and normally it shows.
    I´m surprised Bruno won those many. Although I won´t say he doesn´t deserve it cause he is great. He is the best mainstream male star and has been for 8 years now. I think they somehow pulled an oscars type of thinking and thought he has earned it already not just for this particular album. Jay Z… I don´t care. He didn´t have a great era. So many nods was already off. Lorde´s album was the best imo. But like I said I cannot be mad if someone like Bruno wins. They have done way worse with Taylor winning the big prizes in two different years for example. That was the moment when grammys hit an all time low.

    • Next?? January 29, 2018

      Gaga’s performance was same ol’ same ol’. She was there just for the rating. 😆

      • JOHNVIDAL January 29, 2018

        Yes and her same ol is better than 90% of young people in maisntream. That´s exactly what I meant lol

      • Kendick Lamar January 29, 2018

        Stfu…go to work, losers! Gaga can hardly reach gold. Nobody is feeling her obsession toward her late aunt! R I P 💀

    • Ed Sheeran January 29, 2018

      Gaga won big..at red carpet! 😀😃😄😊🤣🤣😅😉😌🙃🤣😊😝🤪😝😋

  6. TRUTH SERUM January 29, 2018

    Jay Z’s album was absolutely ground breaking. The lyrical content, production, and social commentary was amazing. The sampling of Nina Simone was classic and representative of what’s going on now. His album is the essence of hip hop. His melodic flow is unmatched!!! Trust and believe, the fact that he’s addressing issues with our community and speaking out against injustice has a lot to do with the snub.

    Kendrick’s and Bruno’s wins were well deserved for the most part but to dismiss Jay’s latest effort as sub par is void of facts.

    • Laqoyah J January 29, 2018

      Are you high on meth? Bruno Mars won bc he sold more albums and he had more airtime radio play than Jay Z, not to mention more hits on YouTube. Plain and simple. Don’t try to make it into something it’s not! 🙄🙄🙄

      • Whoops January 29, 2018

        I don’t think Bruno or Jay should’ve won but that’s not it. Beyonce sold more albums and had more airtime than Beck and didn’t win. That’s not what determines wins. I do think the Grammys reward the safer music though, not necessarily only in content but in sound.

      • TRUTH SERUM January 29, 2018

        Look at the past 5 AOTY winners and get back with me on the sales tip. That’s what I thought. Grammys have never based the winner on album sales alone. Facts !!!

  7. Sakura Maggie January 29, 2018

    Iluminati Highest Priest got snubbed so tragically. A wake called for those who screams…entitlement!

    • TRUTH SERUM January 29, 2018

      Russian bot. If anyone’s in the Illuminati, it wouldn’t be black folks.

  8. Sean January 29, 2018

    We saw Sting and Bono like 8 times. With the NY location we couldn’t at least get Mariah or Bey to present?

    • ??? January 29, 2018

      Lmao no, because the grammys aint here for insects or hasbeens lmmfaooo

  9. Black Republican January 29, 2018

    R&B and RAP / Hip hop SOLD OUT TO THESE SATANIC WITCHES 🙄

  10. Make America Great Again January 29, 2018

    Jay-Z sucks and lets move on!!!

    • TRUTH SERUM January 29, 2018

      Fake news for views!!!

  11. Ammarossa January 29, 2018

    The gif when Blue Ivy tried to calm them down is priceless! 🤣🤣🤣

  12. John’s Vidal Father Loverboy January 29, 2018

    Bruno Mars is a good cross over artist. Thats why..you guys are so dumb. His market is wider. Jay-Z…only for uneducated ghetto!

    • TRUTH SERUM January 29, 2018

      Says the glory hole bottom. Try again, an upgrade your grammar and punctuation.

      • Yawn January 29, 2018

        Oh..grammar police trying to act smart by talking about ghetto, language and art! 😒

    • JOHNVIDAL January 29, 2018

      Who are you to dare use my name in your user name? lol

      • John’s Vidal Father Loverboy January 29, 2018

        Opsss, i did know you were here.

  13. In Jesus We Trust January 29, 2018

    Reality check for the #1 self-absorbed Illuminati Priest in America and his pretentious puppet wife.

  14. Ed Sheeran January 29, 2018

    Poor Gaga 🤩☺️😆🤣😖😖😖😂😂😂😂😁😆😄😃😀😁🤣

  15. Bruno January 29, 2018

    I bruised Secret Society High Priest ego last night. Sorry..try again next year. Or 2023

  16. ??? January 29, 2018

    lmmfao, everybody’s all mad cuz camel and his pet roach couldn’t buy up all the grammys this year and corni got played on national tv by going home empty handed. lmmfao BEST GRAMMYS EVER! lmfao

  17. Tikklz January 29, 2018

    Why does Jay Z look so weary??

  18. Krista January 29, 2018

    The highlight of the night was blue hushing up her parents

  19. Dev January 30, 2018

    I have to start by saying that i don’t understand what the Carters have been saying in their music. Beyonce did and album about her failing marriage (at the time) and Jay-Z followed up with the story of his life and touched on a few social issues now that he has made his millions…. there have been rap artists doing this for years prior (Kanye West to name one) who were not looking for notoriety. Although i liked 4:44 it don’t think it deserved the hype.
    Apart from Kendrick preformance at the start, it was all a bore

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