LOS ANGELES — The queens of the 2017 Grammys provided two of the telecast’s most memorable performances Sunday, one a celestial dream of near perfection, the other endearingly human.
Anyone wondering whether Beyonce’s pregnancy would take away from her ability to perform as vividly as we’ve come to expect got an answer when she delivered a stunning rendition of her songs “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles.”
Adele, meanwhile, came out strong, opening the show with a confident performance of “Hello,” which went on to win song of the year. But during her tribute to the late singer George Michael, she flubbed and had to start again. She went on to nail the song, but when the performance was over, she put her hands over her face and shook her head.
Both the resplendent Queen Bey and the chagrined Adele were met by cheering crowds and the requisite Twitter storm of devotion.
Bringing it. Twice
Pity poor Bruno Mars, tasked with following up what was perhaps the finest Grammy performance in a generation. But if anyone had a prayer of playing live after Beyonce without instantly vaporizing into total cosmic insignificance, it was probably Bruno Mars.
There’s nothing one can really do to follow up on a nine-minute medley of mind-erasing pregnancy holograms and chair-tilt stunts, so Mars did what he does best: corral his bros, throw on some gold chains and play his new pitch-perfect ’80s funk pastiche with aplomb. And then he did it again, returning to the stage an hour later in full Prince regalia to pay tribute to one of the industry’s greatest losses of last year in an homage that’s not just respectful, but flat-out fun.
Tribe calls ’Resist’
When Tribe Called Quest co-founders Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Q-Tip landed onstage with Busta Rhymes and new artist nominee Anderson .Paak, it was the roar of Busta Rhymes that made the biggest impression. Decrying “President Agent Orange,” he and the others crashed through a makeshift wall.
At the end, with the people alongside him onstage, Q-Tip screamed, “Resist! Resist! Resist!”
Know his name
James Corden gently mocked Grammy winner Sturgill Simpson for being the name that would send the most viewers to search engines. With a performance backed by the Dap-Kings horns, Simpson provided an answer.
Simpson leaned into “All Around You” from his nominated “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” and his weathered voice soared atop the brassy backdrop provided by the longtime collaborators of the late Sharon Jones.
The rising country star’s performance pointed toward what many already knew – that he has a perfectly deft touch with brassy R&B in his own right.
Art of the backup
The last time Daft Punk was on a Grammy stage, it was playing alongside Pharrell Williams, Nile Rodgers and Stevie Wonder before accepting the album of the year award in 2014 for “Random Access Memories.”
This time, the French duo was happy to play backup to The Weeknd for an icy rendition of “I Feel It Coming,” in front of a frigid interstellar setup that was part vintage Kanye West mountain range and part Hoth from “Star Wars.”
It didn’t have quite the vocal pyrotechnics of Adele’s opening number or much more live instrumentation than a little robot keyboard poking, but was an interesting case of perhaps the most famous act in electronic music willfully hanging back and adding analog sparkle to his nihilism.
Times staff writers August Brown, Randall Roberts, Chris Barton and Mikael Wood contributed to this report.