The Boss Moments and Epic Failures of the 2013 GRAMMYS

So, the Grammys were on Sunday. And it was standard fare. Awards. Music. LL Cool J as a terrible host. Even references to the loss of Whitney Houston (can we now stop trotting that out at every single event even remotely related to music?) When you really look at things, there were only a few memorable moments. Lucky for you I’m recounting them for everyone that missed the broadcast.

Justin Timberlake performs “Suit & Tie” with Jay-Z and premieres “Pusher Love Girl”

Beyoncé and Ellen Degeneres did a hilarious job of introducing Justin. Ellen was able to disarm Beyoncé in a way that is rarely seen on television. And JT did a good job making his return to the stage. He started off having the camera shoot in black and white (looked more like sepia to me), and he looked real smooth while crooning and dancing with a tie as a prop. People often overlook how difficult it is to give a clear vocal with doing so many intricate moves. And Justin made it look effortless. For me to enjoy a performance of two songs that I am not particularly fond of, he must have been doing something noteworthy. His vocals were on point, his dancing was impeccable, and he looked as comfortable as he ever has. This is how you make a comeback.

Alicia Keys and Maroon 5 collaborated on a performance, mashing up Maroon 5’s new single “Daylight” and Alicia’s “Girl On Fire

The two did each of their songs justice, and Alicia added a little flare by playing the drums for her own intro. I can’t imagine how difficult it was for her to keep the beat while keeping her pitch, but she more than pulled it off. The moments where they sang together were a little rough around the edges and the songs didn’t mesh as well as they should have, but there were a few moments there where Alicia and Adam’s voices blended beautifully.

Frank Ocean let’s down everyone with his performance of “Forrest Gump

The setup was quite forward thinking. He had a dual projection setup where he stood behind the box covering his bottom half made it appear as if he was running (like Forrest … get it?), and he played the somber tune on a keyboard. The simple, minimalistic staging was refreshing after a lot of the spectacle that had gone on over the course of the show, so everything and everyone was focused on his vocal performance. And that was where things fell apart. He swung from sharp to flat throughout the entire performance. His phrases were broken, often not completing entire lines. Kinda harkens back to what I said in our post about him way back in August of last year (Frank Ocean: Hipster Cool or Mainstream Innovator?). And he looked like a withering leaf up there, his nerves practically strangling the whole thing. On a night where he had been nominated for so many awards (and won 2), this was a huge squandered opportunity for Ocean.

Kelly Clarkson’s comments on Miguel

Upon winning the Best Pop Vocal Album Grammy, Kelly Clarkson was shocked. She was up against Florence & The Machine, Fun., Maroon 5 and P!nk. She didn’t think she would win. So when she made it to the stage, you could tell she hadn’t planned much of an acceptance speech. And what she had to say made for one of the most entertaining moments of the night. First she gave kudos to the other acts in her category. Then she went completely off the reservation saying, “Miguel, I don’t know who the hell you are, but we need to sing together. I mean good God. That was the sexiest damn thing I’ve ever seen. What?!?” in reference to his performance of “Adorn” with Wiz Kalifa.

Bob Marley Tribute

Bruno Mars, Sting, Rihanna, and Ziggy Marley gave a rousing tribute to Bob Marley. Bruno Mars started off with “Locked Out of Heaven“, and did a great job giving the energy a song like that needs. That segued into “Walking on the Moon“, fronted by Sting. I don’t know how he has managed to maintain his vocal instrument, but it sounds as pristine as it ever has. I’d swear Sting was a Jamaican native if I didn’t know better. Last, Rihanna and Ziggy came out to perform “Could You Be Loved“. It was classic (other than Rihanna’s curious under-boob tattoo) and appropriate. The oddity of performing your songs as a tribute to an artist that has spawned so many timeless tunes is only dubious note on the medley. I get the whole “my work was inspired by his” thing, but it is a bit of a stretch to connect “Locked Out of Heaven” with the man behind “No Woman, No Cry“. I’m just saying.

Last but not least, the BOSS of the night award goes to Jay-Z. He had me wondering if he was somehow bankrolling the whole operation. He sat front row center with Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, and Solange (angling for any camera time she could get). He unabashedly sipped champagne and D’Usse cognac throughout the entire ceremony. And after winning 3 Grammys for the night, he thought, “Why not drink the cognac out of my Grammy instead?”


Yeah, he did that.

But his true boss moment was during his acceptance speech for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for his song “No Church In the Wild” with Frank Ocean, Kanye West, and The-Dream.

After Frank Ocean and The-Dream gave their thank yous (The-Dream taking the moment to tell Frank Ocean to “back up” and  to complain about getting played off last year), Jay-Z capped the whole thing off with just one thank you: “I would like to thank the swap meet for his hat,” referring to The-Dream’s “Boyz In The Hood” cap. BOSS.

And that was the Grammys, ladies and gentlemen. If you want to see the full list of winners, head over to What did you think about the show? Have any highlights that I didn’t … highlight? Disagree with my takeaways? Hit us up in the comments below!

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Daren W. Jackson

Daren is one half of the Water Cooler Convos team. He's a writer, music connoisseur, and comic book geek who spends his free time working on his novel and other short stories.