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Brutally honest reviews of every Grammy performance

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The performances at the 2017 Grammy Awards are nearly as stacked as the nominees themselves, with a lineup including Beyoncé, Adele, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, The Weeknd and more, plus tributes to Prince and George Michael.

However, just because an artist is performing during music’s biggest night doesn’t mean they’re up to the task. Follow along with live reviews of every Grammy performance below, and keep up with the night’s winners here.

ADELE

Better than last year!

Here’s why: Adele and the Grammys have a complicated history. She’s one of the most decorated nominees in the major categories, racked up six trophies for 21 in 2012 and returning with five nominations this year for 25. But her performance at last year’s awards wasn’t quite as golden, with sound issues resulting in an unthinkably rocky outing for the singer.

This year, Adele returned to the same circular stage for a performance of her beloved single Hello. Standing solo in the darkened Staples Center, she was back to her usual form, delivering a excellently sung (if humorless) opening number, save for a few sassy hand signals she threw out. There’s not much levity to be found in Hello, but maybe one of Adele’s livelier songs would’ve better suited her big comeback moment.

THE WEEKND and DAFT PUNK

Props on props on props

Here’s why: The R&B singer teamed up with the famed French electronic producers for several tracks on his 2016 album Starboy. And while the record missed the cutoff for consideration at this year’s Grammys, perhaps the trio wanted to make a good impression on the Recording Academy for 2017’s awards, joining forces for a joint Grammys performance. While Abel Tesfaye’s take on Earned It at the 2016 Grammys was a snoozy, forcibly formal waltz, this year’s performance dropped him into an elaborate set straight out of Tron, segueing a little too quickly from Starboy into the album’s second single I Feel It Coming. Tesfaye isn’t the most interesting performer to watch by any means, so sticking him in between the helmeted members of Daft Punk on top of a fake mountain surrounded by lasers was the right call.

KEITH URBAN and CARRIE UNDERWOOD

Soft-rock perfection

Here’s why: With several other Nashville favorites appearing in medleys with pop singers, Underwood and Urban were supposed to deliver country music’s biggest performance of the night, with the duo collaborating on Urban’s The Fighter.
Viewers expecting some country twang instead got several minutes of soft-rock glory, the call-and-response chorus perfectly suited for the duet. The Grammys’ Bee Gees tribute isn’t happening until later in the night, but, impossibly, Keith Urban may have just delivered the disco performance of the evening. Urban probably isn’t trying to leave his chosen genre behind to become a smooth pop star in the later phase of his career, but this unexpectedly groovy performance makes a good case.

ED SHEERAN

Forgettable

Here’s why: A day after showing off his new singles from forthcoming album Divide on Saturday Night Live, Sheeran traveled across the country to perform another take on Shape of You at the Grammys. A guy and a guitar isn’t always the most transfixing thing to watch during an awards show, so Sheeran started off the track playing with loop pedals to build the song from scratch, which was engaging to watch before the backing track lamely kicked in. Busted. The Grammys love Sheeran, so expect the tune to show up in next year’s crop of record or song of the year nominees. At least that means we won’t have to watch him perform this song again.

KELSEA BALLERINI and LUKAS GRAHAM

Nicely done

Here’s why: The Nashville singer/songwriter and the Danish pop group are coming off the biggest year of their careers, arriving at this year’s Grammys to compete in the night’s biggest categories (Ballerini for best new artist, Lukas Graham for song and record of the year). For the viewers at home watching without a clue who Lukas Graham or Ballerini are, their mashup of respective hits 7 Years and Peter Pan made the two tracks almost indistinguishable. Emerging on top was Lukas Graham, with 7 Years’ elaborate wordplay swallowing Pan whole. Still, the medley worked better than it should have.

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