The best 2024 Grammy performances
Stevie Wonder and Annie Lennox are a pretty good one-two punch for an In Memoriam tribute. But things really got going with the third member of the foursome. Batiste did a little medley of two Bill Withers’ classics. Remember what I said about preferring a single song to a medley? Well, that apparently doesn’t apply if Jon Batiste is singing.
And the anchor leg of the In Memoriam tribute brought it all home. Not many singers can pay tribute to Tina Turner by singing “Proud Mary.” It didn’t really work when Fantasia ventured briefly into the crowd to find some ladies to move their hips with her, but that barely mattered. Her voice and arrangement were perfect.
The two best performances of the night were the first two. Dua Lipa opened the show with…yes…a medley. But the first song – “Training Day” – was brand new, and the second was a full-throttle rendition of “Houdini,” complete with major league production. And she gets some bonus points because, going first, there was no introductory video explaining the song’s origin. I realize some people like those touches, and I admit that every once in a while, I find them interesting too. But mostly, I just want to hear the songs. That’s what Dua Lipa delivered.
LUKE COMBS AND TRACY CHAPMAN
This came right on the heels of Dua Lippa’s dynamic opening and somehow, it managed to top it. Most of this was due to the seemingly miraculous appearance of Tracy Chapman, playing guitar and singing her biggest hit from 25 years ago. The Grammys have a good history of dramatic reveals (Elton John seems to figure in a lot of them), and this was right up there with the best.
The camera started in close on Chapman’s hands as she played the instantly recognizable riff from “Fast Car,” then pulled back to reveal her as she sang the first verse. Combs, who renewed interest in the song and the original singer/songwriter with his cross-over country hit in 2023, stood respectfully to the side and waited til the second verse to begin singing. It’s a beautiful song, and it was a beautiful moment.