Last year’s Grammys really spoiled us. Though the death of Whitney Houston cast a certain somber pall over the entirety of the evening, there was a clear narrative that emerged from the show’s proceedings: Adele has arrived as a superstar who will be around for a long time and whose work is as close to bulletproof—both critically and commercially—as it can get. It was an easy story to digest, and all Adele had to do was show up and act gracious (the fact that she was singing in America for the first time since throat surgery helped the narrative, too).
Last night’s show offered no such clarity. The winners were scattershot (the Black Keys took home the most awards of the night, though they didn’t win any of the Big Three—Record, Song, or Album of the Year), and just about everybody walked out of the Staples Center roughly as big as they were when they walked in. There were no clear moments of ascendence, though Justin Timberlake, the Lumineers, and fun. are all getting iTunes sales bumps today.
In fact, this year’s Grammy Awards were perhaps most notable for something that didn’t happen: The elevation of Frank Ocean from modestly successful critical darling to full-blown superstar.