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Grammys at 50: Samples Come Alive

In the post-hip-hop era, one of the best things — which is to say, perhaps one of the few good things — about the Grammys is the opportunity to watch samples come alive. Tonight’s broadcast of the 50th annual ceremony was no exception. A glowing pyramid on stage in the background during Kanye West‘s performance of “Stronger,” off his Graduation album, opened to reveal the French electronica duo Daft Punk, dressed like desktop-support figures from Tron. West’s “Stronger” samples their “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” which dates from 2001. (This sort of “live sample” is, of course, the opposite of lip-synching, the human growth hormone of pop music, which was in full effect during several performances.)

Now, if only the Academy had gotten Mountain’s Leslie West (yeah, no relation) and Gil Scott-Heron together to back up Common for his nominated “The People” (off the Kanye West-produced Finding Forever), which samples songs by both of ’em.

Of course, the novelty of Daft Punk’s Grammy Awards appearance was somewhat diminished when their original “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” served as the evident blueprint for a Heineken ad that aired later during the broadcast.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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