January 26, 2014 7:15am PT by Phil Gallo, Billboard
Grammys: Lorde, Kacey Musgraves, Robin Thicke Play UMG Party
This article first appeared at Billboard.com
Robin Thicke, Lorde, Kacey Musgraves and another 10 acts signed to Universal Music Group performed Saturday afternoon at Lure nightclub in Hollywood for an audience of label and publishing executives as well as media.
An opportunity for executives to see Grammy nominees and new acts from sister labels, the showcase ranged from the gospel soul of Tye Tribbett and his 13-member ensemble to the rootsy rock of Jake Bugg to EDM artist Zedd, who opted for an acoustic set with a female singer, keyboards and acoustic guitar.
Musgraves, up for best new artist and in two Country categories, proffered an upbeat new song, "Biscuits," that twisted a series of maxims about life and won over the industry crowd. Lorde delayed her start to solve microphone issues, but immediately won over the crowd with "Royals" and then Juanes debuted his next single, "La Luz."
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Tessanne Chin sang the Ryan Tedder song given to her for winning season five of The Voice, "Tumbling Down"; Aloe Blacc followed his rendition of "Wake Me Up" with "The Man," praising Bernie Taupin and Elton John for inspiring the tune; and the brightly attired Neon Trees performed their new single, "Sleeping With a Friend" after opening with "Everybody Talks."
"We remind ourselves every single day, it's the music, stupid. " Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge said in opening remarks from the middle of the room. He gave shoutouts to Big Machine's Scott Borchetta, Island Def Jam Music Group's Barry Weiss and Steve Bartels, Capitol Music Group's Steve Barnett, Island Records' David Massey, Capitol Christian Music Group's Bill Hearn, Interscope's Steve Berman, Lava's Jason Flom, Verve's David Foster, Universal Music Nashville's Mike Dungan, Republic's Avery Lipman, UMG Publishing's Zach Horowitz and UMe's Bruce Resnikoff. Virgin's Ron Fair, Universal Pictures president of music Mike Knobloch, Jesus Lopez of Universal Latin and other execs were also on hand; but we'll just assume Grainge could not see them from his vantage point.
The event was co-sponsored by Anheuser Busch InBev's Bud Light Platinum, which just kicked off a new EDM-based music strategy that will be led by Interscope's Zedd and a commercial that will debut during Sunday's Grammy telecast. A-B's brand team, which oversees music and entertainment partnerships for Budweiser, Bud Light, Black Crown, Landshark and several other major beer brands, watched the showcase's first five artists with great interest -- and patience. "How old is she -- 19?" one exec said after Ariana Grande finished her two-song set. After being informed she was 20, the exec was encouraged about having the opportunity to consider her for deals within the year (Lorde, who just turned 17, will have to wait a few years, as will 19-year-old Bugg.)
Thicke closed the evening with "Dreamworld" and, what else, "Blurred Lines." Banks and Jhene Aiko also performed. Colbie Caillat, who has a new album due on Republic in April, stopped by to watch before heading on a promo tour for her new single "Hold On" that will take her to Canada, Dubai, the U.K. and Germany.
While the event spared no cost on talent, the well-heeled attendees were fed hotdogs and hamburgers from Pinks, the renowned Hollywood burger stand/institution located at La Brea near Melrose that dates back to 1939.