Historically, we at Stereogum have not had a lot of time for Brandi Carlile, the tough and rootsy folk-rock singer-songwriter, unless it’s been Pearl Jam covering her song or whatever. I don’t know why — something about perceived audiences and genre prejudices and generally not venturing far enough outside our little corner of the musical universe. This has been a mistake. It shouldn’t take a Grammys performance to let us know when we’re wrong. But we are, and it did.
Brandi Carlile had the best performance at the Grammys. She absolutely smoked that motherfucker. Without guest stars or gimmicks, she sang “The Joke,” the single from her nominated-for-a-bunch-of-stuff 2018 album By The Way, I Forgive You. The live version was better than the recorded one, but that’s no excuse. We should’ve known.
Today, Carlile got in an encore. She was the musical guest on Ellen, and she did a solo-acoustic take on “The Joke.” Once again, she crushed it. Her voice was titanic. She also did a quick interview with a generally besotted Ellen DeGeneres, telling DeGeneres that she came out of the closet and a teenager “because of you.” Below, watch the Ellen performance, the Grammy performance, and the video for “The Joke.” Just let all that shit wash over you.
By The Way, I Forgive You is out now on Low Country Sound/Elektra.