Everyone’s hearts were heavy going into the GRAMMYs this year, after a helicopter accident that left nine people dead, including Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gigi, as well as Gigi’s teammate Alyssa Altobelli and her parents. As host Alicia Keys astutely pointed out in her opening monologue, everyone at the Staples Center was sitting in the house Kobe built, mere hours after his tragic passing. Many of the performers paid tribute to Bryant; also in everyone’s hearts was Nipsey Hussle, who passed away in March of 2019. The 62nd GRAMMY Awards were more somber than most, but there were still many moments worth acknowledging.
The Kobe Tributes
Still reeling from the news of the fatal helicopter crash, many artists used their stage time to pay tribute to Bryant in some way.
Lizzo opened the show with “Cuz I Love You”, announcing, “Tonight is for you Kobe” before diving into her ballad. As per usual, she crushed her performance, bringing everyone some much-needed good vibes to kick things off.
Boyz II Men joined Alicia Keys onstage for a moving tribute to the deceased basketball star, when they sang “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye”. Usher sang the same song at the 2001 Super Bowl to honor Aaliyah, making the choice especially powerful.
Before beginning her planned monologue, Keys sang a medley that recounted moments of the year in music (and also took shots at Trump), saying before she sang, “I know how much Kobe loved music. He would want us to keep the vibrations high.” For the most part, the performances, presenters, and winners managed to do just that.
Run DMC held up a #24 Bryant jersey during their performance of “Walk This Way” with Aerosmith. Lil Nas X also had a Kobe jersey on the set during his performance of “Old Town Road”—his presence was really everywhere during the show.
We were all wondering how the Grammys would handle this sudden tragedy, and they paid tribute in a classy way without taking away from the reason we were all here: to celebrate music.
If the GRAMMYs give us one thing besides Sunday night insomnia, it’s plenty of performances to talk about. Some were fun, some were moving, some were unexpected, so let’s go through the more memorable ones (because there are always about 10 performances too many).
The Jonas Brothers were great but should have just given the people what they wanted and played “Burnin’ Up”. The highlight of their performance was the rogue piece of spinach stuck in Nick’s teeth and his tongue-in-cheek response to it, tbh.
And at least you all know I eat my greens. 🤪
— Nick Jonas (@nickjonas) January 27, 2020
Usher performed a medley of Prince’s hits in tribute to the late icon, and it was awesome. I definitely forget about Usher sometimes, but he reminded all of us why he’s such a star. Also, I definitely need to listen to more Prince, because all of these songs are incredible.
Lil Nas X had one of the best performances, and definitely the most fun out of anyone, when he performed a medley of his hits (yes, haters, he has more than one). He brought out the Walmart yodeling kid to join on “Old Town Road” (and Billy Ray Cyrus, but like, that was to be expected). But probably the most iconic moment was when Nas joined Lil Nas X onstage, effectively answering a question I’ve had for the past year, which is if Nas feels any type of way about Lil Nas X’s stage name. Glad to see there is nothing but love there.
After getting emotional and having to restart, Demi Lovato gave a powerful performance of “Anyone”, the heart-wrenching song she wrote four days before suffering her overdose in 2018. This was her first live performance in nearly two years, and her voice is just as stunning as ever. If you weren’t crying before, you were definitely crying watching her triumphant comeback. She’s also performing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl this weekend (casual), so I have a feeling it’s going to be a big year for Demi.
The tribute to Nipsey Hussle featuring Meek Mill, DJ Khaled, John Legend, YG, and Roddy Ricch was more than worth staying up past 10pm for, even though it should have occurred wayyyy earlier in the show. DJ Khaled and John Legend really gave Sunday Service a run for their money. I’d join their cult.
Ah yes, the GRAMMYs also has awards. This is really the only award show where the prizes feel like an afterthought, but we should still talk about them. This year, they decided to move one of the more highly-anticipated awards, Best New Artist, to the end of the show, probably because they knew everybody would take a nap if they followed what they did in years past and put it toward the beginning. I would say I’m not mad about the choice, but I am most definitely mad.
Speaking of the beginning, Lizzo won Best Pop Solo Performance, and thank god, because if Lizzo didn’t win something, and early on, the GRAMMYs wouldn’t be around for next year. She gave a touching speech about making music that liberates people and makes people feel good. She talked about the importance of reaching out to people who might be struggling, and also to reaching out to those close to you if you might be struggling. She said, “Let’s continue to hold each other down and lift each other up.” As my dad would say when trying to sound hip, I’m down for that.
Dan + Shay won a Grammy for Best Country Duo Performance and if you don’t know them, they’re the people that are on your friend’s pregame playlist that you beg to skip. The song they won for, “Speechless,” is like, the official song of engagement and wedding videos in the last year, so you probably either love it or hate it.
DJ Khaled, John Legend and Nipsey Hussle won for Best Rap/Sung Performance, which no one can argue was deserved. John Legend gave a nice tribute to Nipsey in his acceptance speech: “We’ve seen so much tragedy today and last year and so much has gone on, but let’s love each other and love our families and hold each other tight.” Overall, this was a weird night, but moments like this made it worthwhile.
And speaking of Best New Artist, Billie Eilish won that. And Song of the Year. And Record of the Year. AND Album of the Year. That’s right, it was a clean sweep. She’s only 18 years old, and none of us will ever be this accomplished in our lives. Ya hate to see it! Billie is only the second artist in history to win the big four awards in the same year, and I feel like she more or less deserves it (even if Billie herself said she wanted Ariana to win Album of the Year). If nothing else, it’s notable that the Recording Academy is willing to celebrate someone from the younger generation who’s doing something fresh and different. In the past, the GRAMMYs have been accused of only caring about old people, and that definitely wasn’t true this year.
Images: David Crotty / Getty Images; Giphy (3); nickjonas / Twitter
The 56th Grammy Awards were held in LA last night, and barring a nuclear attack from North Korea or an act of pure idiocy from Donald Trump, it’s all anyone will be talking about at your office today. Here is the briefest recap possible, in case you’re short on time.
Things The Grammys Did Right:
- James Corden
- Talked shit about Donald Trump
- Sufficient Rihanna reactions shots
- Let Adele perform twice
Things The Grammys Did Wrong:
But before we get into that, let’s do a rundown of the highlights, aka the awards for which the artists you’ve actually heard of were nominated. For the full list of winners, we’ve got you covered here.
Best Music Video: “Formation,” Beyoncé
Put Blue Ivy in a video and then try to tell me it doesn’t deserve every award on God’s green Earth. I dare you.
Best Dance Recording: “Don’t Let Me Down,” The Chainsmokers featuring Daya
That’s right. We live in a world where the Chainsmokers have a Grammy. I am going to be paying off student loans until I die, but the Chainsmokers, artists behind the riveting artistic work that was “selfie” have a fucking Grammy.
Best Urban Contemporary Album: Lemonade, Beyoncé
Beyoncé walked on stage to accept this award still looking like a perfect mixture of the Virgin Mary and an ancient Fertility Goddess and then pulled out a gilded card to read her speech off of. We get it, Bey. We get it. Also, please continue to dress your daughter in pink tuxes for the rest of her life.
Best Rock Song: “Blackstar,” Davie Bowie
Seeing as how David Bowie is currently flying around the galaxy and laughing at us mere mortals, The Chainsmokers and Katherine McPhee (who, I am just learning, is still alive) accepted this award on his behalf. I’m sure that’s totally who he would have picked for the occasion, given the opportunity.
Best Solo Country Performance: “My Church,” Maren Morris
Other than her perfect hair and striking resemblance to Jojo Fletcher, I have nothing to say about this girl.
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: “Stressed Out,” Twenty One Pilots
Literally the only moment all night where anyone was rooting for The Chainsmokers. Twenty One Pilots took off their pants to accept this award and explained that it was because of an agreement they’d made watching while the Grammy’s three years earlier at home in their underwear.
Cool story. Put your fucking pants back on. There are children in the audience.
Best Rap Song: “Hotline Bling,” Drake
Not even the promise of a Grammy could force Drake into a room with Rihanna and J.Lo at the same time. We don’t even blame him, tbh. But really, WTF else could Drake possibly be doing than attending the Grammys on a night he was nominated for album of the year? Making sure he was home and prepared for his viewing of the season premiere of Girls? Taking advantage of the unusually small line at Sweetgreen given all of Hollywood’s Grammys attendance?
Best Rap Album: Coloring Book, Chance the Rapper
If Kanye rants in the privacy of his own home and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?
Best New Artist: Chance the Rapper
I think that for most people who even barely pay attention to music, Chance has been around long enough to not be considered a “new” artist—but like every other trend white people jump on, it’s three years too late and they end up completely butchering the original meaning. (See: “basic,” “ratchet,” America, etc.)
Song of the Year: “Hello,” Adele
While some may have thought “Formation” had SOTY on lock, I thought this made sense. Much like the 1994 Quidditch World Cup, Beyoncé is supposed to win it all but Adele will catch the snitch.
Record of the Year: “Hello,” Adele
Alright, this still seems fine. Record of the Year and Song of the Year are basically the same award. We’re okay, everyone. No one panic yet.
Album of the Year: … 25, Adele.
We’ll come back to this snub once the Xanax kicks in, but for now let’s discuss the other, less interesting parts of this awards show. In a show that is always about two and half hours longer than it should be, Grammy performances tend to run the gamut from “show stopping” to “wow this is a perfect time to go refill my wine.” This year that spectrum seemed even more severe, with most of the acts falling pretty clearly on one side or the other.
Adele opened the show with “Hello,” rudely forcing everyone else to try and follow her. She is the only person in the world that I am completely content watching stand and sing, with literally no other production effect in place. She doesn’t even have to move. That woman could be lying in a La-Z-Boy singing in her sweats, and I’d still sit spellbound with my face three inches from the TV.
Ed Sheeran reminded us all how truly talented he is by turning his performance into a studio session and recreating every aspect of his song, “Shape of You,” live. He managed to hold my drunk self’s attention with just his voice and a loop pedal. Not bad, Chuckie Finster. Not bad.
Lady Gaga made Metallica relevant again in a highly entertaining performance full of wild pyrotechnics and a lot of hip swinging. Just a reminder that Gaga did the Super Bowl literally one week ago and still managed to kill it. RIP to the sound tech who forgot to turn on James Hetfield’s mic.
Chance the Rapper aka the love of my life continued to sprinkle joy everywhere he goes with his performances of “How Great” and “All We Got” off of Coloring Book, which won for Best Rap Album. BTW, Chance has never sold a single one of his songs for profit and just won a Grammy, so tell that to your Soundcloud rapper boyfriend who keeps saying next year will be “his year.” If you had taken a shot every time Chance thanked God throughout the night, you would have died and gotten to meet Him before you got to see Beyoncé lose album of the year. In hindsight, not the worst idea.
Throughout the night, some performers took their time on screen to make subtle jabs at Trump. Considering Meryl Streep wasn’t scheduled to perform, I’m glad someone else picked up the rest of Hollywood’s slack. But then A Tribe Called Quest took the stage with Busta Rhymes, Consequence, and Anderson .Paak, and if you took that opportunity to refill your glass because Busta Rhymes is the only name in that list you’d heard of before (and that was only because of his guest verse on “Look At Me Now”), you fucked up.
Part tribute to the late Phife Dog, part political rally, Tribe was not out here for subtlety tonight. They made sure their message was loud and clear, and that message was “Fuck Donald Trump.”
Busta Rhymes straight-up called him President Agent Orange on live television. We live in a world where the President of the United States of America is going to try and start a Twitter fight with Busta Rhymes in the morning (I bet my life savings he’ll reference “the inner cities”). I wouldn’t have believed that sentence three years ago and now it’s the least ridiculous thing that I’ll hear all day.
But they didn’t stop there! After backup dancers knocked down an actual wall on stage, Busta Rhymes went on to address Donald Trump’s Muslim ban while Tribe aptly segued into their song “We the People.” They invited immigrants onto the stage before ending the performance with a chant of “Resist!” It was every conservative white man’s nightmare, meaning it was everything.
Adele made her second appearance on the performance stage for a tribute to George Michael with his song “Fastlove.” After what some have deemed a rocky start but still sounded like solid perfection to me, Adele stopped the music and asked if she could start over because George deserved to have it done right. It wasn’t the last time she would make us all cry that night.
Last, but most certainly not least, Beyoncé. Where do I even fucking start.
Considering the nomination for Lemonade (a visual album), and her pregnancy announcement photos (a visual masterpiece that is probably being hung in the Louvre as I type this), we all knew that her performance would be the absolute Most™ in the way that only Beyoncé can be.
And yet, nothing—nothing—could have prepared me to watch as a five month pregnant Beyoncé Knowles recreated the fucking last supper, comprised solely of black women, on live television. Beyoncé is out here, in Trump’s America, reminding us all that she is quite literally God. Extra? Absolutely. But as we all learned later on in the show, it’s a reminder that was oh so needed. For the first time in my life, but not the last time last night, I was truly speechless—and it’s not just because Beyoncé, five months pregnant with twins, is more beautiful than I can ever hope to be.
James Corden deserves a shout-out for being one of the few award show hosts that managed to pull off funny without coming across hokey or contrived. Golden Globes, take some notes. All of his bits throughout the night were brief, but they did their job. They made us laugh, humanized the absolutely inhuman people in that auditorium, and broke up the monotonous string of country performances that everyone politely pretended to enjoy. Bring him back every year, but only if he continues to dress like the fifth member of DNCE.
P.S. not sure what the guy next to James’ aesthetic is about. Is he a walking PSA for the dangers of electrocution?
Award for Grammy MVP goes to Rihanna and her flask, for being the single most relatable couple at the show. The most valuable camera man in the industry is the one who knows to cut to Rihanna at just the right moment, aka any time she’s calling for more shots or rolling her eyes at people. Never change, Rih. You are our sun and stars.
Me, when my friend starts drunk crying because Kyle hasn’t texted her back:
I think it’s time for another shot pic.twitter.com/m8x1WTNJ9V
— not pinkett smith (@Iilspice) February 13, 2017
Me, when my ex said he’ll find someone better than me:
Rihanna laughing at Bruno Mars is the best thing ever #GRAMMYs pic.twitter.com/XdrYY7QBW9
— Mashable (@mashable) February 13, 2017
Me, spending this Valentine’s Day single and alone:
Rihanna’s having a great time #GRAMMYs pic.twitter.com/1Ox3w7VKns
— Mashable (@mashable) February 13, 2017
Ok, back to the face-off of the decade: Beyoncé vs. Adele. It goes without saying that Beyoncé should have won. That is an objective fact, BTW.
Lemonade, in no uncertain terms, stopped the world when it dropped. It was one of the single most culturally significant moments of 2016. My grandmother called me and asked me if I’d heard that Jay Z had cheated on Beyoncé, and she didn’t even call me when my own boyfriend cheated on me. That’s how far reaching this shit was.
Beyoncé bared her soul in Lemonade in a way that she never had before. She put it all out there for the world: her pain, her embarrassment, her struggle, her ability to manipulate Jay Z into going down on her by promising to take him to Red Lobster.
Adele used her acceptance speech to go full Cady Heron and essentially give her spring fling crown Grammy to Beyoncé.
Actual footage of Adele’s acceptance speech:
Adele cried. Beyoncé cried. We all cried. Rihanna hopefully finished her flask. James Corden wrapped that shit up before anyone had time to react. Before we knew it, the Grammy’s were over and we were all left wondering what the hell had just happened.
We obviously have a lot of feelings about Adele beating out Beyoncé, which you can read here.
For the full list of winners, check out our complete list here.