Two words: King Kendrick.
The jam-packed 58th GRAMMY Awards showcased prominent artists, and tributes bridged past and present by honoring some of music’s best. Rapper Kendrick Lamar’s revolutionary performance stood out as the single most interesting, engaging aspect of the show. Let’s dig into 10 things the GRAMMY’s brought to the table (and a few who were noticeably absent).
By Zoya Zia
The King: King Kendrick
On several levels, he was the star. Not only did he leave with five awards under his belt, but his performance of “The Blacker the Berry” and “Alright” changed the game. It seized the audience with powerful visuals and resonated with his socially-charged album, “To Pimp a Butterfly.” He won Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song, to name a few. NBA hall-of-famer Kobe Bryant, actress Anna Kendrick, singer Justin Timberlake and even the White House all expressed their support for Kendrick. To top it all off, Kendrick remained humble and gave a shout-out to his wife, Whitney, as he accepted an award. What a guy.
A Queen (wait...for another one): Adele
Fans said hello to Adele and her vocal range as she performed “All I Ask.” At first, she sounded a bit off, maybe even a little out of tune. Adele later confirmed on Twitter that it was just technical difficulties. Phew. Immediately after her moving performance, she selflessly brought us back to what Kendrick accomplished minutes earlier, shouting “I love you Kendrick, you’re amazing!” Adele treated herself to In-n-Out after the show. Go ahead, girl. You deserve it. You’re amazing.
The Hero: Lady Gaga
Nobody else could have done the David Bowie tribute more justice. In true Gaga fashion, Lady Gaga gave it her all as she sang through several Bowie classics in a colorful medley. Her lively, personal renditions of songs including “Space Oddity” and “Heroes” were fun to watch and even more fun to listen to. From head to toe, she embodied her character and provided a heartfelt tribute to the late Bowie.
The Musical: “Hamilton”
Americans got a taste of “Hamilton,” an extraordinary Broadway musical that brings together the hip-hop world and the political world. Stephen Colbert introduced the cast in New York before they performed their opening number, “Alexander Hamilton,” live. When they accepted the award for Best Musical Theater Album, Lin-Manuel Miranda, who plays Alexander Hamilton rapped their thanks — the perfect testimony to how brilliant “Hamilton” is.
Honorable Mentions: Alabama Shakes, “Uptown Funk”
American rock band Alabama Shakes had a good night, winning Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance. They also performed “Don’t Wanna Fight,” making a memorable GRAMMY debut. Meanwhile, “Uptown Funk” is just as incredible as the first time we heard it. That song just cannot get old. In fact, it won Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
Rich with Wonder: Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder
The Lionel Richie tribute involved very different artists but all shared a common theme for honoring Richie. John Legend sang a soothing cover “Easy” and Demi Lovato absolutely killed it with “Hello.” After enjoying their covers, Richie joined them onstage to end with a heart-warming performance of “All Night Long.” A while later, Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix remembered Maurice White of Earth, Wind, & Fire with another tribute. Then, Wonder presented the Song of the Year award by reading a braille envelope. He took the opportunity to speak up on accessibility for the disabled, winning more of our admiration.
Duets: Andra Day and Ellie Goulding, James Bay and Tori Kelly
Duets on duets on duets. Artists complemented each other and complimented each other afterwards. Andra Day and Ellie Goulding performed “Love Me Like You Do” and “Rise Up.” James Bay and Tori Kelly performed “Let it Go” and “Hollow.” They all did a fantastic job. Tweets attest to this.
For Pop Culture’s Sake: Ed Sheeran, The Weeknd
These folks were not the center of attention but still deserve a quick shout out. Ed Sheeran left with Song of the Year for “Thinking Out Loud.” In his speech, he thanked his parents, who have come out to the past four GRAMMYs to be there for him. The Weeknd won Best R&B Performance for “Earned It.” Funnily enough, Ariana Grande introduced him before his performance by awkwardly imitating him singing that song.
Awards of Participation: Taylor, Selena, Justin
Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez were BFFs all night. The camera focused on them on the red carpet and always panned back at them in the audience. Rest assured, I knew exactly how Tay and Sel felt about basically each award’s recipient. Though they got the attention, they were overshadowed by Kendrick, Adele and the like. Similarly, Justin Bieber was on the back burner. Bieber brought along his little brother, but his performance with Skrillex and Diplo was not that memorable. Still, he won his first GRAMMY for Best Dance Recording.
Where You At?!: Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Drake
In a turn of events, more than one superstar bailed on the show. Rihanna could not attend on doctor’s orders, Drake warned us ahead of time that he would not be there and Nicki never provided a guarantee. Still, these absences were felt. Fans missed them greatly.
The GRAMMYs were a little overwhelming at times. After Meghan Trainor won Best New Artist (an upset) and Taylor Swift won Album of the Year (an upset), Beyonce, our other Queen, appeared out of nowhere to present Record of the Year. Before announcing the winner, she highlights the importance of music and says that art is “the unapologetic celebration of culture through self-expression.” Kendrick is a prime example of this. However, other artists also engage in musical artistry — why many watch or care about music and the GRAMMY Awards.