On Monday, February 15, music aficionados throughout America directed their attention to The Recording Academy’s biggest night of the year. With close to 25 million viewers tuning into CBS, all eyes were on the 58th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles’ Staples Center.
Each year, artists put their best work forward to compete against their musical peers for various awards throughout the night. For the second time, Taylor Swift took home one of the biggest awards of the night, Album of the Year, for 1989, making her the first female artist to do so. To add on to the list, Swift also received awards for Best Pop Vocal Album for 1989 and Best Music Video for “Bad Blood” which features hip-hop heavyweight Kendrick Lamar.
The other artists who won big include Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars (winning Record of the Year for the infectious “Uptown Funk”), Ed Sheeran (winning Song of the Year for “Thinking Out Loud”), and Meghan Trainor (for Best New Artist).
More genre-specific winners of the night include American blues rock band Alabama Shakes (winning Best Alternative Music Album, Best Rock Performance, and Best Rock Song for their hit “Don’t Wanna Fight”), The Weeknd (Best R&B Performance for “Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)” and Best Urban Contemporary Album, Beauty Behind the Madness), D’Angelo and the Vanguard (Best R&B Song, “Really Love”, and Best R&B Album, Black Messiah), and Chris Stapleton (Best Country Solo Performance, “Traveller,” and Best Country Album, Traveller).
However, Kendrick Lamar, who was also nominated for Album of the Year with Taylor Swift, walked home with five golden statues, including Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. During this year’s ceremony, the Compton rapper broke records with his 11 nominations, surpassing Eminem as the rapper with the most nominations in a single night, and is second overall to do so after the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. To add on to his historic night, Kendrick Lamar performed a fiery Black Lives Matter-inspired medley of “The Blacker the Berry” and “Alright” along with another verse appropriately titled “Untitled 3”. His performance alone became arguably one of the biggest highlights of the night, with a variety of Twitter commentaries and memes taking over the Internet shortly after the rapper walked off stage.
Performances at this year’s awards paid tribute to the late and great music artists of recent past. One tribute highlight of the night was Lady Gaga’s musical memorial to the late David Bowie, who passed away from liver cancer this February. According to Billboard, Gaga’s tribute to Bowie was the “most-talked-about moment” on Facebook across the country. Many comparisons between Gaga and Bowie have been made, especially after his untimely death, making Gaga the obvious choice for this dedication. Performing an array of Bowie’s chart-topping hits, including “Space Oddity”, “Fame”, and “Under Pressure”, Gaga performed like a chameleon blending in with the visual and artistic styles of Bowie.
Even more tributes took place throughout the night, including Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix’s musical recognition to Earth Wind & Fire’s Maurice White (performing “That’s The Way of the World”); Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark Jr., and Bonnie Raitt’s tribute to B.B. King (“The Thrill Is Gone”); and the star-studded tribute to the MusiCares Person of the Year, Lionel Richie.
As glamorous as the night may have been, this year’s Grammy Awards still lacked the pizzazz that hopeful viewers anticipated. Pop star Rihanna was scheduled to perform at the awards, but backed out due to bronchitis. Soul singer Lauryn Hill was rumored to perform with The Weeknd, but was a no-show and instead performed with the singer on The Tonight Show. Kendrick Lamar fans wished for a Taylor Swift-esque intervention by an absent Kanye West upon the announcement of the Album of the Year winner. Even Beyhive members watched in hopes of seeing a surprise “Formation” Part II performance by Beyoncé herself, and were disappointed to discover she would only present the award for Record of the Year. Fortunately, their absences from this year’s performances can only mean we can anticipate an epic showdown of musical performances at next year’s awards.