For the first time since 2003, the Grammys were held in New York City at Madison Square Garden in honor of the ceremony’s 60th anniversary. This year’s show had its fair share of moving performances, inspirational speeches, political statements and shut-outs.
Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar dominated the ceremony, leaving the top-nominated artists Jay-Z, SZA, Childish Gambino and Khalid empty-handed. The fourth top category for best new artist went to singer/songwriter Alessia Cara over SZA, Khalid, Lil Uzi Vert and Julia Michaels.
Hosted by The Late Late Show’s James Cordon for the second year in a row, his antics included Subway Karaoke with Sting and Shaggy and handing out consolation puppies to Grammy “losers.” The most memorable and controversial part of Corden’s antics was an fake audition to narrate Michael Wolff’s firsthand account of Trump’s White House, Fire & Fury. John Legend, Cardi B, Cher, DJ Khaled, Snoop Dog and Hillary Clinton starred in the skit and it’s been causing quite a stir.
The 60th Grammy Awards opened with an explosive performance by Kendrick Lamar with the song “XXX,” a collab with U2 (Bono and The Edge joined him on stage). It cut into “DNA” and finished with Kendrick’s version of Jay Rock’s “King’s Dead,” where we saw him “shooting down” backup dancers decked in red sweat suits. This intense opener stuck in my head throughout the whole ceremony and made me think about its political implications.
Moving back to the awards, Bruno Mars came out on top with 6 Grammys. This includes wins for the top three categories for record, album and song of the year for 24K Magic, it’s title track and the single “That’s What I Like.” He also commanded the R&B field with wins for best R&B performance, best R&B song and best R&B album.
In “second place” with 5 Grammys is Kendrick Lamar. His song HUMBLE won best rap song, best rap performance and best music video. The best rap album went to Kendrick for DAMN and Best Rap/Sung performance for “Loyalty,” featuring Rihanna.
Highlights of the 60th Grammy Awards include a rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” by Maren Morris, Eric Church and Brothers Osbourne. All of these artists played at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas in October where the mass shooting took place. Their performance was dedicated to the victims of the shooting.
After this touching song came Janelle Monáe introducing Kesha’s performance with a powerful speech in support of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. Wearing all white, Kesha gave a strong and emotional performance for her song “Praying” alongside Cyndi Lauper, Julia Michaels, Bebe Rexha, Andra Day and the whole Resistance Revival Chorus (who also wore white) to show a united front.
Camila Cabello’s speech about dreamers reminded us that our country was built by dreamers chasing the American dream. She stressed that these kids can’t be forgotten and are worth fighting for. Cabello introduced U2 before they performed their song “Get Out of Your Own Way” on a barge on the Hudson River, next to the Statue of Liberty. They took a political stance against the president by shouting out all of the countries Trump deemed as “shitholes” that he wouldn’t let immigrate to the U.S. It had a rallying effect and reminds us how our country came to be and that we must be more accepting.
Following the desire for inclusivity, Logic’s final performance of the night with “1-800-273-8255” drove the point home. Dozens of suicide survivors and family members of suicide victims flanked Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid on stage as they performed. At the end of the song, Logic delivered a speech that praised equality for all and called for allowing any immigrant in need into our country. His speech clarified again that Trump’s hateful comments have no place here: “To all the beautiful countries filled with culture, diversity and thousands of years of history–you are not shitholes,” Logic said.
Other notable acts included Lady Gaga’s angel-wing themed performance of “Joanne” and “Million Reasons,” as well as Gary Clark Jr. and Jon Batiste’s tribute to Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. Childish Gambino came in with an impressive performance of “Terrified” that showcased his incredible vocal range, while Bruno Mars and Cardi B gave us a throwback with a 90’s-themed remix of “Finesse.” Another exciting performance came from Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee with a full Spanish version of “Despacito.” And I can’t forget Elton John and Miley Cyrus’s sparkling duet of “Tiny Dancer.”
Now that you’ve had a full recap of the 60th Grammy Awards, here are The Pop Break’s reactions to the biggest wins of the evening:
Record Of The Year Winner: “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars
I had a weird feeling that “Despacito” would win this one, but obviously, I was wrong. However, “24k Magic” is extremely catchy and so much fun to dance to—this song is the title track and major hit of the album. It also reminds me of “Uptown Funk,” which is a “classic” party tune. This win for Bruno Mars is one I’m okay with.
Album Of The Year Winner: 24K Magic by Bruno Mars
I was hoping for Lorde’s Melodrama to win, but sadly it didn’t happen. I even thought that Jay-Z had a big chance of receiving this award. However, Bruno Mars just swept everyone else away. You do have to respect his Grammy acceptance speech though, as his main goal of this album was to bring people together. While I’m not the biggest fan of this particular album of his, it does get people moving. And it’s probably the least political choice of any of the nominees.
Song Of The Year Winner: “That’s What I Like,” Bruno Mars
As I said in my nomination reactions piece, the quality of the songwriting is what matters, and I go with my original belief that “That’s What I Like” doesn’t cut it. It’s about the typical subject of having lots of money, buying expensive things and women (basically gold diggers). While it’s catchy and easy to sing and dance to, there really isn’t much craftsmanship with the lyrics of this one and its meaning is quite shallow. I really wanted Logic’s “1-800-273-8255” to win because of its message about the importance of mental health. This song encouraged people to reach out and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for help.
Best New Artist Winner: Alessia Cara
I hadn’t heard of Alessia Cara before Logic’s song “1-800-273-8255” and I was rooting for Khalid or the New Jersey-based SZA, but I’m okay with Alessia Cara winning. She is talented, has a beautiful voice and her lyrics are relatable. She’s also been nominated dozens of times and won a multitude of awards for her music.
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance Winner: “Feel It Still” by Portugal. The Man
I am very happy with this win! I was really hoping for this, since Portugal. The Man is another band that I’ve been listening to since 2011. This song is instantly catchy, has a groove that makes you dance, yet it stays true to their sound. They deserved this one.
Best Pop Vocal Album Winner: ÷ (Divide) by Ed Sheeran.
I’ve always been a fan of Ed Sheeran since 2011 when I first heard “The A Team.” I’m not surprised he won this Grammy, after his two wins for “Thinking Out Loud” at the 58th Grammys. This was another album that I listened to on repeat for a couple months.
Best Rock Album Winner: A Deeper Understanding by The War On Drugs
I only listened to a couple songs on this album, and I wasn’t very impressed. I thought maybe Queens of the Stone Age would win, but after Josh Homme purposely kicked an innocent photographer in the face when she was just doing her job, maybe that impacted the decision? We’ll never be sure.
Best Alternative Album Winner: Sleep Well Beast by The National
For this Grammy, I thought Arcade Fire would win, but alas, The National came out on top. I’ve had trouble getting into their music, but a couple songs from this album such as “Turtleneck” and “Guilty Party” have made their way onto a playlist of mine. Their music feels very reflective, dark and emotional. They haven’t won any awards before this one, so I’d say they deserve it.
Best Country Album Winner: From A Room: Volume 1 by Chris Stapleton
Chris Stapleton now has 5 Grammys under his belt. He also won best country solo performance for “Either Way” and best country song for “Broken Halos.” I have to say “Broken Halos” is pretty incredible with its pure emotion. His songs remind me of the music of The Black Crowes and The Eagles. There’s something very genuine and honest about the sound of Chris Stapleton’s music, from the moving lyrics to his distinct vocals.