The 60th Grammys aired Sunday night live from Madison Square Garden in NYC. There were some upsets, like 4:44, which was nominated for the most Grammys and went home with zero, and some obvious choices, like everything Bruno Mars has ever put out. Record of the Year went to 24k Magic by Bruno Mars.
Almost as important as the awards are the performances during the show, which demonstrate the array of talented individuals in the music scene. Below are our five favorite performances from last night.
1. KENDRICK LAMAR (& DAVE CHAPPELLE)
KENDRICK LAMAR kicked off the Grammys with an iconic, explosive, dynamic performance that we can only ever expect from the DAMN. artist. An American flag appeared across the screens, and men and women in uniform were seen standing at attention. What seemed to be a patriotic salute became an intense medley of some songs from Kendrick’s 2017 album. U2 joined Kendrick on stage. At one point, the screens went black, and white words read THIS IS A SATIRE BY KENDRICK LAMAR. The soldiers danced with Kendrick to “DNA”, the lights cutting black with the lyric “dodging bullets, reaping what you sow.” At that point, comedian Dave Chappelle appeared and said, “Hi, I’m Dave Chappelle. And I just wanted to remind the audience that the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America is being an honest black man in America.” He then said, “Sorry for the interruption. Please, continue.” Some have hinted that this continuation of Kendrick’s satire was a scathing blow to CBS, who cast James Corden as the host for the second year in a row. The performance continued into a medley of songs that Kendrick had been featured on. Behind him, the soldiers had changed into red hoodies, and with each verse Kendrick rapped, they fell with the sound of gunshots until Kendrick was the only one left. After his album dropped in March, Kendrick immediately became one of the most powerful forces in music and culture today. He was nominated for eight Grammys: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best Rap Performance, Best Rap/Sung Performance, Best Rap Song, Best Rap Album, and Best Music Video. He walked away with five Grammys: one for “Loyalty” featuring Rihanna (Best Rap/Sung Performance) three for “HUMBLE.” (Best Rap Performance, Best Rap Song, Best Music Video), and one for DAMN. (Best Rap Album). Not too shabby, K-Dot.
2. LADY GAGA
LADY GAGA, in a Black Swan-esque dress and makeup combination, played a piano covered with angel wings as she sang “Joanne” and “Million Reasons.” Her performance was deeply emotional and simplistic. “This is for my father’s late sister, Joanne. This is for love and compassion, even when you can’t understand,” she said. After revealing in late 2017 that she has fibromyalgia, a condition that causes widespread musculoskeletal pain, Gaga’s performance was just that much more intense. Gaga’s aunt, Joanna Stefani Germanotta, who the album is named after, and where Lady Gaga got her own birth name (Stefani Joanne), suffered from lupus and was “one of the most important figures in my life,” Gaga said in a 2016 interview with Billboard. “Million Reasons”, a radio hit this year, was released October 2016, but was not high on the charts until after her Superbowl performance the subsequent February.
KESHA took the stage to perform her song “Praying” from the album Rainbow, with Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels, Andra Day, Cyndi Lauper, Bebe Rexha, and a chorus of women. All wore white, which Cabello said symbolized strength. Kesha who has not released music since 2012, took her producer Lukasz Sebastian “Dr. Luke” Gottwald to court in 2016 for sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. As she was still in a contract, she was forced to either continue to make music with her abuser, or not make music at all. She filed a suit in October 2014 against Gottwald, and was countersued in the same month. The New York Supreme Court dismissed Kesha’s claims in April 2016, and Kesha dropped her charges in Los Angeles (where the sexual assault is said to occur). “Praying” was released in July of 2017, and features raw, emotional, and hard-hitting vocals and lyrics. Her Grammys performance was striking as she stumbled through her own lyrics, obviously emotional. In the wake of the #MeToo movement and in light of the #TimesUp campaign’s momentum, we are fully behind Kesha and all who have been victims of assault. The courage it must have taken Kesha to stand up in front of a room of people who did not believe her, and sing about her greatest trauma, is admirable and inspiring.
Though she lost to Alessia Cara for Best New Artist, SZA’s performance of “Broken Clocks” was visually stunning. The Jersey girl floored us all in 2017 with her album, featuring songs like “Love Galore” with Travis Scott, “Ctrl,” “The Weekend,” and “Supermodel,” all of which were nominated for various awards. Ctrl dropped in June 2017, much to the R&B community’s happiness. Though she didn’t win any of the awards she was nominated for, she did feature in a new GAP commercial with Metro Boomin that we love. Her performance was full of pure, raw talent, and it is great to see new artists gracing a stage that many have performed on before.
5. BEN PLATT & PATTI LUPONE
BEN PLATT, star of Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen, delivered a beautiful rendition of “Somewhere” from the musical West Side Story. Platt won a Grammy earlier in the evening with the rest of the Dear Evan Hansen Cast for Best Musical Theater Album.
Platt and another Broadway icon, PATTI LUPONE, paid tribute to Leonard Bernstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber, as the latter turns 70 soon, and the former would have been 100 this year. LuPone sang “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from the musical Evita, for which she won her first Tony award in 1980.
JOHN LEGEND & TONY BENNETT
GENTLEMEN. WHERE IS THE COLLAB?
APPLE ANIMOJI COMMERCIAL
Too cool not to share – the song is “Stir Fry” from Migos’ new album Culture II. These are the Amigos.