The 58th Annual Grammy Awards was hosted by LL Cool J for the fifth year in a row on Feb. 15. There was a large array of performers, from country superstars like Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt to pop artists like Justin Bieber, and even entertainment for the “oldies” lovers with acts from The Eagles and Hollywood Vampires. Despite the amusing productions, the actual lack of award giving in the midst of all the performances was highly noticeable. 75 winners received awards before the show even began, and there were only eight awards presented during the show.
Taylor Swift took on the duty of opening up the show with “Out of the Woods,” although this performance wasn’t as memorable as her 2013 opening act where she mocked Harry Styles while singing “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Like usual, she swept a majority of her nominated categories including album of the year, best pop vocal album and best music video awards for the celeb-packed “Bad Blood” video featuring Kendrick Lamar. During her acceptance speech for album of the year, Taylor indirectly fired back at Kanye West in reference to one of his lyrics on his new album which took credit for her fame. She clarified that the people she loves and herself are responsible for her vast accomplishments. “There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success…but someday when you get where you’re going you will look around and you will know that is was you and the people who love you who put you there,” she said.
Kendrick Lamar was another major winner, earning five Grammys in addition to the shared best music video award with Taylor Swift. The others include best rap album for “To Pimp a Butterfly,” best rap performance, best rap song for “Alright” and best rap collaboration. In keeping with the theme of politically driven acts during Black History Month, Kendrick conducted an insane performance of “The Blacker the Berry,” “Alright” and an untitled track while chained to other African-American men to symbolize slavery and touch on the Black Lives Matter Movement. His powerful criticism of police brutality continued as he rapped the lyric, “February 26th I lost my life too. 2012 set us back four hundred years,” referencing the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin.
There were unmemorable performances from a combination of various artists such as Ellie Goulding and Andra Day, The Weeknd and Little Big Town. Lionel Richie won MusiCares person of the year and in honor of this achievement a medley of his songs were performed by a large cast of artists including Meghan Trainor, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Tyrese Gibson and Luke Bryan. Richie rooted them on from the crowd and hopped up at the end to finish singing “All Night Long.” It was different to see such a performance for someone who is still alive and there was definitely a missed opportunity for Adele to sing Lionel Richie’s “Hello” during the act. Speaking of Adele, her performance of “All I Ask” was a tad bit underwhelming, with a few minor voice cracks but she is incredibly talented nonetheless.
There were numerous other acts in honor of great performers who have passed, including a Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix tribute to Earth Wind and Fire singer Maurice White. They sang an acapella version of “That’s the Way of the World” before announcing the winner of song of the year, which deservingly went to Ed Sheeran and his co-writer Amy Wadge for “Thinking Out Loud.” Miguel sang a bit of “She’s Out of my Life” in remembrance of the king of pop, Michael Jackson. The tributes didn’t stop there, The Eagles also payed tribute to Glenn Frey, and who better to do a tribute to the late legend David Bowie than Lady Gaga, who passionately exhibited Bowie-like mannerisms while singing some of his greatest. The act started with a captivating visual transformation of Gaga’s face to display Bowie’s iconic and signature lightning bolt. She sang small snippets of “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Ziggiy Stardust,” “Rebel Rebel” and “Fashion.” Gaga’s performance marked a comeback for her unique and unconventional self.
The highly-acclaimed and widely popular Broadway musical “Hamilton” cast performed the opening number “Alexander Hamilton” live from New York and later accepted their award for best musical theater album. Javier Munoz, the lead role who plays Alexander Hamilton, received the Grammy with the cast behind him and rapped an acceptance speech which gave his thanks.
Other major awards include record of the year to Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson for “Uptown Funk,” country album to “Traveller” by Chris Stapleton, and rock performance to Alabama Shakes for “Don’t Wanna Fight.” Meghan Trainor snatched best new artist from some more deserving new artists, like James Bay and Tori Kelly who gave a moving performance earlier in the night. Rihanna unfortunately canceled her performance due to bronchitis and the show was closed by the energetic, and somewhat annoying, Pitbull who sang “El Taxi” and “Bad Man.”