The 62 Annual Grammy Awards were a teary affair: performers at the Staples Center took the stage below the retired jerseys of Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash earlier in the day. But the night also included triumphs for first-time Grammy winners like Lizzo, who kicked off the show with a jubilant performance, and Billie Eilish who swept the big four categories for the first time since Christopher Cross in 1981. Here are some of the most memorable moments from the show.
Alicia Keys’ capable hosting
Hosting awards shows is a risky and thankless business—and despite all that’s gone wrong for Oscar hosts over the past few years, the Grammys are perhaps the hardest gig of them all. Given the behind-the-scenes chaos that has engulfed the Recording Academy, so many things could have gone wrong for host Alicia Keys. An overeager exuberance could have felt alienating to the portion of the music business calling for more diversity and accountability, while skepticism could have weighed down the entire night (see: this year’s Golden Globes). And that’s all before the news of Kobe Bryant’s death broke on Sunday afternoon, sending the Staples Center into a stunned sense of collective mourning.
But Keys rose to the occasion, handling an extremely awkward situation with flexibility and poise. Her impromptu a capella performance of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” with Boyz II Men was a cathartic moment, and a perfect way to handle a tribute that could have dissolved into insincere treacle. (The performance also continued the song’s powerful legacy as a tribute anthem: Barrio Boyzz played it after Selena’s death, and Usher performed it for Aaliyah).
Billie Eilish wins best new artist and four other Grammys
(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Billie Eilish won the Grammy for best new artist, a stacked category in which she competed against Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Black Pumas, Maggie Rogers, Rosalía, Tank and the Bangas, and Yola. Eilish first gained traction after she uploaded a song called “Ocean Eyes” on SoundCloud in 2016, but 2019 proved to be a breakout year for the 18-year-old artist.
Her album “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” was released in March and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and on the UK Albums Chart, making her the first artist born in the 2000s to have a No. 1 album in the United States and the youngest female ever to have a No. 1 album in the United Kingdom. She also took home Grammys for best song for her track “bad guy,” record of the year, best pop vocal album and album of the year.
Camila Cabello sings to her father
Camila Cabello’s Grammys performance struck an emotional chord with viewers, who said her song reminded them of the Bryant family. While singing, Cabello descended the stage and approached her father, Alejandro Cabello, as pictures of her childhood appeared on a screen behind her. Her father appeared to cry as she sang to him, and they shared a hug after the performance.
Ariana Grande’s powerhouse medley
After disparaging the Grammys last year, Ariana Grande showed the Academy what they were missing by delivering a versatile powerhouse performance of cuts from her album Thank U, Next. She glided through her pink monochrome set with a cheeky ease, pairing old-school demure glamour with bombastic twerking and graceful full-throated vocal runs with effortless rapid-fire trap cadences.
Lil Nas X and BTS’ “Old Town Road” Performance
Lil Nas X, who gained prominence through his country trap single “Old Town Road,” continued to fuse different genres in his latest performance of “Old Town Road,” featuring K-pop band BTS and viral yodeling star Mason Ramsey. It was the first Grammy performance for BTS and Mason, 13, who is one of the youngest Grammy performers ever.
Nipsey Hussle tribute
The late Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle was honored with performances by John Legend, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG. The artist, who died in march, posthumously won the best rap performance award for his track “Racks in the Middle,” a collaboration featuring Ricch and Hit-Boy.
“I wanted to thank all of you for showing all the love that I have felt for him all of his life and will always live in my heart,” his grandmother Margaret Boutte said as she and his family accepted the award on his behalf. “So thank you, thank you, thank you.”
credits: NBS news, TIME news.