GRAMMYs Recap: Kendrick Gets Political, Rihanna Cancels, Adele Hurt by CBS Audio Issues

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Kendrick Lamar led all artists with Five wins while Taylor Swift picked up Album of the Year and Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” snagged Record of the Year at the 58th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday night.

The night got off to an auspicious start as Rihanna cancelled her performance at the last minute after reportedly coming down with bronchitis. Lauryn Hill, who was tapped to perform alongside the Weeknd, also backed out at the last minute.

Nevertheless, the night saw big performances from Adele, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, the Hollywood Vampire supergroup (Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry) and the cast of the hit Broadway show Hamilton. The show also featured a ton of musical tributes: Jackson Browne joined the Eagles for a tribute to late guitarist Glenn Frey, Stevie Wonder teamed up with the vocal group Pentatonix for a tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire’s Maurice White, John Legend led an all-star Lionel Richie tribute and Gaga channeled the late David Bowie.

Perhaps the highlight of the night came when Stevie Wonder presented Ed Sheeran with the Grammy for Song of the Year (“Thinking Out Loud”). The 22-time Grammy-winner jokingly mocked the audience for not being able to read the winner’s card, as it was written in Braille.

“I just have to say before saying the winner that we need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability,” he said, to raucous applause.

Wonder also brought the house down with an a capella performance of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “That’s the Way of the World” alongside Pentatonix in honor of the late Maurice White.

Here are the biggest highlights from music’s biggest night:

1. The Eagles and Jackson Browne – “Take It Easy”

Jackson Browne joined up with the surviving members of the Eagles to perform the band’s first-ever single, the1972 hit “Take It Easy,” in a moving tribute to founding guitarist Glenn Frey, who passed away in January. The performance drew a standing ovation.

2. Gary Sinise Takes a Second to Thank the Troops

Actor Gary Sinise took a brief moment to thank the men and women in uniform while presenting the award for Best Country Album (which went to Chris Stapleton’s Traveller).

“I’d like to take a brief second to send a special thank-you and shout-out to the men and women serving our country around the world, who are in harm’s way,” Sinise said, to loud applause. “Thank you very much.”

3. Lionel Richie Steals the Show During Own Musical Tribute

John Legend, Demi Lovato, Luke Bryan, Meghan Trainor and Tyrese Gibson led an ensemble tribute to Lionel Richie, performing the singer’s hits “Easy,” “Hello,” “You Are” and “All Night Long.” Richie joined his own musical tribute on the latter number, showing all the younger artists how its done, at age 66.

A red Solo cup-holding Dave Grohl was digging it.

4. Andra Day/Ellie Goulding – “Rise Up/Love Me Like You Do”

Andra Day and Ellie Goulding teamed up for the night’s first truly memorable performance as they performed a duet on their respective hit songs. Day will keep the momentum going when she performs at a fundraiser for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in New York next month alongside Elton John and Katy Perry.

5. Lady Gaga’s Tribute to David Bowie

Fresh off of her headline-making performance of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl last week, Lady Gaga delivered an effects-heavy tribute to the late David Bowie, stringing together a number of the late artist’s hits including “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Ziggy Stardust” and “Suffragette City.”

The performance was one of the longest of the night. Chic’s Nile Rodgers also performed as Gaga ran through “Rebel Rebel,” “Fashion,” “Fame” and “Heroes.”

6. Hollywood Vampires Tribute to Motorhead’s Lemmy

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl introduced the new supergroup Hollywood Vampires (Johnny Depp, Joe Perry and Alice Cooper) for its first TV appeance. The supergroup delivered a tribute to Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, who passed away in December after a short battle with cancer.

The band performed its own “As Bad As I Am” and Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.”

Other Notes:

— Five-time winner Kendrick Lamar performed a medley of hits from his album To Pimp a Butterfly in one of the more elaborate and politically-charged sets of the night.

— Adele gave it her all on the ballad “All I Ask” during what should have been one of the standout performances of the evening. But CBS had major problems with its audio during the performance, and what initially sounded like a bizarrely out-of-time acoustic guitar further compounded the problems. The singer later said a microphone had fallen on the piano strings, causing the weird sound. Her response: “Sh*t happens.”

A shame, as it could have been a great performance. Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt’s performance from earlier in the evening was also plagued by audio problems. Twitter was not happy.

—  After an impressive performance at the MTV VMA Awards last year, Justin Bieber couldn’t quite find his footing with his performance here, even though his “Where Are U Now” won Best Dance Recording. But the live, rock-ified version of the song seemed like a misstep, and Skrillex and Diplo were basically just there for show. The performance didn’t kill his comeback, but it didn’t help it either.

— Meghan Trainor choked back tears while taking the stage to accept the Grammy for Best New Artist. Her acceptance speech was arguably the best of the night.

— The cast of the hit Broadway musical Hamilton — a hip-hop retelling of the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton — performed the play’s opening number live from New York after being introduced by Stephen Colbert. The group later won the Grammy for Best Musical Theater album, and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda rapped his acceptance speech.

—Taylor Swift offers advice to young female performers after winning Album of the Year for 1989: “There will be people along the way that will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame. You just focus on the work and don’t let those people sidetrack you.” Your move, Kanye West.

— Beyoncé presented the final night of the award in her first TV appearance since her controversial Super Bowl halftime show performance last week: “Art is the unapologetic celebration of culture through self-expression,” she said. “It can impact people in a variety of ways for different reasons at different times. Some will react. Some will respond. And some will be moved.

— STEVIE WONDER. That is all.

See the full list of Grammy winners here.


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