The 58th Grammy Awards started and ended with pop star, Taylor Swift but the night belonged to Kendrick Lamar.
With a total of 11 nominations and the most of any artist going into last night’s Grammy Awards, the acclaimed rapper from Compton emerged with five Grammy Awards and provided the nearly 25 million viewers with the best performance of the evening. Lamar delivered a literally blazing performance from his award-winning and critically acclaimed album, To Pimp A Butterfly with two tracks, “The Blacker the Berry” and “Alright.” The backdrop included Lamar and his crew appearing in chains as if in a chain gang, a jailhouse set, shooting flames in the background, strobe lights and a rapid fire delivery culminating with African dancers and a map of Africa with Compton on it at the end of his performance.
According to the LA Times, the Compton mayor, Aja Brown had this to say about Lamar’s big night:
“When Kendrick Lamar Duckworth won tonight, Compton won. Mr. Duckworth’s achievements further Compton’s legacy of ingenuity and excellence. He represents Compton’s evolution, embodying the New Vision for Compton: purpose, prosperity and progress. I appreciate — we appreciate — Mr. Lamar always representing Compton with great pride in any venue he’s in, from the White House to the Grammys.”
Lamar’s performance stood in sharp contrast to the other performances.
Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie was viewed as too long. It featured Nile Rodgers who worked with Bowie on his most successful album, Let’s Dance. Gaga delivered but the consensus seemed to be that less songs and less costume change would have been more impactful.
Taylor Swift won the Album of the Year for the second time in her career — a first for a female. She used her thank you speech to take a veiled shot at Kanye West for his claim that he helped to make her famous.
Canada’s The Weeknd won two Grammy Awards: Best R&B Performance and Best Urban Contemporary Album for Beauty Behind The Madness.
He performed his hit, “In the Night” dressed in a tuxedo. His performance, while good, lacked a certain amount of energy. Perhaps it had to do with him being accompanied by a cellist and a pianist.
Justin Bieber won his first Grammy and also performed an acoustic version of “Love Yourself” and “Where Are You Now?” with Skrillex and Diplo. The rock-infused version of the later left some fans somewhat disappointed, due to the track’s EDM breakthrough status.
The Broadway hip hop inspired play, Hamilton delivered another stunning performance of their opening number live from New York City’s Richard Rogers Theatre. (Good luck getting tickets this theatrical performance.) Not surprisingly Hamilton won a Grammy for best musical theatre recording.
Mark Ronson took home the record of the Year Award for “Uptown Funk” which featured Bruno Mars.
It was a big night for D’Angelo also was feted with Best R&B Album for Black Messiah and for Best R&B Song for his track, “Really Love” from the same album. For D’Angelo, this is quite a comeback after being away from the scene for quite some time. Lalah Hathaway received a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Little Ghetto Boy.” The track was also performed by her dad, the late, great Donny Hathaway in the early 70s. (Check Youtube for 1972 live version.)
Reggae Royalty, Morgan Heritage took home the Grammy for Best Reggae Album, for their album, Strictly Roots — a first for the group. And the winner of the Best World Music Album was Angelique Kidjo who danced her way on the stage and encouraged the audience to check out African music.
Finally, another personal favourite moment during last night’s telecast was Stevie Wonder’s tribute to Maurice White, founder of Earth Wind and Fire. Performing with a cappella group, Pentatonix, Stevie performed the classic, “That’s the Way of the World.” It was a moving performance with Pentatonix. Stevie also chided the organizers to make the Awards more accessible for people who are otherwise able.