Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar dominated the 60th Annual Grammy Awards Sunday night, with both artists picking up a slew of trophies and delivering some of the night’s most memorable performances. Mars pulled off an incredible Grammys sweep, winning all six awards for which he was nominated and snatching the night’s three biggest prizes: Record of the Year for “24K Magic,” Song of the Year for “That’s What I Like” and Album of the Year for 24K Magic.
After winning Album of the Year, Mars first thanked his fellow nominees, saying, “Lorde, Kung Fu Kenny [Kendrick Lamar], Jay-Z, [Childish] Gambino, you guys are the reason why I’m in the studio pulling my hair out, because I know you guys are only gonna come with the top shelf artistry and music.”
He went on to talk about the earliest days of his music career, performing for tourists in Hawaii as a teenager and quipping, “I would put together a setlist of like 10 to 12 songs and I’ll be honest, I was incredible at 15.” Noting that he later learned that those songs were written by Babyface, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis or Teddy Riley, Mars said, “I remember seeing it firsthand, people dancing that had never met each other from two sides of the globe, dancing with each other, toasting with each other, celebrating together. All I wanted to do with this album was that. Those songs are written with nothing but joy and for one reason and for one reason only, and that’s love – and that’s all I wanted to bring with this album.”
Mars also won Best R&B Performance and Song for “That’s What I Like,” and Best R&B Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical for 24K Magic.
As for Lamar, the rapper opened the proceedings with a politically charged medley of Damn tracks that featured U2, an army of dancers and in-performance commentary from Dave Chappelle (“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,” the comedian said).
Lamar went on to win four Grammys: Best Rap Performance for “Humble,” Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Loyalty” with Rihanna, Best Music Video for “Humble” and Best Rap Album for Damn.
“This is a special award because of rap music – this is the thing that got me on the stage, got me to tour all around the world, support my family and all that,” Lamar said while accepting Best Rap Album. “Most importantly, it showed me a true definition of what being an artist was. From the jump, I thought it was about the accolades and the cars and the clothes, but it’s really about expressing yourself and putting that paint on the canvas for the world to evolve for the next listener, the next generation after that. Hip-hop has done that for me.”
Late Late Show host James Corden returned to host the Grammys, though instead of delivering an opening monologue or performance, he primarily popped up for the occasional cheeky bit or quip. The “Carpool Karaoke” mastermind tapped Sting and Shaggy for a reconfigured version of his signature sketch for the New York City subway, while he later skewered President Trump by hosting auditions for the audiobook of Michael Wolff’s explosive, Fire and Fury. The readers included John Legend, Snoop Dogg, Cher, an incredulous Cardi B (“Is this how he lives?”) and Hillary Clinton.
On the hunt for a GRAMMY Award of his own, James Corden auditions celebrities for the spoken word version of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury.” pic.twitter.com/SjTobAbv2N
— JAMES IS HOSTING THE GRAMMYS TONIGHT (@latelateshow) January 29, 2018
Other politically potent moments included Lamar’s opening salvo and U2’s performance of “Get Out of Your Own Way” in front of the Statue of Liberty. Camila Cabello also shared an impassioned plea on behalf of the embattled Dreamers, a sentiment the rapper Logic echoed after his performance of “1-800-273-8255” with Alessia Cara and Khalid.
But the night’s most potent moment belonged to Kesha, who partnered with Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Julia Michaels, Andra Day and Bebe Rexha for a rendition of “Praying,” off her Grammy-nominated album, Rainbow. The performance served as a powerful statement of solidarity with the Time’s Up movement, which other artists supported by wearing white roses to the ceremony. Janelle Monáe introduced Kesha’s performance with a moving speech, in which she declared, “We come in peace, but we mean business. And to those who would dare try to silence us, we offer two words: ‘Time’s up.”
With only nine awards handed out on stage, performances comprised the bulk of the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, ranging from extravagant and spectacular to stripped-down and stirring. Bruno Mars and Cardi B drenched the stage in Nineties nostalgia for a rendition of their “Finesse” remix, while Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee unleashed a scintillating performance of their hit “Despacito.” DJ Khaled delivered one of his trademark inspirational speeches – “They said I’d never perform at the Grammys, they played themselves!” – before a sultry rendition of “Wild Thoughts” with Rihanna and Bryson Tiller.
Other performers took a more straightforward approach. Lady Gaga partnered with Mark Ronson for a minimalist rendition of “Joanne” and “Million Reasons,” while Pink ditched the gravity-defying theatrics of her 2010 Grammy performance to belt “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken” alongside a sign-language interpreter. R&B star SZA delivered a dazzling rendition of “Broken Clocks,” while Childish Gambino showed off his impressive range with a chilling performance of the gauzy funk cut, “Terrified.”
The Grammys served up several high-profile collaborations as well, with Miley Cyrus joining this year’s lifetime achievement award recipient, Elton John, for a performance of “Tiny Dancer.” However, the most stirring collaborations came during the ceremony’s most somber moments. Eric Church and Maren Morris led a cover of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” to honor the victims of the Las Vegas Harvest Festival shooting and the Manchester Arena bombing, while Chris Stapleton and Emmylou Harris paid tribute to Tom Petty with a performance of “Wildflowers.”
As always, the bulk of the Grammys were handed out during a pre-show ceremony. Most notably, Leonard Cohen posthumously won his first solo Grammy for Best Rock Rock Performance for his song, “You Want It Darker,” the title track off his final album (Cohen previously received the Grammy’s lifetime achievement award in 2010, and earned an Album of the Year trophy for his contribution to Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters). Other artists that picked up their first-ever trophies included Childish Gambino (Best Traditional R&B Performance, “Redbone”), the National (Best Alternative Album, Sleep Well Beast), Mastodon (Best Metal Performance, “Sultan’s Curse”) and the War on Drugs, who bested the likes of Metallica and Queens of the Stone Age to win Best Rock Album for A Deeper Understanding.
Other big winners included country darling Chris Stapleton, who won a trio of awards for Best Country Song (“Broken Halos”), Best Country Album (From A Room: Volume 1) and Best Country Solo Performance (“Either Way”). An absent Ed Sheeran – who was not nominated in any of the major categories – picked up two awards, including Best Pop Vocal Album for ÷ (Divide) and Best Pop Solo Performance for “Shape of You.”
Portugal. the Man also pulled off an upset in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category for their surprise hit, “Feel It Still,” while Aimee Mann won Best Folk Album for her LP Mental Illness and the Rolling Stones picked up Best Traditional Blues Album for Blue and Lonesome. Other pre-show winners included the Weeknd, who won Best Urban Contemporary Album for Starboy, the Foo Fighters, who took home Best Rock Song for “Run,” and Jason Isbell, who picked up two awards: Best Americana Album and Best American Roots Song for The Nashville Sound and “If We Were Vampires,” respectively.
Among the other notable winners were Dave Chappelle, who won Best Comedy Album and Carrie Fisher, who earned a posthumous Grammy in the Best Spoken Word Album category for her reading of her memoir, The Princess Diarist. Greg Kurstin won Producer of the Year, non-Classical, for his work with an array of artists, from the Foo Fighters, Beck and Liam Gallagher to Zayn, Halsey and Kendrick Lamar. And Tony Bennett also added another Grammy to his collection, winning Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for his album, Tony Bennett Celebrates 90.
While past Grammy Awards have leaned on unexpected all-star collaborations, this year’s show functioned more as a 2017 pop music jukebox and offered perhaps just one certified “Grammy moment”: Kesha’s performance of “Praying” and Monáe’s introductory speech. Kesha’s ongoing legal battle with her alleged abuser, Dr. Luke, is one of the most prominent sexual assault cases in the entertainment world, and the vocal power the singer and her cohorts amassed on “Praying” served as a powerful reminder that the fight for justice and equality has just begun.
But this moment for Time’s Up and #MeToo was just that – a singular spot in a nearly three-and-a-half hour broadcast. While Monáe made clear in her speech that sexual harassment was “right here in our industry, as well,” the issue did not crop up again during the ceremony, perhaps a testament to the fact that the music industry has not yet reckoned with sexual assault and harassment to the same degree as Hollywood.
While the Grammys were happy to tout the fact that this year’s nominees featured its most diverse group of artists, they inadvertently reemphasized their own shortcomings and long-standing gender gap (a recent report detailed that just 9.3 percent of nominees over the past six years have been women). On Sunday, only two female artists received awards during the Grammys’ televised broadcast: Rihanna, who shared Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Loyalty” with Kendrick Lamar, and Alessia Cara, who picked up Best New Artist.