If there was a Talk of the Town award, Spotify would nab the honor for throwing one hell of a pre-Grammy Thursday night, which is relatively unsurprising at this point but commendable nonetheless.
After all, the highly sought-after ticket gave guests access to West Hollywood’s The Lot Studios, where all eight of the 2020 Best New Artist nominees played three to five songs: Billie Eilish, Black Pumas, Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Maggie Rogers, Rosalía, Tank and the Bangas and Yola.
Granted, being the talk of the town does come with some setbacks, namely a clusterfuck at the front door. Once you got through the numerous lines and passed the throngs of influencers — who you think would get front-of-pack access — you still had to deal with shoulder-to-shoulder struggles to get around the room.
Now in its fourth year, that’s to be expected, considering that the thing is thrown by the predominant platform for music consumption. Really, where else can you bump into Noah Cyrus smoking a fatty on your way to the grilled cheese bar — plus see Kate Beckinsale and Heidi Klum standing nearby, making you feel bad about the fact that you’re on your second trip to the grilled cheese bar? It’s also pretty humbling to queue up directly behind Yungblud, whose patient demeanor seems contradictory to his pink hair and graffiti-covered leather jacket.
The night was kicked off by Lizzo, who commanded the stage with a sassy smile and undeniable energy. Her set was packed with bangers: “Good as Hell,” “Cuz I Love You,” “Tempo” and “Truth Hurts.” She made sure to thank Spotify with the utmost sincerity for supporting her back when she had 50,000 fans — most of whom lived in her hometown of Minneapolis — and helping her reach global superstardom. Lizzo, in particular, deserves respect for calling out chit-chatters and urging people to feel something, belting out things like: “Music is supposed to move you, bitch! Are you MOVED?!”
Billie Eilish went for a more stripped-down approach, making her entrance with a subdued slither before sitting next to brother-collaborator Finneas at the keys. It was refreshing to see her like that, given that her recorded music is known for its uber-modern production and her live show is marked by eye-gripping stage antics.
The simplicity allowed her talent to shine on songs like “All the Good Girls Go to Hell” and “Bad Guy,” which wasn’t even the set’s closer; they decided to end with the tune responsible for her breakthrough, “Ocean Eyes.” However, she did admit to looking “extra as fuck” in her highly stylized ensemble — plus chuckled and swore that she was acting much cooler than she really is. Then, to her astonishment, someone in the crowd threw her a highlighter-green sock that went perfectly with her look. Come to think of it, the woman probably gets a lot of strange gifts.
Every iPhone with more than 10% of its battery life left shot up into the air for Lil Nas X, who welcomed surprise guest Billy Ray Cyrus to the stage for their smash hit, “Old Town Road.” Speaking of Billy Ray, it’s truly unfortunate that he hadn’t yet arrived when Billie Eilish and Billy Porter ran into each other and hugged like they long-lost best friends.
Ozuna was the only other featured artist to make an appearance during a performance, coming out for “Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi” with Rosalía. Rosalía’s set-up and choreography were particularly mesmerizing. Plus, she gave the whole thing some much-needed flair.
In retrospect, though, Recording Academy Task Force head Tina Tchen may have had the best night. She was spotted vibing the fuck out in her own magical bubble to Black Pumas’ “Colors” and Maggie Rogers’ “Give a Little.” If you ever need a partner in crime on the dance floor, she’s the one.