WRITTEN BY: Caitlin McGeehan
The 62nd Grammy Awards this past Sunday were all about love and music’s healing impact amidst tragedy. Second-year host Alicia Keys made her debut on the Staples Center stage, “the house that Kobe built” as she referred to the arena, with Boyz II Men. They sang a harmonious rendition of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” to honor the NBA legend and his daughter Gianna, who passed away earlier that morning in a helicopter crash.
2019 powerhouse performer, Lizzo, opened the show with the words, “Tonight is for Kobe” preceding her soulful song “Cuz I Love You,” and her iconic flute solo for “Truth Hurts.” There was a mega collaboration between John Legend and DJ Khaled, in honor of rapper Nipsey Hussle, and Kobe Bryant’s picture was cast over the Grammy stage next to the rapper’s. Lil Nas X included a Kobe Bryant jersey in the first scene on his rotating stage, as did RUN DMC in their performance with Aerosmith. Most notably, Kobe’s retired numbers jerseys were illuminated throughout the night in the arena.
But as Keys ordered, “We gotta make this a celebration in his [Kobe’s] honor. He would want us to keep the vibrations high,” and the performers did just that. Tyler, The Creator teamed up with Boyz II Men and Charlie Wilson to provide shock value with his performance of “Earfquake” and “New Magic Wand” (fire, blonde wigs, a crowd of his look-alikes and all) off of his 2020-Grammy-winning album, IGOR. Lil Nas X elevated his what seems to be infinitely-remixable song, “Old Town Road” by inviting BTS, Diplo, Billy Ray Cyrus, Nas and Mason Ramsey (yes, the internet-famous “Walmart Yodeling Kid”), to perform with him.
The Jonas Brothers opted to perform their newer releases “Five More Minutes” and “What A Man Gotta Do.” During the latter, the audience camera panned to their wives dancing in their seats. Rosalía brought the rhythmic energy of her songs “Juro Que” and “Malamente,” and her set of back-up dancers to the Grammy stage to spice up the night.
Another staple of the Grammys is nostalgia, and this year delivered a Prince tribute, the reunion of Aerosmith and RUN DMC for “Walk This Way” and a performance by ‘70s country starlet, Tanya Tucker, who won two Grammys this time around. Usher embodied Prince’s emblematic performance style in a medley with Sheila E, Prince’s longtime collaborator, on the drums.
On the more emotional side of the night, Camila Cabello dedicated her performance of “First Man” with lyrics such as, “But you were the first man that really loved me,” to her father. Following her childhood home videos that appeared on the screen, Cabello walked towards and sang to her father who was sitting in the front row.
Adding to the sequence of ballads, Billie Eilish sang a stripped-down version of “When the Party’s Over” with her brother and producer, Finneas, onstage. Demi Lovato debuted her emotional “Anyone,” full of vocal belts. The song was written days before her overdose in 2018, and this was her first performance since then. Both Eilish and Lovato went for minimal visuals to accompany their songs, but that was because they didn’t need them. Their emotional lyrics spoke for themselves.
As for the actual Grammy statues awarded, Billie Eilish was the outstanding winner of the night, with five awards. She won Best Pop Vocal Album and swept the big four categories at the end of the show: Song and Record of the Year (for “bad guy”), Album of the Year (WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?), as well as Best New Artist. The 18-year-old became the first woman to achieve this feat, and youngest artist to win Album of the Year. As the nominees for Album of the Year were announced, Eilish was shown in the audience mouthing “Please don’t be me.” To her disbelief, it was her, and she started her speech with praise of Ariana Grande’s album and how it should have won the category instead. Finneas received two Grammys for the production of his sister’s debut album as well.
2019 breakout stars dominated the winner’s list this year, including Lizzo, Lil Nas X and Billie Eilish, of course. Lizzo took home the Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance for “Truth Hurts”, Urban Contemporary Album (Cuz I Love You (Deluxe)) and Traditional R&B Performance for “Jerome.” Lil Nas X won Best Music Video and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for his 2019 anthem.
The 2020 Grammys were unforgettable in bringing artists and a nation together through a rough spot, and continuing to celebrate artists who put their work and their true selves on the line for millions to hear.
Photo by Rachel Luna/FilmMagic