The Finest and Worst Moments of the 2020 Grammys
The 62nd Annual Grammy Awards have been a teary affair: performers on the Staples Middle took the stage beneath the retired jerseys of Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash earlier within the day. However the evening additionally included triumphs for first-time Grammy winners like Lizzo, who kicked off the present with a jubilant efficiency, and Billie Eilish, who swept the big four categories for the primary time since Christopher Cross in 1981. Listed below are the very best and worst moments of the evening.
Finest: Alicia Keys’ succesful internet hosting
Internet hosting awards exhibits is a dangerous and thankless enterprise—and regardless of all that’s gone incorrect for Oscar hosts over the previous few years, the Grammys are maybe the toughest gig of all of them. Given the behind-the-scenes chaos that has engulfed the Recording Academy, so many issues might have gone incorrect for host Alicia Keys. An overeager exuberance might have felt alienating to the portion of the music enterprise calling for extra variety and accountability, whereas skepticism might have weighed down your entire evening (see: this yr’s Golden Globes). And that’s all earlier than the information of Kobe Bryant’s dying broke on Sunday afternoon, sending the Staples Middle right into a surprised sense of collective mourning.
However Keys rose to the event, dealing with a particularly awkward state of affairs with flexibility and poise. Her impromptu a capella efficiency of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” with Boyz II Males was a cathartic second, and an ideal strategy to deal with a tribute that would have dissolved into insincere treacle. (The efficiency additionally continued the track’s highly effective legacy as a tribute anthem: Barrio Boyzz performed it after Selena’s dying, and Usher carried out it for Aaliyah).
Keys was equally snug commanding the stage as she was doing crowd work; she nailed a conversational efficiency of her new track, “Underdog.” And she or he additionally slipped in some delicate critiques of the Academy, saying: “We refuse the old systems. We want to be respected and safe in our diversity. We want to be shifting to realness and inclusivity.” As a return host, Keys is flexing her energy to push institutional change—whereas additionally rapidly turning into to the Grammys what Billy Crystal was to the Oscars.”
Worst: The in memoriam phase
Whereas Keys and Boyz II Males dealt with Bryant’s dying with grace, the remainder of the present might hardly have carried out worse in paying tributes to fallen legends. There wasn’t a robust clarification for Usher’s paint-by-the-numbers karaoke tribute to Prince, who died three years in the past, apart from to advertise CBS’ upcoming particular to him. That point might need higher been spent on a tribute to the Vehicles’ Ric Ocasek—however the Grammys even spelled his title incorrect within the In Memoriam video. To make issues worse, they left the singer-songwriter David Berman of the Silver Jews out of the phase completely.
Finest: Tyler the Creator’s fiery efficiency
Grammy performances usually skew staid, with rising stars requested to sandpaper over their tough edges and modulate their aesthetic towards that of a a lot older one-time collaborator. However Tyler the Creator refused to take action, forcing the telecast to associate with his way more alienating and iconoclastic imaginative and prescient.
As an alternative of shifting onto Boyz II Males’s throwback turf, Tyler allow them to sing the wealthy harmonies on “Earfquake” after which put them on prime of a terrifying, burning set of homes whereas he gasped and wheezed by “New Magic Wand,” among the finest songs on his album Igor. His spastic dancing, the glitching digicam work, his gravelly sweet-sour singing and the terrifying set, maybe a nod to the devastating fires in each Los Angeles and Australia—all bolstered the concept that he’s not simply one of many world’s finest rappers and producers however one among his technology’s sharpest auteurs.
He additionally gave two memorable speeches following his win for Finest Rap Album—one onstage, by which he admonished the group for clapping an excessive amount of and confidently steamrolled over the incidental music—and one backstage, by which he expressed frustration concerning the Grammys’ ghettoization of hip-hop. “Half of me feels like the rap nomination was a backhanded compliment—like oh, my little cousin wants to play the game, let’s give him the unplugged controller so he can shut up and feel good about it,” he said. It was a pointed and all-too-accurate rejoinder.
Worst: Crowd Variety
If the Grammys desires to indicate its elevated dedication to illustration, it might begin with possibly discovering some individuals of colour to place within the mosh pit. When YG got here out to pay tribute to Nipsey Hussle and discover the connection of Crips and Bloods and the plight of gang violence in Los Angeles, he was met by a too-enthusiastic almost-all-white crowd. And when Gary Clark Jr. delivered a bitter and scathing efficiency of “This Land”—by which his declaration “F-ck you I’m America’s son” was bleeped—he was additionally greeted with a volley of white fingers.
Finest: Ariana Grande’s powerhouse medley
After disparaging the Grammys final yr, Ariana Grande confirmed the Academy what they have been lacking by delivering a flexible powerhouse efficiency of cuts from her album Thank U, Subsequent. She glided by her pink monochrome set with a cheeky ease, pairing old-school demure glamour with bombastic twerking and swish full-throated vocal runs with easy rapid-fire lure cadences.
Worst: So many no-shows
In virtually each award class, there was a conspicuous static portrait filling one fifth (or one eighth) of the display. No Woman Gaga, no Taylor Swift, no Dave Chappelle, no Younger Thug, no Beyoncé, no Bon Iver. Their no-shows simply bolstered the concept that lots of an important individuals in music don’t really care about the show anymore.
It’s onerous to inform whether or not any of the acts declined to indicate in help of fired ex-president Deborah Dugan—however regardless of the purpose, these no-shows simply bolstered the concept that the Grammys’ relevance has waned.
Finest: Redemption narratives
The Grammys love a superb comeback story, they usually gave the stage to 2 heartfelt and mesmerizing ones this yr: Tanya Tucker and Demi Lovato. Tucker, a rustic recluse who was first nominated in 1973 and final nominated in 1994, seemed a bit shellshocked to be on the Grammy stage, however dealt with her efficiency of “Bring My Flowers Now” with a steely grit.
An hour later, Lovato introduced down the home with the debut of “Anyone,” written after a number of years of wrestle with bulimia, dependancy and bipolar dysfunction and an overdose in 2018. Lovato stumbled out of the gate, asking her pianist to restart the track after just a few bars. However the slip-up—after which a single tear rolled down her proper cheek—solely bolstered the track’s startling emotional nakedness, which she delivered with mounting pressure. “A hundred million stories / And a hundred million songs / I feel stupid when I sing / Nobody’s listening to me,” she sang. She couldn’t have been extra incorrect.
Worst: The incessant bleeping
And the Grammy for many frequent performer at this yr’s present goes to… whoever controls the bleeping. It appeared like throughout each different efficiency or speech, the published fell silent altogether, utterly halting momentum and goodwill. To kick off the evening, Lizzo was bleeped; so have been Ariana Grande, Nas, Aerosmith, Gary Clark Jr. and Billie Eilish, after which Eilish once more. I do know we’re on CBS. However might they not have labored out substitutions, or like, despatched out a memo about profanity earlier than the present?
Finest: “Old Town Road”
Whereas this yr’s Grammys clearly wanted to incorporate the most important track of all time, the track offered one thing of a logistical problem. How might one stage maintain so many distinct personalities, from Lil Nas to BTS to Mason Ramsey, and fold them into one cohesive entire?
The reply was apparent on reflection: a spinning a lazy susan that allowed Lil Nas to strut by a number of units, every containing a special aesthetic and set of performers, earlier than combining all of them into one room. BTS brought a shaggy charisma with their seated dancing; Billy Ray Cyrus evoked the very best Clint Eastwood motion pictures along with his stoic supply of his unimpeachable verse. However Lil Nas saved the most important shock for final: the unique Nas himself, who sounded invigorated over the ominous beat of “Rodeo.” Nas’ look successfully handed his torch to a a lot youthful rapper, whose middle of gravity and communal spirit all through the efficiency confirmed his potential as way over a one-hit-wonder.
Worst: Tonal incongruities
We all know the Grammys are all about bringing individuals collectively, however does it actually make sense for the comic Jim Gaffigan to introduce Camilla Cabello? Tonal inconsistencies and swerves ran rampant all through the ceremony. Brandi Carlile offered Finest Comedy Album. Sharon Osbourne shanked the pronunciation of DJ Khaled whereas presenting Finest Rap/Sung efficiency; her singsong studying of the nominees turned the class right into a farce and solely bolstered the concept that the Grammys don’t take rap significantly.
However the worst pressured mashup, by far, was producer Ken Ehrlich’s farewell assertion efficiency, an incoherent, bloated rendition of “I Sing the Body Electric” from Fame. Ehrlich was one of many important targets of ex-CEO Deborah Dugan’s criticism filed final week: she alleged that he was close to the middle of the Recording Academy’s “boys club” and that he would repair the award winners to be able to land the performers he wished onstage. (Ehrlich has not publicly responded to these allegations.)
No matter he was going for with the hodge-podge afffair, it made him look out of contact, on the very least. Nothing says Grammy Second like a ballerina (Misty Copeland) spinning in place whereas the 1985 Finest New Artist winner (Cyndi Lauper) and a classical violinist (Joshua Bell) shred by a track from a 40-year-old film. The bewildered seems to be from stars like Grande and Eilish following the efficiency spoke for themselves.