A recap of the 59th Annual GRAMMYs Awards
February 13, 2017
This year’s GRAMMYs Awards, held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles Sunday night and hosted by James Corden, featured bold performances from artists spanning a variety of genres that seemed to steal the show from the actual awards. Many of 2016’s most critically acclaimed artists appeared on the Grammy stage, including Adele, who performed her wildly successful single “Hello” and Beyonce, who performed “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles,” two songs from Lemonade we had not seen her perform on television until last night. The two vocal powerhouses dominated the attention spans of viewers as they did the Grammy field, tying each other for the most nominations given to an artist at the show with nine nominations each. Other solo acts like Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars and Best New Artist winner Chance the Rapper showed off their impressive instrumental and lyrical skills with their songs “Shape of You” (by Sheeran), “That’s What I Like ” (by Mars) and “How Great” and “All We Got” (by Chance).
The show also featured collaborations of all kinds. Some of the more familiar ones included country superstars Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood performing “The Fighter” and The Weeknd and Daft Punk performing their Starboy single “I Feel It Coming.” However, many artists decided to spice up their acts by collaborating with artists of different genres. These mash-up performances included rising country star Kelsea Ballerini with Danish band Lukas Graham, performing a mashup of their songs “Peter Pan” (Ballerini) and “7 Years” (Lukas Graham), pop princess Katy Perry featuring reggae artist Skip Marley, performing their song “Chained to the Rhythm,” and R&B goddess Alicia Keys with Best Country Solo Performance winner Maren Morris, performing Morris’ song “Once.”
The show began seemingly lighter politically than many expected. Singer Joy Villa arrived in a dress with the same design as President Donald Trump’s campaign lawn signs from last year’s election and a purse reading “Make America Great Again.” Katy Perry projected the words of the Constitution over her song about awareness and wore a “RESIST” armband. Besides this, the arena felt pretty tame. However, rap group A Tribe Called Quest, accompanied by Busta Rhymes, Consequence and Anderson Paak, strayed so far from that trend it was impossible to find again. The performance, a mashup of the group’s songs “Can I Kick It?,” “Award Tour,” “Movin Backwards” and “We the People,” referred to President Trump as “President Agent Orange” and condemned what Trump’s Muslim ban. They blasted open a wall on stage, had Muslim, Latinos and other minority immigrants march with the and capped their performance with Q-Tip shouting “resist” multiple times.
Tributes and memorial performances recognized the important contributions the artists we lost in 2016 made to the music industry. Adele, in her second song of the night, stopped her performance of the late George Michael’s “Fastlove” mid-chorus, saying she “couldn’t mess this up for him,” and started the song over. Country singer Sturgill Stimpson performed with the Dap-Kings, the band of the late Sharon Jones. The Time, of Purple Rain fame, performed “Jungle Love” and Bruno Mars followed with “Let’s Get Crazy” as an exciting Prince tribute. John Legend and The Color Purple’s Broadway star Cynthia Erivo sang a cover of the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” over the In Memoriam reel. The Bee Gees also received a massive tribute performance featuring Demi Lovato singing “Stayin’ Alive,” country group Little Big Town singing “How Deep Is Your Love,” Tori Kelly singing “Tragedy,” and Andra Day singing “Night Fever.”
However, despite their prevalence, performances were not the only aspect of the Grammy Awards. Actual awards were given out. Some of the night’s biggest wins were Chance the Rapper’s Best New Artist, Best Rap Album (for Coloring Book), and Best Rap Performance (for “No Problem”) wins. Twenty One Pilots accepted the award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their song “Stressed Out” pantsless. Adele won five out of her nine nominations: “Hello” won Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance while 25 won Best Pop Vocal Album and, to the surprise of many (including Adele herself), Album of the Year. Some of the night’s biggest snubs include Beyonce, who only won two out of her nine nominations and Rihanna, who won a shocking zero out of her eight nominations.
Possibly the most memorable moment of the night came when Adele accepted her Grammy for Album of the Year. The singer appeared back on stage just after winning Song of the Year in tears. After telling the story of her return to music after becoming a mother, Adele made a confession reminiscent of the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. In what many described as “Kanyeing” herself, Adele said “I can’t accept this award,” and proceeded to praise the achievements of Beyonce’s Lemonade, which 25 beat out in the category. Adele described the album as “monumental” and complimented it for giving confidence to her black friends. Finally, after the cameras shut off, Adele broke her award in two Mean Girls-style and gave a piece to Beyonce.
The GRAMMYs showcased what many loved most about 2016, music, and celebrated it to the fullest extent possible.