LL Cool J hosted the 58th Grammy Awards Show on Monday Feb. 15. The event celebrated the greatest contributors to modern music, addressed prevalent cultural dialogues and slipped up at the least opportune times.
Taylor Swift opened the event in a sparkling black jumpsuit as she sang “Out Of The Woods.” Swift later won an award for Album of the Year and is the first woman to ever receive the award twice.
“Yeah, I don’t think Taylor Swift should have won the award for Best Album of the Year,” junior Cristina Sotomayor said. “I don’t think it was innovative in any way. It was overplayed and nothing new.”
In Swift’s acceptance speech, she preached empowerment to young girls reaching for success, while indirectly addressing Kanye West’s lyrics about having sex with her in his song “Famous,” and claims that he was responsible for her fame. The two stars and their feud goes back to the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards when West infamously interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech to say Beyonce had one of the best music videos of all time.
Chris Stapleton’s Traveller was awarded as well for Best Country Album. Two-time Grammy winner Little Big Town performed “Girl Crush” in a simple string arrangement as Karen Fairchild crooned the song’s aching lyrics. Country music superstar Carrie Underwood performed a passionate duet of “Take Your Time” and “Heartbeat” with Sam Hunt.
Tori Kelly and James Bay, both nominees for Best New Artist, also performed a duet together, playing a mix of Kelly’s “Hollow” and Bay’s “Let It Go,” only with their electric guitars. Another duo, Andra Day, dressed in a white fur, and Ellie Goulding, in a twinkling black dress, performed a notable mash-up of Day’s “Rise Up” and her song “Love Me Like You Do.”
Kendrick Lamar dominated the Grammys, with his riveting performance of “The Blacker The Berry” and “Alright,” in addition to winning five awards (best rap album, rap performance, rap/sung collaboration, rap song and music video). Lamar set a serious tone by beginning the performance bruised, imprisoned and in chains for “The Blacker The Berry.” He moved on to “Alright” as performers in African-inspired outfits danced and drummed around a bonfire before ending with Compton surrounded by the silhouette of the continent of Africa, a reference to police brutality in his hometown.
“It was interesting. There was definitely a lot of meaning behind it. I want to watch it more in detail to understand it better,”senior Olivia Schuitema said. “His poetic rapping combined with jazz and hip hop is incredible.”
Some other performances, however, were not so incredible. The Weeknd, who was supposed to perform with Lauryn Hill (who could not perform after arriving late), braved through “Can’t Feel My Face” and “In The Night” without her. Rihanna did not attend the Grammys at all, reportedly on doctor’s orders to protect her damaged vocal chords after suffering from bronchitis. Some rumors, however, claim it was because she had an angry outburst at the pre-show rehearsal.
Another mishap occurred when Adele performed “All I Ask.” She performed in a red lace dress, illuminated by golden light from behind. She sang against a clanging noise, which was caused by an instrument microphone that fell on to the piano strings, causing her voice to sound flat.
“I think [Adele] sang phenomenal and really showed the audience how resilient she is by powering through the sound problems she faced and did not let it ruin her performance,” junior Sabrina Perez said.
Justin Bieber was falsely blamed for the odd sounds heard in “All I Ask” at first, because some assumed his guitar was still plugged from the previous performance. Bieber performed an acoustic version of “Love Yourself” before joining forces with Skrillex and Diplo in an energizing rendition of “Where Are U Now.”
The Grammys also streamed the cast of “Hamilton” performing “Alexander Hamilton” live on Broadway. Awarding “Hamilton” the Best Musical Theater Album resulted in a spike in Google trends searching for “Who Is Alexander Hamilton?” during the show.
During one of the most anticipated and energizing events, Lady Gaga honored David Bowie in a fluorescent and electrifying performance, partnered with visual effects provided by Intel; yet, the six-minute performance was criticized for ambitiously attempting to catch the essence of eight hits in the allotted time.
“I fell in love with the David Bowie tribute from Lady Gaga. I feel that she was the perfect choice for the performance,” senior Natalie Bally said. “The way the theatrics and outfits were designed perfectly reflected the legend. But her her voice was really what tied it all together.”
The night included four other tributes. Miguel sang “She’s Out of My Life” to honor the 35th Anniversary of Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall.
“Yeah, he did a good job, but he’s no Michael Jackson,” senior Ryan Trout said.
Pentatonix and Stevie Wonder sang paid homage to Maurice White, founder of Earth, Wind & Fire, a band that dramatically influenced black pop.
“I thought [their performance] was great,” Trout said. “Earth, Wind & Fire was probably one of the most influential soul groups of all time and their performance did the late great Maurice White justice.”
John Legend, Meghan Trainor, Demi Lovato, Luke Bryan and Tyrese Gibson sang a medley of “Easy,” “You Are,” “Hello,” “Penny Lover” and “Brick House,” with Lionel Richie joining his own tribute onstage to perform “All Night Long.” Jack Browne and the Eagles honored Glenn Frey through their performance of “Take It Easy.” Chris Stapleton, Gary Clark Jr. and Bonnie Raitt paid tribute to B.B. King with “The Thrill is Gone.”
“I like how they paid tribute to [B.B. King] with three different artists and how it represented what the Grammys should actually be about,” Sotomayor said.
One of the most illustrious awards, Best Record of the Year, was awarded to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars for Uptown Funk. Ed Sheeran and co-writer Amy Wadge received Song of the Year for “Thinking Out Loud.” Meghan Trainor earned Best New Artist and tearfully accepting her award.
“Meghan Trainor shouldn’t have won Best New Artist, because she isn’t new, she’s been around since 2011 and she makes music that sounds exactly the same,” Sotomayor said
Other artists received new praise and recognition during the Grammys. Alabama Shakes turned heads when they performed “Don’t Wanna Fight” and won Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song and Best Alternative Album. This year’s youngest Grammy nominee and 12 year old jazz prodigy Joey Alexander played an original piano composition as another one of the night’s note-worthy performances.
Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp and Joe Perry of the Hollywood Vampires later performed “As Bad As I Am, ” lighting the stage with flames. Pitbull closed the show with Travis Barker and Robin Thicke by singing “El Taxi” and “Bad Man,” dancing alongside Sofia Vergara.
Click here to see the full list of nominees and winners.