Bruno. Bruno. Bruno. Bruno Mars swaggered away with six Grammy Awards from the 60th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony held at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2018. Through his album 24K Magic he won “Album of the Year”, “Record of the Year” and “Best R&B Album”. With his song “That’s What I Like” he won “Song of the Year”, “Best R&B Song” and “Best R&B Performance”. His acceptance speech for “Album of the Year” closed out the milestone show. The rambling, all smiles speech provided the perfect, dialectical book end for a powerful, moving and provocative award ceremony. According to Bruno, 24K Magic “was written with nothing but joy” and for only one reason “and that’s love” and to get everybody dancing and moving. This desire was inspired by a story he shared with the audience. At the age of 15 he was the opening act for the Magic of Polynesia. He was tasked with entertaining approximately 1,000 guests with 10-12 songs. At that time he was encouraged by artists such as Baby Face, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and Teddy Riley. During those performances at the Magic of Polynesia he watched these guests from different backgrounds dancing, celebrating and smiling together. He was motivated to create music that simply moved people out of their seats and onto their feet in dances. With lyrics from “That’s What I Like” that read, “Go pop it for a player, pop-pop it for me. Turn around and drop it for a player, drop-drop it for me” it is evident that the 32 year old from Hawaii is down for a good time. These lyrics and his speech are stark contrasts to some of the other speeches and performances, which embodied more serious, political and somber notes
One of the most impactful performances of the night was from Ke$ha. Ke$ha was nominated for “Best Pop Vocal Album” and “Best Pop Solo Performance”. Her performance was moving, but not in a manner quite as literal as Bruno Mars’. James Corden, comedian, actor and host, described her performance as “incredibly, powerful [and] relevant”. Janelle Monáe introduced the song. She delivered a strong opening that doubled as a call to action, declaration of facts and charge in today’s women’s movement. She stated that we come “in peace, but mean business…to those who try to silence us. We offer you two words. Time’s up. We say time’s up for pay inequality. Time’s up for discrimination. Time’s up for harassment of any kind and time’s up for the abuse of power.”The song began with Ke$ha flanked by Andra Day, Camila Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Julia Michaels, Bebe Rexha and the Resistance Revival Chorus – an army of women uniformed in all white. They started with an a capella round of “Someday maybe you’ll see the light.” Ke$ha’s voice shot out like a cannon from the army of voices surrounding her singing, “Well, you almost had me fooled. Told me that I was nothing without you. Oh, but after everything you’ve done. I can thank you for how strong I have become.” Her part was accompanied only by the piano – until slowly, the other voices deployed. Eventually the violin joined in and the song returned to simply Ke$ha and the piano. The song then crescendos with the drums and everyone singing, “I hope you’re somewhere praying.” As the song ends, everyone collapses on Ke$ha in a giant hug after an emotional, poignant, appropriate piece.
— La Toya Jackson (@latoyajackson) January 29, 2018
Other noteworthy performances and speeches that contained a political or somber note are as follows: Sting and Shaggy performed “Englishman in New York”. Lyrics of “Oh, I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien. I’m an Englishman in New York,” provide a fleeting commentary on the issue of immigration reform. Shaggy added his flare by singing, “I’m a Jamaican man in New York.” Later, Camilla Cabello provided a more direct, undeviating message pertaining to immigration reform in her introduction of U2. She shared her story about being a Cuban Mexican immigrant and demanded that DREAMers not be forgotten. U2 appropriately performed on the Hudson River near the Statue of Liberty whose message is
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.”
Bono delivered his own message (through an American flag bullhorn) singing,
“Don’t take it lyin’ down, you got to bite back. The face of Liberty’s starting to crack. She had a plan up until she got smacked in the mouth. And it all went south.”
In a somber vein, Eric Church, Maren Morris and Brothers Osborne performed in memory of the victims in the Las Vegas shooting and bombing in Manchester, England. Maren Morris was nominated for “Best Country Solo Performance”. Brothers Osborne was nominated for “Best Country Duo/Group Performance”. Together they all performed Eric Clapton’s apropos “Tears in Heaven”. Additionally, Chris Stapleton, winner of “Best Country Album”, “Best Country Solo Performance” and “Best Country Song”, performed “Wildflowers” with Emmylou Harris in celebration of Tom Petty’s life and to commemorate his passing. Following their performance, The Academy paid respect to all of those who lost their lives in 2017. The slideshow concluded with Chester Bennington. Immediately after his face decorated the screens, Logic, Alessia Cara (winner of “Best New Artist”) and Khalid performed “1-800-273-8255”. This song title is the number of the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The song chronicles one typical struggle someone might have with depression and thoughts of suicide. It also provides hope. It empathizes with and intimates a deep understanding one might have with suicidal ideation, while providing hope and encouraging listeners to hold on and fight.
Amongst the tears and calls to action, there were plenty of laughs and rump shaking. Some of the noteworthy upbeat, fun tracks consisted of the sing along favorite “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, the sexy “Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled and Rihanna and the 90’sesque “Finesse” by Bruno Mars and Cardi B. Most of the laughs came from James Corden’s “Subway Carpool Karaoke” with Shaggy and Sting. The men took to a subway car in New York in an attempt to recreate “Carpool Karaoke”. In line with the stereotype of unfriendly New York rail car riders, the passengers were not up for it. One granny said, “I don’t want to be in your stupid YouTube video”. One man was angry and the trio ejected themselves out of the subway. The most laughs though came from the reading of “Fire and Fury”. The recorded skit consisted of auditions for the reading of the controversial, best-selling book about President Trump. Cardi B, John Legend, DJ Khaled, Cher, Snoop Dogg and Hillary Clinton joined the sketch. Cardi B. employed her original, “Brrp” noise and commented in disbelief “this how he lives his life…?” DJ Khaled brought his brand and “Another one! We the best!” catchphrases, complete with the sound of a ship horn. The fan favorite, though, was Hillary Clinton’s contribution.
There were some who missed all of the excitement. One of the most pronounced absences was that of Ed Sheeran. He won “Best Pop Vocal Album” and “Best Solo Pop Performance”. However, he was not there to accept these awards. There were many absences in the pre-telecast. Avenged Sevenfold, who was up for “Best Rock Song” intentionally and vocally did not attend. According to Blabbermouth, they did not go “in apparent protest of the way the organization treats the rock and heavy metal genres.” The Foo Fighters won this particular award with their song “Run”. The pre-telecast was streamed live on www.grammy.com. Body Count, the heavy metal band featuring Ice-T performed along with Little Big Town, a Chuck Berry tribute and others.
For a complete list of the winners, please click here.
There were other elegant, beautiful performances by Pink, Elton John, Miley Cyrus, Coog Radio favorite SZA and others. What was your favorite performance? Your favorite moment? Did you feel there were too many political statements? Not enough dancing? Or simply a good mix between the two? Share your thoughts on the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in the comments below.