Hip-hop ruled the Grammys stage this morning in performances that put racial tension back in the national spotlight and where some of music’s biggest stars failed to deliver, or in the case of Rihanna, failed to show up at all.
Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly lost out on the coveted album of the year. But it was his passionate, politically charged performance of The Blacker the Berry and Alright, featuring chained black men in a prison, and African tribal dancers, that quickly stole the show.
“I’m African-American, I’m African, I’m black as the moon, heritage of a small village, pardon my residence, came from the bottom of mankind,” rapped Lamar (28) who hails from Compton, California, the birthplace of hip-hop.
Lamar’s performance ended with a backdrop of a large map of Africa with the name Compton written across it.
Some of the comments for that performance were “A performance that woke up a sleepy #Grammys” and entertainment website E! Online tweeted that “Kendrick Lamar just SHUT. IT. DOWN. at the Grammys.”
Lamar wasn’t the only rapper making waves.
Broadway’s sold-out musical Hamilton which mixes rap, jazz, ballads and casts black and Latino actors as the US founding fathers, performed live from New York. The show won the best musical theatre album award and its creator, Lin Manuel-Miranda, delivered his acceptance speech in rap.
Lamar might have led the Grammy winners with five wins but was shut out of the night’s top categories as Taylor Swift nabbed album of the year in an upset victory.
Swift (26) made history as the first woman to win album of the year twice after also taking the Grammy in 2009 for Fearless, and delivered a feisty acceptance speech on female empowerment.
“To all the women out there ... there will be people who try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame,” the singer said on stage, adding “don’t let people sidetrack you”.
The speech appeared to be a swipe at Kanye West, who last week released a song called Famous in which he claimed that he made Swift famous after the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards incident in which West hijacked Swift’s win live on stage.
R&B singer Bruno Mars and producer Mark Ronson won record of the year for their upbeat track Uptown Funk!
“We wouldn’t be up here if it wasn’t for the people dancing to this song,” Mars said.
British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran won his first Grammys, including song of the year for Thinking Out Loud. He received a big hug from Swift as he went up on stage. Pop star Meghan Trainor, who broke out last year with her body-confident hit All About That Bass, was named best new artist, tearfully thanking music executive LA Reid “for looking at me as an artist instead of just a songwriter.”
All eyes had been on Adele, who was returning to music’s biggest night after a four-year absence and following the blockbuster success of her new album 25.
But the British singer’s delivery of ballad All I Ask, was marred by sound issues and uncharacteristic flat notes that dismayed many fans.
“The piano mics fell on to the piano strings, that’s what the guitar sound was. It made it sound out of tune. Shit happens. X” Adele tweeted in response.
The piano mics fell on to the piano strings, that's what the guitar sound was. It made it sound out of tune. Shit happens. X— Adele (@Adele) February 16, 2016
Instead, it was Lady Gaga who brought the audience at the Staples Center in Los Angeles to its feet with a psychedelic tribute to David Bowie, who died in January.
Rihanna pulled out at the last minute with bronchitis, disappointing fans watching at home who complained the 2016 Grammys lacked star power.
“But can we really blame Rihanna? If I was at the Grammys I would’ve left too,” Twitter user Sophia commented.
Beyoncé later made the briefest of appearances to present an award at the end of the three-and-a-half hour show, but did not perform. – Reuters