LOS ANGELES, USA – The Grammy Awards is the biggest, most glamorous night in the music calendar each year – a star-studded evening of some unforgettable performances… and others that fall flat.
Monday’s (Tuesday, February 16 in Manila) gala in Los Angeles was no different. While Kendrick Lamar and Lady Gaga lit up the stage, others including Adele – who admitted to technical difficulties – and Taylor Swift were underwhelming. (FULL LIST: Winners, Grammy Awards 2016)
Here is a look at the show-stopping acts – and some of the more cringeworthy turns:
Kendrick on fire
#GRAMMYs @theGRAMMYs pic.twitter.com/AGoS9xxYo3— GIPHY (@giphy) February 16, 2016
Lamar may not have won any of the top prizes, but he certainly won the night in terms of sheer star power.
The rapper, who has emerged as a voice of the Black Lives Matter movement, offered up an intense, politically charged performance that took him from a prison – in shackles, no less – to a joyous bonfire in Africa with dancers in traditional dress.
The 28-year-old started out in chains and a prison uniform, with strobes flashing on the jailhouse set, as he treated the audience to a jazz-rock version of “The Blacker The Berry.”
He then shifted into “Alright,” the unofficial anthem of the movement against police abuse targeting African Americans.
His rapid-fire delivery of lyrics ignited the audience, which gave him a standing ovation.
A cappella Wonder
Stevie Wonder reads #GRAMMYs "Song of the Year" winner in braille. Isn't he lovely? https://t.co/BxFBTG9Fs8 pic.twitter.com/CevkK0tzyL— CBS Television (@CBS) February 16, 2016
Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix wowed the Staples Center with a tribute to Maurice White, the funk legend founder of Earth, Wind and Fire who died last February 4.
The impromptu a cappella performance, reportedly put together at the last minute, had the audience on their feet as the Texan warblers beatboxed to Wonder’s rendition of “That’s the Way of the World.”
“Too often lately, we’ve experienced painful losses in our musical family. But time and time again, we find solace in the healing power of music,” Wonder told the crowd.
Hello again, Lionel Richie
#GRAMMYs @theGRAMMYs https://t.co/0wYgq0hP71 pic.twitter.com/rmPX9maTq2— GIPHY (@giphy) February 16, 2016
John Legend, Demi Lovato, Meghan Trainor, Tyrese Gibson and Luke Bryan delivered a smoother-than-silk tribute to four-time Grammy winner Lionel Richie, who was the Person of the Year for MusiCares, the charity arm of the Grammys.
Legend opened with a velvety rendition of “Easy Like Sunday Morning” before Lovato took over with a powerful “Hello” that had Richie nodding along in his seat.
The crooner got up on stage to help out as they rounded off with crowd-pleaser “All Night Long,” with several celebs including Beck looking visibly moved and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl rocking out in his seat.
Hamilton wows all the way from New York
@HamiltonMusical wins Best Musical Theater Album #GRAMMYs https://t.co/8NTTnColXj pic.twitter.com/8EYau5mbkd— CBS Television (@CBS) February 16, 2016
Comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert introduced the hip-hop musical Hamilton, as “like nothing you’ve ever experienced” and a “theatrical mixtape.”
Based on the real-life historical figure Alexander Hamilton, one of the American founding fathers, the musical’s cast performed via satellite – a revolutionary manner befitting a groundbreaking piece.
Hamilton, written by Filipino-American playwright and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda – and also the star of the show – later grabbed the trophy for Best Musical Theater Album.
Believe in Bieber
.@justinbieber @Skrillex @diplo KICKED it out of the park with that #GRAMMYs performance pic.twitter.com/PiywBtB3t4— CBS Television (@CBS) February 16, 2016
It’s been a long time in the making, but with Justin Bieber’s highly-acclaimed album Purpose, chock-full of banger tracks, his Grammy for Best Dance Recording was certainly a well-deserved win.
Bieber swept the audience off their feet with a swoon-worthy rendition of “Love Yourself,” before launching into an electrifying hard rock take on megahit “Where Are Ü Now.” He was joined by superstar DJs Skrillex and Diplo who traded their decks for guitars and drums.
Shake it off
…and that's how you open the #GRAMMYs @taylorswift13 pic.twitter.com/EimOBja0mE— CBS Television (@CBS) February 16, 2016
Taylor Swift opened the show sporting a short bob and sheer black jumpsuit studded with crystals for a not-so-sparkly performance of her smash hit “Out of the Woods” on a stage surrounded by appropriately lifeless looking trees.
The show then plodded its way through several more ballads, with Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt mashing up their hits “Take Your Time” and “Heartbeat” and The Weeknd offering a medley of “Can’t Feel My Face” and “In the Night.”
It looks like Kanye and Taylor have bad blood again.
“I wanna say to all the young women out there: there are gonna be people along the way, there are gonna be people who try to undercut your success, or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame,” said Taylor Swift, as she accepted her Album of the Year Grammy for 1989. (READ: Did Taylor Swift throw shade at Kanye West in her Grammy acceptance speech?)
The thrown shade was so dark, probably accompanied by a collective gasp around the world. It was clear that Swift wasn’t going to let West’s Twitter rants pass.
There has been a lot of hype surrounding West’s newest album, The Life of Pablo. However, controversy particularly surrounded the track “Famous,” where he rapped, “I feel like me and Taylor might have sex / Why? I made that b*tch famous.”
A heated exchange ensued between the two parties, with West notably claiming that the entire thing was the pop superstar’s idea. ” She was having dinner with one of our friends who’s name I will keep out of this and she told him ‘I can’t be mad at Kanye because he made me famous!’” he separately tweeted.
Swift spun her dismay into words of advice, “But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you’re going, you’ll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you that put you there. And that will be the greatest feeling in the world.”
Adele’s mic problems
Are you hearing the audio issues too?! @TheGRAMMYs@Adele#GRAMMYspic.twitter.com/ydWcOOB2I6— TheWrap (@TheWrap) February 16, 2016
Backlit beside a grand piano, 10-time Grammy winner Adele looked her usual sultry self – but she sounded anything but.
The British songstress belted out power ballad “All I Ask” during a performance beset by technical problems. At times, the singer sounded out of tune.
Viewers at home took to Twitter to complain about the poor sound quality after it cut out midway through the song, with some accusing the guitarist of playing out of key.
The problems appeared to push Adele off kilter, as she too began to lose concentration with an uncharacteristically off-key performance.
Later, she tweeted, “The piano mics fell on to the piano strings, that’s what the guitar sound was. It made it sound out of tune. Sh*t happens.”
But she sounded upbeat, saying she was treating herself to a burger from fast food chain In-N-Out over the mishap and adding: “So maybe it was worth it.”
Gaga to the rescue
Another of the night’s top moments came when the inimitable Lady Gaga appeared for her David Bowie tribute in a nuclear-orange wig — and with a giant projected spider crawling across her face.
The number was not short on song titles — she sang bits of 10 hits, from “Space Oddity” and “Ziggy Stardust” to “Let’s Dance” and “Heroes.”
It was a messy, chaotic performance that prioritized sight over sound and ended up being a tribute more to Bowie’s showmanship than to his musical accomplishments.
The flawed-but-fun performance however had the audience on their feet, and Gaga was worthy of the long standing ovation she received — both for her stamina and for eclipsing the dreary ballads that started the evening.
Which performances were your favorites? Whose speech touched you the most? Sound off in the comments below. – with reports from Frankie Taggart, AFP/Rappler.com
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