Grammys 2020: A night to remember

The Grammy Awards have been an entertainment mainstay for more than a half-century now, starting in 1958 and have continued to remain relevant to a certain extent in the entertainment industry even as storied institutions such as the Oscars have been bogged down in controversy. The 2020 outing has been no different, glitzy, emotional and controversial in equal measures.

The big winner for the night was American songsmith Bille Eilish who has won all four major award categories, including Best Album. Eilish is the youngest and second person ever to sweep all four major award categories at the prestigious event. Overall, Eilish and her brother/recording partner Finneas O'Connell took home six of the seven awards they were nominated for on Sunday. Her brother Finneas O'Connell was named producer of the year and also won best-engineered album, non-classical.

"We didn't make this album to win a Grammy," said O'Connell. Rather, they collaborated on an album about "depression, suicidal thoughts, climate change and being a bad guy, whatever that means. … So we stand up here confused and grateful".

Accepting for song of the year, Eilish was shocked. "Why? Who?," Eilish exclaimed, "I feel like I joke around a lot and I never take anything seriously, but I openly want to say that I'm grateful and honoured to be here." Accepting another award later, Eilish said: "I think the fans deserve (mentioning)… They are the only reason we are here at all."

As a much darker aside, host Alicia Keys didn't reference ousted Recording Academy president Deborah Dugan or the drama surrounding her "administrative leave," but she made her point by encouraging all in attendance to "refuse the old system" and negative energy.

Meanwhile, Lizzo, who picked up her first of three awards (best pop solo performance, best traditional R&B performance and best urban contemporary album) after her performance of Cuz I love you and Truth hurts, said: "This is really f–king sick, really cool."

"This whole week, I've been lost in my problems, stressed out, and then in an instant all that can go away. Today all of the little problems I thought were as big as the world are all gone."

Dan + Shay, who won country duo/group performance for Speechless, thanked family members and their team, including managers Jason Owen of Sandbox and Scooter Braun of SB Projects. "I want to put my heart up to this microphone," said Dan Smyers. "You can literally hear it beating out of my chest right now."

Awards aside, tributes and shout-outs poured in for basketball star Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash earlier last Sunday.

The night started with Lizzo dedicating her performance to Bryant. Later, his Lakers jersey was displayed on a chair during Lil Nas X's performance of Old Town Road and also held high by Run D.M.C.

Keys paid tribute in her opening remarks saying: "Earlier today, Los Angeles, America, and the whole world lost a hero. And we're literally standing heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built. … We never imagined in a million years we'd start the show like this."

Boyz II Men paid tribute with a performance It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday and Keys referenced Bryant again at the show's end, saying, "Kobe, we love you".

But the tributes did not end there. John Legend, YG and DJ Khaled performed alongside Meek Mill, Roddy Ricch and Kirk Franklin as part of the Grammy Awards tribute to late activist-rapper Nipsey Hussle. The performance, introduced by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, began with the late rapper's friends and fellow musicians, Mill and Rich taking the stage to start off Letter to Nipsey.

With the help of a choir group wearing all white, DJ Khaled, Legend, YG and Franklin performed Higher that played Hussle's verse of the song, while a video of him from the music video hovered from above the stage. They ended the performance collectively with a picture of Hussle and Kobe Bryant. Hussle received four Grammy nominations throughout his career, one for best rap album in 2018, and three posthumous nominations this year.

"Long live Nip, long live Kobe," Khaled said at the end of the performance. "The marathon continues."

Naturally, the night was not devoid of lighter moments. Among the traditional mainstay of tweets judging the various celebrity get-ups, there was also the matter of Popstar Ariana Grande transforming the Grammys stage into a bedroom and slumber party. Grande, who arrived at the ceremony in a voluminous grey tulle dress, made numerous costume changes throughout the evening.

Joined by an orchestra and a team of dancers wearing silky robes, the singer sang her hits: 7 rings, Imagine and Thank U next. She is nominated in five categories, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance.

Other exciting news for the evening was a big announcement by the iconic band Aerosmith. Aerosmith reunited with hip-hop group Run-D.M.C. for their hit single Walk this way during the rock band's performance at the Grammys. The band started with their 1993 hit with frontman Steven Tyler running up to Lizzo so that she could help out with the chorus.

The hip-hop group then joined the band for Walk this way, which they re-recorded in 1986 with Tyler and Joe Perry. Their entrance on stage was a dramatic one – knocking down a wall a la the original video.

After the MusiCares Person of the Year tribute, which featured Foo Fighters, Gary Clark Jr, Jonas Brothers, Alice Cooper and more, and the 2020 Grammys performance, Aerosmith will resume their Las Vegas residency later this month, with additional shows scheduled in May and June. The band also plans to celebrate its 50th anniversary with a European tour this summer.

Of course, if the dismissal of Dugan is any indication, all is not well with the Grammy awards. Since the committee behind the Grammy Awards expanded award categories in 2010, there has been everpresent discontent against the new categories, how they are defined and what kind of musical nomination goes into what category. Many have stated that the Grammy awards are a farce with people outside the industry arbitrarily labelling and judging artists. While discontent has been widespread, few artists have been more vocal about their opposition to this new iteration of the Grammy awards. Take Rapper Tyler, The Creator who had mixed feelings about his first Grammy win this year. His IGOR got an award for the Best Rap Album. "I'm half and half on it," he said, immediately after accepting the award.

"On one side, I'm very grateful that what I made could be acknowledged in a world like this, but also, it s**ks that whenever we do anything that's genre-bending or that's anything, they always put it in rap or urban category. I don't like that 'urban' word. That's just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me. Like, oh, my little cousin wants to play the game, let's give him the unplugged controller so he can shut up and feel good about it. That's what it felt like a bit."

Other Grammy winners included Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus for Old Town Road; Tool's 7empest for best metal performance; and Cage The Elephant's Social Cues for best rock album.

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