Grammys highlights: The best and worst moments from 2020 awards
The biggest names in music gathered at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday night for the 2020 Grammys Awards. Although it was a ceremony marred by sadness (the death of Kobe Bryant) and controversy (the ousting of Grammy CEO Deborah Dugan), in the end it was all about the music.
Billie Eilish was the night’s big winner, taking home five gramophones while sweeping all of the Big Four categories (Album, Record and Song of the Year, plus Best New Artist) — and the 18-year-old goth-pop princess deserved every one of them.
But there were other hits — and — misses during a long ceremony that stretched to nearly four hours.
Here are the best and worst moments of Grammys 2020:
Worst: The Jonas Brothers’ new number
There are only a handful of artists who are worthy of performing a new song that nobody knows at the Grammys — and the Jonas Brothers aren’t among them. Singing their song “What a Man Gotta Do,” which just dropped about a week ago, it made you wonder why they weren’t performing their nominated smash “Sucker.” The Grammys are supposed to be about performing nominated songs, with few exceptions. And sorry, but “What a Man Gotta Do” isn’t the kind of killer track that deserved this showcase.
Best: Lizzo’s show opener
“Tonight is for Kobe!” shouted Lizzo to open the 62nd annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles — the professional home of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who shockingly died in a helicopter crash just hours before. Looking respectfully elegant in black, Lizzo sang the title track of her album “Cuz I Love You,” which had already claimed the prize for Best Urban Contemporary Album before the telecast.
“I’m cryin’ ’cause I love you,” she belted, giving new meaning to the lyrics on this grief-stricken night and making you wonder if she had originally planned to sing this song.
After ballerinas put a classical spin on her saucy image, Lizzo got into some of the the unbothered booty-shaking that she has become famous — performing “Truth Hurts” complete with flute playing to let you know she isn’t a one-trick show pony.
Best: Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men say goodbye to Kobe
“We’re also in crazy sadness right now,” said Alicia Keys, hosting the show for a second year in a row.It was, if anything, an understatement. “The whole wide world lost a hero,” she said to the crowd at the Staples Center, which she rightfully described as “the house that Kobe built.”
She then launched into an a-cappella version of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” before being joined by Boyz II Men. As a last-minute tribute put together only hours after Bryant died in a helicopter crash, it was simple, and simply poignant.
Best: Tyler, the Creator with Boyz II Men and Charlie Wilson
The Grammys are known for WTF collaborative moments, but they can be hit or miss. When old-soul soul men Charlie Wilson and Boyz II Men — making their second appearance of the night — joined hip-hop iconoclast Tyler, the Creator on the stage to perform “New Magic Wand” from his “Igor” album (which won Best Rap Album), it was a bizarre mash-up of styles that somehow worked. Musically and visually, it certainly allowed Tyler, the Creator to shake up any old fogies watching.
Worst: Prince tribute with Usher and Sheila E.
The year after Prince died, Bruno Mars and the Time performed a tribute to the Purple One at the 2017 Grammys that had us all going crazy. Three year later, we were given another salute to the legend — but it seemed like little more than a way to promote a Prince tribute concert that will be broadcast on CBS later this year. Going through a meh medley of “Little Red Corvette,” “When Does Cry” and “Kiss,” Usher — as talented as a performer as he is — came off more like a Vegas showman than a Minneapolis funkster. Prince protégée Sheila E., backing Usher up on the skins, not to mention a pole-dancing FKA Twigs, didn’t have enough to do to really help.
Best: Billie Eilish’s set
The biggest narrative in the Big Four categories — Album, Record and Song of the Year, plus Best New Artist — was the diva showdown between Lizzo and Billie Eilish. (Eilish swept all four.) But while Lizzo has been putting herself all the way out there, literally and figuratively, Eilish has remained shrouded in mystery.
So when she did a stripped-down version of “When the Party’s Over,” backed by her producer brother Finneas, it was a chance to really see who this 18-year-old is — slime-green hair and all. Raw and emotional, her performance made you see exactly what real talent is without any dancers, sets or gimmicks.
Worst: Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani’s duet
It was always going to be hard to follow the emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant that Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men did with “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” But somebody had to do it.
Unfortunately, the honors went to real-life romantic couple Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani. Maybe it was partly because we were still in our feelings about Kobe, but they exhibited zero chemistry singing “Nobody But You.” Where are Beyoncé and Jay-Z when you need them?
Best: Lil Nas X meets Nas
From a prop-heavy living-room set to outlandish outfits to BTS, there was a whole lot going on in Lil Nas X’s set-shifting, guest-heavy performance of his smash “Old Town Road.” By the time his ace sidekick Billy Ray Cyrus hit the stage, he was almost an afterthought. But the real star of this show was the original Nas, who joined his 20-year-old namesake onstage to show the kid how it’s done. Looking like the rap boss that he is in all white and gold chain, Nas — who has shockingly never won a Grammy despite 13 nominations — brought real hip-hop all the way from the New York streets.
Worst: Camila Cabello’s performance
After opening last year’s Grammys by transforming her hit “Havana” into a Latin extravaganza with J Balvin and Ricky Martin, Camila Cabello was back with a far less memorable performance of the ballad “First Man” off her new album “Romance.” The treacly tribute to her dad — including Papa Cabello crying in the front row as his daughter serenaded him — came off as a tacky tearjerker on a night when there were real tears to be shed.
Best: Little Big Town’s Smokey harmonies
When Motown legend Smokey Robinson joined the “Girl Crush” country-pop quartet to present Song of the Year, they practically stole the show from the winner — a very deserving Billie Eilish for “Bad Guy” — with their a-cappella rendition of Robinson’s ’60s classic “My Girl.” It was the kind of cool, off-the-cuff moment that showed what true Grammy harmony is all about.
Twenty-one years after Ricky Martin had the world going “olé olé olé” with his show-stopping Grammys performance of “The Cup of Life,” another Latin star — Spanish sensation Rosalía — announced her arrival on the stage with a muy caliente medley of “Con Altura” and “Malamente.” She’d already picked up a Grammy (Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album for “El Mal Querer”) earlier in the evening, but this performance was the real win for her.
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