Host US singer-songwriter Alicia Keys (2nd L) and Boyz II Men sing in honor of late NBA legend Kobe Bryant during the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards on January 26, 2020, in Los Angeles. Photo: ROBYN BECK
LOS ANGELES: The 2020 Grammys kicked off Sunday with an emotional tribute to the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant, whose sudden death in a helicopter crash left Los Angeles in tears on music’s marquee night.
Before the star-studded event’s top nominee Lizzo owned the stage at the Staples Center with a show-stopping medley of her top hits — where Bryant made NBA history as a championship-winning Laker — she laid down the evening’s overarching theme: “Tonight is for Kobe.”
The twerking flautist then handed the torch to host Alicia Keys, who offered another love letter to Bryant’s memory: “We’re all feeling crazy sadness right now. Earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero.”
“And we’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built,” said Keys, before launching into a soulful rendition of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye” with the group Boyz II Men.
“He would want us to keep the vibrations high,” Keys later said, before singing a humorous yet soothing opening monologue at the piano.
A mushrooming crowd of people, many of them in tears, gathered near the arena to mourn the 41-year-old Bryant. Flags were flying at half-mast.
The evening nevertheless promises a series of rollicking performances from Lizzo’s top competition for major awards, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X, as well as tributes to the veteran rockers Aerosmith and the late rapper Nipsey Hussle.
Lizzo took home the first broadcast award of the night for best pop solo performance, having already won two awards in the pre-gala event.
“This is really… sick,” the 31-year-old superstar said through tears, before alluding to Bryant’s death.
“This whole week I’d be lost in my problems, stressed out — and then in an instant all of that can go away and your priorities really shift,” she said.
“Let’s continue to reach out, hold each other down and lift each other up.”
In the pre-gala event, Eilish won for Best Pop Vocal Album, and Lil Nas X lassoed two trophies of a potential six.
“I feel like I’m not supposed to be here,” Eilish, 18, wearing Gucci, said on the red carpet after winning her first award of the night.
“Life is weird.”
Performers paid tribute to Kobe Bryant and his daughter, who passed away in a helicopter crash earlier in the day. The awards ceremony took place at Los Angeles’s Staples Center where Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Lizzo, Alicia Keys, DJ Khalid, Lil Nas X, Aerosmith, and RUN-D.M.C. each paid tribute to the iconic basketball player either through words or by flashing his jersey to the crowd.
Lizzo, the pop and R&B star of hits like “Truth Hurts,” “Juice” and “Good as Hell,” was nominated for eight awards, the most of any other nominee. She is a first-time Grammy nominee.
Ahead of the televised show, Lizzo garnered a Grammy win for best traditional R&B performance for “Jerome” and best urban contemporary album for “Cuz I Love You (Deluxe).”
She won the first award of the evening, taking home the best pop solo performance for “Truth Hurts.”
“Bad Guy” singer Billie Eilish is up for six prizes and is the youngest artist to be nominated for the top four categories at the Grammys. She performed alongside her brother Finneas O’Connell.
Elish, O’Connell, Rob Kinelski and John Greenham won the best-engineered album (non-classical) for “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” Eilish also won for a best pop vocal album.
Lil Nas X, the rapper behind “Old Town Road” also received six nods and took the stage with Billy Ray Cyrus, Korean Pop sensation BTS, DJ phenomenon Diplo and Mason Ramsey, the kid who went viral for yodeling at a Walmart.
Lil Nas X and Cryus won best music video and best pop duo/group performance ahead of the televised portion of the Grammy Awards.
Demi Lovato also took the stage on Sunday, marking her first performance since her 2018 overdose. She was clearly emotional while singing a new song called “Anyone,” a piece she said she wrote just a few days before her hospitalization.
Sharon and Ozzy Osborne presented the award for best rap/sung collaboration to DJ Khaled and John Legend, who had worked alongside the late Nipsey Hussle. The pair dedicated the award to Hussle and to Bryant.
Ozzy Osborne, the lead singer of Black Sabbath, recently revealed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Heading into the televised event the Recording Academy has become mired in controversy after it placed its CEO Deborah Dugan on leave, saying Dugan had created a hostile work environment in her short time at the helm. Dugan claims her removal was retribution for raising complaints about sexual harassment and her attempts to add more diversity to the Academy.
Dugan even alleged that some of the nominations for the Grammy Awards were rigged. It’s unclear how these rumors will impact the show or any acceptance speeches.
And the winners of the televised awards are…
Record of the Year:
“Bad Guy” – Billie Eilish (WINNER)
“Hey, Ma” – Bon Iver
”7 Rings” – Ariana Grande
”Hard Place” – H.E.R.
“Talk” – Khalid
”Old Town Road” – Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus
”Truth Hurts” – Lizzo
”Sunflower” – Post Malone & Swae Lee
Album of the Year
“When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” — Billie Eilish (WINNER)
“i,i ”— Bon Iver
”Norman F—– Rockwell!” — Lana Del Rey
”thank u, next” — Ariana Grande
”I Used To Know Her” — H.E.R.
“7″ — Lil Nas X
”Cuz I Love You (Deluxe)” — Lizzo
”Father Of The Bride” — Vampire Weekend
Best New Artist
Billie Eilish (WINNER)
Lil Nas X
Tank and the Bangas
Best Pop Solo Performance
“Truth Hurts” — Lizzo (WINNER)
“Spirit” — Beyonce
”Bad Guy” — Billie Eilish
”7 Rings” — Ariana Grande
”You Need to Calm Down” — Taylor Swift
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“Speechless”— Dan + Shay (WINNER)
“Common” — Maren Morris Featuring Brandi Carlile
”Brand New Man” — Brooks & Dunn With Luke Combs
”I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)” — Brothers Osborne
”The Daughters” — Little Big Town.
Best Comedy Album
“Sticks & Stones” — Dave Chappelle (WINNER)
“Quality Time” — Jim Gaffigan
”Relatable” — Ellen DeGeneres
”Right Now” — Aziz Ansari
”Son of Patricia” — Trevor Noah
Best Rap Album
“IGOR” — Tyler, the Creator (WINNER)
“Revenge of the Dreamers III” — Dreamville
”Championships” — Meek Mill
”I AM > I Was” — 21 Savage
”The Lost Boy” — YBN Cordae
Song of the Year
“Bad Guy” — Billie Eilish (WINNER)
“Always Remember Us This Way” — Lady Gaga
”Bring My Flowers Now” — Brandi Carlile
”Hard Place” — H.E.R.“Lover” — Taylor Swift
”Norman F—— Rockwell” — Lana Del Rey
”Someone You Love” — Lewis Capaldi
”Truth Hurts” — Lizzo
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
“Higher” — DJ Khaled featuring Nipsey Hussle and John Legend (WINNER)
“Drip Too Hard” — Lil Baby and Gunna
”Panini” — Lil Nas X
”Ballin” — Mustard featuring Roddy Ricch
”The London” — Young Thug featuring J. Cole and Travis Scott
There were more than 80 Grammy Awards handed out this year, but only a select few were awarded during the televised ceremony. The Recording Academy has made efforts in recent years to add more performances to its ceremony to drive TV ratings.
Other notable Grammy Award winners include:
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
“Old Town Road” — Lil Nas X & Billy Ray Cyrus (WINNER)
“Boyfriend” — Ariana Grande & Social House
”Sucker” — Jonas Brothers
“Señorita” — Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello
Best Pop Vocal Album
“When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” — Billie Eilish (WINNER)
“The Lion King: The Gift” — Beyonce
”Thank U, Next” — Ariana Grande
”No. 6 Collaborations Project” — Ed Sheeran
”Lover” — Taylor Swift
Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical
Finneas O’Connell (WINNER)
Best Music Video
“Old Town Road (Official Movie)” — Lil Nas X & Billy Ray Cyrus (WINNER)
“We’ve Got to Try” — The Chemical Brothers
”This Land” — Gary Clark Jr.
“Cellophane” — FKA twigs
”Glad He’s Gone” — Tove Lo
Best Country Album
“While I’m Livin’” — Tanya Tucker (WINNER)
“Desperate Man” — Eric Church
”Stronger Than the Truth” — Reba McEntire
”Interstate Gospel” — Pistol Annies
”Center Point Road” — Thomas Rhett
(with inputs from Agencies)