Highlights from the 2016 Grammy Awards

The 58th Annual Grammy Awards sought to answer many burning questions regarding this past year in music, such as “Who will win Album of the Year between the stacked ballot of Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, Chris Stapleton, and Alabama Shakes?” and “Who is Alexander Hamilton?”. Here were some of the top moments from the 2016 Grammys…

As the show’s opening performer, the ever-so sparkly Taylor Swift went into the woods with the live performance debut of her latest single, “Out of the Woods”. 1989 dominated 2015 and cemented her status as a full-fledged pop star, as affirmed by her wins in the categories of Best Pop Vocal Album and the coveted Album of the Year (along with Best Music Video for “Bad Blood” featuring Kendrick Lamar). Swift is the first woman to win in the Album of the Year category twice. Was her girl powered acceptance speech a passive aggressive swipe against Kanye West? Is the sky blue?

Speaking of Kendrick Lamar, the rapper, who earned the most Grammy nominations with eleven nods, was the night’s biggest winner, picking up a total of five wins for Best Rap Album (To Pimp A Butterfly), Best Rap Performance (“Alright”), Best Rap Song (“Alright” with fellow co-writers Mark Anthony Spears and Pharrell Williams), Best Rap Collaboration (“These Walls” featuring Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat), and Best Music Video for Swift’s “Bad Blood”. His fiery and politically-charged performance of “Blacker The Berry” and “Alright” was the night’s most stirring musical event, adding to the national conversation about black culture and racial diversity in America. Lamar always performs like it’s his last song ever, and he delivers every single time.

Another top winner of the night was southern blues-rock group, Alabama Shakes, with wins in the categories of Best Alternative Music Album (Sound & Color), Best Rock Performance (“Don’t Wanna Fight”), and Best Rock Song (“Don’t Wanna Fight”). It helps that lead vocalist Brittany Howard sings with such soul and gusto.

O Canada! Canadian artists represented well at this year’s Grammys. Breakout R&B star The Weeknd won awards for Best Urban Contemporary Album (Beauty Behind the Madness) and Best R&B Performance (“Earned It”), and performed two of his current hits, “Can’t Feel My Face”  and “In The Night”, all while looking dapper and sounding smooth. During his Grammy moment, comeback kid Justin Bieber jammed on his acoustic guitar for “Love Yourself” and was joined by Skrillex and Diplo for a performance of the Best Dance Recording winning song, “Where Are Ü Now”. That’s right – Bieber now has his very first Grammy award!

In an effort to bring Broadway musicals to the masses, the Grammys invited the cast of the much buzzed about and acclaimed Hamilton to perform “Alexander Hamilton” live from New York’s Richard Rodgers Theatre. The production earned the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album and their winning moment was led by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who accepted their award in full verse!

Two is better than one, which was the case with this year’s selection of Grammy duets. Country hitmakers Sam Hunt and Carrie Underwood joined forces for Hunt’s “Take Your Time” and Underwood’s “Heartbeat”. New friends Andra Day and Ellie Goulding glammed things up with Day’s jazzy “Rise Up” and Goulding’s luscious “Love Me Like You Do”. Best New Artist nominees James Bay and Tori Kelly (both of whom got their big breaks through YouTube) came together with two guitars and two voices for Bay’s “Let It Go” and Kelly’s “Hollow”.

9x Grammy winner and this year’s MusiCares Person of the Year Lionel Richie was treated to a grand tribute of his best hits by a group consisting of John Legend (“Easy”), Demi Lovato (“Hello”), Luke Bryan (“Penny Lover”), Meghan Trainor (“You Are”), and Tyrese (“Brick House”), before taking to the stage with the funky “All Night Long”. With a line-up of singers spanning across genres (from R&B to country), it goes to show just how influential Richie is.

2015 to early 2016 was bombarded with heavy losses in the music industry. The Grammys devoted a generous amount of time to honour the talented and influential artists we’ve lost in the past year. Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix sang an a cappella rendition of “That’s the Way of the World” in honour of Earth Wind and Fire‘s Maurice White, Jackson Browne collaborated with The Eagles on “Take It Easy” in a salute to Glenn Frey. Chris Stapleton (winner of Best Country Album and Best Country Solo Performance for his debut album and single of the same title, Traveller), Gary Clark Jr., and Bonnie Raitt banded together and brought the blues with B.B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone”. Hollywood Vampires’ Joe Perry, Alice Cooper, and Johnny Depp made their live television duet with a tribute to Motörhead’s Lemmy. Fresh off of her Golden Globe win and Super Bowl national anthem performance, the extraordinary Lady Gaga honoured the late music, fashion, and pop culture icon, David Bowie, with a medley of hits that included “Space Oddity”, “Changes”, “Ziggy Stardust”, “Suffragette City”, “Rebel Rebel”, “Fashion”, “Fame”, “Let’s Dance”, and “Heroes”. Donning a neon orange mullet, vibrant make-up, and a sparkly get-up, Gaga was the perfect person to pay tribute to the legendary eclectic entertainer.

The messiest mishap of the night came from the most unlikely of sources – the one and only Adele. During her highly-anticipated performance of “All I Ask” from 25, an audio malfunction caused an unfortunate disturbance throughout the song. Ever the consummate professional, Adele carried on like the vocal beast she is, breaking through the sound mix snafu as best she could. The singer harboured no hard feelings whatsoever, and treated herself to In ‘N’ Out Burger at the night’s end (and you can bet your bottom dollar she’ll be back to sweep at next year’s awards).

Retro pop singer Meghan Trainor was this year’s recipient of the Best New Artist award. Her debut album, Title officially went platinum in early January, which may be a strong indicator of what’s to come for the young artist.

Ed Sheeran has won not one, but TWO Grammys! His romantic ballad “Thinking Out Loud” scored accolades in the categories of Song of the Year (co-written with Amy Wadge) and Best Pop Solo Performance, giving Sheeran the first couple of Grammy awards of his career.

As if there were any doubts going into the award presentation, Record of the Year went to Mark Ronson for “Uptown Funk” (which also won Best Pop Duo Performance). Featured vocalist Bruno Mars reunited with Beyoncé on stage just one week after they had slayed the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Hallelujah!

What were your favourite moments from this year’s Grammy Awards? Let me know in the comments!

Image Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images (Grammys.com)

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