The 59th Annual Grammy Awards provided much-needed relief during these rocky times. As the recognized musicians demonstrated throughout the evening, the universal language of song can lift spirits, soothe souls, and help people as a healer, uniter, and motivator. Here are some of the top moments from the 2017 Grammys.
The Recording Academy ushered in a new and improved ceremony host in the form of The Late Late Show‘s James Corden, who made his grand entrance with a rapturous rap monologue about the nominees. In a nod to his widely-popular late night segment Carpool Karaoke, Corden did a special edition of Cardboard Karaoke with Neil Diamond (and friends like Jennifer Lopez, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, and John Legend) to Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline”, giving way to a sweet Grammy sing-along moment.
Two pop artists unveiled new singles to kick off their comebacks in 2017. Fresh off of his SNL performances the previous night, one man showman Ed Sheeran presented the catchy “Shape of You”. Katy Perry was “Chained to the Rhythm” with Skip Marley in the live debut of her groovy new 80s-influenced track.
The Grammy stage is known for enabling dynamic collaborations between talented musicians. In an out of this world performance, Starboy The Weeknd and electronic duo Daft Punk jammed on the galactic “I Feel It Coming”. Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood, the Danny and Sandy of country music, came together for the rousing “The Fighter” from Urban’s Ripcord. Blues brothers William Bell and Gary Clark, Jr.‘s brought a whole lotta soul to “Born Under a Bad Sign”. After wowing the world with her super-charged Super Bowl performance, the multitalented and fearless Lady Gaga tapped into her rocker side on “Moth Into Flame” with heavy metal legends Metallica. Best Country Album winner and Album of the Year nominee (for A Sailor’s Guide to Earth) Sturgill Simpson was joined by the horn players of The Dap-Kings for a performance of his song “All Around You”. Young breakout musicians Kelsea Ballerini and Lukas Graham teamed up for a mash-up of their respective singles “Peter Pan” and “7 Years”. Best Country Solo Performance winner (for “My Church”) Maren Morris sang her soaring ballad “Once” with Alicia Keys, proving that when women stand together, they can do amazing things together.
The most politically-charged performance of the night belonged to the rap crew consisting of A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, and Anderson Paak. and their commitments to make a statement against the immigration ban enforced by ‘President Agent Orange’ and to compelling the people to resist.
In a night full of inspiring and memorable acceptance speeches, one of the most endearing reactions came from Twenty One Pilots, who won Best Pop Duo Performance for their single, “Stressed Out”. As they headed to the stage, they removed their pants, which they explained as the fulfillment of a vow they had made years ago before they became famous in an effort to show that anyone from anywhere can do anything.
Offering a sneak peek into this year’s Grammy salute to the music of The Bee Gees, (as Saturday Night Fever celebrates its 40th anniversary), Demi Lovato, Tori Kelly, Little Big Town, and Andra Day joined forced for a medley of their hits, “Stayin’ Alive”, “Tragedy”, “How Deep Is Your Love”, and “Night Fever”, keeping the disco fever alive.
Cynthia Erivo (from the Best Musical Theater Album-winning The Color Purple) and John Legend sang a stirring rendition of “God Only Knows” as the lead-in to the In Memoriam montage, which was especially heavy as the previous year saw the loss of many influential figures in the music industry.
David Bowie‘s influence continues to live on, as the music icon won posthumous Grammy awards for Best Rock Song, Best Rock Performance, and Best Alternative Music Album for his final release, Blackstar.
Bruno Mars gave not one, but two showstopping performances. The R&B/funk master smooth-sang, moved, and talked his way through “That’s What I Like” from 24K Magic, and reappeared again during the tribute to Prince, in which he dawned the signature purple suit and shredded to “Let’s Go Crazy”.
Luck was on Chance the Rapper‘s side as he scored 3 big wins for Best Rap Performance (for “No Problem”), Best Rap Album, and Best New Artist. His awards are seen as a victory for independent artists everywhere, as this was the first year in which streaming-only albums were eligible for nomination. Crediting his glories to God, Chance’s passionate gospel-infused Coloring Book medley, featuring Kirk Franklin, Tamela Mann, and a full-on choir, served its purpose of taking the audience to church.
Performing for the first time since she announced her pregnancy, Beyonce delivered the most artistic, ambitious, and captivating performance of the night. Appearing as a golden goddess among a tribe of women, her duel performance of “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles” was a touching tribute to the importance of motherhood and sisterhood. The Queen Bey was the recipient of the most Grammy nominations this year (nine in total) in a wide range of genres and categories, and she ended up winning two awards for Best Music Video (for “Formation”) and Best Urban Contemporary Album (for Lemonade).
The big winner of the night was Adele, for her number of accolades received (five in total), her incredible performances delivered, and her refreshingly humble and candid honesty. The British songstress opened the ceremony with “Hello”, which was named Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Performance. During her haunting and heartfelt rendition of “Fastlove” by George Michael, Adele stopped in the middle of the performance to restart again, as she couldn’t mess up her tribute. Never one to shy away from moments of vulnerability, Adele let her true feelings out when she closed out the night with the coveted award for Album of the Year for 25 (which also won for Best Pop Vocal Album).
When handed the golden gramophone, she denounced her win in favor of Beyonce, whom she stated the album belonged to for Lemonade. Adele showered Beyonce with the utmost praise, declaring her as the artist of her lifetime and describing Lemonade as groundbreaking and monumental, particularly as a source of empowerment for black women. Nevertheless, whether made official by the Recording Academy or not, these two Queens are both deserving of being remembered as the best that 2016 had to offer in the world of pop music.