The three most coveted accolades of the 60th annual Grammy Awards were bestowed upon Bruno Mars for his double platinum album and record of the year, ‘24k Magic’. The album included song of the year winner, ‘That’s What I Like’.
Bruno also pulled a perfect 6-for-6 record by taking home top prizes for his other three nominations including best R&B song, album and performance of the year. Meanwhile, Jay Z, who led in Grammy nominations with eight, left the Boston Garden empty-handed, tying the record for the largest Grammy shutout, second only to Paul McCartney’s 0-9 run over 50 years ago.
Bruno Mars won Album of the Year over tough competition, including Childish Gambino’s ‘Awaken, My Love’, Jay-Z’s ‘4:44’ and Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Damn’; all favorites in the esteemed category. The list also included Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’, the only female nominee of the year for this particular prestigious award. Kendrick was the only artist on the list to still see extensive success despite the Mars sweep, mainly in the rap categories, but also winning best music video with ‘Humble’ for a total of 5 Grammys.
The much sought after new artist award was given to Cara who was among a strong group of nominees including SZA who was up for five total Grammys, one greater than Cara. Ed Sheeran did not attend the ceremony, however he won both categories for which he was nominated, best pop vocal album and best pop solo performance. Chris Stapleton, meanwhile, swept all of the country categories.
The Grammys proved once again to be a platform for political and social statements from the get-go, as Kendrick opened the ceremony with an aggressively styled, crowd-invigorating song medley, with back up from U2 and brief intermissions featuring comedian Dave Chapelle (who would later win his first ever Grammy) complimenting Kendrick’s black struggle-oriented lyricism with the following:
“I just wanted to remind the audience that the only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America is being an honest black man in America.”
The trend continued as the social focus shifted to victims of sexual abuse with Kesha’s powerful, soul-drawn, comeback performance of her Grammy-nominated ballad ‘Praying’, introduced by Janelle Monáe who urged the music industry to play their part in helping to eliminate the problem: “Just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not do us well.” Many of the event’s attendees walked the red carpet with white roses in honor of the innumerable victims of sexual abuse, allegedly including Kesha herself, at the hands of music producer Dr. Luke.
Political statements, too, were not lacking in last night’s ceremony, with Hilary Clinton making a surprise appearance on television host James Corden’s video segment, taking a light jab at the US President alongside celebrities such as John Legend, DJ Khaled and Cardi B, by reading the following extract from Michael Wolff’s bestselling book, ‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House’:
“He had a long-time fear of being poisoned,” she said as she read the book’s passage. “One reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s. No one knew he was coming and the food was safely pre-made.”
Expressions on serious policy matters were also made, such as the highlight moment when singer Camila Cabello referenced the recent “Dreamers” situation that helped spark the 3-day US government shutdown. “I’m a proud Cuban-Mexican immigrant, born in eastern Havana, standing in front of you on the Grammy stage in New York City, and all I know is, just like dreams, these kids can’t be forgotten and are worth fighting for,” she said in her introduction to U2’s politically-fuelled performance.
The 2018 Grammys proved to be an exciting event of surprise sweeps, touching performances and strong socio-political statements. With its conclusion, a new year of musical innovation commences.