Grammys: 10 Most Memorable Moments

7:23 PM 1/26/2020

by Jillian Forstadt and Christy Piña

Lizzo's big win, Usher's Prince tribute and Camila Cabello's emotional performance were just some of the night’s standout moments.

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The 2020 Grammy Awards began on a somber note, with guests and performers inside Los Angeles’ Staples Center mourning the death of late basketball great Kobe Bryant, who died Sunday in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

In her monologue, host Alicia Keys encouraged the room to join together to heal through the night's celebration of music.

“I know that we're going to all join together and do what we do in happy times and challenging times. We're going to sing together, we're going to laugh together. We're going to dance together, we're gonna cry together,” Keys said. “We're going to bring it all together.”

Performances by Lizzo, Usher and Lil Nas X helped bring some much-needed positive energy to the Grammy stage, amidst heartfelt tributes and some record-breaking wins.

Kirk Franklin, DJ Khaled, John Legend, Meek Mill, Roddy Ricch and YG honored the late rapper Nipsey Hussle in a mashup performance moments before he was posthumously awarded best rap/sung performance for "Higher." 

Demi Lovato debuted a new song in her first performance since the end of her Tell Me You Love Me World Tour and drug overdose in July 2018.

Kicking off the presentation of the night's biggest awards, Billie Eilish accepted the award for song of the year for "Bad Guy," making her the youngest artist to do so since Lorde in 2014.

The Hollywood Reporter rounded up all of the standout moment from the 2020 Grammy Awards — including the night's most powerful moments and every big surprise.  

  • Honoring Kobe Bryant

    On music's biggest night of the year, attendees and audiences alike tuned into CBS with heavy hearts, mourning the loss of an American icon, Kobe Bryant. From the show's first seconds to performances and speeches throughout the night, Bryant was on everyone's mind. Lizzo opened the 62nd Grammys saying, "Tonight's for Kobe," and then went into a beautiful rendition of her "Cuz I Love You," which starts with the lyrics, "I'm crying."

    Alicia Keys' host monologue further highlighted the loss, with the awards taking place "in the house that Kobe Bryant built," Staples Center. She asked everyone for a moment of silence for those who died in the helicopter accident Sunday. "To be honest, we're all feeling crazy sad right now because earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero," Keys said in her monologue. "We never imagined in a million years we'd be starting the show [like this] right now."

    Boyz II Men joined Keys on stage during her opening speech, and together, they sang the group's, "It's Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday." Keys added that music is the one thing that has the power to bring everyone together. "It's the most healing thing in the world," the host said.

    Later, during Aerosmith and Run-DMC's performance, Rev Run held up a Bryant jersey in honor of the late Laker. 

    "RIP Nipsey Hussle. RIP Kobe Bryant," DJ Khaled ended the Nipsey Hussle tribute as a huge photo of the late rapper alongside the basketball legend lit up the screen. 

    During the performance of "Old Town Road," Lil Nas X and the "Old Town Road All-Stars" also paid tribute to Bryant on two separate occasions. First, at the beginning of the song, in the makeshift kid's bedroom that was part of his set, where a Bryant Lakers jersey decorated a chair. And second, when Diplo ended the performance by shouting, "We love you, Kobe!" 

  • Billie Eilish's Big Wins

    Billie Eilish broke numerous records at this year's Grammys, starting with being the youngest nominee in history to receive nods in all four general field categories: record of the year, album of the year, song of the year and best new artist, all of which she won on Sunday night.

    Her brother, Finneas O'Connell, also received five noms for his work with his sister, including producer of the year, non-classical, which he also took home.

    The siblings were at a loss for words upon accepting all four awards and could only say "thank you." They dedicated their award for song of the year to all the kids who want to be musicians one day.

    "We just make music in a bedroom together. We still do that and they let us do that," O'Connell said. "This is to all of the kids who are making music in their bedroom today. You're gonna get one of these." 

  • Alicia Keys Serenades the Night's Nominees

    In a sentimental medley, Keys applauded this year's nominees.

    Sitting at the piano, the singer launched into her own version of Lewis Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved” to highlight the year in music.

    "Ariana went 'next' / Tyler brought us 'Igor' / And Lil' Nas rode that road 'til he couldn't no more," Keys sang.

    In a verse about the current political moment, Keys offered her thoughts on the ongoing impeachment proceedings: “Y'all get out / Let's bring Cardi B in."
     

  • Camila Cabello's Heartwarming Performance

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Camila Cabello performed "First Man," a song from her new album, Romance. The song is a tribute to her father, Alejandro, who was sitting in the front row during her performance.

    In the background, videos of Cabello as a baby and then later as a child with her father decorated the stage behind her as she sang in a stunning pink mini dress. She walked into the audience toward the end of her song and sang directly to her father, who was tearing up.

    The Cuban-American singer-songwriter is up for best pop duo/group performance for "Señorita," alongside Shawn Mendes.

  • The Very Prince-esque Tribute

    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Usher, FKA Twigs and Sheila E. took the stage to honor the late Prince with a three-song tribute. Decked out in a sparkly blue jacket with an unbuttoned white collar shirt and silver pants, Usher began the performance with his rendition of "Little Red Corvette." Their performance mirrored the music legend's distinctive hybrid sounds and bold style with a blue and purple light show.

    FKA Twigs joined Usher on stage when he segued into "When Doves Cry." She made her entrance by twirling on a pole in a white feathered outfit, and the two then pivoted to the iconic "Kiss."

    For the final song, Prince's famous circle appeared in purple and a group of dancers filled the stage behind Usher and FKA Twigs, with long-time Prince collaborator Sheila E. on the drums.

  • Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road," Featuring Everyone

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

    Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus performed their record-breaking country-infused hip-hop song "Old Town Road." "Old Town Road All-Stars" BTS, Diplo, Mason Ramsey and Nas joined the duo on stage to perform the song.

    Lil Nas X opened by singing and playing the guitar in a set designed like a kid's bedroom with a Bryant Lakers jersey displayed on a chair, one of two Bryant tributes in his performance. The second one came at the end of Lil Nas X's set when Diplo shouted, "Kobe, we love you!"

    The 20-year-old rapper and Cyrus took home the awards for best music video and best pop duo/group performance for "Old Town Road," which became the longest-charting No. 1 song in the history of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

  • Demi Lovato's First Performance Since Overdose Scare

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Demi Lovato took the stage in a white gown for her first performance since the end of her Tell Me You Love Me World Tour and drug overdose in July 2018. Lovato performed her new song, "Anyone," which immediately made her so emotional, she had to restart her performance.

    Throughout her heartfelt song, tears streamed down the singer's face as she sang deep lyrics like, "Anyone, please send me anyone / Lord, is there anyone? / I need someone."

    The singer told Apple Music's Zane Lowe the song was recorded four days before her overdose, and she didn't realize at the time that it was a "cry for help."

    "You kind of listen back to it and you kind of think, how did nobody listen to this song and think, 'Let's help this girl'?" Lovato said in the interview. "I even think that I was recording it in a state of mind where I felt like I was OK, but clearly I wasn't. I even listened back to it and I'm like, 'Gosh, I wish I could go back in time and help that version of myself.' I feel like I was in denial." 

  • Lizzo's Big Night

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

    The eight-time 62nd Grammys nominee started her big night with a performance of two of her biggest songs. Lizzo opened her performance and the 2020 Grammys by dedicating the night to Bryant.

    Clad in a black, sparkly gown, she began with "Cuz I Love You," which is also the name of the album she won best urban contemporary album for on Sunday. After a brief interlude, Lizzo returned to the symphony and dancer-filled stage in a colorful bodysuit and leggings for "Truth Hurts." The 31-year-old singer even brought out her iconic "Sasha" flute. 

    The singer earned the most nominations of any artist this year and took home the award for best pop solo performance

    "I want to say this whole week I was lost in my problems and then in an instant all that can go away and your priorities really shift," she said upon accepting the award. "Today all my little problems I thought were as big as the world were gone. I realized people are hurting right now."

  • John Legend, DJ Khaled and More Pay Tribute to Nipsey Hussle

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Kirk Franklin, DJ Khaled, John Legend, Meek Mill, Roddy Ricch and YG came together to honor the late rapper, entrepreneur and activist Nipsey Hussle.

    Hussle was shot and killed outside of his South Los Angeles clothing store in March 2019. He was 33.

    In a medley introduced by director Ava DuVernay, the group performed "Letter to Nipsey" as well as Hussle's track with DJ Khaled and John Legend, "Higher."

    The late rapper posthumously won the award for best rap performance for "Racks in the Middle" and for best rap/sung performance for "Higher."

    "This is for Nipsey Hussle. This is for hip-hop," Khaled said upon accepting the award for best rap/sung performance. The rapper asked the crowd to applaud for Hussle's family. 

    "We miss him. We love him," Legend added. "Thank you for allowing us to use his legacy and lift it up in song tonight." 

  • Billie Eilish Gives Emotional Performance

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

    In her first appearance on the Grammy stage, Billie Eilish performed an emotional rendition of her song “When the Party's Over” from her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

    Eilish delivered the heart-wrenching ballad through tears, with her brother and collaborator, Finneas O'Connell, on keys and backing vocals.

    "I feel like I joke around a lot and I never take anything seriously at these kind of things, but I genuinely want to say I'm so grateful," the five-time Grammy winner said of sharing the stage with many of those she respects. "I only wanna say that I'm grateful and I'm so honored to be here amongst all of you. I love you to my core. I grew up watching all of you."