The artists joined forces for a mashup of Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” for which they won the best rock performance Grammy, with Lamar’s “m.A.A.d City,” off of the rapper’s seven-times-nominated Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.
The band and rapper — dressed in white — rocked out together on a smoke-filled stage, strobe lights blazing. The sound cut out multiple times during Lamar’s rhymes, while many in the audience rose to their feet to dance or sing along, including Jay Z, Beyonce, Lorde, Katy Perry, Robin Thicke and Steven Tyler. The performers were later splattered in red paint during their mashup.
“We were a big fan of Kendrick’s. It was raw, ” Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds said after the performance. “The lines are blurred between genres. We were on the same page.”
“In a perfect world, it would be like the Hunger Games and at the end, me and Kendrick would light on fire,” Reynolds told THR of his hopes for the performance. Among Lamar’s pregame advice to his Imagine Dragons collaborators: “Don’t go against your own shit. … I don’t want anybody to do anything fake.” He also had high praise for the band, lauding its members’ “energy and stage presence.”
Roy Trakin contributed reporting.