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But first, she made an impassioned plea for positive change in both the music industry and the world at large. “It’s a new decade. It’s time for newness. And we refuse the negative energy. We refuse the old systems. Feel me on that?” the singer-songwriter said. “We want to be respected and safe in our diversity. We want to be shifting to realness and inclusivity. So tonight, we want to celebrate the people. The artists that put themselves on the line and share their truth with us.”
Keys then launched into her own version of Lewis Capaldi’s “Someone You Loved” to highlight different nominated artists, including Billie Eilish and Shawn Mendes.
“Ariana went ‘next’/ Tyler brought us ‘Igor’/ And Lil Nas rode that road ’til he couldn’t no more,” she sang. “It’s the Grammys/ Gonna have a ball/ And here’s Alicia Keys to get you through it all/ If you like country/ Or you prefer Young Thug/ I’ma get you kinda used to hearing music you love.”
The audience took a particular liking to a line that didn’t reference a nominee, but President Donald Trump: “Tonight we must unite in spite of all the news that we’re seeing/ Commander in chief impeached/ Y’all get out/ Let’s bring Cardi B in.”
The host’s medley came after a performance from Lizzo, who dedicated the evening to the late Kobe Bryant following his tragic death Sunday.
“Here we are together on music’s biggest night celebrating the artists that do it best, but to be honest with you, we’re all feeling crazy sadness right now. Because earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero. And we’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built,” Keys said upon taking the stage at Staples Center. “Right now, Kobe and his daughter Gianna and all of those that have been tragically lost today are in our spirit, are in our hearts, are in our prayers and are in this building. I would like to ask everybody to just take a moment and hold them inside of you and share our strength and support with their families.”
Keys added that she “never imagined in a million years that we’d have to start the show like this,” but ended on an upbeat note.
“We’re gonna sing together. We’re gonna laugh together. We’re gonna dance together. We’re gonna cry together. We’re gonna bring it all together,” Keys continued. “We’re gonna make sure that we are celebrating the most powerful energy; the most beautiful thing in the world — the one thing that has the power to bring all of us together, and that’s music.”
The opening of the awards ceremony was similar to last year’s, when Keys opted for sentiment by celebrating the unifying power of music. She was eventually joined onstage by women she described as her “sisters,” including former first lady Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga and Jada Pinkett Smith.
This year’s show also saw the likes of many high-profile stars, such as Ava DuVernay, Cynthia Ervo and Billy Porter, all of whom served as presenters. Additionally, Camila Cabello, Gary Clark Jr., John Legend, Ariana Grande, H.E.R., The Jonas Brothers, Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, Lizzo, Rosalía, Blake Shelton and Tyler, the Creator all performed.
Billie Eilish ended up sweeping the top categories, winning album of the year, best new artist, song of the year, record of the year and best pop vocal album. Only 18 years old, she’s now the youngest record of the year winner and the youngest album of the year winner.
Lizzo — who initially led the nominees with a total of eight — also took home multiple trophies: pop solo performance, urban contemporary album and traditional R&B performance.
Other winners included Tyler, the Creator for best rap album, Vampire Weekend for alternative album and Cage the Elephant for rock album.
All of the nominees for the 62nd annual Grammy Awards were selected from more than 20,000 submissions across 84 categories, and the winners were voted on by the Recording Academy members. The trophies were handed out live on CBS.
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