Best moments from Grammy Awards 2018: From Kendrick Lamar's fiery opening act to Kesha's emotional performance
A close look at the best moments from another unpredictable but memorable Grammy ceremony.
Bruno Mars won the top prize at the Grammy Awards on Sunday in another victory for pop-driven music over rap. The R&B artist won six Grammys including song of the year for his hit single 'That’s What I Like,' and both record and album of the year for 24K Magic. His win denied rappers Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z the honor of becoming the first hip-hop artist in 14 years to win the coveted album of the year award.
Lamar, 30, regarded as one of the most innovative rappers of his generation, won five prizes mostly in rap categories for his album DAMN. and single 'Humble.' Veteran Jay-Z, whose soul-baring album 4:44 had gone into the show with a leading eight nominations, won nothing and chose not to perform at the three-hour show.
On a night when male artists dominated the winners list, the critically acclaimed Lorde and R&B newcomer SZA, the most-nominated woman with five nods, left empty-handed.
However, The Grammys didn't hold back from some light-hearted political commentary. On the red carpet, dozens of musicians wore or held white roses to support women’s equality and freedom from sexual harassment.
Despite the upsets and snubs, it was yet another unpredictable but memorable Grammy ceremony. So, let's take a look at some of the best moments from Sunday’s show at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Kendrick Lamar's politically charged opening act
Rapper Kendrick Lamar and pop superstar Lady Gaga opened the Grammy Awards with immediate, if understated, political touches. With a US flag in the backdrop, Lamar launched into a fierce rap, on a stage full of dancers clad in camouflage. The number then transformed into a frenetic, kung fu-inspired routine in which his troupe fell to the ground as if hit by bullets.
U2 frontman Bono emerged behind him to join in their collaboration 'XXX.' Lady Gaga quickly followed Lamar by performing her songs 'Joanne' and 'Million Reasons.' In a nod to the growing women's movement against sexual abuse, Gaga — who has spoken of her own sexual abuse — whispered from the piano: "Time's up."
'Tears in Heaven' as Grammy performers remember Las Vegas victims
Three country artists who performed at the Las Vegas festival that became the bloody setting of America’s deadliest mass shooting reunited on Sunday night on stage at the Grammy Awards. Country singers the Brothers Osborne, Eric Church and Maren Morris all performed at the Route 91 country music festival before gunman Stephen Paddock, 64, fired into the crowd on 1 October, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more, the worst mass shooting in modern US history. Paddock also killed himself.
On Sunday, the singers performed a haunting version of Eric Clapton’s ballad 'Tears in Heaven' seated side by side in front of a backdrop lit up with the names of the victims. “(We) are here to honour the memory of the beautiful music-loving souls all so cruelly taken from us,” said Morris, paying tribute to not only the victims of the Las Vegas shooting but also the 22 people killed when a suicide bomb was detonated at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in May. The tribute prompted a wave of appreciation on social media, including from gun control advocates.
Pop singer Camila Cabello, herself a Cuban-Mexican immigrant born in Havana, spoke in support of the so-called Dreamers - young immigrants brought to the United States illegally when they were children and whose future in the country is in doubt. So, she delivered a stunning message to Trump and the Congress.
"Tonight, in this room full of music's dreamers, we remember that this country was built by dreamers, for dreamers, chasing the American dream. (...) just like dreams, these kids can't be forgotten and are worth fighting for," she said.
Childish Gambino and JD McCrary give us a preview of The Lion King
Writer-director-actor Donald Glover's musical alter-ego Childish Gambino gave a smooth and sultry performance of 'Terrified', from his album Awaken My Love, in all-white featuring screeching high notes. Gambino was joined by young singer-actor, JD McCrary, who matched his vocals and sings on the original track. They stole everyone's hearts with their performance. The 10-year-old McCrary will star as young Simba in the upcoming CG-animated version of The Lion King, which is set to release in 2019. Glover will be voicing the role of adult Simba.
Alessia Cara wins Best New Artist
Canada's Alessia Cara, who rose from making YouTube videos in her bedroom to becoming a socially conscious pop singer, won the Grammy for Best New Artist. The 21-year-old from suburban Toronto won the closely watched award in a field that included fellow young singer Khalid, with whom she collaborated on the suicide prevention song '1-800-273-8255.'
"I've been pretend-winning Grammys since I was a kid in my shower," Cara told the audience at Madison Square Garden in New York, thanking her fans. "You are the reason I don't have to win Grammys in my shower any more."
She urged the industry not to forget the many "incredible artists making incredible music that need to be acknowledged, who don't always get acknowledged because of popularity contests and numbers games."
Hillary Clinton surprises with Grammy 'Fire and Fury' spoof
Bruno Mars beat Jay-Z for the top Grammy Awards on Sunday, but the surprise star of the night was former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reading from Michael Wolff’s controversial book Fire and Fury. A pre-taped parody sketch saw Grammy Awards host James Corden audition celebrities, including John Legend, Cher, Cardi B and Snoop Dogg. They read excerpts from the deeply critical book about President Donald Trump’s first year in office, ostensibly as contenders for a spoken word Grammy prize.
Clinton, who lost the 2016 election to Trump, read an excerpt from the book about Trump’s eating habits. “One reason why he liked to eat at McDonald‘s: Nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely pre-made,” Clinton read. Corden then praised her, saying “The Grammy is in the bag.”
Kesha rallies Grammys in fierce anti-abuse statement
Pop singer Kesha delivered a powerful statement on behalf of women's equality at the Grammys on Sunday as she led a fierce performance of 'Praying,' her own account of abuse, with A-list back-up from a chorus of stars. Her face intense and her voice building in ferocity, Kesha brought the crowd at Madison Square Garden to its feet and occasionally to tears at a time of growing public consciousness about sexual harassment and misconduct.
'Praying' is an autobiographical song clearly directed at Dr. Luke, the producer whom Kesha accuses of raping and psychologically tormenting her. Even before the rise of the #MeToo movement in response to revelations about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, Kesha rattled the industry by demanding the end of her contract to work with Dr. Luke, who has denied the assault charges.
"After everything you've done / I can thank you for how strong I have become," Kesha sang.
Kesha performed at the Grammys surrounded by fellow stars including Cyndi Lauper, Bebe Rexha, Camila Cabello and Andra Day, who offered symbolic and literal support — belting out the song with her. All of the women were dressed in white. Kesha embraced them in a bear hug as she finished.
Singer Janelle Monae, who introduced Kesha, said the music industry needed to address its own abuse problems. "To those who would dare try and silence us, we offer you two words: Time's Up!" she said, using a slogan for the movement launched on New Year's Day by hundreds of prominent women in the entertainment industry. "We say time's up for pay inequality, discrimination or harassment of any kind, and the abuse of power," she said.
With inputs from agencies
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