GRAMMY AWARDS: Billie Eilish Has a Record-Setting Night

Written by on January 27, 2020

Sunday night’s Grammy Awards took on a somber tone after producers scrambled to put together a tribute to NBA superstar Kobe Bryant. His death in a helicopter crash Sunday morning cast a long shadow over the event, held at Staples Center, the home of Bryant’s team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

That duty fell to host Alicia Keys, who teamed with Bryant’s fellow Philadelphians Boyz II Men  to honor the hoops legend with a tear-jerking  a cappella version of “It’s So Hard to  Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” References to Kobe popped up at several points, with folks holding up his jersey or showing classic photos for atmosphere, and the show’s director guiding cameras to his two retired jerseys, spotlighted near the arena’s rafters.

While Kobe’s specter loomed large, Billie Eilish was a formidable presence, taking home five Grammys, including a sweep of the major categories. “Bad Guy” was named Song of the Year and Record of the Year, while When We All Go to Sleep, Where Do We Go? earned Album of the Year honors. The 18-year-old also scored a win as Best New Artist. (Only one other artist had swept these four Grammys categories, Christopher Cross, 40 years ago with his debut album and hit song “Sailing.”) 

Lizzo, who competed with Eilish in most of those categories, scored three wins, as did roots rocker Gary Clark, JuniorLady Gaga and Lil Nas X took home two apiece.

Lizzo kicked off the telecast with a shout-out to Bryant and a dynamic version of “ ‘Cuz I Love You” – which she followed up by ditching her fancy gown to strut her stuff in a skin-tight bodysuit for a playful take on “Truth Hurts.” Yes, there was a flute solo, and a little bit of classical ballet to boot.

Lovebirds Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton gave their duet single “Nobody But You” its first live performance on the Staples Center stage and they gave off plenty of romantic electricity in the process.

As charming as that was, it wasn’t the evening’s most galvanizing first. That honor went to Demi Lovato, who took her first step on the comeback trail by debuting a new song called “Anyone” – and, despite a false start, she brought the crowd to its feet via sheer emotion.

The Jonas Brothers also tried on something new in the form of “What a Man Gotta Do” – and something old, in the form of some shiny stagewear that looked like it was rescued from a 1980s Las Vegas time capsule.

Tyler the Creator mixed old-school R & B flavor with futuristic freakiness on a version of “Earfquake,” which featured appearances by Charlie WilsonBoyz II Men and an army of Tyler the Creator clones.

You never know which Camila Cabello you’re going to get when awards shows roll around, and this evening, we got Camila the torch singer – sweetly delivering “First Man,” a ballad she’s previously dedicated to her dad, who was pictured getting misty in the audience.

Ariana Grande took that torch and ran with it through her own ballad-heavy performance, which was highlighted by “Imagine” (not a cover of the John Lennon classic) and “7 Rings” (based on classic show tune “My Favorite Things”). She capped her stage time by climbing into bed in a nightie for no discernible reason.

Big winner Billie Eilish didn’t bother with theatrics, flashy visuals or anything that might distract from her dark, intimate performance of “When the Party’s Over.” This was one of those times when letting the music do the talking was the best idea possible.  

Lil Nas X, on the other hand, piled on the shtick for his millionth run down “Old Town Road,” bringing BTSDiplo and Mason Ramsey along for the ride. While advertised guest Young Thug was a no-show, Lil Nas did notch a cameo from rapper Nas – the guy who gave him the inspiration in the first place.

The spur-of-the-moment tribute to Kobe wasn’t the evening’s only memorial. There was an all-star homage to rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was murdered outside his Los Angeles clothing store last year — as well as an Usher-led nod to Prince, which felt more like a commercial for CBS’s upcoming tribute to the Purple One.

2020 Grammy Awards Winners

Song of the Year – Billie Eilish: “Bad Guy”

Record of the Year – Billie Eilish: “Bad Guy”

Album of the Year – Billie Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Best New Artist – Billie Eilish

Best Pop Solo Performance – Lizzo: “Truth Hurts”

Best Pop Duo or Group Performance -Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus: “Old Town Road”

Best Pop Vocal Album – Billie Eilish: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Best Music Video – Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus: “Old Town Road”

Best Song for Visual Media – Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper: “I’ll Never Love Again”

Best Compilation Soundtrack – Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper: A Star Is Born

From last night’s Grammy Awards, a snippet of Demi Lovato’s emotional “Anyone.”
From last night’s Grammy Awards, a snippet of Lizzo performing “Truth Hurts.” 
From last night’s Grammy Awards, a snippet of Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings.” 
From last night’s Grammy Awards, a snippet of Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men doing “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”

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