The 62nd Grammy Awards just concluded at LA’s Staples Centre, outside of which thousands of people had gathered to mourn Lakers icon Kobe Bryant, who passed away in a helicopter accident mere hours before. While the show provided many opportunities for performers to pay tribute to Bryant, the night remained a huge celebration of the year’s best music. Here we go sifting through the best 6 performances of the spectacular evening.
Tyler, The Creator, EARFQUAKE and New Magic Wand
Arranged around one of those flaming barrels you see in the alleys of Gotham, Boyz II Men and Tyler began with an a capella version of the man’s hit EARFQUAKE. Suddenly, multiple Tylers appeared and mashed around like dying fish while the suburban street backdrop began to catch fire. To exit, Tyler fell backwards into a blazing sinkhole. I’m still not over it, quite frankly.
Alicia Keys, everything
“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.” This is how Alicia Keys opened her hosting stint, then paying homage with an a capella performance with Boyz II Men. (Later on she also performed her own track Underdog with Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard.)
Alicia is such a brilliant host because she’s so genuinely full of warmth – love your work, girl.
Lizzo, Cuz I Love You and Truth Hurts
Claiming the opening slot of the entire event, the first words out of Lizzo’s mouth were: “Tonight’s for Kobe.” With a full string section, ballerinas with light-up tutus, and backing dancers of every body shape, Lizzo rocked through Cuz I Love You and Truth Hurts. During the latter, a flute was lowered from the ceiling so she could bust out her solo.
At its conclusion, attendees losing their minds with adoration included Dolly Parton, John Legend and Billie Eilish.
Gary Clark Jr, This Land
“Paranoid and pissed off,” begins Gary Clark Jr’s Grammy-winning track This Land. Cue an intensive, hermetically-tight performance, with Gary giving 110%to both his vocals and his astonishing electric guitar solo. Also, spesh shout-out to the guy with the giant sousaphone who managed those 15 kilos of brass around with admirable agility.
Camila Cabello, First Man
I must admit, when I first saw Camila Cabello’s simple stage set-up, I thought her performance was going to be a bit limp (compared to the insanity of last year’s Havana, anyway)… but I was oh so very wrong. Performing First Man (“You were the first man that really loved me”) accompanied by projected home videos, Cabello walked into the audience to hold the hand of her dad – for whom the song is written, and who was bawling his eyes out. BLESS.
Lil Nas X, Old Town Road and Rodeo
In her intro, Ellen said that this is Lil Nas X’s “first and only time on television”, and perhaps this was the reason for the absolutely belter production. The first scene on Nas’ rotating stage was a sitcom loungeroom, with a Kobe singlet draped over one of the armchairs. Over various spins, the stage revealed BTS, Billy Ray Cyrus, Mason Ramsey, and Diplo sitting on a hay bale playing a banjo. Boyo, you nailed it.