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Bruno Mars, Alessia Cara, Time's Up: 12 Big Moments At The 2018 GRAMMYs
For any music lover, GRAMMY Sunday is very much like the Super Bowl or World Series to a sports fanatic.
The only difference being, while sports teams typically find out who will be the final competition within a week or two of the showdown, GRAMMY nominations arrive months prior to the big show. The ceremony is arguably a culmination of all of that energy and anticipation. The 60th GRAMMY Awards was no different, as James Corden returned to host the Music's Biggest Night.
Returning to Madison Square Garden for the first time in 15 years, the milestone telecast proved to be a celebration that broke down barriers — with the wins, performances, and acceptance speeches showing that the power of music can literally change the world.
Of course, the GRAMMYs' return to the Big Apple was cause enough for excitement. (Cut to Tony Bennett and John Legend singing "New York, New York" before presenting Best Rap/Sung Performance). And there was Bruno Mars netting six wins and nearly doubling his career output to 11 in one fell swoop. But there was plenty of excitement to go around.
Whether you were there, watching on TV or live streaming, here are 12 moments from the 60th GRAMMY Awards that made it a night to remember.
1. Kendrick Lamar, U2, Dave Chappelle Open With An Army
Kendrick Lamar has a steady track record of impactful performances on the GRAMMYs, and this time he opened the ceremony with a groundbreaking performance before winning the first award of the evening for Best Rap/Sung Performance ("LOYALTY." with Rihanna). Opening with "XXX" before an American flag backdrop and U.S. soldiers marching, the rapper was joined by U2's Bono and The Edge. A war simulation followed before Dave Chappelle hit the stage to punctuate segues in between heated musical vignettes performed by Lamar. It was history in the making, much like everything he touches.
2. Lady Gaga's Tearjerker Performance with Mark Ronson
"This is for love and compassion …even when you can't understand," Lady Gaga uttered before a white piano wrapped in lace as she opened her performance with "Joanne." Mark Ronson assisted on guitar as the acoustic set segued into another moving ballad, "Million Reasons." The emotional performance was poignant, but most importantly showed Gaga's unreal vocal range. It's OK if you shed a tear while watching. We were all cutting onions when it happened.
3. James Corden Rapping For Jay-Z
If you watch "The Late Late Show With James Corden" or are tuned into any episode of his "Carpool Karaoke" series, you'll know that Corden was the perfect return host for this year's telecast. On the eve of the show, Jay-Z was honored at the Pre-GRAMMY Gala and Corden informed the crowd, but began riddling off his knowledge of Jay-Z facts — including Jay’s former apartment address of 560 State Street in Brooklyn. Corden then launched into spitting a few bars for an amused Mr. Carter. "You call it the Big Apple, I call it the Concrete Jungle where dreams are made of …just something I made up," Corden joked.
4. Bruno Mars And Cardi B's #TBT Performance Of "Finesse (Remix)"
A few weeks back — when the video for Bruno Mars' remix to "Finesse" featuring Cardi B hit the internet — we were all bit by the nostalgia bug. The video (directed by Mars himself) was not only a clear nod to the sketch comedy series "In Living Color," but it was also a Polaroid of a bygone era of ‘90s R&B and hip-hop—complete with bright colors. Cardi B donned a legendary Cross Colours bucket hat with Mars dancing onstage like a New Jack Swing-era frontman before a dance-off to House Of Pain’s "Jump Around." It was #ThrowbackThursday on a Sunday night.
5. Alessia Cara Claims Best New Artist
"I've been pretend winning GRAMMYs since I was a kid in the shower," Alessia Cara said with a shaky voice before a towering microphone as she accepted her first GRAMMY. While the Canadian was already considered a strong candidate for the award, the competition was fierce — including SZA and newcomer Julia Michaels. But as Cara continued into her speech, she acknowledged and showed support for her peers, which included her fellow nominees and indie acts. "Support real music and real artists," she said. Then she thanked her fans, because there will be no more pretend GRAMMYs in the shower from now on.
6. Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee Bring On More "Despacito"
Over the course of 2017, the infectious "Despacito" hasn't left our brains. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee hit the stage to perform the diamond-certified single and brought former Miss Universe Zuleyka Rivera in two. Rivera also appeared in the music video, but took center stage to dance amid a mock club scene. "That is a catchy song. I've never heard that song before," Corden deadpanned after the performance.
7. "Subway Carpool Karaoke"
Corden's viral "Carpool Karaoke" series made a cameo during the evening. How could it not? This time, however, it was a special "Subway Carpool Karaoke," featuring Corden, Sting and Shaggy. The former Police frontman couldn't even get through "Every Breath You Take" before being shushed by a construction worker on the train. And Shaggy barely sang "It Wasn't Me" before another passenger hushed even Corden. Then a fight broke out on the train and Corden got a bloody nose. It was a dangerous karaoke scene. You had to be there.
8. Janelle Monáe Says #TimesUp, Kesha Sings #MeToo
All one has to do is read the news in recent months to know that injustice to women is no longer an option across industries. As Janelle Monáe introduced Kesha's performance of "Praying," she delivered a powerful speech hooked to the sexual harassment initiative Time's Up. "We are also daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, humans," Monáe told the crowd. "We come in peace, but we mean business." When Kesha hit the stage, her performance was that much more intense, especially understanding all she's been through in the music industry. With Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Bebe Rexha, Julia Michaels, and Andra Day joining on background vocals, the performance ended with the women hugging and in tears. They weren't alone.
9. Elton John, Miley Cyrus Transcend Generations Onstage
Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" is one of those classic songs that can bring you immediately back to a moment or an era (or a movie scene, like that bus ride in Almost Famous). However, tonight a new moment was made with Miley Cyrus. With John seated at his piano, he opened the song and Cyrus joined to help carry the song home. While the "Wrecking Ball" singer is no stranger to classic music — especially given her godmother is Dolly Parton — this performance was particularly special. Call it onstage chemistry, or call it bridging the gap, but this "Tiny Dancer" performance was one for the ages.
10. Ben Platt, Patti LuPone Wow With Broadway Style
This special Leonard Bernstein-Andrew Lloyd Webber tribute kicked off properly, as Ben Platt from "Dear Evan Hansen" gave the audience a rousing dose of "Somewhere" from the former's "West Side Story." But as James Corden could barely stand as he introduced Patti LuPone, we soon found out why. LuPone delivered a riveting rendition of “Don't Cry For Me Argentina" from Evita. Posted at a podium, just as the musical/movie depicts, she belted like it was her first time singing the song and it was our first time hearing it.
11. Logic, Khalid, Alessia Cara Bring Hope
There's a reason why "1-800-273-8255" was nominated for Song Of The Year. The powerful track comes with a real message of suicide prevention. When the trifecta of Logic, Khalid, and Alessia Cara hit the stage to perform the monumental hit single, there was no denying the magic. Performing on opposite stages before an army of survivors in "You Are Not Alone" shirts, Logic addressed the crowd and closed the performance with a speech pointing out many societal injustices — from the treatment of women to neighbors from other countries. There are no weak individuals, per Logic, just people waiting to realize the power of their voice.
12. Bruno Mars' Magical Evening: 6 For 6
Bruno Mars emerged above the stiff competition in Album Of The Year, taking home the final GRAMMY of the evening for 24K Magic. The nod topped off a GRAMMY sweep for the Hawaii native, with Mars winning all six categories for which he was nominated. He also earned R&B Album, Record Of The Year for "24K Magic," Best R&B Performance, Best R&B Song and Song Of The Year for "That's What I Like." As he explained in his Album Of The Year speech, Mars' mission was to spread love and he did just that — even shouting out previous greats like Babyface who paved the way for him.
(Kathy Iandoli has penned pieces for Pitchfork, VICE, Maxim, O, Cosmopolitan, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Billboard, and more. She co-authored the book Commissary Kitchen with Mobb Deep's late Albert "Prodigy" Johnson, and is a professor of music business at select universities throughout New York and New Jersey.)