The Grammy Awards giveth, and the Grammy Awards taketh away.
When the Recording Academy announced nominations in November for music's most prestigious prizes, the notoriously fusty industry group raised the tantalizing prospect that its members finally got it.
With multiple nods for the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z and the Puerto Rican duo of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee (whose song "Despacito" was 2017's biggest hit), the academy seemed to be acknowledging that, in a rapidly changing world, great pop should strive to embody new values instead of merely upholding the old ones.
For two full hours, it was as if 2017 never happened. The first half of the 60th Grammy Awards was filled with the usual fare of booty-shaking performances, sleepy ballads and sleepier acceptance speeches.
And then singer Kesha stepped onstage to remind everyone that the last year had been anything but business as usual.
The pop singer turned social warrior was nearly destroyed, professionally and personally, when she leveled sexual assault accusations against her powerful producer in 2014. The case dragged on in court through 2017. But when she performed her redemptive hit "Praying" during Sunday's live telecast from New York's Madison Square Garden, it sent a clear message to an audience who had been waiting for an acknowledgment of the #MeToo moment beyond white roses worn on the red carpet, and to an industry that's hardly begun to deal with its own demons.
Unlike his fellow late-night hosts who have spun topical humor into ratings jumps during the Trump administration, James Corden and his "Late Late Show" isn't known for political material.
Celebrated instead for his show's star-courting musical segments and spinoffs ("Carpool Karaoke" and "Drop the Mic"), Corden is a genial and reliably inoffensive choice for the Grammys, which turned to him last year to take over for LL Cool J, directing traffic between awards and performances.
Last year, for the first awards show in the Trump era, Corden stuck to his usual script with self-deprecating one-liners and energetic musical segments. This year, he received what counts as a comedy seal of approval in 2018 — an angry tweet from a political figure.
Kesha's emotional performance at this year's Grammys was in the works long ahead of Sunday's ceremony, with its origins tracing back to late last year when the pop singer-songwriter played to a sold-out crowd at the Hollywood Palladium.
It was the final stop of her Rainbow tour — a trek that for the singer and her fans seemed improbable after a tumultuous legal battle with her onetime mentor and collaborator Dr. Luke stalled her career for a number of years.
In the audience was Ken Ehrlich, the Grammy telecast's longtime executive producer. Ehrlich had watched Kesha rise to pop stardom with boozy party anthems such as "Tik Tok," "Your Love Is My Drug" and "Die Young," and was never sold on the singer — until that night in November at the Palladium.
It was supposed to be a night when political and social issues took center stage and the music industry fully embraced hip-hop. But when the 60th Grammy Awards were given out Sunday at Madison Square Garden in New York, it was a different tune.
The Recording Academy gave three of its top trophies — album, record and song of the year — to R&B/pop star Bruno Mars' "24K Magic" album and hit single "That's What I Like," an escapist ode to sex by the fire, international travel and other stereotypical "finer things in life" such as Cadillacs, strawberry Champagne, cool jewelry and silk sheets. In all, Mars took home six Grammys.
That left the year's most nominated artists — rappers Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar — and hip-hop once again shut out of recognition in the Grammys' most prestigious categories.
For the 60th Grammy Awards on Sunday, it seemed only fitting that someone would wear something by a designer who's outfitted some of the most iconic musicians of all time. Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Cher and Elton John have each worn an elaborately rhinestone-studded suit by Nudie Cohn, the iconic country-music clothier who began operating out of a North Hollywood shop in the early 1950s. Now Kesha can add herself to the late tailor's client list.
The singer and performer walked the red carpet in a blue vintage Nudie suit with cream-colored embellishments and rose embroidery, which dovetailed nicely into the evening's white rose trend representing the Time's Up movement.
When we hear “never forget” these days — or, more accurately, see the hashtag — it’s usually in reference to a horrific tragedy. But on Sunday night during the Grammy Awards, fans used it in reference to Jennifer Lopez’s iconic Versace dress from 2000. It was the dress heard ’round the world, shocking for its sheerness and plunging neckline that revealed not just cleavage but the singer’s belly button and slit-up-to-there silhouette. But actually the tropical-print gown — styled by Andrea Lieberman who went on to found the Los Angeles-based ready-to-wear line ALC in 2009 — inspired more than 18 years of revealing Grammys fashion that has followed in its wake.
Here are seven things you should know about the J.Lo/Versace dress.
Backstage at the Grammys on Sunday, the show’s producers were pressed about the lack of Lorde during the telecast.
As one of the five nominees for album of the year – and the only woman to land in the category – her absence from the stage as a performer didn’t go unnoticed.
In fact, it spurred an online furor that grew louder on Sunday after two of the night’s most nominated women, R&B singer Sza and Kesha — the latter of whom led a performance of her song “Praying” that provided the show with a powerful #TimesUp moment — walked home empty-handed.
Sunday’s Grammys featured a subtle example of the so-called six degrees of separation when lifetime achievement award recipient Emmylou Harris and Grammy darling Chris Stapleton teamed up to honor the late Tom Petty.
They sang Petty’s “Wildflowers,” the title track from his 1994 solo album, his second effort away from the Heartbreakers after going solo five years earlier with “Full Moon Fever.”
It was a sweet choice on a couple of fronts. Besides being one of Petty’s most country-influenced songs, a rumination on parting ways with a loved one, “Wildflowers” also closed out last year’s well-regarded album from Chris Hillman, “Bidin’ My Time,” which Petty co-produced and played on.