In a parallel universe, the 60th Grammy Awards are currently celebrating the lifetime achievements of former best new artist nominees the Neon Philharmonic (1970), and the Starland Vocal Band (1977) has reunited for a surprise performance with Eumir Deodato (1974). Meanwhile, Timbuk 3 (1987) is teaming with this year’s best new artist nominees Lil Uzi Vert and SZA for a medley.
That’s another way of saying that pop music is a fickle animal. For every Mariah Carey (1991), there are a dozen Corey Hart-style (1985) asterisks.
Even rarer is the best new artist winner who goes on to earn a lifetime achievement award. Only two have accomplished it: Bobby Darin, who won the first-ever new artist award in 1959 and got a lifetime award in 2010; and 1965 new artists the Beatles, which earned their late-period honor in 2014.
Of the 84 categories that make up the Grammy Awards, only a few focus on nonmusical art forms. In the past, these categories have been relatively low-profile, but on tonight’s telecast, comedy album received a rare moment in the spotlight..
This year’s nominees represent some of the biggest names in the genre — and all five are nominated for recordings based on Netflix productions: Sarah Silverman, Jerry Seinfeld, Dave Chappelle, Jim Gaffigan and Kevin Hart. Chappelle took home the prize. “I am honored to win an award, finally,” he said.
Below: Jokes from the five nominated comedy albums.
Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar continues to earn the Recording Academy love with his win for best rap album. With his “Damn” besting work by Jay-Z (“4:44”), Atlanta trio Migos’ “Culture,” “Laila's Wisdom” by North Carolina rapper Rapsody, and Tyler, the Creator’s “Flower Boy,” Lamar has banked his fifth trophy of the day.
He’d already won for rap/sung collaboration (with Rihanna), rap performance (“Humble”), rap song (“Humble”) and music video (ditto).
Before announcing the winner, presenter Dave Chappelle took a moment to go off script and shout out A Tribe Called Quest. Members of the group, whose co-founder Phife Dawg passed away in 2016, performed at the 59th awards ceremony, but was snubbed in the rap album category for its “We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service.”
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s performance of “Despacito” at the Grammys stayed clear of any urgent reference to Puerto Rico’s ongoing post-hurricane crisis.
Maybe that was for the sake of the show.
But it was still a little striking that the singers behind the biggest single of the year (and maybe the greatest pan-Latin smash of all time) played it close to the vest at the most prominent showcase for their single in the music business.
On the surface, it must have seemed logical to the Grammy show producers to serve up a combined posthumous salute to early rockers Chuck Berry and Fats Domino.
But the minimalist segment with guitarist-singer Gary Clark Jr. and New Orleans pianist and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” bandleader Jon Batiste missed a golden opportunity by a country mile.
Their medley of Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” and Berry’s “Maybellene” settled for simple nostalgia. This should have — and could have — been an unforgettable and relevant collaboration akin to the Eminem-Elton John Grammy performance of “Stan” in 2001.
Alessia Cara took home the Grammy for best new artist, beating out a strong slate of newcomers to claim the oft-embattled title.
Cara’s zesty pop single “Stay” as well as her memorable appearance on Logic’s single “1-800-273-8255” helped cement her breakout year, which locked down Grammy’s most welcome (if mixed) prize for newcomers.
She beat out a robust field of competitors, including streaming giant Lil Uzi Vert, her Logic collaborator and R&B breakout Khalid, songwriting sensation Julia Michaels and fast-rising chanteuse SZA.
Alabama quartet Little Big Town imbued the 60th Grammy Awards with some harmony, taking the stage to perform their ode to less than ideal guys, “Better Man.” (No, not the Pearl Jam song.)
The quartet — Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook — is up for a country album Grammy for its 2017 release “The Breaker,” and has already won the country duo or group performance award for “Better Man.”
The group offered a defiant take on their Taylor Swift-penned song, which worked on a number of levels. Not only was it nominated, but since Swift is the music business’s most bankable star, but isn’t in the Grammy cycle this year, her presence was required in some capacity.