Grammys surprises: Adele’s bum notes, Kendrick Lamar’s memorable performance and Nashville’s snubs

Lady Gaga performs a tribute to David Bowie
Lady Gaga, right, samples a lot of David Bowie tunes in not a lot of time. Good intentions aside, the performance felt rushed.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Regardless of how scripted the Grammy Awards telecast is, it remains a live event. Stuff happens that isn’t supposed to. An artist misses a cue. Another hits a sour note. Yet another cancels at the last minute. Below, some surprises, snubs and memorable moments.

Adele’s mixed reception: Adele, like all of us, is human. That’s easy to forget, though, amid her platinum skills, charisma and tone. But to put it bluntly, her version of “All I Ask” was, in “American Idol” parlance, “pitchy.” With huge lungs and supreme confidence, the multi-platinum, multi-Grammy-winning singer soared and soared — and hit some bum notes. After the performance, reports surfaced that the artist experienced sound issues during her song. That’s fine. She’s forgiven. Plus, Adele will no doubt be back — next year, in fact. Her massive hit album, “25,” was issued after this year’s Grammy cutoff.

Grammys 2016: Full coverage | Best and worst dressed | Red carpet | Show highlights | Nominees and winners | Top nominees 


Kendrick Lamar takes the Grammys to jail: His face bruised with makeup, Lamar delivered a searing performance of “Alright” and “The Blacker the Berry.” In a politically charged staging that moved from shackled in jail to free in Africa and back again, the Compton rapper surrounded his lyrics with free-jazz-suggestive tones and stop-and-start punctuations. Across a broadcast that mostly stuck to middle-of-the-road music, Lamar’s set earned a standing ovation both in the arena and across social media.

Where was Nashville? Can an entire genre be snubbed during the ceremony? Country music artists were nominated for major categories, but Nashville twang got short shrift this year. Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” earned a nomination for song of the year, but it lost to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” Bro-hunk Sam Hunt earned a best new artist nomination, but lost to Meghan Trainor. Chris Stapleton, nominated for album of the year, lost to former Nashville darling Taylor Swift. Stapleton couldn’t even get his twang into the ceremony. Rather than perform from his country album-winning “Traveller,” Stapleton joined Bonnie Raitt and Gary Clark Jr. to celebrate blues and the late B.B. King.

Where was Rihanna? The pop star was scheduled to perform “Kiss It Better” in the third act, right before the country album award. But Rihanna was a no-show. Health reasons later were cited.


Miguel’s little moment: The San Pedro-born artist Miguel didn’t get Grammy Award love in the form of trophies, but he did get some onstage affection. Before introducing the rock performance nominees, the rock ‘n’ soul artist, cited for work from his album “Wildheart,” redeemed the slights by performing an a cappella verse from Michael Jackson’s “She’s Out of My Life,” from “Off the Wall.”

Come-from-behind victory for Swift: For much of the ceremony, Swift was a quiet presence. After opening the ceremony with a confident but unsurprising version of “Out of the Woods,” the artist sat back as her peers took home trophies. This was supposed to be Swift’s year. She was nominated in three of the four main categories, and though she did earn the prestigious album of the year award for “1989,” that was her only major category win. Her friend and tour mate Sheeran took the award for song of the year for his “Thinking Out Loud.”

Lady Gaga’s sprint through Bowie: The artist no doubt loves David Bowie, but her take on his hits was so crammed with music, it was devoid of nuance. In short, it felt as if she was auditioning for a low-budget Las Vegas musical.

Top Dawg tops Young Money: It wasn’t too long ago that the Young Money/Cash Money crew of Lil Wayne, Drake and Nicki Minaj had a lock on rap acclaim. But this year the once high-flying label got stomped by Lamar and Top Dawg, the Los Angeles-based label that’s home to him, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul and others. Drake was probably especially down after the show. He was nominated in all of the rap categories — and lost each of them to Lamar.


Who won, who lost, who performed


A more human Adele arrives at the Grammys

Neil Portnow on Rihanna, Adele and what didn’t go as planned

Taylor Swift shames Kanye West in empowering Grammys speech

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