Bruno Mars’ breezy, lightweight R&B took home all the major awards at Sunday’s Grammy Awards, a stark contrast to the night’s political performances that touched on numerous hot-button issues including the #MeToo movement, immigration and gun violence.
The “24K Magic” singer converted all six of his nominations into wins, including the top three categories of album, record of the year and song of the year for “That’s What I Like.” His album also won a seventh award for best engineered non-classical album, which goes to the album’s engineers, not the artist.
However, it seemed like the political, intense Kendrick Lamar captured the zeitgeist of the evening winning five awards, including best rap album. He opened the show at Madison Square Garden with a stunning performance of “XXX” that included cameos from U2’s Bono and The Edge and comedian Dave Chappelle, who declared, “The only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America is being an honest black man in America.” Shortly after that, Lamar’s hoodie-wearing dancers pretended to be shot one at a time.
Jay-Z, who came in with eight nominations to lead all artists, was shut out at the first Grammys ceremony in New York in 15 years. In accepting the award for best rap album, though, Lamar nominated him for office, shouting, “Jay for president!”
The comment fit with a night filled with performances tackling the day’s social issues and where the comedy bits included a surprise cameo from Hillary Clinton reading from Michael Wolff’s book on the Trump administration, “Fire and Fury.”
“We come in peace, but we mean business,” explained Janelle Monae. “To those who would dare try to silence us, we offer you two words: Time’s up.”
A tearful Kesha, who has claimed abuse at the hands of her producer and label head Dr. Luke, delivered a powerful version of her hit “Praying,” backed by a female chorus that included Cyndi Lauper, Andra Day and Camilla Cabello. Cabello also introduced a segment about the importance of immigrants in America, capped by U2 performing near the Statue of Liberty. Eric Church, Maren Morris and the Brothers Osborne played Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” in tribute to the music fans who were killed in attacks at a country music festival in Las Vegas and an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.
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LOCAL WINS Floral Park native John Williams and Billy Joel’s work on the “Tony Bennett Celebrates 90” tribute album were honored with Grammys in the pre-telecast ceremony.
Williams, who also received a special Trustees Award, got a Grammy for best arrangement, instrumental or a cappella for his “Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra from ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ ” marking the composer’s 24th win in 68 nominations.
The win for the “Tony Bennett Celebrates 90” album in the best traditional pop vocal album category will be shared by Bennett, his son, Dae Bennett, who produced it, and the artists who took part in the tribute, including Joel, Lady Gaga, Michael Bublé, k.d. lang, Stevie Wonder, Rufus Wainwright and others.
Jerry Seinfeld didn’t win best comedy album for “Jerry Before Seinfeld,” which, in part, chronicles his life in Massapequa, though he did get a “consolation puppy,” which host James Corden jokingly gave to all those who didn’t win.
LI PERFORMERS Valley Stream’s Shaggy got a high-profile launch for his new single with Sting, “Don’t Make Me Wait,” singing it live and as part of a taped piece with Corden, as they performed “Subway Carpool Karaoke.” Northport’s Patti LuPone delivered the showstopping “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from “Evita,” as part of a tribute to Broadway.
NEW ARTIST Alessia Cara was shaking as she accepted the best new artist Grammy, adding that she’s been practicing her acceptance speech in the shower since she was a kid. “I want to encourage everyone to support real music and real artists,” she said, adding that some great artists don’t get the attention they merit. “Everyone deserves the same shot.”