She’s in California dreaming, and although Adele’s “Hello” has been burnt to a crisp due to non-stop airplay in 2016, the song still resonates – particularly when performed live in an arena. It was Adele’s night, so it’s only fitting that she open the show.
Paris Jackson Gets Political
Michael Jackson’s daughter got things off to a political start early, when she suggested that “we could use this at a pipeline rally,” and proclaimed, “#NoDAPL”!
James Corden’s Underwear and Pink Socks
After Twenty One Pilots accepted their award on air in their boxers – a throwback to when, pre-fame, they used to watch the Grammys in their underwear – Corden followed suit. It was one of several Corden outfit changes throughout the night, but easily the most skin.
The Weeknd and Daft Punk Get Spacey
It was a rather so-so performance of their hit “I Feel It Coming,” but give them points for apparently performing it for Superman in the Fortress of Solitude.
Queen Bey’s Coronation
The night’s other amazing stage direction came from Beyonce’s performance of “Love Drought”/”Sandcastles,” which relied on a screen and projected visuals for a unique, ethereal quality. (Points to enlisting proud mama Tina Knowles, who enthused that both daughters – Solange, as well – had won Grammys that night, to introduce the performance.) Yeah, perhaps it was a little too much (that crown? OK, we get it, she is the queen), but it was a visual spectacular. During the commercial break, stagehands frantically tried to capture all of the streamers and rose petals via leaf blowers – and still, small reminders of Beyonce floated through the air at the Staples Center for the rest of the night.
Anyone else get nervous here? Beyonce, you’re about to have twins. BE CAREFUL.
Lukas Ballerini? Kelsea Graham?
The mash-up of Kelsea Ballerini’s “Peter Pan” and Lukas Graham’s “7 Years” was unexpected and unusual, but it weirdly worked. (Now, can we please retire “7 Years” for good?)
“Sweet Caroline” Karaoke
Corden’s one nod to his signature “Carpool Karaoke” segment came midway through the show, as he grabbed Jennifer Lopez, John Legend, Neil Diamond and others to sing along to “Sweet Caroline.” It was his Ellen Oscars moment.
Katy Perry, Skip Marley and the Constitution
“Chained to the Rhythm” is a jam with a message (and Perry’s “Resist” armband illustrated that, just in case you weren’t listening to the lyrics). The coolest set design of the night, the performance took place around a house and fence that was actually held up by dancers, who eventually broke it apart in a dizzying display – ending with an image of the Constitution preamble projected over Perry and Marley’s face.
Adele Requests a Do-Over for Her George Michael Tribute
As Adele launched into a slow version of George Michael’s 1996 hit “Fastlove,” it was clear something was off — she was a bit flat, and perhaps an octave too low. She stopped the song and yelled, “I f*cked this up!” She then apologized to producer Ken Ehrlich for swearing — and launched into a proper version. It saved the performance — and won over the crowd. What was conceived as a bit of a downer (why not celebrate George Michael’s life with something more upbeat?) turned into a triumph, ironically, because of that mistake. By the time she was done, Adele was in tears — and had some of the audience misty-eyed as well.
Metallica and Lady Gaga Rock
Lady Gaga, fresh off her Super Bowl performance, slayed with Metallica on “Moth Into Flame” — marred only by the fact that James Hatfield’s microphone failed in the beginning. (After a quick microphone change, Hatfield could finally be heard, and the crowd cheered.)
James Corden as a Member of DNCE
It was subtle enough that you might have missed it, but Corden dressed as a silent member of Joe Jonas’ pop band helped illustrate why Corden was the perfect Grammy host — his ability to jump in, make a quick funny and jump out, kept the show moving and the spotlight on the artists while still being able to have some fun.
A Tribe Called Quest Showcases Diversity, Urges Audience to ‘Resist’
Easily the most powerfully political performance of the night, “A Tribe Called Quest” performed “We the People” while tearing through a Tetris-like wall, as Busta Rhymes tore into “President Agent Orange.” The song ended with a crowd of diverse young people on the stage, representing immigrants from across the land. The performance electrified the Staples Center.
A Tribe Called Quest, Tear Down This Wall
It wasn’t subtle, but breaking through the wall felt a bit liberating.
Bruno Mars Channels Prince
Is there anything Bruno Mars can’t do? His performance of the guitar lick on “Let’s Go Crazy” would have made Prince proud. Unfortunately, the Prince tribute was way too short — just one song, and dominated by a bit too much of The Time. (Did “Jungle Love” really honor the Purple one? Why didn’t we see Bruno and Morris Day perform Prince classics together?) But if Mars was going to perform one song, “Let’s Go Crazy” was the proper choice. It was actually the second triumph of the night for Bruno Mars, who also got the crowd on its feet for “That’s What I Like.”
Adele Wins Best Record, Best Song, Best Album
Even Adele seemed a bit embarrassed by her riches, picking up the night’s top prizes for her song “Hello” and album “25.” In a sense, she Kanye’d herself, declaring that “the ‘Lemonade’ album was just so monumental, Beyoncé. It was so monumental and well thought-out and beautiful and soul-bearing… we appreciate that. All of us artists here adore you. You are our light.”