The emphasis during the 58th annual Grammy Awards on Monday night was as it has been the last few years: manufactured “moments” designed to showcase the stars of yesterday, today and tomorrow.
It was a particularly welcome bit of irony then, that many of the most striking moments at this year’s Grammys were anything but artificial.
Kendrick Lamar scorched Los Angeles’ Staples Center with his blistering performance of a medley of songs from his most recent album, To Pimp a Butterfly, including The Blacker The Berry and Alright.
It was a ferocious, indelible showcase from a phenomenal talent.
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Lamar, who was nominated for 11 total Grammys (one shy of Michael Jackson’s all-time record of 12 nominations), was a big winner when it came to trophies, too, taking home six overall, including a sweep of the rap category (best rap album, rap performance, rap song and rap/sung performance).
Despite the impressive number of wins, Lamar was denied a historic evening and was shut out of the “Big Three” categories.
Ed Sheeran won song of the year with Thinking Out Loud; Taylor Swift, who opened the broadcast with a performance of her single Out of the Woods, took home album of the year for 1989; and Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson won record of the year for the inescapable hit Uptown Funk.
Other electrifying showcases included the cast of Broadway smash Hamilton performing live via satellite from New York (the musical, starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, also won a prize for best musical theater album); a soulful tribute to the late B.B. King from Gary Clark Jr., Chris Stapleton and Bonnie Raitt; and a moving homage to Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White from Stevie Wonder and the Arlington-formed Pentatonix.
Indeed, there were so many salutes to deceased musicians that this year’s Grammys often had a hard-to-shake funereal air — Fort Worth’s Ornette Coleman was included in the “In Memoriam” montage.
Just eight Grammys were doled out over the 3 1/2 -hour broadcast, which was almost entirely given over to performances from more than two dozen artists.
That focus on presentation put a spotlight on the cringeworthy hiccups — Adele’s much-hyped rendition of All I Ask was plagued by technical difficulties, and Lady Gaga’s busy tribute to the late David Bowie was unfocused and breathless — and no-shows (both Rihanna and Lauryn Hill were MIA during the broadcast).
The vast majority of this year’s Grammy awards — 75 out of a total of 83 trophies — were handed out during the three-hour, non-televised “Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony,” streamed live online before the telecast.
North Texas musicians went into the evening with many nominations, including Leon Bridges, competing for his first ever Grammy in the best R&B album category, and Burleson-bred pop superstar Kelly Clarkson contending for a pair of Grammys in the pop categories.
Both Bridges and Clarkson lost out on Grammy gold this year, but a handful of locally grown talents took home some hardware.
(Bridges didn’t take the loss too hard, however: “Thanks to my band and everyone that helped us make Coming Home,” the singer-songwriter wrote on Facebook. “It’s crazy that we were nominated for a Grammy within the first year of releasing a record. We’ll be back in the studio in the fall and the goal is to make a better record than the first.”)
A cappella group Pentatonix, whose membership includes three Arlington natives, won its second Grammy in as many years, again claiming top honors in the category of best arrangement, instrumental or a cappella.
Snarky Puppy, an instrumental fusion band founded in Denton, shared a Grammy for best contemporary instrumental album with Metropole Orkest for the record Sylva. Dallas-born songwriter Liz Rose, who co-wrote Little Big Town’s smash hit Girl Crush, shared in a pair of Grammy wins, for best country duo/group performance and best country song.
Fort Worth-born gospel star Kirk Franklin, who is fresh from collaborating with Kanye West on the controversial rapper’s new album The Life of Pablo, won a Grammy for best gospel performance/song for his aptly titled single Wanna Get Happy?