By Terrance Turner
April 3, 2022
Tonight, music’s biggest night kicks off inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Per Variety, “The Grammys were initially scheduled to take place on Jan. 31, at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. However, due to the omicron surge in late 2021, the event was postponed until spring and moved to the MGM Arena, which has housed the Latin Grammy Awards for six years.”
Performers at the ceremony will include nominees such as the Brothers Osborne, the South Korean boy band BTS, Brandi Carlile, Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X (with Jack Harlow), Olivia Rodrigo, Jon Batiste, H.E.R., Nas, and country singer Chris Stapleton. A special “In Memoriam” performance of Stephen Sondheim songs will feature Broadway stars Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Ben Platt, and “West Side Story” actress Rachel Zegler.
The award for Best Pop Solo Performance went to Olivia Rodrigo, for her hit song “Drivers License”. She wrote the song amid a painful breakup. “When I came up with ‘Drivers License,’ I was going through a heartbreak that was so confusing to me, so multifaceted,” Rodrigo said. “Putting all those feelings into a song made everything seem so much simpler and clearer—and at the end of the day, I think that’s really the whole purpose of songwriting.” The song went to No. 1 on the Billboard charts — making her the youngest artist to top that chart — and stayed there for eight weeks.
Rodrigo performed the aching, emotive ballad on tonight’s ceremony. (NOTE: I originally included the video of this performance as well as of Billie Eilish’s “Happier than Ever”. But Viacom AND CBS Events have blocked those videos on copyright grounds. So an ad will be placed here instead of the performance.)
Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for “Love for Sale”, a collection of Cole Porter standards. It will be Bennett’s final album, as he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. The album is a sequel of sorts to their previous collaboration, the 2014 jazz album “Cheek to Cheek” — which hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts and won the Grammy for Best Traditional Vocal Album.
Just weeks after the tragic loss of their drummer Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters won Best Rock Performance for their song “Making a Fire”. The group also won Best Rock Album for their record “Medicine at Midnight”. But the group was not there to accept their award. In the wake of Hawkins’ passing, they canceled their Grammy performance and did not attend tonight’s ceremony. Hawkins, who died last month at 50, was honored during tonight’s “In Memoriam” segment.
But he was also honored by singer Billie Eilish, who wore a T-shirt depicting Hawkins during her performance of “Happier than Ever”. The song, written by Eilish and her brother Finneas, describes Eilish’s relationship with an ex-boyfriend.
Brandon Adams, a 25-year-old rapper who goes by the stage name 7: Amp, was in a secret relationship with Eilish throughout 2018 and 2019. But in her Apple TV documentary “The World’s a Little Blurry”, Eilish revealed that Adams once punched his fist through a wall — “He’s so self-destructive,” she says in the film. And he once called her while driving drunk — a moment that Eilish captured in the song, which moves from a muted, mournful ballad to a raucous hard-rock heavy metal anthem:
“You call me again, drunk in your BenzFrom “Happier than Ever”
Drivin’ home under the influence
You scared me to death but I’m wastin’ my breath
‘Cause you only listen to your f-ckin’ friends
I don’t relate to you
I don’t relate to you, no
‘Cause I’d never treat me this sh-tty
You made me hate this city
And I don’t talk sh-t about you on the internet
Never told anyone anything bad
‘Cause that sh*t’s embarrassing, you were my everything
And all that you did was make me f-ckin’ sad
Fresh off his Oscar for Summer of Soul, Questlove presented the award for Song of the Year. (He won the Grammy tonight for Best Music Film for Soul.) The award for Song of the Year went to “Leave the Door Open”, by Anderson Paak and Bruno Mars. (The two wrote the song alongside D’Mile and Christopher “Brody” Brown.) Brown emotionally dedicated the award to his mother, who passed away on Wednesday. Mars told Paak “I couldn’t be more proud to be doing this with than anyone other than you,” Mars said to .Paak. “We’ll be singing this song together for the rest of our lives.”
Country singer Chris Stapleton won the Grammy for Best Country Album for his record “Starting Over”. In his acceptance speech, Stapleton highlighted the sacrifices that artists often make as working parents. “I’m a dad of five. Today is my twins’ birthday — they’re four years old, so I’m thinking a lot about sacrifice. I missed out on some of their birthdays. Everybody in this room has made some kind of sacrifice,” Stapleton said. “I know that it hurts sometimes but hopefully we’re all doing it so that we make the world a better place and the people live in it love each other and have a good time together and come together.”
Stapleton had won Best Country Song earlier the day for his song “Cold”, which he performed at tonight’s ceremony. Written by Stapleton with producer Dave Cobb and his bandmates J.T. Cure and Derek Mixon, the song “came from a jam backstage,” Stapleton said. “We wrote it on the road We didn’t sit it out and map it that way, it just happened.” However the song came to be, its impact is undeniable: Stapleton delivered the lyric with such wrenching, bluesy grit that he garnered a standing ovation from the audience.
Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion presented the award for Best New Artist to Olivia Rodrigo. “Thank you so much to the Recording Academy. This is my biggest dream come true,” Rodrigo said in her acceptance speech. “Thank you to everyone at Interscope, especially John Janick, for believing in me and my songwriting before anything else.”
She went on to thank her team, her parents and her best friends, saying, “I love you guys,” before adding, “a huge thanks to Dan [Nigro], who made all of my music with me.” Directly addressing Nigro, a fellow songwriter, she said, “Dan, you are the best friend, collaborator and person I could ever ask for.”
Rodrigo’s speech was followed by a very different — and very poignant — speech. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the audience (and viewers) in a stark, somber address about the war in Ukraine. “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos,” he said. ‘They sing to the wounded, in hospitals.” Zelensky urged those watching to “tell the truth about this war on your social networks, on TV.” He reminded them those on the Grammy stage are the one thing that those in Ukraine are not — “free, on your Grammy stage.”
“The war. What is more opposite to music?” he asked in his Grammys address. “The silence of ruined cities and killed people. Our children draw swooping rockets, not shooting stars. Over 400 children have been injured and 153 children died. And we’ll never see them drawing. Our parents are happy to wake up in the morning. In bomb shelters, but alive. Our loved ones don’t know if we will be together again. The war doesn’t let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence.”
That speech was followed by one of the most moving moments of the night — a performance by John Legend. Seated at the piano, Legend performed a stirring rendition of his new song “Free.” Sampling pieces of the spiritual “Go Down Moses,” the moving ballad saw the singer-songwriter urging for an end to the fighting: “Lay down soldiers/ Lay down those weapons/ Let peace rush in,” he sang. “Let it wash through the valley, soar through the mountains/ Fall in the deepest blue sea/ Let it fly ‘cross the sky in a banner so high/ That even the rockets will see.”
As Legend continued, he was joined on stage by two Ukrainian artists. The first was Denver-based musician Siuzanna Iglidan, originally from Odessa, Ukraine, who appeared backing up Legend while playing the bandura, a traditional Ukrainian folk instrument. The pair were then joined by Mika Newton, a Ukrainian singer who sang a verse in Ukrainian.
Finally, they were joined by Lyuba Yakimchuk — a Ukrainian poet who fled Ukraine “just days ago,” according to the broadcast — who offered a prayer-like stanza to close the performance. “Forgive us our destroyed cities, even though we do not forgive for them our enemies,” she said. “Shield and protect my husband, my parents, my child, and my motherland.”
Jazmine Sullivan won Best R&B Album for “Heaux Tales”. (Just hours earlier, her single “Pick Up Your Feelings” tied with Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open” for Best R&B Performance. It was Sullivan’s first-ever Grammy Award.) When presenter Billy Porter announced her name as the winner for Best R&B Album, Sullivan appeared to be in disbelief. Seated with her mouth open in shock, she eventually broke into a beaming grin and made her way to the stage.
“I’m so grateful to be here,” she began. “I wrote this project to deal with my own shame and un-forgiveness around some of the decisions that I made in my 20s that weren’t favorable,” Sullivan said in her acceptance speech. “But what it ended up being was a safe space for Black women to tell their stories, for us to learn from each other, laugh with each other, and not be exploited, at the same time. That’s what I’m most grateful for. So shoutout to all Black women for just living their lives and being beautiful. I love you all.”
“Thank you to everybody who helped me create ‘Heaux Tales,’ from the producers to the additional writers, to RCA and Sony music, to my management, my mother and father, who I love dearly — I can’t wait to see — my friends and family everybody out in Philly, my fans, my man — thank you. I appreciate you,” Sullivan said.
Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak won Song of the Year for “Leave the Door Open”. This win is a historic one for Mars: according to the Associated Press, he becomes the only artist along with Paul Simon to take home the award three times. He and Paak were exultant as they strolled to the stage. “
We are really trying our hardest to remain humble at this point,” Paak said. “But in the industry, they call that a clean sweep!” later adding, “Drinks is on Silk Sonic tonight! We gettin’ drunk!” Mars added, “God bless you all. Good night!”
Another duo took home the award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. The award went to Doa Cat and SZA for “Kiss Me More” — but not before an ill-timed bathroom break. Cameras caught Doja running to the stage from the ladies’ room after her name was called. SZA got there first — on crutches — but Doja arrived just in time to accept her very first Grammy.
“You are everything to me. You’re the epitome of talent,” Doja told SZA, who thanked Doja, her mother, and God. Doja then retook the mic — but not before getting overcome with emotion. “I like to downplay s–t,” Doja said, as she began to cry. “But this is a big deal. Thank you.”
In a move that surprised nearly everyone — especially the winner — the Grammy for Album of the Year went to Jon Batiste, for “We Are”. (He had already won several awards that night, including Best Music Video for “Freedom”. His song “Cry” earned him honors for Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots song, according to Yahoo! Music.)
Singer-songwriter Jon Batiste won Album of the Year at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday. The Louisiana-bred composer was the front-runner at the ceremony, amassing 11 nominations, ultimately competing with Michael Jackson and Santana (but falling three short) for the most Grammys in one night.
“I believe this to my core. There is no best musician, best artist, best dancer, best actor,” said the bandleader of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” “The creative arts are subjective, and they reach people at a point in their lives when they need it most. It’s like a song or album is made and it almost has a radar to meet someone when they need it the most.”