The night opened to a disaster. Much-loved British comedian and host of The Late Late Show James Corden catastrophically tumbled down the stairs in full view of the star-studded audience. This was, of course, a not-so-accidental moment of slapstick. As Corden surely knows the Grammy Awards would be nothing without its yearly dose of surprises, snubs and mishaps.
Before the awards began, however, the snubs came in, with both Frank Ocean and Kanye West failing to attend. Indeed, Frank Ocean did not even submit his latest album Blonde for consideration. In a post on his Tumblr, Ocean slammed the event’s lack of diversity, angry that the Album of the Year 2016 went to Taylor Swift’s 1989 over Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. West, on the other hand, had commitments at New York Fashion Week, but even he has criticised the events lack of cultural relevance in the past.
David Bowie’s Blackstar won every award it was nominated for, though some were critical that it was not put up for Album of the Year
After the obituary-fest that was 2016, this year’s Grammys was bound to be laden with tributes. The most memorable performance came from Adele who, after going out of key in her George Michael tribute, issued an explicit apology to the audience and was forced to restart. Meanwhile, Prince was honoured with a near-perfect performance from Bruno Mars and an adorable Prince-inspired costume on Blue Ivy Carter. Fittingly, David Bowie’s Blackstar won every award it was nominated for, though some were critical that it was not put up for Album of the Year.
There were audible boos as Adele’s songwriter Gred Kurstin was cut off mid-sentence – clearly the Grammys hadn’t learnt from the Brit Awards in this regard. Meanwhile, technical difficulties marred Metallica’s performance with Lady Gaga, with Lavern Cox forgetting to name the Metallica in her link and vocalist James Hetfield having to share a microphone with Gaga after his failed.
Among all this, Rihanna snuck in late only to be seen casually necking from a bejeweled hip-flask after she failed to win a single award. Swearing on stage and snapping a Grammy aside, Adele had a mishap of her own when she accidentally announced that she is, in fact, married to the father of her son (a fact she has kept secret).
I just want to thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. We’ve come together. We, the people – Busta Rhymes
In these unusual times, award shows have become ever more politically charged events and the Grammys were no exception. During his performance with A Tribe Called Quest and Anderson .Paak, rapper Busta Rhymes was vocal in his criticism of Donald Trump, shouting “I just want to thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. We’ve come together. We, the people”.
Katy Perry, an open supporter of Hilary Clinton, wore an all-white pantsuit and ‘Persist’ armband during her performance which some saw as an act of solidarity with Elizabeth Warren. Singer Joy Villa, however, broke the anti-Trump trend by dramatically revealing a dress emblazed with his slogan ‘Make America Great Again’.
The comical highlight of the evening was delivered by 21 Pilots who, when accepting their Grammy for Best Group Performance, decided to appear on stage sans trousers. As the awards were announced, Chance the Rapper made history when his mixtape Colouring Book became the first even streaming-only album to win a Grammy.
When Lemonade was awarded Best Urban Contemporary Album, Beyoncé took to the stage to deliver an empowering speech on the importance of black role models, stating “it’s vital that we learn from the past and recognize our tendencies to repeat our mistakes”.
Perhaps the most memorable moment of the night came when Adele declared she could not accept her Grammy for Album of the Year, claiming Beyoncé’s Lemonade was more deserving. On this note, she snapped her Grammy in two and handed a half to a tearful Beyoncé.