62nd Grammy Awards trade glitz and glamour for grief


Andy Witchger [CC BY]

Lizzo obtained the most nominations at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.

Violet Jira, Opinion Editor

The 2020 Grammys fell into an awkward spot this year, hours after the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, and in the looming shadow of a controversy with the potential to destroy the Academy’s reputation. The glitz and glamour of one of Hollywood’s most illustrious affairs felt almost muted in the face of heartbreak, tragedy and controversy. 

The entire night had a “the show must go on” fashion to it, from beginning to end. Awards were accepted, for the most part, with a muted sort of celebration— more gratitude than gaiety. After Lizzo’s performance of “Truth Hurts,” the star-studded night opened in the Staples Center with a monologue from the two-time host and musical artist, Alicia Keys. Keys referenced the venue, wherein Bryant became an icon as a player for the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Following remarks, Keys along with Boys II Men paid homage to Bryant in a soulful musical tribute, and from there, the show went on. The night was rife with emotional moments. Demi Lovato performed onstage for the first time in two years. Her performance of “Anyone,” written just four days before her overdose in July 2017, was moving, bringing the audience and herself to tears. 

Despite the outpouring of emotion, this year’s Grammy Awards had some of the lowest ratings in 12 years, down 6 percent from last year’s awards. This could be attributed to Bryant’s untimely death hours earlier, but the ratings have been slipping for years. The recent allegations ranging from misconduct to rigging within the Recording Academy, none of which were addressed during the ceremony, certainly didn’t help either. 

In the midst of misfortune, some stars still won big. Most notably, Billie Eilish swept all four of the “big 4” categories, winning Best New Artist, Album of the Year for “When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go?,” Record of the Year and Song of the Year, both for “Bad Guy. The final two awards were shared with Finneas O’Connell. Also winning two more Grammys, Eilish is the second artist ever to sweep all four categories and the first female. 

More underwhelmingly but arguably more deserved, Finneas–brother, songwriter and producer to Billie Eilish–took home a Grammy for Best Producer. Tyler the Creator was awarded Best Rap Album for “Igor” and Best Rap Song was awarded to 21 Savage and J. Cole for their song, “A Lot. 

Adding to the overwhelming sense of grief the night carried, tribute was paid to the late Nipsey Hussle, a rapper and philanthropist who was shot to death in late March 2019. The singer was awarded two Grammys, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Racks in the Middle” and “Higher,” respectively. His awards were accepted by his wife, Lauren London. 

Lizzo took home three Grammys, and Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus were awarded Best Music Video and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their hit single, Old Town Road (Remix). Michelle Obama joined her husband in owning a Grammy, earning one for the audiobook of her novel “Becoming.” 

The night wore on with many more awards and acceptances, ending once again with remarks from host Alicia Keys. In what could have been a reference to anything; the political climate, the Academy scandal, or maybe just the air of sadness in the room, Keys closed the night with the message: “We got a lot to change. We got a lot to do. Keep speaking the truth.”