Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, brighten an otherwise somber Grammy Awards
Billie Eilish was the big winner at the 2020 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Image source: wired.it
By Lorenzo Robinson
On Jan. 26, 2020, the biggest stars in music and entertainment gathered for the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
The Grammys are traditionally a fun, vibrant celebration of the year in music. However, the show took on a more somber tone this year due to the untimely death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash that occurred the morning of the event.
Rhythm and Blues singer Lizzo, who received the most nominations–eight in total–kicked the night off with a shoutout to the fallen icon, saying, “Tonight is for Kobe” before performing “Cuz I Love You” and “Truth Hurts.” She won Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Jerome,” and Best Urban Contemporary Album for her wildly-successful 2019 album, “Cuz I Love You.” This was her first win.
“We never imagined in a million years we’d have to start a show like this,” said returning host Alicia Keys, who turned her monologue into an impromptu tribute to the former Lakers guard, asking the attendees to take a moment of silence to remember him and the eight other victims. Legendary R&B group Boyz II Men joined her to perform an emotional rendition of their 1991 hit song, “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”
Camila Cabello, who was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance with Shawn Mendes for their hit “Señorita,” added to the emotional evening with her moving ballad “First Man,” a song on her 2019 album “Romance.” The ballad is about a daughter who wants her father to know that, even though her boyfriend is a “good man,” her father will always be the most important man in her life.
She dedicated the performance to “all of the daughters and fathers out there.” Her father tearfully looked on as their fond home videos appeared on the big screen. Towards the end of the song, Cabello joined him in the audience, hugging as the song concluded. Many on social media said the song reminded them of the love Bryant had for his daughters.
Emotions continued to run high when Demi Lovato debuted her new song titled “Anyone,” which she wrote a few days before overdosing on drugs. She called the song “a cry for help.” After being overcome with emotion, she started the song over, delivering a powerful performance that received a standing ovation. It was Lovato’s first performance since her overdose in 2018.
Rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was gunned down last year in Los Angeles, was honored posthumously. Meek Mill and Roddy Ricch debuted a song dedicated to the late rapper, titled “Letter to Nipsey,” before Khaled and John Legend sang their collaboration with Hussle, Khaled’s track “Higher.” The special rendition of the song, which later won a Grammy for best rap/sung performance, was performed by Kirk Franklin, Ricch, and YG.
Lil Nas X’s viral song “Old Town Road” received universal acclaim due to its catchy hook and genre-bending sound. In his Grammy debut, he performed the hit single with each artist that appeared on one of the remixes, including country music legend Billy Ray Cyrus, rapper Young Thug, hip-hop veteran Nas, yodeler Mason Ramsey, and K-Pop group BTS. Ramsey, 13, became one of the youngest Grammy performers of all time.
The biggest winner of the night was Billie Eilish, who swept the four major categories, becoming the second artist to do so and the first since 1981. The young pop star won Best New Artist, Song of the Year for “Bad Guy,” Record of the Year for “Bad Guy,” and Album of the Year for “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”
Eilish took home the most hardware with five awards. Lizzo finished with the second most victories, taking home three trophies. Lil Nas X and Hussle each received two awards, with Hussle’s wins coming posthumously.