Jon Batiste had the most Grammy nominations and his five wins topped them all, but he somehow seemed the biggest surprise on a happy night for music that washed away some of the bad taste left by the Oscars a week earlier.
Batiste’s “We Are” won Sunday’s prestigious Album of the Year award ahead of music heavyweights including Tony Bennett, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift and Ye, who changed his name by Kanye West. Batiste finished his mid-show dancing performance of “Freedom” by jumping onto Eilish’s table.
Silk Sonic won four Grammys, including Song and Record of the Year for the duo’s soft soul hit “Leave the Door Open.” Among Olivia Rodrigo’s three awards was Best New Artist. Foo Fighters, Chris Stapleton and CeCe Winans also won three each.
Yet Batiste captured the mood of a night where, despite some somber moments, the live performance skills of music’s finest artists were fully showcased after COVID-19 brought much of the concert industry to a halt.
“I had such a good time,” Batiste said backstage after the show, describing the moment Lenny Kravitz announced his best album win. “I was hanging out with my family when my name came up and the title ‘We Are’ was said by Lenny – kind of a full circle moment because we played together when I was 16. It was surreal.”
The versatile Batiste, music director of Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, also won Sunday for his song Cry, the video for Freedom and his work with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on the soundtrack to Soul.
Kravitz had performed “Are You Gonna Go My Way” in a duet with HER, his guitar skills and wardrobe unchanged since the song was released in 1993.
HER was still high backstage as she relived the moment.
“I watched Lenny grow up,” she said. “I’ve studied literally all of his videos of his performances. He’s one of the reasons I wanted to play guitar.”
While sometimes awkward performance partnerships have become a Grammy Award signature, Sunday’s show mostly featured scintillating performances by artists in their own right. BTS stomped through “Butter,” rapper Nas played a big band, Rodrigo and Eilish powerfully channeled youthful angst, Stapleton delivered a bluesy version of “Cold,” and Brandi Carlile, introduced by the formidable duo of Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt, rocked the show up to the challenge.
“I think we’re all having a great time,” said host Trevor Noah.
The show was a clear contrast to the bad vibes from the Oscars a week earlier, which will be remembered forever for Will Smith hitting comedian Chris Rock after insulting one of his jokes.
There were a few brief references to that moment at the Grammys. Noah said that “we’re going to keep people quiet,” a nod to Smith’s profane instruction to Rock not to talk about Smith’s wife. Questlove, who took to the stage to present an award on Sunday, said he trusts people will keep their distance from him. The maker of the Summer of Soul film, which won a Grammy on Sunday, received an Oscar last week shortly after being slapped.
In a rather awkward exchange during the non-televised portion of the Grammys, actor LeVar Burton urged audiences to “stay in your seat and keep your hands to yourself” as he introduced comedian Nate Bargatze, who donned a helmet came on stage.
The Oscars also decided last week not to give Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy time for their show, despite some actors’ pleas. Sunday’s Grammys played a special message from the war leader, who soberly reminded audiences that “our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos.”
His recorded message was followed by a performance of “Free” by John Legend, accompanied by three Ukrainian artists – a musician, singer and poet.
The Grammys also paid tribute to Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, who died a week ago while on tour. The band had been booked to play the Grammys. Eilish wore a shirt with Hawkins’ face on it as she performed her Grammy-nominated song “Happier Than Ever.”
The Foo Fighters won Grammys for Best Rock Performance, Best Song and Best Album – the latter for a record-breaking fifth time in that category.
Bruno Mars made history with Anderson .Paak as one half of Silk Sonic. He tied Paul Simon as the only artist to win the year’s record three times. Mars won in 2018 with his own “24K Magic” and in 2016 in a duet with Mark Ronson on “Uptown Funk”.
Winning Song and Album of the Year for “Leave the Door Open” came as a slight surprise in a year when Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” has been ubiquitous and Eilish has followed “Bad Guy” and “Everything I Wanted.”
Dizzy after Silk Sonic’s fourth awards show of the night, Paak told the Las Vegas crowd the drinks were on him.
“We’re really trying our best to stay humble at this point,” .Paak said. “But in the industry we call that a clean thing.”
Bennett won the traditional pop song album category for a whopping 14 times, this year with duet partner Lady Gaga. Now 95 and retired from performing because of Alzheimer’s disease, he introduced a Gaga performance via tape message.
The Grammys paid tribute to behind-the-scenes concert tour staff who have been largely unemployed during the pandemic and invited four of them to present performances by Eilish, Stapleton, HER and Carrie Underwood. The show also spotlighted artists in more specialized categories, such as gospel and bluegrass, by performing prior to commercial breaks from the rooftop of Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena. It was the first time the Grammys, which had been delayed due to rising COVID-19 cases, have been held outside of Los Angeles or New York.
The relocation allowed rap artist Baby Keem to enjoy a hometown Grammy for Best Rap Performance for his collaboration “Family Ties” with cousin Kendrick Lamar.
“It’s a dream,” he said.
Rodrigo, who starred in the television series High School Musical, thanked her parents for allowing her to pursue her dreams, which briefly included becoming an Olympic gymnast. Alongside Song, Record and Album of the Year, Best New Artist is one of the four most prestigious awards at the Grammys.
After some hand-wringing before the show, that was included cancel a scheduled performance by Ye due to some of his troubling online behaviors. Ye wasn’t there to pick up either of the two Grammys he attended on Sunday.
Mitchell won a Grammy for Best Historical Album for a project tracing her early work, while the late Beatle George Harrison was honored for the 50th Anniversary box set of All Things Must Pass.
Louis CK won an award for best comedy album five years after he was accused of sexual misconduct by several women.
Associated Press Jonathan S. Landrum and Andrew Dalton in Las Vegas contributed to this report.
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https://www.ksat.com/entertainment/2022/04/04/batiste-joyful-performances-highlight-grammy-awards/ Batiste, joyful performances mark the Grammy Awards