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Grammys 2020: Awards ceremony focuses on unity by steering clear of politics in wake of Kobe Bryant death

Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Lil Nas X and Tyler, the Creator all emerge as winners

Clémence Michallon
New York
Monday 27 January 2020 05:09 GMT
Grammys 2020: Alicia Keys pays tribute to Kobe Bryant

The Grammys steered clear of controversy on Sunday as the music industry sent out a message of unity in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s sudden death.

Bryant, 41, died along with his 13-year-old daughter in a helicopter crash just hours ahead of the ceremony – an event that dominated the evening.

The ceremony, which saw high-profile wins from Billie Eilish, Tyler, the Creator, Lizzo, Lil Nas X and more, was peppered with tributes honouring Bryant and his legacy.

Alicia Keys, who returned as host for the second year in a row, opened the event with a moving homage to the NBA icon, telling the crowd: “Here we are together on music’s biggest night, celebrating the artists who do it best. To be honest, we’re all feeling crazy sadness right now. Because, earlier today, Los Angeles, America, and the whole wide world lost a hero.”

Keys also called the Staples Center, where the ceremony was taking place, “the house that Kobe Bryant built” – a reference to the fact that the Staples Center is the home venue for the Los Angeles Lakers, the team with which Bryant spent his NBA career.

Boyz II Men joined Keys to perform “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” in Bryant’s memory.

Lil Nas X, meanwhile, included an homage to the NBA great in his “Old Town Road” performance with Billy Ray Cyrus, BTS, Diplo and Mason Ramsey, under the form of a Lakers jersey bearing Bryant’s number (24), which rested next to him as he began singing.

One of the most controversial moments of the night came when Keys took a jab at US President Donald Trump by mentioning the impeachment proceedings currently under way against him – and suggested that Cardi B get involved in politics to “show these people what to do”.

Another divisive element to a broadly unified evening came when Usher, FKA Twigs and Sheila E teamed up for a Prince tribute that rapidly proved controversial. While some praised Usher and his dance moves, others were disappointed when it turned out that FKA Twigs wouldn’t sing during the homage, instead pole-dancing onstage.

Demi Lovato provided one of the emotional high notes of the night when she sang her new tune “Anyone”, earning a standing ovation for her first major performance since her 2018 hospitalisation.

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Eilish emerged as the clear winner of the night, taking home Best New Artist, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album.

Lizzo won Best Pop Solo Performance, Best Traditional R&B Performance, and Best Urban Contemporary Album.

Tyler, the Creator, earned the Grammy for Best Rap Album for Igor, while Lil Nas X took home Best Music Video and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Old Town Road” featuring Billy Ray Cyrus.

Late rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was fatally shot in March last year, was recognised posthumously with two wins in the Best Rap Performance and Best Rap/Sung Performance categories.

Keys wrapped up the evening with one last homage to Bryant and his loved ones, signing off with: “God bless Kobe’s family. We love you.”

You can see a full list of winners here.

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