The latest: A big night for Bruno Mars.
The 60th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday gave its highest accolades to Bruno Mars, an upbeat master of danceable pop, even as the show wrestled with a range of social and political topics including immigration, race and the #MeToo movement.
Mr. Mars won all six of the awards he was nominated for, including the top prizes of album, record and song of the year. The next most rewarded artist was Kendrick Lamar, the provocative and critically admired rapper from Compton, Calif., whose five wins included a sweep of the rap categories.
Their victories came at the expense of Jay-Z, now a reigning elder of hip-hop and the music business in general, who had arrived as the most-nominated artist of the night, with eight nods, but went home empty-handed.
The show at Madison Square Garden also featured the Grammys’ much-anticipated response to the #MeToo movement. While the reckoning over harassment and gender equality has swept over Hollywood, media and politics, its effect on the music industry had been minimal, leading to scrutiny over how the show would address the issue. But a call-to-arms by Janelle Monáe, and an emotional performance by Kesha, approached it head-on.
“You see, it’s not just going on in Hollywood, it’s not just going on in Washington,” Ms. Monáe said. “It’s right here in our industry as well.”
“And just as we have the power to shape culture,” she added, “we also have the power to undo a culture that does not serve us well.”
Multiple Grammys for ‘24K Magic.’
Mr. Mars, who has earned the respect of the industry as an all-around entertainer, capable of repeatedly scaling the pop charts and entertaining the nation at the Super Bowl, won album of the year for “24K Magic,” as well as record of the year for the title track and song of the year — a songwriters’ award — for “That’s What I Like.” (His album also claimed an engineering prize.)
Song of the year went to Mr. Mars and the seven other writers of “That’s What I Like,” a slice of 1980s-throwback funk. Accepting the award, Mr. Mars was surrounded by what looked like an entourage, but they were the credited writers of the song, reflecting the new production model of pop music in which huge teams of specialized writers collaborate.
“I’ve been knowing these guys for over a decade,” Mr. Mars said. “All the music-business horror stories you’ve seen in the movies, we’ve been through all of them.”
“It’s an honor to share this with you all tonight,” he told them.
In addition to Mr. Mars, they were Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, and the quartet known as the Stereotypes: Ray Charles McCullough II, Jeremy Reeves, Ray Romulus and Jonathan Yip.
Kesha and a #MeToo moment.
In the days leading up the awards, the Grammys faced questions how the show — and the music industry at large — would respond to the #MeToo movement and the show of solidarity at the Golden Globes this month, when the women of Hollywood, wearing black, presented a united front.
In a forceful speech, Ms. Monáe spoke for the women of the music industry, calling for a unified response of the women in music against sexism and sexual harassment, saying, “We come in peace but we mean business.”
Then Kesha sang “Praying,” her ballad of anger and redemption, surrounded by women all in white, including the singers Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels and Andra Day and the Resistance Revival Chorus, a collective of women who sing protest songs. Kesha became pop’s symbol of the fight against sexual assault when, in a 2014 lawsuit, she accused her producer, Dr. Luke, of inflicting years of abuse. (Dr. Luke, whose real name is Lukasz Gottwald, in turn accused Kesha of fabricating the story in an attempt to escape her recording contracts.)
Her voice breaking, Kesha sang “You brought the flames and you put me through hell,” and “When I’m finished, they won’t even know your name.”
As she finished, she held back tears and the choir gathered around her in a group embrace.
Immediately afterward, Ms. Cabello, a young Cuban-Amerian singer who had been part of Kesha’s performance, introduced a segment highlighting immigration, with the cameras turning to a view of the Statue of Liberty and Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus” (“Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”). Then U2 performed its song “Get Out of Your Own Way” on a barge in New York harbor. (The performance had been taped two nights before.)
A striking opening.
The 60th annual Grammy Awards opened with a striking conceptual performance by Kendrick Lamar and by Bono and the Edge of U2, with Dave Chappelle serving as a one-man Greek chorus. It walked a fine line between confrontational political commentary and grounding comedy.
Mr. Lamar began surrounded by phalanxes of soldiers in camouflage fatigues as he began his song “XXX” with images of the American flag waving behind him on digital screens. After the words “This is a satire by Kendrick Lamar” flashed behind him, and a brief appearance by Bono and the Edge, the camera cut to Mr. Chappelle, who said: “The only thing more frightening than watching a black man be honest in America is being an honest black man in America.”
The show then alternated again between Mr. Lamar and Mr. Chappelle, before ending with Mr. Lamar standing among men in red hoodies who were gunned down one by one.
Lady Gaga then took the stage to sing her ballads “Joanne” and “Million Reasons” at a white piano draped with the wings of a bird or an angel. “Time’s up,” she said.
Mr. Lamar next won the first prize of the night, for best rap/sung performance, for “LOYALTY.,” featuring Rihanna, who told him: “Congrats. You deserve this, man.”
“From the jump I thought it was about the accolades, and the cars and the clothes,” Mr. Lamar said. “But it’s really about expressing yourself, putting that paint on the canvas for the world to evolve for the next listener, the next generation after that.”
Then he paid tribute to his artistic heroes, including Jay-Z, Nas and Puff Daddy, and added, as the ultimate obeisance: “Jay for president.”
There were other notable performances. Dressed in a glowing white suit, Childish Gambino — the musical persona of Donald Glover, who has won Golden Globes and Emmys as an actor — performed “Terrified” as a slithery erotic fantasy fully of falsetto and a gentle funk groove. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee played their monster Latin pop hit “Despacito,” surrounded by grinding couples, the women in ultrashort shorts or nude-colored showgirl get-ups.
Rihanna sang “Wild Thoughts” with Bryson Tiller and DJ Khaled, fully in character as a big-voiced hype man. Elton John played his “Tiny Dancer” with Miley Cyrus. And Sting, strangely ubiquitous in the show, played his 1987 song “Englishman in New York” as a Police-style smooth groove.
Alessia Cara wins best new artist.
Alessia Cara, a 21-year-old Canadian pop singer who has songs of empowerment like “Scars to Your Beautiful,” took home one of the ceremony’s big four awards. After the microphone was lowered reach her, Ms. Cara said: “Holy cow, I’m shaking. I’ve been pretend-winning Grammys since I was a kid, like in my shower.”
All but nine of the 84 awards were given out at a nontelevised ceremony in the afternoon.
During the preshow ceremony, Mr. Lamar won best rap performance, best rap song and best music video, all for “HUMBLE.” Mr. Mars won best R&B performance and R&B song for “That’s What I Like,” and best R&B album for “24K Magic.”
Despite 21 past wins, Jay-Z has never taken home a Grammy in the top categories, and that did not change at Sunday’s ceremony. The rapper, who was feted as an “industry icon” at Clive Davis’s glittery annual pre-Grammy party, was shut out.
Ed Sheeran, who was snubbed in the top categories, was awarded best pop vocal album, in absentia, for “÷,” one of last year’s biggest hits. He also won best pop solo performance for “Shape of You.” Childish Gambino won best traditional R&B performance for his song “Redbone,” a 1970s funk throwback that was a surprise hit at radio last year.
The country singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton won two awards in the preshow ceremony: best country solo performance for “Either Way,” and best country song for “Broken Halos,” which Mr. Stapleton wrote with Mike Henderson.
Jason Isbell also won two: best Americana album, for “The Nashville Sound,” and best American roots song, for “If We Were Vampires.” Carrie Fisher won a posthumous Grammy — her first — in the best spoken word album category, for “The Princess Diarist.”
Chris Stapleton wins and victims of violence are honored
After Mr. Stapleton won best country album for “From A Room: Volume 1,” the country singers Eric Church, Maren Morris and the Brothers Osborne offered a tribute to the victims of violence at music events.
Ms. Morris began the introduction drawing a connection between the bombing in Manchester, England, last May and the shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas in October.
As they played a quiet and stripped-down version of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” the names of individual victims were displayed on glowing panels behind them, as if electronic votive candles.
A night of questions new and old.
The Grammys, like most awards shows, have been wrestling for years with issues of diversity: ethnic, gender and, in the Grammys’ case, musical. Not so long ago, the show drew eye rolls for over-rewarding elder heroes at the expense of pop’s younger, more vital mainstream. (Think Ray Charles beating Green Day and Kanye West in 2005, or Herbie Hancock defeating Amy Winehouse and, ahem, Mr. West in 2008.)
The Grammys have generally gotten much better at recognizing the pulse of contemporary music. A diverse crop of nominees this year made it likely that the winners of the four most prestigious categories — album, record and song of the year, and best new artist — would not be white men.
At the same time, gender remained very much still an issue. Lorde was the only woman up for album of the year; she did not perform at the ceremony. Julia Michaels and Ms. Cara have credits in the song of the year category (which recognizes songwriters). Otherwise, the top nominees were predominantly male. As a new report indicated, gender diversity at the Grammys — and in the music industry at large — has been abysmal.
The white roses.
As the Grammys approached, it became clear that aside from the performance by Kesha, the industry had no organized response to the #MeToo movement planned along the lines of the Time’s Up campaign that was front and center at the recent Golden Globes.
That changed just days ago, when a small group of midlevel female music executives called for artists to wear a white rose to the show, as a sign of “hope, peace, sympathy and resistance.” By Thursday, a handful of stars including Lady Gaga and Kelly Clarkson had pledged their support. On Sunday, the group circulated a list of music-industry professionals and artists who had signed on to the effort, adding Pink, Dua Lipa and Lil Uzi Vert, among others.
At the preshow ceremony, several artists wore white roses, although their comments about it were muted. Reba McEntire, the country star, was asked about the white rose on her dress after she won best roots gospel album for “Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope.”
“My message is, I want to treat you like I want to be treated,” Ms. McEntire said. “It’s the golden rule. I think if we did that more often, a lot of these problems would be nonexistent. Let’s just treat people kindly.”
Lisa Loeb, who won best children’s album, said, only half in jest: “I know some people are saying the music industry took a little while to catch up with some of the other industries. But we haven’t had as many awards ceremonies.”
A preshow controversy.
Hours before the show began, it already had a Trump controversy. On Saturday night, CNN aired an interview with Jay-Z as part of the inaugural episode of “The Van Jones Show,” in which Jay-Z commented on the president’s reported denigration of Haiti and African countries.
“It is disappointing and it’s hurtful,” Jay-Z said. “Because it’s looking down at a whole population of people and it’s so misinformed because these places have beautiful people and beautiful everything. This is the leader of the free world speaking like this.”
By 8:18 a.m. Sunday, the president fired off his response on Twitter.
A little more than an hour later, Mr. Jones — who is managed by Jay-Z’s company, Roc Nation — wrote on Twitter in response, noting that he did ask Jay-Z about the president’s record on reducing black unemployment, and Jay-Z responded that the issue was about treating people with respect and not, as he put it: “Treat me really bad and pay me well.”
Some of the stars at the preshow ceremony seized the opportunity to make political or personal statements.
Residente, a Puerto Rican rapper who founded the influential group Calle 13, won best Latin rock album (for “Residente”). Dedicating his prize “to my country, Puerto Rico,” he spoke about the need to seek out reliable sources of news about the island.
“What’s happening in Puerto Rico is horrible,” he said. “We’ve been without electricity for six months now. Some people are dying because they are not eating well. All of that, I had it in my heart when I won this a moment ago.”
Cécile McLorin Salvant, a Haitian-American singer who won best jazz vocal album, addressed President Trump’s comments about Haiti and Africa. “At some points you have to either laugh or cry,” she said. “I choose to laugh.”
The political material was also played for laughs. In one segment, Mr. Corden had celebrities audition for the job of reading the audiobook of Michael Wolff’s “Fire & Fury,” the much talked about look inside the Trump White House. John Legend, Cher, Snoop Dogg and Cardi B — a Bronx-born former stripper who has instantly become one of the music industry’s most beloved figures — all incredulously read excerpts aloud. The winning reader turned out to be Hillary Clinton.
The bit drew laughs throughout the arena, but not everyone was pleased.
“I have always loved the Grammys but to have artists read the Fire and Fury book killed it,” Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, wrote on Twitter. “Don’t ruin great music with trash. Some of us love music without the politics thrown in it.”
Paying tribute to stars.
For a year that saw the losses of Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Tom Petty, Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, Malcolm Young of AC/DC and Walter Becker of Steely Dan, there were several tributes.
After the annual “in memoriam” montage, the rapper Logic, in a hoodie with “You are not alone” on the back, performed his “1-800-273-8255,” whose title is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. As on the recording, he was joined by Ms. Cara and Khalid.
Some also happened out of sight of the cameras. After a 40th anniversary edition of the Voyager Golden Record — the gold discs sent into space containing the sounds of the earth, including Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” — won best box set package, Lawrence Azerrad, one of the album’s art directors, commented on the everlasting life of Berry’s music.
“Long after the earth is gone, swallowed up by the sun,” he said, “Chuck Berry’s record will still be floating in space.”
Absent from the stage.
While many stars will pack the stage, the Grammys were also notable for who wasn’t there. Besides Mr. Sheeran, neither Taylor Swift nor Justin Bieber were in attendance.
Jay-Z and Lorde were in the audience but did not perform.
Scheduling, limitations of time and space, and the whims of performers and producers may well account for many of these absences. But in recent years, the Grammys have also faced boycotts from some artists who feel that not enough of the top prizes go to black artists. Frank Ocean stated that in regards to last year’s show.
And while Drake has said that the reason he is not performing is that the Grammys asked him to cancel one of his own shows to appear, he also did not submit his latest “playlist” album, “More Life,” for award consideration.
New York, New York.
The Grammys were being held in New York for the first time since 2003, when the city was still struggling to attract business and tourism after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The New York mayor’s office lobbied hard to bring the awards back.
But aside from a handful of segments with heavy-handed New York themes, the broadcast seemed little different from its recent ones at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. In one, James Corden, the host, brought Sting and the reggae singer Shaggy into the subway for a vaudevillian version of Mr. Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke,” with tough New Yorkers telling the three men to shut up or, after taking out earbuds, waving them away with “Sorry, I don’t have any cash on me.”
Bruno Mars and Cardi B sang Mr. Mars’s “Finesse” as a costumed nod to 1980s hip-hop, with b-boy outfits and moves that seemed pulled from the Rosie Perez book of choreography.
Later in the show was a reverent tribute to the musical traditions of Broadway, with Ben Platt from “Dear Evan Hansen” singing Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere” from “West Side Story,” accompanied on a dark platform by cello and acoustic guitar, his voice filling Madison Square Garden at the song’s climax. (Earlier in the day, “Dear Evan Hansen” won best musical theater album.)
And Patti LuPone, backed up by an orchestra and with a full set behind her, sang “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” from “Evita,” a reprise of her performance from the Grammys in 1981, when that show won best cast show album.