Ten things that happened at the Grammys last night

Billie, Tyler and a boisterous line-up of looks are what everyone's talking about the morning after music's biggest night.

by Douglas Greenwood
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27 January 2020, 1:04pm

The Grammys, like most awards ceremonies, are often overlong and dampened by disappointment. Someone major gets snubbed, blokes win the most important prizes, and we’re left with a sour taste in our mouths, knowing that the group who vote for these prizes are sorely out of touch.

But last night, aside from a couple of slip-ups, felt different! Generation Z swept the boards, some monumental stars delivered exquisite performances, the fashion was… iconic (!) and Twigs turned up, pole-danced and gave us all life!

Did you crash at 9pm, pre-Love Island, like we all do a Sunday and miss out? Fear not! Here are the 10 things that happened at the 2020 Grammys that everybody is talking about.

Billie Eilish won big

Yup, everybody’s favourite Gen Z superstar, 18-year-old Billie Eilish, became the night’s most talked-about person. She turned up and admitted to the press that she felt like “an imposter” and “a fan” who snuck through the gates, and wound up performing a heartbreaking version of "When the Party's Over" and taking home five prizes: Best Record and Song of the Year for “Bad Guy”, Best New Artist, as well as Best Pop Vocal Album and Album of the Year for her smash hit debut, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?. When it came to that final prize, arguably the biggest of the night, she stressed that it should’ve gone to Ariana Grande for Thank U, Next instead. “I think it deserves this, like more than anything in the world. I love you so much,” she said.

Stars paid tribute to Kobe

The show, which took place at the Staples Center, coincided with the tragic passing of basketball player Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash earlier that day. Kobe, who played for the Los Angeles Lakers up until his retirement in 2016, had a valued, dominant presence in the arena which the Lakers also use during match season. The night was transformed into a eulogy for the sports star. Alicia Keys, who presented the evening, put it best: "Earlier today, Los Angeles, America and the whole wide world lost a hero,” she said. “We're literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built."

Lana got snubbed

Perhaps the biggest shock of the night came with the sad, unfortunate snubbing of Lana Del Rey: an artist who's spent the past eight years building a music career few of her contemporaries could ever replicate. It came to a head with 2019’s Norman F*cking Rockwell: her sprawling, sad, ruminative magnum opus, widely considered one of the strongest albums of the past decade. If anything, Lana deserved the Album of the Year prize for her work on it, but unfortunately the New York-born, California singer went home empty handed. A crime only her new cop boyfriend could solve, imo!

Stetsons are the moment

On the fashion front, no accessory had as strong a night as the stetson. Yup, three artists rocked up in western-inspired looks, affirming the fact that taking style cues from a cowboy is going to dominate 2020 too. Lil Nas X paired his hat with a fuchsia bondage-inspired look from Atelier Versace, but switched it up for his stage performance that featured BTS’ first on-stage performance at the ceremony. Meanwhile, alt-rock star Orville Peck wore an oversized number with his go-to draping mask, and Diplo went for a more classic western aesthetic. Both Orville and Diplo, who walked the red carpet together, were dressed by Kim Jones for Dior.

Twigs spun on a pole

Now, we all know FKA Twigs is literally flaw free and frankly iconic, so it’s a new rule that no awards show can go ahead without her in it. She proved that last night. During a tribute to Prince, Usher belted out a medley of “Little Red Corvette”, “Kiss” and “When Doves Cry”, as Twigs -- wrapped in a white feather boa -- span elegantly on a pole. Do we deserve her? Do the Grammys deserve her? We’ve come to the conclusion that none of us do and we’re fine with that.

Everyone dressed like comic book villains

The style guide for the 2020 Grammys was clearly ‘cunning comic book villain but make it chic’. The most show stopping looks? Billie Eilish in baggy goo-green and glittering Gucci; Billy Porter in a killer blue suit paired with a hat that featured a diamant curtain that opened and closed; Ariana Grande in a smoke-screen grey Giambattista Valli gown (terrible for getaways); Lizzo in custom Versace looking like she could dupe a dumb man out of millions of dollars; Lil Nas X’s aforementioned Versace look; and Guapdad 4000 in a du-rag that draped the carpet like a train. Tyler, meanwhile, dressed like a bellboy… which isn’t very comic book-y but was brilliant regardless.

Tyler called out the racial micro-aggressions of ‘urban’

Having won the Best Rap Album prize for IGOR -- his first Grammy despite his seasoned career -- Tyler met journalists backstage after the ceremony and, though grateful, expressed disappointment at the way his music has been filtered through the awards system. Listen to any of Tyler’s music over the past five years and you’ll recognise that it has never fit snugly into a certain category, and that IGOR, as brilliant as it is, certainly isn’t a rap or ‘urban’ album. “I don’t like that ‘urban’ word,” he said. “It’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word, to me. So when I hear that, I’m just like, why can’t we just be in pop? So I felt like -- half of me feels like the rap nomination was a backhanded compliment.”

Demi Lovato made her live return

Demi Lovato has had a rough few years. Back in July 2018, the former Disney star was hospitalised following an overdose. She chose last night’s ceremony as her prime comeback moment. The 27-year-old debuted “Anyone”, a track she wrote just days before she was admitted to hospital. Understandably, it was a tough song for her to get through (its lyrics include: “I tried to talk to my guitar / Talk to my imagination / Confided into alcohol"), and so she had to stop and start again. But the crowd rose to their feet after she finished. It’s good to have her back.

Ariana clapped back at the Grammys producer

You might remember the beef between Ariana Grande and the Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich, who spoke out about Ariana dropping out of last year’s show after a disagreement over what song she could sing. Well, it seems Ari got her own way in the end, as she performed a medley of "Imagine" that segued into The Sound of Music’s “My Favourite Things” that segued into her Grammy-nominated hit “7 Rings”, before signing it all off with a short stab at “Thank U, Next” too. It was the high point of the night for Ari who, despite being nominated five times, went home empty handed. She didn’t care, posting a video on her Twitter post-show that said “I had a great mf time tonight :)”.

Rosalía shut it down (and took home a prize)

One of the most talked about artists of the past year, our own personal fave Rosalía, was up for two prizes last night: Best New Artist (which went to Billie Eilish in the end) and Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album for the pin-sharp and stunning El Mal Querer. That latter prize she took home, but not before she performed her new single “Juro Que” and the now iconic “Malamente”. In a year that focussed so strongly on the Anglicised side of the music biz (we’re still pissed about BTS not getting nominated), the Catalan singer provided an alternate view of what the future of pop should, hopefully, look like.

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