Jon Batiste had the most Grammy nominations and his five wins topped everyone else, but he somehow seemed like the biggest surprise of a merry night for music that erased some of the bad taste left behind by the Oscars a week earlier.
Batiste’s “We Are” won the prestigious album of the year award on Sunday against music heavyweights like Tony Bennett, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift and Ye, who changed his name from Kanye West. Batiste ended her dance-filled performance of “Freedom” during the show by jumping onto Eilish’s table.
Silk Sonic won four Grammys, including Song and Record of the Year for the duo’s soulful hit, “Leave the Door Open.” Olivia Rodrigo’s three awards included Best New Artist. Foo Fighters, Chris Stapleton and CeCe Winans also won three each.
Yet Batiste captured the mood of a night when, despite some dark moments, the live performance talents of music’s top artists were on full display after COVID-19 put much of the concert industry on break.
“I was having 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 Lenny said the title ‘We Are’ – such a full circle moment because we played together when I was 16. It was surreal.”
The versatile Batiste, musical director of Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show,” also won on Sunday for his song “Cry,” the music video for “Freedom” and his work with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on the “Soul” soundtrack.
Kravitz had performed “Are You Gonna Go My Way” as a duet with HER, his guitar skills and wardrobe unchanged since the song was released in 1993.
HER was still upstage when she relived the moment.
“I watched Lenny grow up,” she said. “I literally studied 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 signature, Sunday’s show featured mostly sparkly performances by single artists. BTS stomped their way through “Butter,” rapper Nas led a big band, Rodrigo and Eilish powerfully channeled youthful angst, Stapleton delivered a bluesy version of “Cold,” and Brandi Carlile, presented by the formidable duo of Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt, rose to the challenge.
“I think we’re all having a great time,” host Trevor Noah said.
The show was a clear contrast to the bad vibes at the Oscars a week earlier, which will be forever remembered by comedian Will Smith, Chris Rock, after he took offense to one of his jokes.
There were a few quick references at this time to the Grammys. Noah said “we’ll keep names out of people’s mouths”, a reference to Smith’s unholy order to Rock not to talk about Smith’s wife. Questlove, on stage to present an award on Sunday, said he was confident people would keep their distance from him. The director of the ‘Summer of Soul’ film, which won a Grammy on Sunday, received an Oscar last week moments after the Slap.
In a more heated exchange during the non-televised portion of the Grammys, actor LeVar Burton told the audience to “stay in your place and keep your hands to yourself” as he introduced comedian Nate Bargatze, who came on stage with a helmet.
The Oscars also decided not to give their show time to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last week, even though some actors had advocated it. On Sunday, the Grammys played a special message from the wartime frontman, who soberly reminded the audience that “our musicians wear bulletproof vests instead of tuxedos.”
His recorded message was followed by a performance by John Legend of “Free”, with the accompaniment of three Ukrainian artists – a musician, a singer and a poet.
The Grammys also paid tribute to Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, who died a week ago while on tour. The group 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 the Grammys for Best Rock Performance, Song and Album – the latter for a record fifth time in the category.
Bruno Mars made history as one half of Silk Sonic along with Anderson .Paak. He tied Paul Simon as the only artist to win record of the year three times. Mars won with his own “24K Magic” in 2018 and dueting with Mark Ronson on “Uptown Funk” in 2016.
“Leave the Door Open”‘s win for Song and Record of the Year was a slight upset in a year where Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License” was ubiquitous and Eilish was bidding for his third straight record of the year. after “wicked” and “Everything I wanted.
.Paak was giddy after Silk Sonic’s fourth award of the night, telling the Las Vegas audience that 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 it a clean sweep.”
Bennett won in the mainstream pop vocal albums category for a staggering 14th time, this year with duet partner Lady Gaga. Now 95 and retired from performing due to Alzheimer’s disease, he presented a Gaga performance via recorded message.
The Grammys honored backstage concert tour workers who had been largely out of work during the pandemic, inviting four of them to feature performances by Eilish, Stapleton, HER and Carrie Underwood. The show also spotlighted artists in more niche categories like gospel and bluegrass by having them perform before commercial breaks from the rooftop of the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It was the first time the Grammys, which had been delayed due to rising COVID-19 cases, had been held outside of Los Angeles or New York.
The change of venue allowed rap artist Baby Keem to enjoy a hometown Grammy in Best Rap Performance for his collaboration, “Family Ties,” with his cousin Kendrick Lamar.
“It’s a dream,” he said.
Rodrigo, who starred in the TV series “High School Musical,” thanked her parents for letting her follow dreams that briefly included being an Olympic gymnast. Along with Song, Record and Album of the Year, Best New Artist is considered one of the Grammys’ four most prestigious awards.
After some pre-show manipulation which included canceling a scheduled performance by Ye due to some of his concerning online behaviors. You weren’t there to land either of the two Grammys he shared on Sunday.
Mitchell won a Grammy for Best Historical Album for a project retracing his early work, while the late Beatle George Harrison was honored for the 50th anniversary box set of “All Things Must Pass.”
Louis CK won the award for best comedy album, five years after several women accused him of sexual misconduct.
Associated Press Jonathan S. Landrum and Andrew Dalton in Las Vegas contributed to this report.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.