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Spectrum’s recap of 59th Grammy Awards

A Tribe Called Quest takes powerful stance, Adele sweeps

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On a night full of fair performances, the Grammy Awards took a political turn toward when A Tribe Called Quest took a stand against President Donald Trump.

The hip-hop group, joined by Grammy-nominated singer Anderson.Paak, began their performance on Sunday night with a medley of classic hits. After a pleasant mixture of hip-hop, legendary rapper Busta Rhymes joined the performers with a mission to shut the show down.

Rhymes ironically thanked “President Agent Orange” for “perpetuating evil” as a symbolic wall was torn down behind the performers. A Tribe Called Quest began performing their protest-song “We The People….,” with on-stage performers holding up their fists and chanting “resist.”

This moment is just one of many in a night that featured music’s brightest talent shining in Los Angeles.

The biggest winner of the night was British singer Adele – winning “Song of the Year,” “Record of the Year,” and “Album of the Year.” After sweeping all three major categories, the singer praised Beyoncé in an effort of showmanship.

Beyoncé, along with newcomer Chance the Rapper and the late David Bowie, won multiple awards throughout the evening.

Individually, Beyoncé shined as she took her iconic notes to royal, orchestral heights.

The pregnant singer donned herself with regal, golden attire as she powerfully represented women and mothers alike. After being introduced by her mother, Beyoncé tastefully tilted her chair back and practiced other graceful choreography on stage.

The singer performed her airy R&B song “Love Drought” and the stripped-down number “Sandcastles” off her Grammy-winning album Lemonade. The album took home “Best Urban Contemporary Album” with her single “Formation” winning “Best Music Video.”

Chance The Rapper went home with “Best New Artist” and “Best Rap Album” for his mixtape Coloring Book. The rapper preached freedom for independent artists in an acceptance speech and shouted out God, an integral force to his music.

The rapper later took the stage to perform a medley of the mixtape’s songs such as “All We Got”, “How Great”, and “Blessings.” Chance exhibited his rawness while backed by a powerful choir and orchestra.

Besides the night’s musical renderings, host James Corden found himself delighting the crowd at the Staples Center. The British late-night star appeared before his monologue but not before a sequence of falls and blunders for comic relief.

His blunders were followed by a Grammy-inspired freestyle rap of forgettable yet canny bars. Corden continued to please throughout the night – singing “Sweet Caroline” with Neil Diamond, John Legend, Blue Ivy Carter and others inside a cardboard car.

The host’s jubilance could only control so much fun, however, as the night became faulty and bizarre at times.

After actor John Travolta stumbled while presenting the award for “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance,” winners Twenty One Pilots unbuckled their belts and dropped their drawers.

During their speech, the duo told the story of how they once watched the Grammys in their underwear. They agreed that if they were to ever win a Grammy Award, they would receive their award in their underpants.

The spontaneous, tongue-in-cheek pants drop inspired Corden to follow suit.

Other slips included one by Adele when she paid tribute to late singer George Michael.

The singer performed Michael’s song “Fastlove” off of the singer’s 1996 album Older. As technical difficulties emerged during her performance, the singer swore and requested to restart the song, refusing to have a repeat of last year’s similar incident.

When Adele finally finished the song after her second attempt, her emotional display brought the audience to their feet. She later apologized for cursing during Michael’s tribute during an acceptance speech.

Other performers shined such as Ed Sheeran’s acoustic cut “Shape of You,” Katy Perry’s political display with “Chained to the Rhythm,” and Lady Gaga & Metallica’s electric “Moth Into Flame.”

Artists like The Weeknd found their rhythm, linking up with electronic duo Daft Punk to perform “I Feel It Coming.” The Grammy-winning artist jump started a digital jam and joined the robotic pair on an icy, rocky pedestal.

Equally inspiring grooves came from singer Bruno Mars who performed his ’90s inspired track “That’s What I Like.” Mars supported himself with funky choreography, went in the crowd to “talk to the ladies” and belted with his backup singers on center-stage.

The singer later performed a tribute to the legendary Prince alongside ’80s funk collective The Time.

The stage lights hit Bruno Mars, dressed as Prince in full attire, eyeliner and all. Mars showcased his guitar skills and shredded on stage in his purple sequin outfit, leaving the audience in awe.

All in all, performances varied in quality but closing acts re-defined an otherwise medium grade evening. The tributes to fallen stars saw modern day artists inspired while the ceremony created spaces that promote free speech & expression.

Benjamin Blanchet and Brenton J. Blanchet can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com


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