The 2020 GRAMMY Awards were a sight to behold on Sunday, Jan. 26, opening with a brilliant performance from Lizzo and Sasha Flute and closing out with multiple wins from 18-year-old pop wunderkind Billie Eilish, who swept the major categories (Best New Artist, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Album Of The Year, respectively). Though the night had an unexpected dark cloud overhead with the recent news of basketball legend Kobe Bryant’s passing, host Alicia Keys and the night’s many performers came through with both respectful tributes and still-celebratory vibes. Relive the magic below with our roundup of 10 unmissable moments from the 2020 GRAMMY Awards.
Lizzo Opens The Show
Singer/songwriter, rapper and flutist Lizzo, who took home three GRAMMYs—Best Pop Solo Performance for “Truth Hurts,” Best Urban Contemporary Album for Cuz I Love You and Best Traditional R&B Performance for “Jerome”—opened the show with a stellar performance of “Cuz I Love You,” which she dedicated to Kobe Bryant. Backed by a group of all-female string and horn players and all-female backup dancers, Lizzo, dressed in a floor-length black sparkling gown before switching into a futuristic leotard for “Truth Hurts,” delivered a powerhouse performance, replete with her flute delivered to her onstage on a silver platter which was fitting for this queen who, like her “Truth Hurts” lyrics express, clearly won’t ever be anyone’s “side chick.”
GRAMMY host Alicia Keys, with her hair tightly pulled back into a bun and dressed in a silver gown, adopted an appropriately somber tone when she opened the show and addressed the audience, paying her deepest respect to the tragic loss of basketball star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash earlier in the day. Standing in the Staples Center, home to the GRAMMYs and Los Angeles Lakers, Keys referred to the center as “the house that Kobe built” as a photo of Kobe was displayed on an overhead screen. Keys asked the audience to hold Kobe, Gianna and all those who were lost in the helicopter crash in their thoughts, prayers and spirits. Keys was then joined onstage by Boyz II Men with whom she sang a beautiful rendition of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye.”
Tyler, The Creator Burns Down The House
Rapper, singer/songwriter and record producer Tyler, the Creator, who won a GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for Igor and brought his mom onstage for his acceptance speech, wore his signature platinum blond wig (for his character Igor) and a pink and magenta suit and brought sizzling, amped up energy to a charged-up performance of “EARFQUAKE” and “NEW MAGIC WAND.” As he sang and danced on a simulated street, with rooftop flames coming out of surrounding houses, he was joined by an army of Tyler, the Creator lookalikes, R&B artist Charlie Wilson (his Igor collaborator) and Boyz II Men as he rose up on a platform above the stage bringing the energy to a fired-up frenzy before taking it back down again. He ended his fiery, magnetic performance appearing to fall backwards on to the ground as flames burned all around.
Camila Cabello Honors Her Father
Singer/songwriter and actress Camila Cabello, who, in 2019, was the first Latina woman to open the GRAMMYs, wore a pink gown as she sang “First Man,” which she wrote about her father Ajelandro. As Cabello delivered a tender and beautiful performance, home video from her childhood played on a nearby pink curtain that was erected next to her onstage. She ended her performance by singing directly to her father who was seated in the front row of the audience. Holding his hand, as tears streamed down his face, Cabello’s father kissed his daughter’s hand before standing up and hugging her. With the two locked in a heartfelt father-daughter embrace, it was an especially powerful moment given the sudden loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
Demi Lovato Gives A Heartwrenching Performance Of “Anyone”
Singer/songwriter and actress Demi Lovato, dressed in a sweeping white shimmering floor-length gown, became so choked up when she began to sing “Anyone,” her new song which was written several days before she overdosed in 2018, that she had to stop her performance to begin again. Her emotionality and false start, however, added further sentiment and poignancy to her heartfelt and stunning delivery as tears streamed down her cheeks while she sang. While powerfully singing “Anyone”‘s painfully naked lyrics “No one is listening to me,” it was clear that everyone in the audience was absolutely listening. Lovato’s performance, her first return to the stage since 2018, received a standing ovation from the audience.
Lil Nas X Takes Us To The “Old Town Road”
Rapper and singer/songwriter Lil Nas X, who won two GRAMMYs—Best Music Video and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Old Town Road”—made his GRAMMY debut performing the smash hit. Starting off solo, strumming his guitar and singing seated on a couch next to a Kobe Bryant Lakers jersey spread across a nearby armchair, Lil Nas X, wearing a black and silver sparkly cowboy hat and silver outfit, moved through a variety of ever-changing colorful sets where he was joined by Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo, K-pop seven-piece BTS, and 13-year-old viral yodeling sensation Mason Ramsey for a high octane and compelling performance before diving into “Rodeo” with “Big” Nas.
Billie Eilish Gives A Raw Performance Of “When The Party’s Over”
18-year-old singer/songwriter Billie Eilish, who won five GRAMMYs (Song Of The Year, Best New Artist, Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album) and her collaborator and brother FINNEAS delivered a stripped down, anguished performance of “when the party’s over” driven by Eilish’s emotional, raw and gut-wrenching vocals. Eilish, seated on a stool and dressed in sparkly Gucci pajamas with matching sneakers, kept her eyes closed throughout her anguished and mesmerizing performance as Finneas accompanied her on piano.
Nipsey Hussle Gets A Worthy Tribute
L.A.-born rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was shot and killed last year at just 33 years old, won two posthumous GRAMMYs—Best Rap Performance for “Racks In The Middle” and Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Higher.” DJ Khaled, John Legend, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG paid an all-star tribute to the slain rapper in a hip-hop, R&B and gospel-infused performance that began with Mill performing a rap tribute to Hussle before being joined by Ricch for a new song called “Letter To Nipsey” followed by a powerful and affecting delivery of “Higher” by Khaled, Legend, Franklin, YG and video footage of Hussle. Photos of both Hussle and Bryant were shown at the end of the incredibly spirit-lifting performance.
Rosalía Owns The GRAMMY Stage
Spanish singer/songwriter Rosalía, who won a GRAMMY for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album for El Mal Querer, performed “Juro Que” and “Malamente (Cap 1: Augurio).” Dressed in a white fringed, form-fitting bodysuit, Rosalía started her strong vocal performance standing next to full-length mirrors and accompanied by flamenco guitarists before breaking into a captivating solo flamenco dance. The charismatic and powerful Spanish singer was then backed by a bevy of red outfitted male dancers for a red-hot, memorable performance.
Aerosmith Prove Rock’s Not Dead
Aerosmith, who were honored during GRAMMY Week with the MusiCares Person Of The Year award, took it back to the ’90s with their GRAMMY-winning hit “Livin’ On The Edge”—with Steven Tyler walking off the stage, directly into the crowd and running right up to Lizzo to join in for the chorus—before being joined by legendary hip-hop trio Run-D.M.C., who broke through and emerged from a graffiti-covered wall onstage, for a rocking rendition of “Walk This Way.” Originally recorded in the ’70s by Aerosmith and re-recorded in the ’80s by Run-D.M.C. with Tyler and lead guitarist Joe Perry, the infectious energy of the collaborative performance and Tyler’s signature stalking the stage like a panther provided a great throwback touch to the evening.