The big question leading into Sunday night’s Grammy Awards: will hip-hop finally get its long overdue recognition with an Album of the Year win? Not quite, though R&B had an exceptionally strong showing on Sunday night.
Jay-Z, who was 2018’s most nominated artists, with eight, walked away empty-handed.
Bruno Mars won all seven awards that he was nominated for: Album and Record of the Year for “24K Magic” and Song of the Year for “That’s What I Like;” Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for “That’s What I Like.” “24K Magic” was also awarded Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical) and Best R&B Album. Mars already claimed 11 Grammy Awards going into the night.
“Don’t cut me off Grammys, please,” said Mars from the stage while accepting the last award of the night. Recounting his early days as a young performer entertaining tourists in his native Hawaii, Mars name-checked writer-producers Babyface, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and Teddy Riley as key influences.
Kendrick Lamar was the night’s second biggest winner, picking up five Grammys, starting with his first of the night for Best Music Video for “Humble,” which also won Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance. Soon after, he won during the telecast for Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Loyalty” featuring Rihanna. “She gassed me on my own song,” said Lamar. “This really belongs to her.” Added Rihanna: “I’m honored. Congrats, you deserve this, man.”
Best Rap Album also went to Lamar. Speaking from the stage, the rapper accepted by showing his respect for artists who came before him including fellow nominee Jay-Z. “This is a special award,” said Lamar. “It showed me the true definition of what being an artist was” … that “it’s not about accolades, cars and clothes … it’s about the next generation. Jay-Z, Nas, Puff — they showed me the game through their lyrics up close and from afar.”
Alessia Cara won Best New Artist commenting that she had been practicing for a Grammy acceptance speech since childhood — in the shower. Speaking to reporters backstage following her win, Cara commented: “I didn’t expect this. None of this feels real. I probably won’t process this for another seven years.”
Cara was the only female artist awarded during the three-and-a-half hour broadcast.
Ed Sheeran, thought by many to be a shoo-in for a slew of nominations, only got recognized in two categories coming into the awards and won both — for Best Pop Vocal Album for his album “Divide” and for Best Pop Solo Performance for “Shape Of You.”
Other notable winners included Chris Stapleton for Best Country Album; the HBO documentary “The Defiant Ones” about Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine for Best Music Film; 2016 holdover “La La Land” won for Best Compilation Sountrack for Visual Media and Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. Dave Chappelle won for Best Comedy Album and Lisa Loeb was also a first time Grammy winner for Best Children’s Album — her “Feel What U Feel” was funded and released by Amazon.
Americana favorite Jason Isbell picked up Best American Roots Song for “If We Were Vampires” and Best Americana Album for “The Nashville Sound,” while Aimee Mann took home Best Folk Album for “Mental Illness.”
Best Dance Recording went to LCD Soundsytem for the track “Tonite,” while the Best Dance/Electronic Album prize went to the Kraftwerk collection “3-D The Catalogue.”
Winners in the rock category included the late Leonard Cohen for “You Want It Darker,” his 14th and final album, which was released a month before his death. Best Metal Performance went to Mastodon for “Sultan’s Curse” and Foo Fighters took home Best Rock Song for “Run.” Both bands are Grammy favorites with multiple nominations in past years. Less expected was a win for Philadelphia band The War On Drugs for “A Deeper Understanding,” released in Aug. 2017. The group has built a loyal following from touring festivals and their own headlining shows since breaking out with their 2014 album “Lost In a Dream.”
The Grammys awarded artists in 84 categories in multiple genres including classical, jazz, opera, gospel, new age, Christian and Latin music.