His fourth time hosting, LL Cool J ushered in the 57th Annual Grammy Awards Feb. 8 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The big winner of the night was Sam Smith with a total of four awards. He received both the coveted Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album awards for his debut album “In the Lonely Hour.” His top single, “Stay With Me,” also helped Smith take honors for Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
Although nominated, Smith did not take home the night’s biggest prize. Instead, Album of the Year went to Beck for “Morning Phase,” which also took the honors for Best Rock Album.
Again, Kanye West made an infamous move by storming the stage in defense of Beyoncé losing to Beck, this time backing down before saying anything. West later stated, “Because when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in their face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration.”
Aside from the celebrity drama, President Barack Obama and domestic violence survivor Brooke Axtell called musicians and their fans to action against domestic violence before Katy Perry performed “By the Grace of God.” Dressed all in white, Perry left quite the impact in a night full of hyped performances.
Among the 24 solo or collaborative showcases, highlights included a rocking opener by AC/DC during which the crowd donned their own pairs of devil horns for “Highway to Hell.” In contrast to end the show were gospel songs from Beyoncé and a performance from John Legend and rapper Common of their Academy Award-nominating song “Glory” from the film “Selma.”
In between the guitar riffs by Angus Young and the “hands-up” Ferguson protests from Common, other memorable performances included a Lady Gaga-Tony Bennett duet and Juanes who sang completely in Spanish.
Sia was also in full swing with her single “Chandelier” while dancers Maddie Ziegler and Kristen Wiig paraded around a dilapidated set. Pharrell Williams innovated his song “Happy” by incorporating a more orchestral tone with the help of film composer Hans Zimmer and loads of dancers and violinists.
Also one not to shy away from big productions (or risqué ones at that), Madonna belted out her latest hit “Living for Love,” surrounded by hordes of male dancers dressed in little above their waists except for sequin masks and bull horns. She had also requested to be called “our b**** Madonna” by Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj, who introduced the Queen of Pop’s performance.
Like many Grammy ceremonies before, the night really was all about the unlikely collaborations. After emotionally performing “Only One” in a beam of light, Kanye West teamed up with co-writer Paul McCartney and Rihanna to sing “Four Five Seconds.”
Hozier and Annie Lennox broke out in “Take Me to Church,” and other duos like Sam Smith and Mary J. Blige, Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani, and Beck and Chris Martin rounded out a night of big collaborations.
The Grammy Foundation continued to encourage music appreciation and education with the new Grammy Creators Alliance and by naming Jared Cassedy Educator of the Year.