Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar win big at politically charged Grammys

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New York, Jan 29 : Bruno Mars and Kendrick Lamar emerged as big winners at the 60th Grammy Awards, which was dotted by surprises, star performances and comments on President Donald Trump, apart from key social and political debates.

Rapper Jay-Z, who was leading the nomination pack with eight nods this time, went back empty-handed, while Mars bagged seven honours at the Madison Square Garden here on Sunday night.

He won Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best R&B Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical for “24K Magic”, Song of the Year and Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance for “That’s What I Like” — taking home not just major awards but also those in the R&B genre.

Lamar won Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song, Best Music Video for “Humble”, Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Loyalty” featuring Rihanna, Best Rap Album for “Damn” at the gala, but missed out major awards at the ceremony, the first to be held outside of Los Angeles since 2003.

This year, Lorde was the only woman to be nominated in Album of the Year category, whereas Shakira won the Best Latin Pop Album for “El Dorado”.

Pop singer Alessia Cara became the first Canadian to win Best New Artist at Grammys, where actress Carrie Fisher and singer Leonard Cohen won a posthumous honour each.

The show, hosted by James Corden, was dominated by live performances by Mars, Lamar, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Alessia Cara, Pink, Sting, U2, Kesha, Brothers Osborne, Maren Morris and Eric Church, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, DJ Khaled, Rihanna and Bryson Tiller as well as Logic among others.

In a surprise appearance, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton took part in a comedy bit taking a jab at Trump by participating in a pre-taped sketch with Cher, Snoop Dogg, Cardi B, John Legend and DJ Khaled. They read excerpts from Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” — the hit book about the billionaire’s first year in the White House.

Trump’s comment on immigration also saw celebrities making strong statements.

Sting performed his 1987 hit “Englishman in New York”, and Shaggy joined in to state that he was a Jamaican in New York. Logic shouted out “You’re not shitholes” to immigrants and Cuban-Mexican singer Camila Cabello delivered an empowering speech reaching out to the Dreamers.

Ed Sheeran, who was not at the ceremony, won the Best Pop Solo Performance for “Shape Of You” and Best Pop Vocal Album for “Divide”.

The hugely popular “Despacito”, though performed live by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, was snubbed in terms of awards. It lost Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the gala, which was held at the Madison Square Garden.

A string of celebrities also made the most of the platform to express support to the raging Time’s Up movement, condemning sexual harassment.

A white rose lay atop the piano as Elton John performed, Lady Gaga sneaked in the two words “Time’s Up” in the midst of her act and Janelle Monae delivered an impassioned speech to “those who dare to silence us”.

Kesha, with a white rose stitched to her outfit, performed her song “Praying” with Bebe Rexha, Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels and Andra Day, all of whom wore pristine white.

Kesha, who had alleged sexual harassment by Dr Luke, was nominated for the first time for the Grammys this year.

At the red carpet, the white rose was almost a staple with names like Nick Jonas, Sam Smith, Sarah Silverman, Rita Ora and Cardi B flaunting it.

The show itself began with Lamar giving a politically charged performance — a “satire” as he called” — in front of an American flag and with men dressed in military uniform. The fiery act ended with dancers in red hoodies falling amid the sound of gunshots.

A poignant closing act saw Logic, Khaled and Alessia Cara performing the hit song “1-800-273-8255” during the In Memoriam programme, which featured tributes to late stars including Tom Petty, Chuck Berry and victims of concert massacres.

Earlier in the ceremony, country singers Maren Morris, Eric Church and Brothers Osborne performed a moving rendition of Eric Clapton’s Grammy winning “Tears in Heaven” as a tribute to the victims of a mass shooting at a music fest in Las Vegas last year.