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Mace & Crown | October 24, 2017

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Recap: 59th Annual Grammy Awards

Kelsey Walker
Arts & Entertainment Editor

The 59th Annual Grammy Awards kicked off Feb. 12 and wasted no time getting political, beginning with an empowering statement from Jennifer Lopez.

“As Toni Morrison once said, ‘This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, and no room for fear. We do language. That is how civilizations heal.’”

Paraphrasing from a piece written by Morrison for the Nation, the quote was a call to action for artists to take a stand during these turbulent political times. Lopez finished her short speech by emphasizing the important role musicians play with their art form.

“So tonight, we celebrate our most universal language: music. As we honor the voices of the past and the present, here’s to the new voices.”

Singer Joy Villa took a stance as well, rocking a gown on the red carpet that read “Make America Great Again” with “TRUMP” embroidered on the train.

Switching gears from politics to music, the first award for the night was received by Chance the Rapper for Best New Artist, the first black hip-hop artist to win in the category since Lauryn Hill in 1999. Chance also took home the award for Best Rap Album for “Coloring Book,” his third mixtape as an independent artist, and Best Rap Performance for “No Problem.”

Rap megastar Drake took home Grammys for Best Rap song and Best Rap/Sung Performance for “Hotline Bling,” beating out Hampton Roads native D.R.A.M.’s “Broccoli.”

While some tune in for the fashion or the performances, others relish in the unavoidable awkward moments that occur on live television, and the night did not disappoint with candid quips from presenters.

“I should have worn my glasses,” Alex Pall of The Chainsmokers joked as he misread the prompter when presenting for Best Rock Song. The award was won by the late David Bowie, who posthumously won five awards for “Blackstar,” his final production before passing away from liver cancer in January 2016.

Beyoncé isn’t one to stay out of the spotlight. The singer had an especially extravagant setup for the night, performing powerful female and family-centered songs “Love Drought” and “Sandcastles” after being introduced by her mother, Tina Knowles.

Holograms danced around the pregnant singer as she wore a gold metallic gown with a crown atop her head. Though her typical high-energy dance moves were not present, there was no lacking in the theatrics department.

Surprisingly, “Queen Bey” took away only two awards for Best Urban Contemporary Album for “Lemonade” and Best Music Video for “Formation.”

In addition to Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran performed “Shape of You” as an impressive one-man-band, The Weeknd took the stage with legends Daft Punk, and Bruno Mars paid tribute to Prince.

Adele gave a powerhouse performance of “Hello” and an emotional tribute to George Michael. The singer dominated the night, taking home the highly coveted Album of the Year award along with Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Solo Performance.

Standout moments of the night included Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun of 21 Pilots stripping their pants and gracing the stage in their underwear as they accepted the award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Stressed Out.”

“This story starts in Columbus, Ohio, and it was a few years ago,” Joseph began. “It was before Josh and I were able to make money playing music.”

“I called him up and I said, ‘Hey Josh, want to come over to my rental house and watch the Grammys?’”

“As we were watching, we noticed that every single one of us was in our underwear,” he continued. “Josh turned to me, and we were no one at that time, and said, ‘If we ever win a Grammy, we should receive it just like this.’”

“So, not only is this amazing, but I want everyone who’s watching at home to know that they could be next because anyone from anywhere can do anything.”

The speech was both endearing and inspiring.

The 59th Annual Grammy Awards were both surprising and predictable, between interesting performance mashups (country star Maren Morris with Alicia Keys) and the oh-so-obvious award winners. Despite the grandeur of these celebrity spectacles, touching moments and relatable presenter slip-ups kept the night interesting for viewers.