Kendrick Lamar dominated the 58th Grammys Monday night, landing the most awards and delivering the most talked-about performance of the night.
Lamar swept all four awards in the rap category with his ambitious “To Pimp a Butterfly” album, as well as sharing the best music video Grammy with Taylor Swift, whose “1989” won album of the year, for their collaboration on the “Bad Blood” video. And his medley of songs from “To Pimp a Butterfly” played up the jazz influences in his hip-hop, while laying out his premises about being black in America. It was provocative without being confrontational, a theme that seemed to run throughout this year’s Grammy awards.
The success of Lamar, who led the night with 11 nominations, signaled a higher profile for hip-hop at the awards, which also saw a triumph for the hip-hop musical “Hamilton” for best musical theater album. “Hamilton” composer-performer Lin-Manuel Miranda even rapped his acceptance speech. In a first for the Grammys, a scene from the musical was broadcast live from Manhattan’s Richard Rodgers Theatre.
“This is for hip-hop,” Lamar said, accepting his best rap album award. “We will live forever. Believe that.”
Rockers Alabama Shakes landed four awards for their blues-steeped indie-rock “Sound & Color” album, including best alternative album and best rock performance.
Little Big Town’s groundbreaking single “Girl Crush,” which overcame country radio’s skittishness about same-sex infatuation to become a hit, landed the group two Grammys in the country category. Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ smash “Uptown Funk” also won two awards, including record of the year. And Ed Sheeran’s simple love ballad “Thinking Out Loud” also won two awards, including song of the year.
Continuing its trajectory as a music showcase rather than an actual awards show, the bulk of the Grammys was dedicated to performances and tributes.
Lady Gaga’s stunning, decades-spanning medley of the late David Bowie’s best-known songs ended with a raucous version of “Heroes,” including Bowie collaborator Nile Rodgers on guitar.
Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix teamed up to remember the late Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire with an a cappella version of “That’s the Way of the World.” The Eagles, with Jackson Browne singing lead, paid tribute to the late Glenn Frey by singing “Take It Easy.” And Bonnie Raitt, Chris Stapleton and Gary Clark Jr. honored the late B.B. King with “The Thrill Is Gone.”
Some were uneven, though, with Demi Lovato’s stirring version of Lionel Richie’s “Hello” followed by Luke Bryan’s struggle with “Penny Lover.”
‘HOME’ RUN. Farmingdale native Tim Kubart was giddy as he won his first Grammy award — best children’s album for “Home.” “This is awesome,” said Kubart, all smiles during the non-televised portion as he delivered his thanks, which included his parents and Chica the Chicken, his puppet co-host from the Sprout talk show “Sunny Side Up.”
KINGS OF QUEENS. Astoria’s Tony Bennett happily took home the 18th Grammy of his career for best traditional pop vocal album for “The Silver Lining: The Songs of Jerome Kern” with Bill Charlap. Charlap paid tribute to Bennett saying, “He represents elegance, truth and beauty, the definitive presentations of these songs . . . He is a musical giant.” Also, the pride of Hollis, Run-DMC became the first hip-hop act to receive a lifetime achievement Grammy.
RIHANNA CANCELS. Adding to the bumpy rollout of her “Anti” album, Rihanna dropped out of her Grammy performance on doctor’s orders because, according to Billboard, she was “at risk of hemorrhaging her vocal cords.”