Home » A+E » Opinion: The 2016 Grammys remembered stars, emphasized social messages
Kendrick Lamar performs during the BET Experience at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 27. Credit: Courtesy of TNS
Kendrick Lamar performs during the BET Experience at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 27. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Opinion: The 2016 Grammys remembered stars, emphasized social messages

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There’s only one place you can find the best artists in all genres of music under one roof honoring, remembering and celebrating achievement in music: The 2016 Grammys.

LL Cool J hosted the 58th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles where the premier songwriters, singers and producers were honored for their excellence in music. The biggest names in the music industry were in the building including performances by Kendrick Lamar, Adele and Lady Gaga in a remembrance ensemble of David Bowie.

Kendrick Lamar owned the stage in his performance of his hit song “The Blacker the Berry” using a dimly lit stage with neon tribal stripes on his clothes in support of his African roots. He transitioned into his Grammy winning song, “Alright”, in front of a bonfire on the stage rapping quickly and impressively. He ended the performance with a silhouette of Africa on the main screen with “Compton” written in the middle. Lamar was nominated for 11 Grammys and won five including Best Rap Album, for the socially conscious “To Pimp a Butterfly,” and Best Rap Song, “Alright.”

It was a toss up on who would come away with the coveted Album of the Year award as the nominees were: “Beauty Behind the Madness” by The Weeknd, “Traveller” by Chris Stapleton, “To Pimp a Butterfly” by Kendrick Lamar, “1989” by Taylor Swift and “Sound & Color” by Alabama Shakes. This time with no interruptions from Kanye West, Taylor Swift was able to become the first woman to win two Grammys for Album of the Year. She used her acceptance speech to give advice to girls to not let people undercut their success and keep loved ones close.

The 2016 Grammys also honored and remembered many musicians that passed away with performances from The Eagles in memory of Glenn Frey, co-founder of The Eagles and Lady Gaga in memory of David Bowie. Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix performed in memory of Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire and Johnny Depp’s band, Hollywood Vampires had its first television debut in memory of Lemmy Kilmister, founder of the heavy metal band Motörhead. The Eagles, led by Jackson Brown, performed their hit “Take It Easy” with photos of Frey scrolling across the main screen. It was a somber moment and showed the band doesn’t sound the same without Frey’s iconic high-pitched raspy voice.

Lady Gaga performing as David Bowie seemed like a fitting role for the extravagant musician and it worked at the 2016 Grammy’s. Gaga’s makeup was done to enhance her features to be more like Bowie’s in addition to bright orange hair identical to his. She performed many of his classics starting with “Space Oddity” and transitioned into others such as “Changes” and “Rebel Rebel.” Following the bright colorful lights and the mesmerizing photo stream on the main screen, Gaga ended her set with a rendition of “Heroes” which earned her a stand ovation from the audience.

Stevie Wonder and Pentatonix also announced the winner of Song of the Year — “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran — where Wonder read the card in braille. He joked towards the Pentatonix members in a childlike song singing  “You can’t read it, you can’t read braille” along with using the moment to address making America more accessible for those with disabilities. It was a lighthearted moment with a powerful message that gained a strong applause from the audience.

Adele performed her new single “All I Ask” wearing a glittery crimson dress standing in the center of a circular stage with the spotlight on her and the piano. Although Adele’s pianist experienced difficulties with his piano not working properly, she was still able to deliver a top-notch performance per usual. It’s common for artists to sound a little worse live since they can’t use any post production to cover imperfections, but not Adele; she sounds even better.

As the 58th Annual Grammy Awards came to a close, the night was an appreciation of the past and present along with a glimpse of the future. Each Grammys there is a montage of former winners that have passed away with clips of their music. What we can see is the changing of the culture of the Grammys; songs about social issues and containing lyrical context are winning the awards, not the top sellers.

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