After going mostly digital in 2021 and postponing and relocating the 2022 ceremony, the 64th annual Grammy Awards came back in a big way on Sunday. Broadcast live on CBS from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV, this year’s awards returned with the glitz and glamour of Sin City to make up for the time away.
Who better to highlight that flashy return than Silk Sonic, the now-four-time Grammy-winning duo of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak. Currently in the midst of their own monthslong residency at Las Vegas’ Dolby Live, Silk Sonic welcomed audiences to the strip with a performance of “777” to open Sunday’s ceremony.
The moment was full-circle for Silk Sonic, which made its world debut at the 2021 ceremony as the result of a grassroots social media campaign. What audiences saw last night, however, was an entirely evolved act. Whereas in 2021 it felt like Bruno and Anderson were just wearing the suits, it now felt like they became Silk Sonic. The duo would highlight this comfort throughout the show with everything from the way they stood up when they won for Song Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Best R&B Song, and Best R&B Performance to Mars lighting up a smoke on stage when accepting the award to the way .Paak fully committed to his wig.
“We are really trying our hardest to remain humble at this point,” .Paak said when picking up Record Of The Year. “But in the industry, we call that a clean sweep.”
Silk Sonic – “777” – Live at the Grammys
Shooting star Olivia Rodrigo made her grand entrance in a vintage, white Mercedes for a performance of her hit, “drivers license”. The 18-year-old singer took home three Grammys on Sunday—including Best Pop Solo Performance for “drivers license”—and displayed early on the expansive capabilities of the MGM Grand Garden Arena stage, something further explicated by later performers.
Olivia Rodrigo – “drivers license” – Live at the Grammys
Whereas Olivia Rodrigo took the Grammys stage for a spin around the block with her new “drivers license”, South Korean boyband BTS took it worldwide with an international spy-themed performance of “Butter”. From mission control to Mission Impossible, complete with laser acrobatics and suit jacket air guitars, even J-Hope missing a step early on couldn’t diminish the band’s smooth veneer.
BTS – “Butter” – Live at the Grammys
Those looking for the decadent pageantry of the Grammys need look no further than Lil Nas X‘s performance. A somewhat subdued opening to “Call Me By Your Name” soon developed into a physical doomscroll through the online outrage caused by the song’s provocative music video. Lil Nas X, however, emerged out the other side glowing beside a Travis Scott-esque giant head and Michael Jackson-like army of skeleton marching band men backing him up.
Lil Nas X – “Call me by your name”, “Dead Right Now”, “Industry Baby” (Medley) – Live at the Grammys
For those who are asking on Facebook right now “where was the rock last night?”, it was screaming through a thunderstorm at you in a Taylor Hawkins t-shirt with an electric guitar and pounding drum kit. Billie Eilish‘s performance of “Happier Than Ever” felt like both a figurative and literal nod to the late Foo Fighters drummer as the 20-year-old singer-songwriter—who went winless last night—carried the zeitgeist of rock n’ roll to a new generation and a new artistic evolution.
Billie Eilish – “Happier Than Ever” – Live at the Grammys
Following a glowing introduction from MusiCares Person of the Year Joni Mitchell and Lifetime Achievement recipient Bonnie Raitt, Brandi Carlile provided a marked contrast to the previous performances. Gone were the bright lights and big city aesthetics of Las Vegas as she sat alone at a grand piano to perform “Right On Time”, a nominee for Best Pop Solo Performance and Record of the Year. As the song built to a crescendo, the influence of the Vegas razzle dazzle was unavoidable, though the lyrics still remained at the focus of her symmetrical performance, flanked by “The Twins” Phil and Tim Hanseroth on either side as well as Shooter Jennings.
Brandi Carlile – “Right On Time” – Live at the Grammys
Hip-hop luminary Nas made the most of his time on stage with a medley of “I Can”, “One Mic”, “Rare”, and “Made You Look”. The lyricist, who host Trevor Noah introduced as “your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper,” was one of several artists to pay tribute to old Las Vegas as he performed with a backing orchestra in a vintage aesthetic. The set also opened with an introspective throwback to a portrayal of Nas as a young man, around the age he would have been when he wrote some of the turn-of-the-century songs he performed on Sunday.
Nas – “I Know I Can”, “Made You Look”, “One Mic”, “N.Y. State of Mind”, “Rare”
Like Carlile, Chris Stapleton served as an artistic foil between the pop performers and more roots-based musicians. His performance of “Cold” featured hardly any lights, until the singer-songwriter set his guitar ablaze with an incendiary solo. Earlier in the evening, he took home Best Country Song for “Cold”, revealing in his speech that he was missing his twins’ fourth birthdays to attend the awards.
“So I’m thinking a lot about sacrifice because I missed out on some of their birthday today,” he said during his speech. “Everybody in this room has made some kind of a sacrifice to be up here doing this. And I don’t know what it is for everybody, but I know that it hurts sometimes.”
Chris Stapleton – “Cold” – Live at the Grammys
An unannounced virtual appearance from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky brought viewers attention to the war raging on in Ukraine. Introducing John Legend, he said, “The war—what is more opposite to music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people. We defend our freedom. To live. To love. To sound. On our land, we are fighting Russia, which brings horrible silence with its bombs—the dead silence. Fill the silence with your music.”
Legend performed a stirring debut rendition of his new song, “Free”, joined by Ukrainian singer Mika Newton and poet Lyuba Yakimchuk. In the midst of the lights, pageantry, and back-patting that is an industry award ceremony, the trio’s emotive performance brought the entire room back down to Earth, if only for a few minutes.
John Legend, Mika Newton, Lyuba Yakimchuk – “Free” – Live at the Grammys
Lady Gaga was announced as a late addition to the Grammys lineup, but he appeared without her musical partner Tony Bennett, beside whom she received five nominations for their second duet album, Love For Sale. Following a pre-recorded intro from Bennett, who is 95 and has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Gaga delivered a tribute to her friend and colleague, cloaked in the vintage style of old Las Vegas.
Lady Gaga – “Love For Sale” / “Do I Love You” – Live at the Grammys
On the rooftop of the MGM Grand Garden Arena, 2020 Grammy winner and two-time 2022 nominee Billy Strings made his debut on the program. Alongside his bandmates Billy Failing, Royal Masat, and Jarrod Walker, he fired up the introduction to “Hide & Seek” before the broadcast went to commercial. Clocking in at nearly eight minutes—still a good 90 seconds shorter than the studio version—television audiences were treated to only the beginning and end of this live improvisational vehicle—but you can watch it in full below.
Billy Strings – “Hide & Seek” – Live at the Grammys
Considering the extra time between the 2021 and 2022 Grammys, this year’s In Memoriam seemed even more lengthy than usual. The segment began with a standalone tribute to Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, who passed away late last month at the age of 50. Archival footage of him playing alongside Foo Fighters and frontman Dave Grohl, soundtracked to “My Hero”, aired prior to the main In Memoriam montage. As the names of the deceased passed by, Rachel Zegler, Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., and Ben Platt sang a medley of “Not a Day Goes By”, “Send in the Clowns”, and “Somewhere” as a tribute to late musical composer Stephen Sondheim.
Rachel Zegler, Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Ben Platt – Not a Day Goes By”, “Send in the Clowns”, “Somewhere” – Live at the Grammys
Though an expansive list of those the music world lost over the past year, the left off some notable omissions including Drakeo the Ruler, Joey Jordison (Slipknot), and Calvin Simon (Parliament-Funkadelic).
With the awards winding down and the hour getting late—at least on the East Coast—Jon Batiste helped revive the broadcast. It was certainly no easy task to follow the In Memoriam, but Batiste—who would wind up walking away with Album of the Year for We Are—was up for it as he burst through a landscape of color for his performance of “Freedom”. The dynamic rendition ended with the Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader standing atop Billie Eilish’s table.
The main even of the evening, other than Album of the Year, came with what was billed as a supergroup of H.E.R., Lenny Kravitz, and Travis Barker, with an appearance from production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The show, however, undoubtedly belonged to H.E.R. as she served as a one-woman band, handling guitar, drums, and vocals on her song, “Damage”.
The blink-182 drummer slid behind the kit only after she pounded it into pieces—sidebar: that drum kit may or may not have been the same one that got drenched during Eilish’s performance—and Kravitz hopped in at the end to add some lighter fluid to H.E.R.’s guitar pyrotechnics and toss in some lines of his own “Are You Gonna Go My Way?”
H.E.R., Lenny Kravitz, Travis Barker – “Damage”, “We Made It”, “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” – Live At The Grammys