David Bauder & Jonathan Landrum Jr
NEW YORK (AP) — Singer Billie Eilish, who gave voice to young people struggling with depression on a do-it-yourself album she made at home with her older brother, is atop the music world.
The 18-year-old made history at the Grammy Awards last Sunday. Not only did she become the youngest person to win one of Grammy’s top awards — Record, Song and Album of the Year, and Best New Artiste — Eilish is the first artiste to sweep all four since Christopher Cross in 1981.
Her triumph came on a night made somber by the death of former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
It also ended a tumultuous week for the Recording Academy that included its ousted CEO accusing the Grammys nominations process of being rigged, and Diddy calling out the organisation for not giving enough respect to R&B and hip-hop.
Eilish’s When We all Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? also won Best Pop Vocal Album. Her brother Finneas O’Connell also won awards for engineering and producing the album.
“The music I listened to when I was growing up, maybe seven, eight, nine or 10, 13, that was the most important music to me forever,” Finneas said backstage after the ceremony.
“Anytime a person that age comes up to either one of us and said (it is their favourite), I know how much that means to them.
That’s why it means so much to me. I hope they’re celebrating. This is all because of them.”
He said that they never thought that an album that addresses depression, suicidal thoughts and climate change would be up for a Grammy.
Eilish noted that they made the album in a bedroom of the Los Angeles-area home where they grew up in.
“It’s like anything is possible,” she said.
In accepting her awards, Eilish noted that she had grown up listening to many of the artistes at the ceremony in Los Angeles’ Staples Center.
She also said she thought Ariana Grande deserved album of the year, an onstage moment that recalled Adele saying the same thing about Beyoncé the same year Adele triumphed.
The success of a young, white girl came on a night the Recording Academy seemingly went out of its way to highlight diversity.
Lizzo offered a powerhouse opening performance, and there were tributes to Prince and the late rapper Nipsey Hussle.
Tyler, the Creator offered an incendiary version of Earfquake with Boyz II Men. Lil’ Nas X sang his omnipresent Old Town Road. Grande sang, as did H.E.R., host Alicia Keys and Gary Clark Jr with the Roots.
Tyler, the Creator said later that the rap album Grammy was a backhanded compliment. While he’s grateful to be acknowledged, “it also sad whenever we, I mean guys that look like me, do anything that’s genre bending, they always put it in an Urban Rapper Category,” he said.
“I don’t like that urban word.
Earlier in the show, Keys sat at a piano to sing a rewrite of Lewis Capaldi’s song, Someone You Loved that name-checked many of the nominated artistes but also included a few pointed lines about respect.
“I’m gonna be honest with y’all,” she said. “It’s been a crazy week.”
Keys also had the delicate task of addressing the shock of Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash, while onstage at the same arena where the former Laker won championships.
She sang It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday with Boyz II Men.
References to Bryant abounded — a Lakers jersey held up by Run-DMC during their performance of Walk This Way with Aerosmith, and adorning a couch on a set where Lil Nas X began Old Town Road.
“We’re all feeling crazy sadness right now,” said Keys, who received praise online for how she handled it.
“Alicia, you’ve been lighting this awards show up,” rapper Common said onstage. “Thank you.”
Besides her big opening, Lizzo took home three Grammys, including Best Pop Solo performance for Truth Hurts and two R&B awards. She also seemed noticeably affected by Bryant’s death.
“We need to continue to reach out,” she told her fellow artistes. “This is the beginning of making music that moves people again.”
Clark’s pointed This Land also won for Best Rock Song and Rock Performance, and he won a third for Contemporary Blues Album.
Among the show’s more touching moments was Tyler, the Creator bringing his tearful mother onstage with him to accept his Grammy.
Singer Demi Lovato made a comeback appearance after her reported overdose, singing a song she said was written in the troubled days before that event.
Camila Cabello sang First Man, a song dedicated to her father, and received a bear hug from a sobbing dad when it was done.
DJ Khaled helped lead the emotional tribute to Hussle, the Los Angeles rapper who was gunned down in March, not long after attending his first Grammy ceremony as a nominee. Last Sunday, Hussle won two posthumous Grammys.
Tyler, the Creator, Lizzo and, of course, Eilish were among the acts who won their first-ever Grammys.
Other first-time winners included Tanya Tucker, J Cole, Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, Michelle Obama, Sara Bareilles, Rosalía and 21 Savage.
MUSIC STARS PAY TRIBUTE TO KOBE BRYANT AND NIPSEY HUSSLE AT GRAMMYS AWARD SHOW
From the red carpet to the main stage, sadness loomed over music’s biggest night last Sunday at the arena in downtown Los Angeles where Kobe Bryant played for 20 years for the city’s NBA team.
Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash earlier in the day was acknowledged in the opening minutes of the Grammys broadcast.
Before her performance, Lizzo said, “This is for Kobe.” She went on to perform Truth Hurts and Cuz I Love You.
Host Alicia Keys said she was feeling “crazy sad” about Bryant.
“The whole wide world lost a hero,” the singer said in front of the audience. “We are standing here literally heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in the crash on a steep hillside in dense morning fog in Southern California. He was 41 and had retired from the Lakers in 2016.
Some shed tears for Bryant on the red carpet. Others were almost speechless ahead of the 62nd annual awards show.
Music artistes including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Ross and Kirk Franklin paid tribute to Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star and five-time champion. Debbie Allen, who is married to former Laker Norm Nixon, was seen crying.
DJ Khaled said the news about Bryant’s death was “devastating”.
He took part in a tribute to the late Nipsey Hussle that also included John Legend, Meek Mill, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG. They performed Letter to Nipsey and Higher.
At the end of the performance, each performer turned around and pointed toward a screen with a picture of Hussle and Bryant.
The tribute prompted a standing ovation that lasted for more than a minute.
“Long live Nip. Long live Kobe Bryant. Long live Gianna. The marathon continues,” Khaled said. Tyler, the Creator said he went through different emotions.
“The news was heavy, especially being in LA and being near the Staples Center within a short period of time between him and Nipsey,” he said backstage after winning Best Rap Album.
Hussle, who was known for being a huge Lakers fan, was shot and killed 10 months ago in Los Angeles.
“If you’re from Los Angeles, depending on which sector you’re in, that is really heavy,” the rapper continued.
“We took an L tonight. Rest in peace to Kobe. We also took a win just being from Los Angeles. It’s mixed emotions.”
Cyrus had No 24, Bryant’s number, on his guitar, and Lil Nas X had a Bryant jersey draped over a chair at the beginning of their performance of Old Town Road.
Run-DMC member Joseph “Run” Simmons held up a white Bryant Jersey during the group’s performance with Aerosmith.
Ross remembered a brief conversation he had with Bryant that involved him admiring the NBA star’s craft. The rapper said the game would miss him.
“It’s just a huge loss to the game,” Ross said on the red carpet. “He was a great example on a lot of different stages.”
Singer Charlie Wilson called Bryant a “beautiful soul” and “one of the greatest who played the game”.
Hit-Boy, who won a Grammy with Hussle and Roddy Ricch for Best Rap Performance for Racks in the Middle, said he was not going to attend the awards when he learned about Bryant’s death. But the producer said he decided to stick it out in deference to several relatives who were joining him.
“I was two seconds away from just cancelling everything,” Hit-Boy said.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who knew Bryant personally, said he felt horrible but also learned a lesson.
“I hope everyone gives their loved ones a hug and a kiss,” Kraft said.
“Don’t take anything for granted. We should pinch ourselves and make sure we remember those we care most about.”
Outside Staples Center, fans wearing Bryant’s No 8 and No 24 jerseys flocked to the arena to show their respect for the Laker legend.
A few hundred people gathered at LA Live in front of a mega screen with a smiling Bryant that read, “In Loving Memory of KOBE BRYANT 1978-2020”.
Smokey Robinson choked up on camera as he spoke of Bryant, whom he called a friend.
“As a dad myself, to think that his daughter was there with him and there was nothing he could do for her,” he said.
LIST OF GRAMMY AWARD WINNERS
A list of winners so far in top categories at the annual Grammy Awards.
Record of the Year: Bad Guy, Billie Eilish
Album of the Year: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Billie Eilish
Best New Artiste: Billie Eilish
Best Rap/Sung Performance: Higher, DJ Khaled featuring Nipsey Hussle and John Legend
Best Rap Album: Igor, Tyler, The Creator
Best Comedy Album: Sticks & Stones, Dave Chappelle
Best Country Duo/Group Performance: Speechless, Dan + Shay
Best Pop Solo Performance: Truth Hurts, Lizzo
Best Pop Vocal Album: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Billie Eilish
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: Old Town Road, Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Look Now, Elvis Costello & The Imposters
Best R&B Album: Ventura, Anderson .Paak
Best Urban Contemporary Album: Cuz I Love You, Lizzo
Best R&B Song: Say So, PJ Morton featuring JoJo
Best Traditional R&B Performance: Jerome, Lizzo
Best R&B Performance: Come Home, Anderson .Paak featuring Andre 3000
Best Rock Song: This Land, Gary Clark, Jr.
Best Rock Performance: This Land, Gary Clark, Jr.
Best Contemporary Blues Album: This Land, Gary Clark, Jr.
Best Rock Album: Social Cues, Cage the Elephant
Best Spoken Word Album: Becoming, Michelle Obama
Best American Roots Performance: Saint Honesty, Sara Bareilles
Best Alternative Music Album: Father of the Bride, Vampire Weekend
Producer of the Year, Non-Classical: Finneas
Best Music Film: Homecoming, Beyonce
Best Country Album: While I’m Livin’, Tanya Tucker
Best Country Song: Bring My Flowers Now, Tanya Tucker
Best Country Solo Performance: Ride Me Back Home, Willie Nelson
Best Rap Song: A Lot, 21 Savage featuring J Cole
Best Rap Performance: Racks in the Middle, Nipsey Hussle, featuring Roddy Ricch & Hit-Boy
Best Musical Theatre Album: Hadestown
Best Metal Performance: 7empest, Tool
Best World Music Album: Celia, Angelique Kidjo
Best Music Video: Old Town Road (Official Movie), Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus
Best Dance/Electronic Album: No Geography, Chemical Brothers
Best Dance Recording: Got to Keep On, Chemical Brothers
Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media: Hildur Guðnadóttir, Chernobyl
Best Contemporary Instrumental Album: Mettavolution, Rodrigo y Gabriela
Best Reggae Album: Rapture, Koffee
Best Folk Album: Patty Griffin, Patty Griffin
Best Recording Package: Chris Cornell, Chris Cornell
Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media: A Star Is Born
Best Song Written for Visual Media: I’ll Never Love Again, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
Best Jazz Vocal Album: 12 Little Spells, Esperanza Spalding
Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Billie Eilish
Best Gospel Performance/Song: Love Theory, Kirk Franklin
Best Gospel Album: Long Live Love, Kirk Franklin
Best Latin Pop Album: #Eldisco, Alejandro Sanz
Best Opera Recording: Picker: Fantastic Mr Fox