The Grammys are typically full of fanfare, laughs and incredible performances, but things had a very different feeling in the lead-up to the 2020 show. The tragic and shocking death of retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash just hours earlier was palpable at and around the scene of the music awards show, the Staples Center — which was often thought of as "Kobe's House." Before the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards began, hundreds of fans gathered outside the downtown L.A. venue to honor the NBA legend and E! News star Ryan Seacrest kicked off the network's annual red carpet coverage explaining, "We're starting the show on a very somber note…" But with respect to the "Mamba," the show must go on… and it went on with incredible collaborations and lots of winning — something #24/#8 would appreciate. Lizzo — the most nominated artist this year (with eight) — opened the show with a powerful performance, but before she sang a note declared, "Tonight is for Kobe," eliciting cheers from the audience. What else did the Grammys bring? What outrageous and memorable things happened? Who dominated the red carpet? What was Twitter saying? Keep reading to find out what had everyone buzzing at the 2020 Grammys…
18-year-old Billie Eilish wins 5 Grammys, sets new records
It's Billie Eilish's world, and we're just living in it. Talk about having a night! (Really, please talk about it — she won so often, she literally ran out of things to say!) The pop star, who turned 18 in December 2019, took home five of the six awards for which she was nominated on Grammys night and set a few records. She was already the youngest person to earn nods in all four big categories in the same year — album, record and song of the year plus best new artist — and then she won them all (plus an award in the pre-telecast, best pop vocal album). She became the youngest person ever to take home a song of the year Grammy (for "Bad Guy"). "I feel like I joke around a lot and I never take anything seriously at these kind of things, but I genuinely want to say I am so grateful," she said while accepting the trophy for that one. Billie is the second youngest winner of the best new artist prize. While accepting that award, she gushed over her fellow nominees and their fans, saying, "They're the only reason we're here at all!" After winning album of the year — and making history as the youngest artist to ever receive that trophy (Taylor Swift used to hold the honor), Billie told the audience, "Can I just say that I think Ariana [Grande] deserves this?" Then, right after that, Billie won record of the year too! In accepting that final award, she literally waved at the crowd and said thanks alongside her brother-producer-collaborator, FINNEAS, then walked off. Overwhelmed, she had nothing else to say. When you sweep the Grammys, you don't need to say anything. Take a victory lap, girl.
Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men beautifully honor the late Kobe Bryant
The Grammys didn't shy away from the Kobe Bryant tragedy. Host Alicia Keys opened the show following Lizzo's performance by saying she was filled with "crazy sadness." "We're literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built," she told the audience, adding, "We never imagined in a million years we'd have to start the show like this, never, never, never, never, so we wanted to do something that could describe a tiny bit how we all feel right now." She then launched into song and was joined on stage by Boyz II Men who, with Alicia, sang their poignant 1991 song, "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday." The cameras then panned to Kobe's two retired jerseys hanging from the rafters of the Staples Center. Emotions were high.
Demi Lovato is back in a big way
Welcome back, Demi Lovato. For the first time since her near-fatal overdose in 2018, the pop star performed live. She wrote the song she belted out, "Anyone," just a few days before that fateful day, but she debuted it at the Grammys. Demi understandably got off to a rocky start, stopping the song a second into it to compose herself. As a single tear rolled down her face, she went into the powerful ballad. The bittersweet song is a glimpse into her state of mind at the time, she said in a pre-Grammys interview. By the end of the performance, Demi was overly emotional, but held it together. The crowd gave her a standing ovation. Next on the Demi Lovato comeback tour: She's singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.
An inspired bit of presenting?
Get ready for petition insisting that Sharon Osbourne is the only person ever allowed to read rapper's names. The manager-turned-talk show host, accompanied by rocker husband Ozzy Osbourne, presented the Grammy for best rap/sung performance and really got into, using gusto and that thick British accent to read nominee's names (she even flubbed DJ Khaled's pronunciation, which is hard to do since he says own name very, very often). Twitter loved her enthusiastic teleprompter reading. "Ya'll gotta have Sharon Osbourne host the BET Awards," one person wrote. "Whoever made the decision to have Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne to present the best rap performance needs a raise," another wrote. Social media users overwhelmingly said it was "amazing." Another added, "I have been sad all day, but listening to Sharon Osbourne attempt rappers' names and their songs is hilarious." Some people didn't find humor in Sharon's antics, but they were in the online minority.
Twitter notices Nick Jonas needs a toothpick
Twitter couldn't let this one go. When the Jonas Brothers performed a medley of songs including "What a Man Gotta Do" early in the show, eagle-eyed fans noticed that youngest bro Nick Jonas appeared to have something in his teeth. "Anyone else notice this piece of food stuck in Nick Jonas' tooth?! Like did no one check that?!" one person tweeted, while another — echoing the curiosity of many, asked, "Does anyone else see the piece of spinach in Nick Jonas tooth?" Nick soon took to social media to confirm that yes, he did. He even poked fun at himself, tweeting, "And at least you all know I eat my greens."
Emotional daddy-daughter moment
She's a daddy's girl! Camila Cabello had her father in tears while singing "First Man" — a song inspired by him. The pop star began the song on stage with a simple backdrop. Soon, images showing Camila as a baby and little girl with her dad, Alejandro Cabello, started flashing on the backdrop. Camila slowly started walking toward the front of the stage and down steps toward the audience, her gaze fixed on her dad, who sat in the front row (and grew increasingly teary-eyed the song went on). Alejandro kissed her hand while she serenaded him and the two hugged afterward. A truly moving performance.
A beautiful mother-son moment
Tyler The Creator's mom = adorable! When Tyler won the Grammy for best rap album for "Igor," he walked up to the stage with a woman by his side. "That's my mom, if y'all wondering," he told the audience of his mother, who was the personification of pure joy as she smiled and cried. Tyler told the audience he didn't have a speech prepared and then said, from the heart, "To my mother: You did a great job raising this guy."
Billy Porter "opens up" on the red carpet
Billy Porter's "click" rolls with him. As we've learned over the years, Billy brings the fashion when it comes to awards shows. At the 2020 Grammys, he donned a glistening turquoise jumpsuit and matching cropped jacket by Scott Sudenberg from Baja East, but the magic really centered on his matching wide-brimmed hat completely surrounded by a crystal fringe veil (crafted by Sarah Sokol Millinery and mechanically enhanced by Smooth Technologies, Just Jared reported). The fringe acted like a head curtain and was actually being controlled with a clicker held by Billy's stylist, who can open and close the fringe to reveal the star's face. "The moment really originated from the moment Billy had with Billie Eilish at the AMAs [in November]," the "Pose" and Broadway star's stylist, Sam Ratelle, told Ryan Seacrest on the E! red carpet pre-show (the pop star wore a hat with a veil that covered her face). "There's a clicker that I've been holding as I trail down the carpet…"
Gwen Stefani draws Grammys fashion inspiration from boyfriend Blake Shell-ton
Gwen Stefani and boyfriend Blake Shelton didn't just collaborate on a performance of their new hit song, "Nobody But You," for the Grammy Awards on Jan. 26. According to Gwen, Blake also contributed to her dress (Shell-ton, get it?). "Basically, Blake has been gathering shells over the last four years since we met," Gwen told Ryan Seacrest on E!'s red carpet pre-show, referencing her very unique minidress. "It's actually Dolce and Gabbana, but they did use some of the shells Blake collected for me over the years," she added. Ryan wasn't sure if she was joking. "Now I don't know whether to believe that or not," he told Gwen, asking Blake, "Is that true?" The country music star replied, "Of course, man. Actually, some of these still have creatures in them."
Why the Grammys turned purple
While most the crowd was feeling blue, things turned purple about an hour into the show when Usher impressively performed a Prince tribute. Joined by FKA Twigs and Sheila E, Usher whipped through a series of The Purple One's songs — and, might we add, Usher was very, very good. Why a Prince tribute this year, nearly four years after his death? (That's the question social media was asking.) Billboard reported that the Prince tribute is just a teaser for CBS's "Let's Go Crazy: The Grammy Salute to Prince" concert that's set to tape on Jan. 28 and air in April. Cross promotion at its best! Beck, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Chris Martin, Gary Clark Jr., Juanes, Foo Fighters, H.E.R., Earth, Wind and Fire, St. Vincent and more will be a part of the special.
Missing in action
What drama? Aerosmith has been in a family feud with drummer Joey Kramer for the week, but you wouldn't have known it from the band's Grammys performance, as it was business as usual — minus Joey. The drummer, who's been on a leave of absence from the group since getting injured in April 2019, filed a lawsuit days before Grammys weekend in hopes that a judge would force the group to let him perform at the Grammys and at the MusiCares Person of the Year event on Jan. 24, where the band was honored. Aerosmith auditioned Joey for his old job but said he wasn't up to snuff. A judge agreed with the band. (But after Aerosmith performed with Run DMC on the Grammys telecast, many critical fans questioned if the rest if the band were holding themselves to the same standard.) Joey, who's been with the band since 1970, was in attendance at MusiCares at the band's invitation though didn't perform with them.
From handcuffs to the Grammys stage in 48 hours
Rapper YG was behind bars 48 hours ago. Now he's on stage at the Grammys. What a whirlwind week, to say the least! YG was arrested on Jan. 24 for an alleged robbery. He bailed out late that same evening. Despite his legal issues (he'll be arraigned on Jan. 28), YG moved forward with his planned Grammys performance to honor slain rapper Nipsey Hussle. The gospel-inspired performance, which included Meek Mill, DJ Khaled, John Legend, Roddy Ricch and Kirk Franklin, ended with images of Nipsey and Kobe Bryant appearing on the oversized screen behind the performers. "Rest in peace, Nipsey Hussle. Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant," Khaled said.
Where was Taylor Swift?
The Grammys are "Lover"-less this year. Over Grammys weekend, media outlets confirmed that Taylor Swift had backed out of what was expected to be a surprise Grammys performance in the wake of ousted Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan's claims that the nominations process is rigged and full of conflicts of interest and that the Academy itself is rampant with sexism and corruption (which the Academy has denied). It was rumored that Taylor was going to perform her anti-sexism track "The Man." "Obviously, that would [have been] extremely pointed," a music industry source told Page Six. "Here's why I think the ceremony will be troubled — a lot of the artists will feel cheapened if there are voting irregularities around song of the year." Taylor is nominated in three categories this year including song of the year for her single "Lover."
Nipsey Hussle posthumously wins first Grammy Award
Nearly 10 months after he was gunned down outside his Marathon Clothing Store in Los Angeles, late rapper Nipsey Hussle is a Grammy winner for the first time. Nipsey posthumously won the award for best rap performance for "Racks in the Middle," beating out J. Cole, DaBaby, Offset and Cardi B. The prize, which was given out during the pre-telecast portion of the show, was accepted by Nipsey's brother Samiel Asghedom, grandmother Margaret Boutt, and partner Lauren London. "I wanted to thank all of you for showing all the love that I have felt for him all of his life and will always live in my heart, so, thank you. Thank you. Thank you," his grandmother said.
Country music legend Tanya Tucker finally wins a Grammy at 61
A true country legend, Tanya Tucker, took home her first (and second!) Grammy on Jan. 26 — 48 years after scoring her first of 14 career nominations. "While I'm Livin'" was named best country album, and "Bring My Flowers Now" won best country song. "You know, after almost 50 years in this business, after many dreams, it's unbelievable to me that I'd have a few firsts left. So, after 14 trips, 14 nominations, this is the first win," she said.
Billy Ray Cyrus wins first Grammy nearly 30 years after first nomination
There's a first (and second!) time for everything, including winning Grammys! During the pre-telecast, Billy Ray Cyrus won his first ever Grammy — for best music video for "Old Town Road" with Lil Nas X. Then, after that, the "Achy Breaky Heart" singer — who was nominated twice for his first hit song nearly 30 years ago back in 1992 — won his second Grammy, this one for best pop duo/group performance, also for "Old Town Road." It goes without saying that Lil Nas X, who was up for six Grammys in 2020 — also took home his first two trophies in the pre-telecast.
Political statements on the red carpet
Singer Joy Villa has for years now worn pro-Trump looks to the Grammys, and she delivered another sartorial show of support for the embattled president in 2020: Joy arrived on the red carpet in a latex gown with "Trump 2020" running down the front and "impeached and re-elected" on the back. Her red, white and blue dress and cape were crafted by Desi Allinger of Desi Designs. She wasn't the only one to use fashion to get political. Model Megan Pormer arrived in a red sequined dress with "no war Iran" written on the front. She also wore cape that was half-American flag, half-Iranian flag. Like Joy, singer-songwriter Ricky Rebel (not pictured) showed his support for Trump in a red getup that included a red thong and the words "impeach this" written on his bare bum.
Honoring Kobe Bryant in other ways at the Grammys
The stars honored the late Kobe Bryant on social media and in interviews on the Grammys red carpet, but artists and execs also found ways to pay tribute to the NBA legend both before and during the Grammys telecast itself. Before the show aired on CBS, and before Lizzo and Grammys host Alicia Keys opened the show with their Kobe tributes, interim Recording Academy head Harvey Mason Jr. asked for a moment of silence for Kobe at the start of the ceremony's pre-telecast "since we are in his house." Outside the Staples Center, Kobe's face was visible on electronic marquees, and flags outside the venue were lowered to half-mast. During Aerosmith and Run-DMC's performance of "Walk This Way," a performer next to the DJ quietly held up Kobe's No. 24 Lakers jersey. During Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus, Diplo and BTS's performance of "Old Town Road," Kobe's jersey was also laid out on a chair on a set decorated like a living room (left), and Billy Ray played a guitar with the number 24 on it. The tuba player in Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue had a huge "24" written on his instrument. Kobe was also name-checked and featured on a large screen alongside Nipsey Hussle in a star-studded tribute to the slain rapper. Common also said of Grammys host Alicia, "your heart is necessary at this time" — a nod to how she ably and beautifully struck the right tone all night long amid the all the heartache.