“I’m having a really, really good night.” That’s what Sam Smith said partway through Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, as he took the stage to accept his third trophy of the evening: Song of the Year, for “Stay with Me.” It wouldn’t be his last trip to the podium, though; all in all, the soulful British singer took home four out of the six Grammys he’d been nominated for: Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “Stay with Me,” and Best Pop Vocal Album for In the Lonely Hour.
After winning the final award of the night — Record of the Year — Sam said, “I want to thank the man this record is about — the one I fell in love with. Thank you for breaking my heart, because you won me four Grammys.” In the past, Sam, who’s gay, had revealed that his album In the Lonely Hour was inspired by his unrequited love for a straight man who didn’t return his affection.
Earlier in the evening, after winning Best Pop Vocal Album, Sam, who’ll be the first to tell you he doesn’t look like the average pop star, told the audience, “I want to say, before I made this record, I was doing everything to get my music heard. I tried to lose weight…and made awful music. It was only when I started to be myself that my music started to flow and people started to listen.”
With Smith taking home three out of the “Big Four” categories, alternative rocker Beck stunned everyone by winning Album of the Year for his critically-acclaimed disc Morning Phase. Many had predicted a Smith sweep, or that Beyonce’s self-titled disc would win, but hardly anyone saw Beck’s win coming, including Beck himself. In fact, in a nod to his infamous MTV VMA performance in which he stormed the stage when Beyonce lost to Taylor Swift, Kanye West walked onstage and acted like he was about to do the same thing to Beck. However, he simply grinned and walked off, leaving Beck to call out, “Come on! Come back!” It turns out, Kanye WAS upset. He told E! Online after the show that “Beck needs to respect artistry and he should have given his award to Beyoncé, and at this point, we tired of it.”
At the podium, Beck said that the album was “a family affair,” saying that he recorded the album at his house. “I’d like to thank my kids for letting me keep them awake,” he added. Of note, he was presented the award by Prince, who made headlines by saying, “Like books, and black lives, albums still matter.”
Beyonce, who went into the Grammys with six nods, only took home three trophies: Best R&B Performance, Best R&B Song for “Drunk In Love” and Best Surround Sound Album. Before coming onstage to accept Best R&B Performance, Bey kissed her husband, Jay Z, and then said in her speech, “This has been such an incredible year. I’d like to thank my beloved husband, I love you deep. My daughter, Blue Ivy, who’s watching. And [my fans], my BeyHive, thank you so much for riding so hard.”
Pharrell Williams, who also had six nominations going into the ceremony, won two: Best Urban Contemporary Album for G I R L, and Best Pop Solo Vocal Performance, for a live version of his smash “Happy.” He seemed absolutely stunned to win that particular award, saying he fully expected any of the other nominees to take it home. “This is super-awkward,” he added. “I’m gonna moonwalk my way off the stage right now.” Pharrell’s video for “Happy” was also named Best Music Video, but since he didn’t direct or produce it, he didn’t get the trophy.
Other winners of note: Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga won Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album for their duet album Cheek to Cheek; the late Joan Rivers won her first Grammy, for Best Spoken Word performance, and Paramore won Best Rock Song for “Ain’t It Fun,” making lead singer Hayley Williams the first woman to win in that category since Alanis Morrisette in 1999.
The Grammy telecast crammed 23 performances into a bit more than three-and-a-half hours, and the show opened with AC/DC, who’d never before appeared on the Grammys. Joining the veteran rock band for its performance was their former drummer, Chris Slade, back for the first time since 1994. He’d been drafted to replace the band’s current drummer, Phil Rudd, who is now estranged from the band due to some serious legal troubles last year.
Other music legends who performed included Madonna, Paul McCartney, ELO, Annie Lennox, Tony Bennett, Tom Jones and, briefly, Stevie Wonder. But plenty of music’s current stars were also on hand, including Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, Rihanna, Kanye West, Hozier, Adam Levine, Sam Smith, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Jessie J, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Sia.
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