Culture

5 Extraordinary Grammy Moments People Are Still Talking About  

by Andre Grant

February 13, 2017

Sunday night’s celebration of the 59th Grammy Awards was filled with jaw-dropping moments. From solidarity with Senator Elizabeth Warren to a straight-up protest of President Donald Trump by A Tribe Called Quest, the myriad emotions spilled by our stars had people talking well after the performances were over.

Sure, the Grammys didn’t shirk the political conversation this year, but there were genuine musical moments too. Bruno Mars represented Prince properly. Metallica and Lady Gaga fought through mic troubles to give an inspired performance, and the night’s homage to the Bee Gee’s featured everyone from Andra Day to Demi Lovato. Still, some instances will live in our minds for much, much longer than others. Check out five Grammy moments everyone's still talking about:

Beyoncé’s imagery, performance and speech

Beyonce's speech dazzles the crowd at the Grammys.

Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” album was about poetry as much as it was about infidelity, race, and women’s struggles. That imagery shifted to the stage at the Grammys—with a twist—as Beyoncé turned her performance into an ode to motherhood that was both beautiful and daring. Tina Knowles came out first to introduce her daughter. Then came the queen, glittering as a crowned fertility goddess. The crowd was literally stunned into silence. And, after the performance, she read aloud a statement that brought the internet to its knees. Here it is in full:

“Thank you so much. Hi baby. Thank you to the Grammy voters for this incredible honor, and thank you to everyone who worked so hard to beautifully capture the profundity of deep southern culture. I thank God for my family, my wonderful husband, my beautiful daughter, my fans for bringing me so much happiness and support. We all experience pain and loss, and often we become inaudible. My intention for the film and album was to create a body of work that would give a voice to our pain, our struggles, our darkness and our history. To confront issues that make us uncomfortable.

It’s important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty, so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror, first through their own families—as well as the news, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House, and the Grammys—and see themselves, and have no doubt that they’re beautiful, intelligent, and capable. This is something I want for every child of every race. And I feel it’s vital that we learn from the past and recognize our tendencies to repeat our mistakes. Thank you again for honoring “Lemonade.” Have a beautiful evening. Thank you for tonight. This is incredible.”

Chance The Rapper wins big

Chance The Rappers accepts the award for Best Rap Album.

Chance The Rapper is charmed. “Coloring Book” is an all-digital album and in a nod to a rapidly shifting market; the Recording Academy changed its rules to include him. The Chicago artist took home three awards: Best New Artist, Best Rap Album for “Coloring Book,” and Best Rap Performance for “No Problems.” The wins mark a historic night for the emcee. “Coloring Book” becomes the first streaming-only album to win a Grammy. Arguably, the most recognized artist in hip hop has not sold a single record, instead of putting his music out for free on Soundcloud, Spotify and the rest. And his infectious enthusiasm and enthralling performance got the crowd moving as he hit the stage with Gospel legends Kirk Franklin and Tamela Mann.

A Tribe Called Quest blasts Trump

Busta Rhymes helps perform ATCQ's

Q-Tip began A Tribe Called Quest’s performance by exclaiming, “We’d like to say to all of those people around the world, all those people who are pushing people who are in power to represent them, tonight, we represent you.” Tribe backed that up with an inspired performance that tore down the house at the Staples Center. Beginning with “Award Tour” and “Can I Kick It,” the group soon launched into “We The People” and was joined onstage by the legendary Busta Rhymes, who immediately raised the stakes:

“I’m not feeling the political climate right now. I just want to thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all of the evil that you’ve been perpetuating throughout the United States. I want to thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. When we come together—we the people!”

Even after the night’s most direct challenge to the president by an artist, the show kept ratcheting the dissent up a notch. Q-Tip held the hand of a woman in a hijab who helped him kick down a wall. People of all race and religion came on stage to hold up passports. The medley ended with ATCQ shouting, “Resist!”

Adele starts over

Adele begins her George Michael tribute again.

All three of the big awards on Sunday night went to Adele, but it was her George Michael tribute that had the web buzzing at first. A hiccup in her performance found her cursing and asking to start over. Of the moment, the megastar says she was “devastated.” Speaking to reporters backstage, she laid it all out there.

“I was devastated by that, and my rehearsal—I did have a shaky rehearsal today,” she told People. “But I have been working very hard on this tribute for him, every day.”

She was rattled, but said she couldn’t let another off-key performance slip through her fingers. Last year, she told Ellen DeGeneres that she would stop if her performance hit a snag again. This year, she put her money where her mouth is.

Katy Perry stood up for women

A pantsuit inspired by Hillary Clinton. An armband that screamed, “PERSIST.” Katy Perry offered up her own political critique with her performance on Sunday night as she performed “Chained to the Rhythm” with Skip Marley.

Her new single and performance hinted at Senator Elizabeth Warren being unable to read Coretta Scott King’s letter in opposition of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. After booting Warren, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” #Shepersisted erupted on social media soon afterward.

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5 Extraordinary Grammy Moments People Are Still Talking About