For a moment, the night of music and celebrations stopped and the focus shifted to the ongoing invasion and plight of the Ukrainian people.
“The war – what is more opposite than music?” said Zelensky. “We defend our freedom. To live. To love. To sound. In our country we fight against Russia, which brings terrible silence with its bombs. The dead silence. Fill the silence with your music! Fill it today. To our history to Tell me the truth about the war.”
It was a big night especially for three artists who walked away with the four biggest honors of the night.
Jon Batiste was named Album of the Year for “We Are”, Silk Sonic was named Album of the Year for “Leave the Door Open” and Olivia Rodrigo was named Best New Artist.
Doja Cat and SZA also achieved a memorable win – both for Doja Cat’s emotional response and her poorly timed bathroom break that nearly robbed her of her moment. However, it worked out for the new winners of the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance award.
The aforementioned Zelensky appearance led to a performance by John Legend singing “Free” while wearing a blue suit, a visual salute to the country of Ukraine.
At this moving moment he was joined on stage by Ukrainian singer Mika Newton, musician Siuzanna Igidan and poet Lyuba Yakimchuk.
Elsewhere, BTS took the stage for a high-energy version of their hit “Butter.” Lil Nas X performed “Industry Baby” with Jack Harlow in front of a giant stone statue of his own face – as you do. Billie Eilish brought out the heat — and the rain — during a rendition of “Happier Than Ever,” which certainly didn’t make the Grammy’s mop crew happier than ever (but seemed to please the crowd). (As an added nice touch, performances were often introduced by behind-the-scenes members of artist teams—like tour managers.)
This year’s 11-time nominee Batiste, among many others, also showcased his piano skills with a live version of “Freedom” that was joy personified.
HER and Lenny Kravitz – with Travis Barker on drums – also rocked the house with a rocking take on “Are You Going to Go My Way.”
What more could you ask for from the Grammys?
The red carpet
In normal times, the Grammys would have happened several weeks before the Oscars, the usual finale of the awards season, in January or February. (In fact, there hasn’t been a Grammys in April since 1965.) But having the liveliest red carpet of awards season to wrap up the season was quite fitting.
Lil Nas X showed that pearls are a hitmaker’s best friend. Justin Bieber wore a suit for two. J Balvin wore his heart on his head. And BTS’ Kim Taehyung, who appears as V, wore all the paper flowers on his lapels at the prom and made it look good.
Indeed, men may have stolen the runway show this year, but women were strong in the trendsetting department. See: Doja Cat’s hair tips and Laverne Cox’s gauzy eyebrows.