Ukraine, Billie Eilish, Louis CK: the biggest talking points from the Grammy Awards 2022

Music's Biggest Night took over Las Vegas with an evening of awards, political action and, yes, more than a little controversy

After being delayed once again due to the COVID-19 pandemic – the ceremony was due to rake take place on January 31 – the Grammys 2022 took place last night (April 3) in its temporary home of Las Vegas, bringing the great and good of the music world to Sin City. Some artists were snubbed while others stunned and, despite there being no big shocking moments à la last week’s slap-happy Oscars, the ceremony was full of brilliant (and, yes, occasionally bad) action that will be keeping the conversation going over the next few days.

Overall, the Grammys 2022 were actually… pretty great? 

Silk Sonic
Silk Sonic CREDIT: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

In recent years, the ceremony has felt bloated, boring and full of too much back-slapping, so it was surprising to come out of the Grammys 2022 feeling positive. The move to Las Vegas seems to have rejuvenated the show and the table settings – a deviation from the formal rows of its former home, LA’s Staples Center – made the night feel livelier, friendlier and much more fun.

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Trevor Noah aced it as host in his second stint as the night’s leading man, while nearly every performance felt like a truly great moment that you’d want to watch over and over again. Silk Sonic were a delight any time they were on screen – be that performing ‘777’ at the top of the show or grooving out of their cheers each time they won. This year, it seemed like the Grammys had returned to the heart of what awards shows should be – celebrations of great art and great talent. Here’s hoping they can keep it going next year too.

Taylor Hawkins received two tributes 

Taylor Hawkins playing Bottlerock Napa Valley 2019 in Chevy Metal
Taylor Hawkins playing Bottlerock Napa Valley in 2019 in the cover band Chevy Metal. Credit: Jim Bennett/Getty Images

The music world is still coming to terms with the untimely death of Foo Fighters drummer and musical legend Taylor Hawkins, and the Grammys honoured him tonight. Given the short amount of time between his death and the ceremony, it was probably unrealistic to expect a big tribute performance and rather than risk something like that backfiring, the Recording Academy opted for a simple, dignified memorial – a montage of footage of Hawkins doing what he did best, soundtracked fittingly by Foo Fighters’ ‘My Hero’.

Before that memorial, Billie Eilish also paid subtle tribute to the icon, wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with his photo for her performance of ‘Happier Than Ever’. She kept the shirt on for the rest of the night, and was spotted cheering on other acts’ performances from her table.

BTS’ stunned again but were still shut out of the awards

BTS
BTS CREDIT: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

BTS were the first performers to receive a standing ovation at the ceremony, thanks to their stunning, spy-themed rendition of ‘Butter’. That dance break, filled with lasers, complex choreography and jackets flying everywhere was nothing short of jaw-dropping. And it was nothing short of genius to have worked out a narrative that allowed Jin – looking every inch the alluring Bond villain with a black satin glove over his injured hand – to sit out most of the dancing but still feel like an integral part of the show.

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This year could have been the first time BTS took home a shiny gold gramophone for themselves, but – yet again – it wasn’t to be. There are, of course, always a handful of huge artists who don’t get Grammys recognition, but it makes you wonder just what else they have to do to win a trophy at the show. Clearly, being one of the biggest, best bands in the world isn’t enough.

Louis C.K. caused fresh controversy for the Academy 

Louis CK
Louis CK attends Tribeca TV Festival’s sneak peek of Better Things at Cinepolis Chelsea on September 22, 2017 in New York City. Credit: Getty Images

Disgraced comedian Louis C.K. won the award for Best Comedy Album for his special ‘Sincerely Louis C.K.’. It instantly sparked backlash against the Academy due to the star’s past admittance to committing sexual misconduct against multiple women. Following so quickly on from the Oscars’ Will Smith fiasco, it’s a move that highlights the difference in consequences for Black and white people, as well as the attitude to men who abuse their power and target women.

It’s even more galling because, on the album itself, C.K. addresses the allegations against him, shrugging off his behaviour rather than treating it with the seriousness and severity it deserves. On what was otherwise a successful night, it’s not a great look from the Academy.

No awards for Grammys darling Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish CREDIT: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Despite being up for seven awards going into the Grammys 2022, Billie Eilish walked away with zero new additions to her collection. It was a surprising result, given just how much she has been lauded at past ceremonies since her breakthrough moment – remember her 2020 sweep of the “big four” categories? Not that the pop star seemed bothered in the slightest – every time someone else won in one of her fields, she could be seen grinning broadly, cheering for them and whistling in celebration.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy sent in a powerful message 

Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Volodymyr Zelenskyy CREDIT: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

The Oscars wanted him, the Grammys got him – Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an unexpected appearance at the awards show via video message. It was a sombre, moving moment that saw him address the audience and viewers at him in a pre-taped clip, talking about the “dead silence” of war and the country’s musicians having to swap their tuxedos for “body armour”. After urging the world to support Ukraine in any way “but not silence”, John Legend performed a new song called ‘Free’ with Ukrainian poets and musicians – both a celebration of the area’s artists and a reminder that, as Vegas partied, others were fighting for survival.

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