Grammys 2022: Olivia Rodrigo slaps expectations with three wins

Eight iconic moments from one of music’s biggest nights


John Batiste, Olivia Rodrigo, and Silk Sonic stood as the biggest winners at the 64th Annual Grammys held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 3, 2022, subverting viewers’ expectations in various categories and creating welcome surprises.

Batiste, having received eleven nominations for his work on the studio album, We Are, took home the most awards with five, while Rodrigo went home with three, including the sought-after Best New Artist. Silk Sonic took both the Song and Record of the Year Awards for Leave the Door Open, joining the ranks of Hello by Adele, Bad Guy by Billie Eilish, and This Is America by Childish Gambino in the two-major-awards-winners league.

Other huge winners include Jazmine Sullivan winning Best R&B Performance for Pick Up Your Feelings–her first win after being nominated 12 times since 2009, and Best R&B Album for Heaux Tales, and Foo Fighters winning all three of their nominations–Best Rock Performance, Song, and Album for Making A Fire, Waiting on a War, and Medicine at Midnight, respectively. 

Here are some more of the biggest highlights from this year’s Grammy Awards.

BTS and their smooth choreography – As trailblazers for K-pop acts in the Grammys, BTS pride themselves in performing polished and perfect acts for everyone to longingly gawk at. With a spy-inspired opening act graced by no other than Olivia Rodrigo, a dance break that left everyone’s jaw open, and lasers that helped set the mood, BTS commanded attention from longtime fans and newcomers alike.

BTS have been nominated for the Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for two straight years now, joining the likes of Florence + the Machine, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Pharell Williams in the small pool of talents nominated twice for the win.

Jazmine Sullivan’s first win (after 12 noms) – IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME. Jazmine Sulllivan’s Grammy curse has finally been lifted with her taking the Grammy for Best R&B Performance for Pick Up Your Feelings, a powerful woe-is-you track chronicling the process of moving on after an incredibly messy breakup.

Beginning her Grammy campaign in 2009 (where she was nominated for Best New Artist–yes, it’s been that long), Sullivan wrote what would become her first-ever Grammy-winning album, Heaux Tales, as a way to deal with the shame and unforgiveness she’s harbored from past mistakes. Although deeply biographical in its early iterations, the R&B icon stated that it’s since become a safe space for black women to connect with and learn from each other.

Brandi Carlile’s electrifying Right on Time performance – You’d think getting introduced by legend Bonnie Raitt AND the incomparable Joni Mitchell, not to mention becoming the first woman to be nominated twice in the same night for the Song of the Year category, would be the highlight of Brandi Carlile’s time at the Grammys, but the In These Silent Days singer had other plans in mind. Backed by a killer band, bright rainbow lights in the background, and a snazzy-as-hell (albeit heavy) sparkling jacket, Carlile belted out the lyrics to her hit single and cleared two key changes like it was nothing.

Carlile’s performance is probably the cleanest of the night, vocals-wise, but the true star of the show is the singer herself, exuding a breezy, carefree aura perfect for the song’s introspective nature.

Lady Gaga’s ‘Do I Love You’ tribute to Tony Bennett – Lady Gaga has been synonymous to campy jazz standards since her first collaboration with Tony Bennett in Cheek to Cheek, the 2015 Grammy winner for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Aside from Bennett’s ever-youthful charms and Gaga’s chameleon-like adaptability to the genre, one other thing endured from this collaboration: the singers’ love for each other.

After a short video introduction from Bennett, who retired from music last year due to Alzheimer’s disease, Lady Gaga performed Love For Sale, the title track from their last collaborative album, which then transitioned to Do I Love You.

The singer, clad in a beautiful blue gown, was quick to fight off tears as she sang the jazz ballad, while a bevy of pictures of her and Bennett through the years appeared on a large screen behind her.

Sat on the stairs of the stage, Gaga closed the performance with her hand on her shoulder, a gesture signifying her unending bond with the showman, and the words “I love you, Tony. We miss you.” There was not a dry eye in the house.

Billie Eilish’s tribute to Taylor Hawkins – In an simple yet electrifying performance of Happier Than Ever, Billie Eilish commanded the stage with his brother, Finneas, as they stomped to the beat of Eilish’s title track off her sophomore album. The performance itself was nothing short of a masterclass on how simplicity rocks, but the best part was Eilish’s touching tribute to the late Foo Fighters drummer, Taylor Hawkins.

Eilish wore a black oversized shirt with Hawkins’ likeness printed on the front and his surname on the back. The singer held her shirt up to honor the late musician, whose passing she once described as heartbreaking. “Taylor was such a legendary player. We were admirers of his work years before we got to meet him. And we only met him a handful of times — I wish we got to spend more time with him — but he couldn’t have been a kinder, cooler, more generous person as well. And such a deeply inspiring person,” she told Access Hollywood during an interview on the 2022 Oscars red carpet.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s appeal – in a pre-recorded message, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke of local musicians who have dedicated their lives to upholding Ukraine’s sovereignty by trading their tuxedos for body armor, and asked the viewers to show support for Ukraine by filling silence with music.

 “On our land, we are fighting Russia, which brings horrible silence with its bombs. The dead silence. Fill the silence with your music. Fill it today to tell our story,” the Ukrainian leader said, adding that he dreams of their cities as free as the ones on the Grammy stage.

Zelenskyy’s message was presented before singer John Legend’s performance of Free, a song dedicated to Ukraine and their fight for peace. Legend was joined by Ukrainian artists, Siuzanna Iglidan and Mika Newton, and Lyuba Yakimchuk.

Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr., Ben Platt, and Rachel Zegler sing to remember – This year’s Grammy’s In Memoriam, dedicated to the likes of drummer Taylor Hawkins and half of the legendary Everly Brothers, Don Everly, saw the Broadway icons perform a medley of Stephen Sondheim’s music as they celebrate the life and times of some of art’s most beloved figures that have recently passed away.

The quartet sang the late Sondheim’s songs Not a Day Goes By, Send in the Clowns, and Somewhere. It was a touching moment for everyone, but most especially the four performers, who have performed the composer’s works throughout their careers.

Jon Batiste’s surprising (but welcome) AOTY win – Beating the likes of juggernauts Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, H.E.R., and Billie Eilish, John Batiste managed to cap off the night with his fifth win, and for Album of the Year, no less.

“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” musical director’s shock in winning the ceremony’s biggest award may be attributed to the fact that Jazmine Sullivan’s Heaux Tales beat We Are for R&B Album of the Year earlier on in the night.

“You know, I…I really…I believe this to my core: there is no best musician, best artist, best dancer, best actor. The creative arts are subjective, and they reach people at a point in their lives when they need it most. It’s like a song or an album is made and it almost has a radar to find the person when they need it the most,” Batiste, who looked dumbfounded when his name was called to take the Grammy for Album of the Year, shared during his speech.

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