Grammys mix hip flasks with politics

Media captionHighlights from the 2017 Grammy Awards

The big story at the 59th Grammy awards was Adele’s victory over Beyonce in the best album category.

Most observers had expected Beyonce’s Lemonade – a politically-charged opus that tackles themes of gender and black identity – to race home with the prize.

But Adele swooped in and stole it from under her nose, making her very much the Donald Trump of pop.

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  • Read Beyonce’s powerful speech
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  • All the winners and nominees

But what were the other big (and small) themes from the night? Here’s a rundown.

Rihanna came to party

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She lost all eight of the awards she was nominated for, but this picture of Rihanna with a hip flask tells us she didn’t care.

James Corden nailed it

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British star James Corden took over as Grammys host from rapper LL Cool J, and the difference couldn’t have been more apparent.

While LL was always affable, he didn’t do much beyond delivering his links.

James, in contrast, began the night by pretending to fall down a staircase (“this is a disaster!”) before launching into a rap about the gathered celebrities:

“This room is insane, It’s filled with ‘Oh, Gods!’ / Some of the faces like Madame Tussauds.

“Beyonce performing, the queen is here, dummy! / Slay the whole stage with twins in her tummy.”

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Later on, he performed an impromptu carpool karaoke (from inside a cardboard cut-out) with Neil Diamond, Jennifer Lopez and Jason Derulo singing a version of Sweet Caroline.

And he lived every child’s worst nightmare when he found dad Malcolm canoodling with model Heidi Klum in the audience.

“Dad, what are you doing with Heidi Klum?” he exclaimed.

“Well, your mom and I have an understanding and I used my free pass tonight,” replied Corden Senior.

‘President Agent Orange’

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Politics was always expected to play a role in the ceremony, but it wasn’t until Busta Rhymes took to the stage that things got serious.

“I’m not feeling the political climate right now,” he growled. “I just want to thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all of the evil that you’ve been perpetuating throughout the United States.

“I just want to thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. We’ve come together. We, the people.”

He then launched into We The People – a collaboration with A Tribe Called Quest that rejects the politics of division.

Surrounded by dancers in headscarves, the musicians brought their thunderous performance to a close with a chant of “resist, resist, resist”.

It wasn’t the only political moment in the ceremony, but it was the most incendiary.

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Earlier Katy Perry, an ardent Hillary Clinton supporter, danced in a white pant suit and wore a “persist” arm band.

Presumably this alluded to Elizabeth Warren’s persistence in Congress this week, where she attempted to read a 30-year-old letter by Martin Luther King Jr’s widow, criticising President Trump’s nominee for attorney general.

The president of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, also called on the President not to cut arts funding, saying Americans are “constantly reminded about the things that divide us”.

“What we need so desperately are more reminders of all that binds us together,” he continued.

US singer Joy Villa, however, bucked the trend by whipping off a white gown to reveal a pro-Trump dress.

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It’s a good thing Twenty One Pilots didn’t go commando

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Rock band Twenty One Pilots went trouser-less for their first ever acceptance speech.

After winning best group performance for their hit song Stressed Out, singer Tyler Joseph and drummer Josh Dun stood up, dropped their trousers and walked to the podium in their underwear.

“This story, it starts in Columbus, Ohio, it was a few years ago and it was before Josh and I were able to make money playing music,” explained Tyler.

“I called him up and I said, ‘Hey Josh, want to come over to my rental house and watch the Grammys?’ As we were watching, we noticed every single one of us was in our underwear.

“Seriously, Josh said to me… he turned to me and he said, ‘If we ever go to the Grammys, if we ever win a Grammy, we should receive it just like this.'”

Jay Z was on daddy duty

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While a heavily pregnant Beyonce was on stage killing it in an epic, nine-minute performance celebrating motherhood, Jay Z was on the front row looking after their five-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy.

The father-daughter duo were beaming with pride throughout and gave Queen Bey a standing ovation.

Jay Z’s next album – For God’s Sake Will You Go to Sleep, Game of Thrones Starts in Five Minutes* – is due for release in October.

(* not a real album.)

The tributes were perfectly judged

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Adele might have needed a do-over on her tribute to George Michael, but her sombre rendition of Fastlove (arranged by Batman composer Hans Zimmer, we understand) was a mournful masterpiece.

Bruno Mars went the other direction, vamping up a cover of Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy to such an extent he seemed possessed by the spirit of the Minneapolis marvel.

And The Time – Prince’s arch-rivals in Purple Rain – showed us how songs the star cast off, such as their hit Jungle Love, could bring a moderately-sized house down.

Those weren’t the only stars we lost in 2016 of course, and the memorial montage would have brought a lump to any music fan’s throat.

If that wasn’t enough, John Legend and Cynthia Erivo’s tender cover of The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows -which soundtracked the segment – would have finished you off.

David Bowie finally got some recognition

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It’s hard to believe it, but in his lifetime David Bowie only won two Grammys: best music video in 1985 for Jazzin’ For Blue Jean and a lifetime achievement award in 2006.

That historical anomaly was corrected last night when the star won all five of the categories he was nominated for, including best alternative album for Blackstar and best rock song for its title track.

Recording engineer Kevin Killen, who worked with Bowie on the album, expressed his relief backstage.

“It’s kind of startling it’s taken that long for an artist who’s been so magnificent throughout his whole career,” he said.

Musician Donny McCaslin, who played on Blackstar, said it was “unfortunate” Bowie had not been nominated for the main prize, album of the year.

“Speaking artistically, it was clear he should have been nominated in one if not more of the major categories,” he said.

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