Much of the 64th annual Grammy Awards ceremony, held Sunday at Las Vegas’s MGM Grand Garden Arena, celebrated younger artists, with dazzling performances by Best New Artist winner Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish, BTS, Lil Nas X, J. Balvin, H.E.R., and Justin Bieber. But 95-year-old Tony Bennett and 78-year-old Joni Mitchell practically stole the show with their rare public appearances.
Bennett was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, and he released his swan-song studio album, the Love for Sale duets collection with Lady Gaga, in November 2021. He celebrated that album’s release with two final performances, filmed last summer at Radio City Music Hall for the TV special One Last Time, and has been off the scene ever since. But with Love for Sale up for five Grammys this Sunday, he briefly came out of retirement to introduce Gaga’s Grammy performance.
In a statement Friday, Bennett’s son Danny said, “Although the producers had invited both Tony and Gaga to perform in Sunday’s Grammys broadcast, it is unfortunate that due to his continuing struggle with Alzheimer’s, he was not able to accept. It was decided that it would be fitting for Lady Gaga to perform on her own to represent for both of them. … He will be cheering her on as he watches from his home in New York City.”
Sunday, in a pre-taped video message, the grinning crooner enthusiastically blew a kiss to Gaga as she took the stage for a jazzy, classy medley of “Love for Sale” and “Do I Love You.” Following her emotional performance in front a backdrop of video footage of her and Bennett, Gaga sat on the edge of the stage, paused, and teared up, resting her palm on her shoulder as if in place of Bennett’s hand. “I love you, Tony! We miss you,” she called out to the camera. On Sunday, Love for Sale picked up an award — Bennett’s 20th Grammy overall — for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, making Bennett the second-oldest winner in Grammy history.
Mitchell, who was honored as 2022’s MusiCares Person of the Year Friday, made her first Sunday Grammys appearance during the pre-show Premiere Ceremony, at which her compilation Joni Mitchell’s Joni Mitchell Archives, Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967) won for Best Historical Album. The legendary singer-songwriter, who has made few public appearances since she suffered a brain aneurism in 2015, received a standing ovation as her accepted the honor in person. Looking adorable in her red beret and matching beaded necklace, Mitchell thanked her “dream team,” including her assistant, physical therapist, manager, and “dear friend” Cameron Crowe (who wrote the project’s liner notes). Mitchell later received an equally rapturous reception on CBS’s prime-time telecast, when she appeared alongside 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Bonnie Raitt to introduce a performance by another dear friend, Brandi Carlile. Host Trevor Noah introduced Mitchell as “one of the truest and most important artists in history, a musician who set the standard for all those who have followed.”
While neither Bennett not Mitchell performed at Sunday’s Grammys, the night was packed with dynamite musical numbers, as well as a few lighthearted podium moments. Below are the other highlights of the 64thannual Grammy Awards ceremony:
It’s an evening with Silk Sonic
An Evening With Silk Sonic, the debut album by the throwback-soul superduo comprising Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak, wasn’t released during the eligibility window for this year’s Grammys, but Silk Sonic still pulled off a “clean sweep” of the four categories in which they were nominated, including Record and Song of the Year for “Leave the Door Open.” And they were celebrating as soon as the show got started, opening the ceremony with a glitzy, lounge-suited “777” that was basically the best commercial ever for their upcoming Vegas residency at the Park MGM.
Oliva Rodrigo revs it up
Olivia was widely predicted to win in all of the “Big Four” categories, but while she lost both Record and Song to Silk Sonic and surprisingly lost in the Album of the Year category to Jon Batiste, the 19-year-old still had a great night – picking up trophies Best New Artist, Best Pop Solo Performance, and Best Pop Vocal Album, and sharing an adorable onscreen moment with BTS (more on that later). Her performance of “Drivers License” on a West Side Story-style set felt like a charming production of Sour: The Musical, so maybe there are a few Tony Awards in this talented young woman’s future too.
BTS brings the Vegas dynamite
BTS didn’t win the award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance (they lost to Doja Cat featuring SZA – more on that later!), but they won everyone’s hearts, including Olivia Rodrigo’s, with their espionage/Vegas-themed “Butter” number. Rocking James Bond tuxedos and paying homage to Ocean’s Eleven, Mission: Impossible, and maybe even The Pink Panther, the BTS boys practically broke the internet when member V flirted with Rodrigo at the beginning of the suave performance.
Doja Cat takes the piss
Doja Cat has been threatening to quit the music business lately, so when she almost didn’t show up to accept her Pop Duo/Group Performance award for “Kiss Me More,” it seemed like a deliberate boycott at first. But as it turned out, she’d just returned from a last-minute bathroom break and almost missed the announcement. “I’ve never taken such a fast piss in my whole life,” she blurted, in one of the funniest unscripted moments of the night.
Dua and Megan are the new Whitney and Mariah
When past winners Dua Lipa and Megan Thee Stallion presented the Best New Artist category, they reenacted Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey’s famous stunt from the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards, showing up in identical dresses. “I’m going to have to have a talk with Donatella,” Dua mock-threatened… and right on cue, designer Donatella Versace hopped onstage and ripped off the ladies’ skirts to instantly customize their individual looks. “Now we both look like winners,” Megan said. This podium moment was most definitely scripted, but it sure was cute.
Questlove keeps his distance
Last week at the Oscars, Questlove’s Summer of Soulwon for Best Documentary, but his thunder was stolen when category presenter Chris Rock was shockingly slapped by Will Smith. Questlove got another shot at awards-show glory when Summer of Soul won Best Music Film at the Grammys this weekend, and then, in another funny podium moment, when he presented the Song of the Year award, he quipped to the MGM crowd, “I trust that you people will stay 500 feet away from me. Just playing.”
Lil Nas X upsets your homophobic uncle
“He raps, he sings… he upsets your homophobic uncle!” host Noah proclaimed before the provocateur’s flashy performance of “Dead Right Now,” “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” and “Industry Baby” with Jack Harlow. Although the seemingly My Chemical Romance-inspired drum corps number was tame compared to Lil Nas X’s racier appearance on the VMAs and BET Awards, Noah’s cheeky introduction alone made this performance stand out.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy makes a powerful plea
In a much more serious and somber moment, Zelensky appeared virtually — introducing John Legend’s special tribute to Ukraine with Ukrainian musicians Siuzanna Iglidan and Mika Newton and poet Lyuba Yakimchuk – and begged the audience not to “be silent” amid Russia’s attacks on his country. In the video, which was shot within the last 48 hours in a bunker in Kyiv, Zelensky stated: “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded. In hospitals. Even to those who can’t hear them. But the music will break through anyway. We defend our freedom. To live. To love. To sound. 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. Tell the truth about this war on your social networks, on TV. Support us in any way you can. Any — but not silence. And then peace will come. To all our cities the war is destroying, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Volnovakha, Mariupol and others. They are legends already. But I have a dream of them living. And free. Free like you on the Grammy stage.”
Billie Eilish honors her hero
Many Grammy stars rocked outlandish outfits on the red carpet, but Eilish totally deserved Best Dressed honors for donning a T-shirt emblazoned with late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins’s face during her “Happier Than Ever” performance. The Foo Fighters were supposed to perform at this year’s ceremony, but withdrew from the telecast and all other scheduled performances after Hawkins suddenly died on March 25. Bittersweetly, the band won three Grammys in absentia at Sunday’s Premiere Ceremony.
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over with H.E.R. and Lenny Kravitz
With the Foo Fighters canceling their performance, this year’s ceremony was almost entirely rock-free. Thankfully, H.E.R. and Lenny Kravitz brought the guitars (and the rock ‘n’ roll jumpsuits) for their vivacious “Damage”/“Are You Gonna Go My Way” medley. Adding to the rock fun was Travis Barker on drums and Jimmy Jam on keytar. It was just the jolt viewers needed as the telecast neared the three-hour mark.
The Weeknd actually wins a Grammy
Following his shocking snub last year, the Weeknd vowed to boycott the Grammys from now on. But that didn’t stop the Recording Academy from awarding his collaboration with Kanye West and Lil Baby, “Hurricane,” the Grammy for Best Melodic Rap Performance. Unsurprisingly, neither the Weeknd nor the uninvitedWest were there to accept in person.
The Grammys salute the industry’s true superstars
With the 2022 Grammys following two difficult pandemic years in which the live music industry was completely disrupted, the show “put the spotlight on the behind-the-scenes workers who make live music so special.” So, along with all of the night’s superstar presenters, Eilish’s tour manager Nicole Massey, Chris Stapleton’s assistant tour manager Katie Wilkinson, H.E.R.’s manager Misha Hedman Mayes, and Carrie Underwood’ stylist Joan Lee all got their much-deserved moments on the Grammy stage.
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