clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

3 winners and 4 losers from the 2016 Grammys

Singer Lady Gaga performs a tribute to the late David Bowie onstage during the 58th Grammy Awards at Staples Center on February 15, 2016, in Los Angeles, California.
Singer Lady Gaga performs a tribute to the late David Bowie onstage during the 58th Grammy Awards at Staples Center on February 15, 2016, in Los Angeles, California.
Larry Busacca/Getty Images
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

At the 2016 Grammys, Kendrick Lamar and Taylor Swift took home some nifty hardware.

Lamar went home with five awards, including one for Best Rap Album. Swift's three Grammys included Album of the Year, making her the first woman to win the award twice. (She previously won in 2010 for Fearless.) And together, the two won Best Music Video for their hit "Bad Blood."

But they weren't the only winners of the night. (To read a full list, go here.) And the people they beat along the way weren't the only losers. Here are three winners and four losers from the 2016 Grammys.

Winner: Kendrick Lamar

In 2014, for some inexplicable reason, Lamar lost Best Rap Album to Macklemore, in a choice that went down as one of the most controversial Grammy wins in history.

But this year turned out better for Lamar, as he picked up five awards, including Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song. His acceptance speech for Best Rap Album was touching and endearing, since it felt like he was genuinely excited to win. Then later in the night, with a performance to remember, he showed the audience why he deserved all five Grammys.

The rapper performed "Blacker the Berry" and "Alright" off his album To Pimp a Butterfly giving the best show of the night. Lamar was political, powerful, but also beautiful. There were moments where it felt minimalist, allowing Lamar's talent to shine, but even when it swelled into an energetic spectacle Lamar commanded every ounce of our attention:

Winner: Andra Day

The Grammys started off slowly. The first several performances, including one by Swift (who opened the show), were solid but not spectacular. And by the time Andra Day took the stage, viewers were likely itching for something, anything, to blow them away.

Day's dusty voice was just what they were waiting for. Her soulful performance brought back memories of Amy Winehouse, but also felt instantly accessible, thanks to a little help from Ellie Goulding, who dropped in around the halfway mark to duet with Day on her massive hit "Love Me Like You Do."

Day and Goulding's performance was the first standout of the night, and it remained one of the best when the show was over:

Winner: Hamilton fans

For the past couple of years, everyone has been talking up Hamilton, the new musical from Lin-Manuel Miranda about the life of Alexander Hamilton inspired by the 2004 biography by Ron Chernow. Tickets have been impossible to get, and people have raved about the performances, the writing, and the show's fearless ambition.

The Grammy audience got to see part of the musical first hand, as they were transported to the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York and were treated to the show's opening number, "Alexander Hamilton":

Moments later Hamilton won the Grammy for Best Musical Theater album.

Loser: The people who made Adele sound bad

We're used to Adele's voice sounding great. But it didn't during her Grammy performance of "All I Ask." The arrangement sounded off. Adele sounded off. Her microphone sounded like it cut out.

It was a dirty shame, because the performance looked great:

Adele tweeted after the show that there were technical difficulties beyond her control:

This was supposed to be Adele's big Grammy comeback, after she won seven trophies in 2012. It's a travesty that it was marred by technical snags.

Loser: Lady Gaga

To be fair, a David Bowie tribute is pretty much an impossible task. There are probably only a handful of people who could do his work any justice. One of those is Lady Gaga, who was at the center of the Grammys tribute.

But although she sounded great, the arrangement felt rushed. There were so many hits included that none of them had space to breathe. The performance almost felt more like a performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show than it did a collection of hits by David Bowie:

Loser: Kanye West

Kanye West was not at the Grammys this year, but it didn't stop the rapper from playing a major role. In the hours leading up to the show, he (or someone with access to his Twitter account) fired off a bunch of unfiltered tweets that made him look unhinged and weird. (Though it all could be sly promotion for his new album The Life of Pablo.)

But the biggest shot fired at West came at the end of the night, when Taylor Swift won for Best Album.

"As the first woman to win Album of the Year at the Grammys twice, I want to say to all the young women out there, there will be people along the way who will try to undercut your success," Swift said. "Or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame."

That seemed like a direct response to West's song "Famous" and a lyric West wrote about Swift, saying that she would have sex with him because he made her famous (see: the 2009 VMA clash between the two). Swift's speech was classy and empowering, and managed to get its sharp point across, all while highlighting the crass territory West wandered into.

Loser: Hamilton fans

Remember how we talked about how Hamilton tickets are difficult to get? Hamilton excelled on its biggest stage and in front of its biggest audience. Nabbing those tickets is not going to get any easier now that everyone watching the Grammys telecast was treated to a tantalizing taste of the musical.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.