Let’s be honest: The 2016 Grammy awards were, for the most part, a bit of a snooze fest.
As NPR reported, the night’s biggest award was pretty much decided before the night began. Apparently it would either go to Taylor Swift for her “1989” album, or Kendrick Lamar for his “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Swift won the Album of the Year award, becoming the first female to win that award twice in the process.
Some of the show’s performances were also less than stellar. Typically known for great performances, Adele’s time on stage fell incredibly flat, mostly due to tech issues. There was some sort of “clanking sound” in the background during her songs, and her microphone even cut out. She didn’t have her “usual punch,” CNN reported.
“The singer looked distracted, flashing irritated looks as she powered through the song, backed only by a piano and bathed in a lone spotlight,” CNN reported.
But Kevin Fallon wrote for The Daily Beast that the show had some good moments, specifically seen through Kendrick Lamar’s performance at the end of the night that brought figurative and literal fire to the awards show. Similarly, a surprise performance by the Hamilton Broadway music cast provided electricity, as did Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie.
“What, honestly, can we think about this year’s Grammy Awards, at once a cruise ship lounge act that was lost at sea, an easy listening radio station’s 2 a.m. programming playlist come to life, a spotlight for irrelevance, and yet, still, a showcase for some of the most incendiary and essential musical moments that have been staged in the show’s 58 years,” Fallon wrote.
The show also appeared to work well when artists used their time on stage to spread a positive message about society. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the positive messages we saw.
Taylor Swift: Don’t let the haters sidetrack you
Let’s start with T-Swift. She did win Album of the Year, after all. Less than a week after Kanye West claimed — with explicit and mysoginistic lyrics — that he was the reason Swift became famous — as heard on his new song “Famous” — Swift responded with a powerful statement about how people, especially women, can face haters who come their way.
“I want to say to all the young women out there, there are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments or your fame,” she said. “But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, some day when you get where you’re going, you’ll look around and you will know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there and that will be the greatest feeling in the world.”
As Time reported, social media users shared their thoughts on Twitter about Swift’s well-timed and powerful message.
Kendrick Lamar: Black lives matter
Going into the awards show, some viewers knew that Lamar’s live performance was going to be “provocative,” Mic reported, but few people realized how powerful it would turn out to be.
Rapping songs from his hit album “To Pimp a Butterfly,” Lamar used his time on stage to highlight the problems black Americans face today.
“He rapped of police brutality and the shooting of Trayvon Martin in the most politically minded performance of the night,” according to The Los Angeles Times.
He performed his song “The Blacker The Berry” — a song that specifically talks about racial stereotypes — and “Alright” — which has become a song that Black Lives Matter protesters have sung at protests. Lamar also unveiled part of a new song on similar issues, and ended the night with an image of Africa with the word “Compton” etched across it.
This performance comes on the heels of Beyonce’s Super Bowl rendition, which featured dancers wearing black berets — “a clear nod to the signature outfit worn by the revolutionary Black Panther Party,” Mic reported.
But Lamar’s performance took things to the next level because he was up for many awards during the show, and was given a big space to perform and share his message, Mic reported.
“Lamar’s performance stole the Grammy show for one undeniable reason: It was raw,” Danielle Campoamor of Romper wrote. “It was raw and real and a truthful representation of the many problems many seem to try and overlook on a daily basis.”
Stevie Wonder: Those with disabilities need access
Stevie Wonder took his time on stage to show his support for those with disabilities. After paying tribute to Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White, Wonder presented the award for the Song of the Year. When he opened the envelope, he said, “You all can’t read this, huh?”
Confusing at first, he clarified that the winner’s name was written in brail. Before he revealed that Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” won the award, Wonder showed his support for those with disabilities.
“I just want to say, before saying the winner, that we need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability,” he said.
This inspired a very positive response from Twitter users, Entertainment Weekly reported.
“Leave it to Stevie Wonder to steal the show at the Grammys without even being nominated,” EW reported.