As you might have seen, the Grammy Awards, also known as “music’s biggest night,” took place last night. While we could all debate over who should have won what—we know it, Adele knows it, Beyoncé knows it—the award ceremony’s biggest selling point is always the performances. We figured we’d round up our favorites of the nearly four-hour program for those of you who didn’t have the time or maybe just weren’t concerned with the Grammys this year.
Here are the five you should make sure to watch.
Sturgill Simpson – “All Around You”
was many music fans’ favorite dark horse at the Grammys this year. Having vocally spoken out against the Nashville country music world last year, he had clearly made himself an enemy, and when the Grammy nominations came out he was largely absent from the country music field, other than being up for Best Country Album, which he won. He was also granted a nomination for Album of the Year, the only non-pop artist up for the major award. His performance showed why that nomination was completely deserved. While it wasn’t the explosive beast he brought to the SNL stage last month, it did feature him singing with a orchestra along with the Dap-Kings (with a wicked saxophone solo) in tribute to Sharon Jones. Simpson recently announced tour dates that will keep him busy for much of the year to come.
Chance the Rapper – “How Great”/”All We Got”
Chance the Rapper
made history last night, plain and simple. After being basically the sole reason for a necessary change of Grammy rules last year allowing for the inclusion of streaming-only releases, he triumphantly claimed a trio of trophies for Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, and Best Rap Performance all for his 2016 album Coloring Book. To cap things off, he delivered a knockout, glorious performance of the kind only Chance in all of his gospel zeal and positivity could. He also brought along Kirk Franklin, Francis and the Lights, and Tamela Mann. Throughout the night Chance seemed the most enthused, actively reveling in his wins and making the awards feel fun and important, rather than just an afterthought, and this performance is a snapshot of a young man reaching a true pinnacle, then shooting higher.
Prince Tribute featuring Bruno Mars and The Time
After a year filled with tributes to the icon that is Prince, there's not much left to be said. Because of the timing of his death, the Grammys fall on the tail end of these celebrations of the man's music, and perhaps that's for the best. The heaviness of his passing is starting to lift, making this performance feel appropriately fun; more joyful remembrance than emotional battering. They also avoided many of the pitfalls of last year's Lady Gaga tribute to David Bowie by not trying to go through 10 different hits from Prince's career, and by just sounding better rehearsed. The Time, longtime Prince collaborators who were featured in Purple Rain, opened things up with their funky “Jungle Love” before being joined by Bruno Mars for an impressive take on “Let's Go Crazy,” which gave Mars a chance to show off some impressive guitar chops.
Beyoncé – “Love Draught” and “Sandcastles”
While Beyoncé may have been robbed of the big three awards, of which she most definitely deserved all of them, this was just one of those performances. You could feel it coming long before it started. After it was finished, it felt strange that we were only about halfway through the night. After an introduction from her mother, Beyoncé sent the audience down a rabbit hole of psychedelic, Krishna- and Hindu-inspired visuals. As far as her vocal performance went, she kept things understated, relying as much on voiceovers as she did on her gentle melodies as she spoke on motherhood, womanhood, and healing—not to mention she did all of this while visibly pregnant with recently announced twins. Like Lemonade did, this performance seeks to challenge the traditional forms in which music and visual art can come together. Beyoncé has deservedly earned a reputation for making her award show performances events not to be missed, and this one might take the cake.
A Tribe Called Quest and Anderson .Paak – “Movin’ Backwards” and “We the People…”
Like Beyoncé’s, but for completely different reasons, this was a performance that demanded to be seen. After Tribe teased “Can I Kick It?” and “Award Tour,” Anderson .Paak took a spot behind the drum kit, and moved into “Movin’ Backwards,” his collaboration with the hip-hop legends. But things went up a notch when Busta Rhymes and Consequence joined Tribe and .Paak for a furious rendition of “We the People…” Busta Rhymes called out “President Agent Orange” right off the bat and the performance didn’t hold back from politics from there—I mean, how could it? Other performers and speakers made reference to Trump, most prominent being Katy Perry, but ATCQ’s blew them out of the water with true, outright protest that culminated with people of all different ethnicities marching up to the stage and Q-Tip shouting “Resist!” with fists raised at the close. Enjoy one more taste of ATCQ via the Paste Cloud below.