The Grammys: The Performances

Francis Specker/CBSAs usual, the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards crammed a whole lot of extravagant, emotional and occasionally mind-blowing performances — and very few actual awards — into a three-and-a-half hour telecast.  There was a lot of profanity onstage — both in the acceptance speeches and in the lyrics of the songs — causing the telecast to be perhaps the most highly-bleeped Grammys ever. Here’s a rundown of who performed what:

Lizzo kicked off the show with a medley of her song “Cuz I Love You” — which she sang while wearing a huge, black sparkly gown while conducting an orchestral string section — and “Truth Hurts,” for which she stripped down to a futuristic bodysuit.  The performance featured plenty of dancers as well as one of Lizzo’s signature flute solos.

Blake Shelton and his girlfriend Gwen Stefani had one of the first numbers of the night, singing their new duet “Nobody But You.”  They sweetly held each other’s hands through the performance.

Following a brief a cappella performance of “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” with Boyz II Men in honor of the late Kobe Bryant, host Alicia Keys sang a version of Lewis Capaldi‘s Grammy-nominated “Someone You Loved” with the lyrics changed to be about this year’s nominees — the chorus was, “I’mma get you kinda used to hearing music you love.”

The Jonas Brothers were up next: First, they performed a stripped-down performance of an unreleased song that may have been called “Five Minutes,” and they took the stage for a massive performance of their current hit “What a Man Gotta Do,” complete with dancers, horns and fireworks. Nick Jonas appeared to have something stuck in his teeth throughout, which he later acknowledged by tweeting, “At least you all know I eat my greens.”

Tyler, The Creator gave the most bonkers performance of the night. It started out somewhat chill, as he performed “Earfquake” with Charlie Wilson and Boyz II Men. Then, he was joined onstage by dozens of Tyler lookalikes, all wearing the same blonde pageboy wig and white-and-red suit as he sang “New Magic Wand” on a set that looked like an empty suburban street. The song climaxed with Tyler jumping up and down and screaming and the entire street burning down; he then fell backwards off the part of the stage he was standing on and disappeared.

Usher performed a Prince tribute as a way of promoting the upcoming CBS-TV special Let’s Go Crazy: A GRAMMY Salute to Prince.  Singing and dancing his way through “Little Red Corvette,” “When Doves Cry” and “Kiss,” Usher was backed up by Prince’s close friend Sheila E. Oddly, even though FKA Twigs was introduced as being part of the performance, all she did was dance on a stripper pole and then slink around, rubbing up against Usher and looking sexy.

Camila Cabello gave one of the most emotional performances of the night, singing “First Man,” a tribute to her father Alejandro Cabello, while home movies of him with a baby Camila were shown.  At the end of the song, she came off the stage and stood in front of her dad, singing directly to him, as he wept openly. They embraced at the end of the song.

Country icon Tanya Tucker, who won her very first Grammys on Sunday, performed a stripped-down version of her winning song “Bring My Flowers Now” with her co-writer and musical collaborator Brandi Carlile.

Ariana Grande gave an elaborate performance of three songs.  She started out dressed in a ballgown, singing “My Favorite Things” with a string section.  Then, she stripped off her gown, donned some sexy sleepwear, and moved onto a bedroom set to sing her nominated song “7 Rings,” which interpolates “My Favorite Things.”  She finished off with part of her smash hit “thank u, next.”

The night’s big winner, Billie Eilish, performed a hushed version of her song “when the party’s over” with her brother and musical collaborator Finneas on piano, plus a backing choir.

Lifetime Achievement honorees Aerosmith performed “Livin’ on the Edge” — during which lead singer Steven Tyler stopped in the audience in front of Lizzo and yelled, “I f***ing love you!” — and then teamed up with Run-DMC for their smash hit “Walk This Way.”  There was no last-minute reprieve for drummer Joey Kramer, who the band had barred from performing with them because they claimed his playing wasn’t up to par. He sued…and lost.

Lil Nas X performed his 19-week number-one hit “Old Town Road” on a stage set that revolved to show different rooms, and in each room, there was a different act who joined him to perform the song, including K-pop superstars BTS, Diplo, Mason Ramsey and, of course, Billy Ray Cyrus. At the very end, none other than Nas — the rap legend who inspired Lil Nas X’s stage name — joined the younger artist onstage to sing “Rodeo.”

Another emotional of a moment came from Demi Lovato, who performed a raw ballad called “Anyone,” which she wrote just four days before she overdosed in 2018.  She was so choked up that she had to stop the song and start it again, and then sang it with tears running down her face. She got a standing ovation at the end.

A tribute to slain rapper Nipsey Hussle featured Meek Mill, DJ Khaled, John Legend, Kirk Franklin, Roddy Ricch and YG, who was arrested on robbery charges two days before the Grammys.  Meek kicked off the performance by performing a rap addressed to Hussle; Roddy Ricch then did “Letter to Nipsey.” Khaled, Franklin, YG and Legend performed “Higher,” which then went on to win the Grammy for Best Rap/Sung performance.  Hussle’s other song “Racks in the Middle” also won a Grammy during the pre-telecast awards.

Spanish star Rosalía and a troupe of dancers performed her flamenco-inspired songs “Malamente” and “Juro Qué.”

At the podium to present Song of the Year, Little Big Town and Smokey Robinson harmonized on his composition “My Girl.”

Alicia Keys and Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard performed a stripped-down version of Alicia’s current single “Underdog,” co-written by Ed Sheeran. By the end of the song, Alicia, joined by a troupe of dancers, had moved to a satellite stage with a piano, which rose in the air for a dramatic finale.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist H.E.R. performed her song “Sometimes” at the piano, backed by a line of musicians in single file behind her, and then she stood up and ripped off a searing guitar solo.

Bonnie Raitt performed a brief rendition of John Prine‘s song “Angel from Montgomery” in tribute to Prine; that was followed by guitarist Gary Clark Jr. performing his Grammy-winning song “This Land,” which is about racism and immigration.

The final performance of the evening was a version of “I Sing the Body Electric” from the 1980 movie Fame, featuring Camila Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Ben Platt, pianist Lang Lang, violinist Joshua Bell, Gary Clark Jr., ballerina Misty Copeland and a chorus of student musicians. It was a tribute to music education, and to Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich, who after 40 years is stepping aside.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.