The Grammys should have been a celebration, but this year’s event had a shadow cast over it.
The annual ceremony took place at the Staples Centre on Sunday (January 27) night, just hours after LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in the Calabasas hills.
Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other people also died in the crash.
Opening the ceremony, host Alicia Keys set the tone with a moving tribute to Bryant and the event was peppered with references to the star as many performers dedicated their time on stage to him.
Here are nine must-see moments from the Grammy Awards…
Ariana Grande on the red carpet
After skipping last year’s ceremony, Grande was back with a bang.
The US superstar sported a custom made Giambattista Valli and this gif from E! is nothing short of stunning:
Grande later performed a medley of hits, re-enacting a section of the 7 Rings video with a troupe of backing dancers and recovering well after forgetting the lyrics to one of the tracks.
Alicia Keys’ Kobe Bryant tribute
The host kicked things off by paying tribute to the basketball legend, who died in a Los Angeles helicopter crash just hours before the ceremony.
“We’re all feeling crazy sadness right now,” she said. “Because earlier today Los Angeles, America, and the whole wide world lost a hero.”
Keys, standing in the same arena where former Los Angeles Lakers star Bryant spent much of his glittering career, added: “We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”
She said all nine of the helicopter crash victims – who also include Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna – are “in our spirit, our hearts, they’re in our prayers, they’re in this building.”
She then asked the star-studded audience inside the Staples Centre in downtown Los Angeles to remember the victims, adding: “We never imagined in a million years we’d have to start the show like this.”
After winning the Best Pop Solo Performance accolade, the singer alluded to Bryant’s death, telling the crowd: “This whole week, I’ve been lost in my problems, stressed out, and then in an instant, all of that can go away and your priorities really shift.
“Today, all of my little problems I thought were the biggest in the world were gone, and I realised that there’s people hurting right now.”
Numerous other winners and performers paid tribute to Bryant, while outside the Staples Centre, fans left flowers and candles in memory of the sports star.
Camila Cabello’s dad was left in tears after her performance
Cabello reduced her father to tears with a heartfelt performance of First Man, a song about their relationship.
The Havana singer took to the stage for a rendition of the ballad, from her recent album Romance, dressed in a pastel pink gown, as pictures of her father appeared on the big screens.
“Now someone else can / But you were the first man that really loved me,” she sung before stepping off the stage to stand in front of her father, who was sitting in the front row.
Alejandro, who was dressed in a black tuxedo, clasped her hands before kissing her, prompting raucous cheers from the audience.
Tyler, the creator’s speech (and mum)
The genre-defying star won his first Grammy for Best Rap Album and brought his tearful mum on stage to collect the prize.
He then told her: “To my mother, you did a great job raising this guy.”
Tyler performed earlier in the ceremony, literally setting the stage on fire during NEW MAGIC WAND before being joined by doppelgangers also sporting platinum blonde, bowl cut wigs and pink suits.
BTS’s performing debut
This year’s Grammys were performance-heavy, with much of the ceremony being taken up by musical interludes rather than awards.
Lil Nas X celebrated the success of his best-selling track Old Town Road by being joined by numerous acts who have contributed to remixes of it, including the might BTS.
Naturally, their appearance sent the fandom into a spin.
Demi Lovato’s tears
Lovato gave one of the most spell-binding performances of the night with her rendition of Anyone, a track she previously described as a “cry for help.”
The star wrote the track in July 2018, just days before a near-fatal overdose and the emotion was clear as soon as she began singing when seconds into the performance, she paused to restart the track.
To rapturous cheers, Lovato delivered a show-stopping performance as tears streamed down her face.
The Nipsey Hussle tribute
Bryant wasn’t the only star honoured at Sunday’s ceremony.
Hussle died last March after being shot outside his Los Angeles clothing store, and his collaborators and friends came together for a star-studded tribute.
Meek Mill, DJ Khaled, John Legend, YG, Roddy Ricch and Kirk Franklin were among those on stage for the rendition of Higher, Khaled’s track with Hussle and Legend.
At the end of the track, pictures of Hussle and Bryant appeared on the big screen.
The rapper, who was 33 years old when he died, became a posthumous Grammy winner when the track was honoured in two categories, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap/Sung Performance.
Everything Billie Eilish did
The evening truly belonged to the 18-year-old singer, who performed and took home five prizes including Album of the Year.
Eilish collected each accolade with her brother and collaborator, becoming increasingly emotional and stunned each time she was on stage.
Winning her fourth in the main ceremony, Record of the Year, Eilish kept her speech to two words: “Thank you.”