The Grammy Awards get off to a lively (and no-nonsense) start

At the start of this year’s Grammys, host Trevor Noah made it clear the show would avoid the drama that marked the Oscars last weekend.

“We’re going to keep people’s names out of our mouths,” Noah said, referencing the now infamous moment Will Smith confronted Chris Rock over a joke made about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Along with slapping the comic, Will Smith said, “Keep my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

Not that the music industry ceremony, televised on CBS, isn’t capable of providing its own moments of controversy and intrigue. The event was originally scheduled for January 31, but was moved to Sunday due to fears earlier in the year over the fast-spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus. And the Grammys made headlines when they banned Kanye West, aka Ye, from performing due to his recent “concerning online behavior.”

The show also had to prove that it could find an audience again. A record audience of 8.8 million viewers watched the ceremony last year – down 53% from viewership in 2020.

The event kicked off with a bang, with a performance by Silk Sonic, the R&B duo of Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak. Silk Sonic was also the first big winner of the night when his song, “Leave the Door Open”, was named song of the year.

Other artists featured at the start of the ceremony include singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo and K-pop sensations BTS.

Many winners were also announced ahead of the televised ceremony. The Foo Fighters, who were inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame last year, won Best Rock Album (“Medicine at Midnight”) and Best Rock Song (“Waiting on a War”). The honors likely carried special significance for the band, as its drummer, Taylor Hawkins, recently passed away. (The Foo Fighters were scheduled to perform at this year’s ceremony, but canceled after Hawkins’ death.)

Another multiple winner: Jon Batiste, the singer and bandleader, who was named the recipient of several awards, including best music video (“Freedom”), ahead of the televised ceremony. Batiste entered the evening as the most nominated artist, with 11 nominations in all. It is nominated in the main categories of the evening – album of the year and record of the year.

Batiste’s competition in the album category includes artists such as Justin Bieber, Doja Cat, Taylor Swift and the duo Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

Aside from Noah’s opening remarks about the Oscars, the Will Smith-Chris Rock incident was mostly ignored. Instead, presenters and recipients focused on the music itself.

Still, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the artist who presented the Song of the Year award, joked, “I’m sure you’ll stay 500 feet away from me.”

The comment carried particular weight since Questlove had just won the Best Documentary Oscar for his film “Summer of Soul” — the very category Rock presented at the Oscars.

This year’s show takes place for the first time in its 64-year history in Las Vegas. The ceremony is produced by film and television director Ben Winston, who shared his thoughts on Twitter a few hours before the event.

“Proud to produce the Grammy today. Holy lineup,” he said.

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