NEW YORK (AP) — Bruno Mars went six for six at the Grammys, winning all of the awards he was nominated for with his energetic and upbeat 90s-inspired R&B album.
Mars won album of the year for “24K Magic,” record of the year for the title track, and song of the year for the No. 1 hit, “That’s What I Like,” on Sunday at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
“Oh my God. Thank you guys so much. Wow,” said Mars. “I’d like to dedicate this award to (songwriters like Babyface, Teddy Riley Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis).”
Mars has now won 11 career Grammys.
Jay-Z, the leading nominee with eight, walked away empty handed. He lost in the rap categories to Kendrick Lamar, who won five awards, including best rap album for “DAMN.” and best rap song for “HUMBLE.” He has a career total of 12 Grammys.
“This is special man. I got a lot of guys in this building that I still idolize today,” said Lamar, naming Jay-Z, Nas and Diddy as inspirations.
At the end, Lamar closed with: “Jay for president.”
Lamar kicked off the Grammys with a powerful and poignant performance featuring video screens displaying a waving American flag behind him, as background dancers dressed as army soldiers marched and moved behind. He was joined Sunday by U2’s Bono and The Edge, and also Dave Chappelle — who told jokes in between Lamar’s performance.
At one point, Lamar’s background dancers, dressed in red, were shot down as he rapped lyrics, later coming back to life as fire burst to end the six-minute performance.
But the night’s top performer was Kesha, who gave a passionate performance with the help of powerful women behind her, including the Resistance Revival Chorus.
She was joined by Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels, Andra Day and Bebe Rexha for her Grammy-nominated song, “Praying.” Dressed in white, they won over the audience and hugged at the song’s end as some audience members cried, including Hailee Steinfeld.
Kesha, who earned her first pair of Grammy nominations this year, has been in a legal war with former producer and mentor Dr. Luke. Janelle Monae introduced the performance with strong words.
“We come in peace but we mean business. To those who would dare try to silence us, we offer two words: Time’s Up,” Monae said. “It’s not just going on in Hollywood. It’s not just going on in Washington. It’s here in our industry, too.”
Before the performance, Maren Morris, Eric Church and Brothers Osborne performed an emotional rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven” — written after his son died — in honor of the 58 people who died at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas last year. The names of the victims were displayed behind them as they performed.
The performances were two of the show’s serious moments. Dozens of artists and music industry players also sported white roses in support of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements against sexual abuse and harassment.
“Black is beautiful, hate is ugly,” rapper Logic said onstage after performing suicide prevention attention “1-800-273-8255.” The performance, also with Alessia Cara and Khalid, included a group of suicide attempt and loss survivors selected by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Sting’s performance was somewhat political as he sang his 1987 song, “Englishman in New York,” which includes the lyrics, “Oh, I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien, I’m an Englishman in New York.”
Mars gave an energetic and colorful performance of “Finesse” with breakthrough rapper Cardi B; Pink was a vocal powerhouse while she sang “Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken”; and Rihanna, DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller teamed up for a vibrant performance of “Wild Thoughts.”
Cara, who was shaking as she accepted the award for best new artist, beat out SZA, Julia Michaels, Khalid and Lil Uzi Vert.
“Thank you to my parents and my brother for believing in me,” she said, also urging the crowd to “support real music and real artists because everyone deserves the same shot.”
Chris Stapleton won three awards, including best country album, best country song and best country solo performance.
“We always try to make great records … and I guess this is a testament to that,” Stapleton said.
The Rolling Stones picked up their third career Grammy — for best traditional blues album for “Blue & Lonesome,” while Ed Sheeran won best pop vocal album. Emmy and Golden Globe winner Childish Gambino, who picked up best traditional R&B performance, gave a smooth and sultry performance of “Terrified” in all-white featuring screeching high notes. Gambino was joined by young singer-actor, JD McCrary, who matched his vocals and sings on the original track.
Little Big Town, who sang their Taylor Swift-penned No. 1 hit “Better Man,” also won best country duo/group performance with the song. Lady Gaga won over the audience with a rousing performance of the songs “Joanne” and “Million Reasons,” while Sam Smith gave a powerful performance of the song “Pray
The Weeknd, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Reba McEntire, LCD Soundsystem, Portugal the Man and Shakira also won early awards. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, both Oscar and Tony winners, won best musical theater album for “Dear Evan Hansen,” shared with Tony winner Ben Platt.
Chappelle won best comedy album during the televised show.
“I am honored to win an award, finally, and I wanted to thank everyone at Netflix, at ‘Saturday Night Live,’ at ‘The Chappelle Show,'” he said.
Puppies were passed to the losers of best comedy album, including Jerry Seinfeld, Sarah Silverman and Jim Gaffigan.
Posthumous Grammys were also handed out to actress Carrie Fisher, singer Leonard Cohen and engineer Tom Coyne, who worked on Mars’ “24K Magic” album. Double winners included Jason Isbell, Justin Hurwitz and CeCe Winans.