'Welcome to the Grammys, bitch!': Lizzo kicks off awards show with ballerinas, Kobe dedication, medley of hits

Lizzo at the Grammys.

Lizzo at the Grammys. Associated Press

If you were hoping to see Lizzo take home the big awards at the Grammys last night, you were disappointed. (If you’re young and innocent enough that the Grammys can still disappoint you, that is.)

Billie Eilish swept the major categories—Song of the Year, Record of the Year, Album of the Year, and Best New Artist. The 18-year-old weird-pop star (who’ s great herself, congrats to her) said she’d been looking forward to the moment “my whole life” and I instantly aged three decades. Also, it seemed like she was saying some funny stuff when she got bleeped out. Let Billie swear!

Lizzo did win best Pop Solo Performance for “Truth Hurts,” Best Urban Contemporary Album for Cuz I LoveYou, and Traditional R&B Performance for “Jerome,” so she has three more Grammys than most of us. She gave a very nice speech after her one televised win, thanking two Minneapolis pals, “my best friends Quinn and Lauren.” That would be her creative director, Quinn Wilson, and her DJ Sophia Eris (Lauren’s her birth name).

And Lizzo got to start the night off with a performance of her hits. Unfortunately, the Grammys have this whole “wah wah, it’s our intellectual property” hangup, so there are no legally embeddable videos of the full performance. So instead let me endeavor to describe the moment, painting a “word picture,” if you will.

Resplendent in a black rhinestone gown, Lizzo announced “Tonight is for Kobe,” then reared back and ripped through “Cuz I Love You.” She was joined by whimsically outfitted ballerinas for “Truth Hurts.” There was a flute interlude. She shouted “Welcome to the Grammys, bitch.” Not disappointing.

Here are a couple samples of what I looked like.

As for the rest of the Grammys—well, you know. The whole experience was soured by this week’s lawsuit from ousted CEO Deborah Dugan, which included allegations of rape, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and a rigged nomination process. Oddly, none of this was mentioned last night. Here’s what did happen:

  • Alicia Keys performed a week-long version of Lewis Capaldi’s “Somebody You Loved” with new lyrics referencing the night’s nominees in what felt like an SNL bit about about an awards show host being required to stall for time.
  • There were ballads. So many ballads. And when the people onstage weren’t singing ballads, they were Aerosmith and they were barely navigating “Walk This Way.”
  • Sharon Osbourne enthusiastically read Best Rap/Sung Performance nominees (“Drip Too Hard!”) and mispronounced DJ Khaled’s name—imagine what a blessed life you must have led to be able to do that.
  • There was an all-star performance of a song from Fame for some reason. (That reason being that this was the Grammys.)
  • Tanya Tucker, after awarding Best Comedy Album to an absent Dave Chapelle, tossed off a sharp “I’m sure he thanks y’all.”

Oh, also, there was another Prince tribute. Usher sang “Let’s Go Crazy,” “When Doves Cry,” and “Kiss” reasonably well and wore some leather pants even better, while fka twigs got to dance but not sing. Good work there, Grammys.