Beyoncé, Hip-Hop & In Memoriam: The Grammys’ Best Moments

History was made and celebrated at last night’s 65th annual Grammy Awards, which in many regards lived up to its aspirational tagline: “Music’s Biggest Night.” This doesn’t mean it was necessarily all that, but the balance of this year’s ceremony, held at Arena in Los Angeles, was full of water-cooler moments, stellar performances and emotional crescendos.

Beyoncé accepts the Best Dance/Electronic Music Album award for “Renaissance” onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Arena on Feb. 5 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

While the Album of the Year award going to Harry Styles over Beyoncé and Bad Bunny may dominate today’s conversations, Sunday’s show featured a slew of unforgettable performances and endearing moments that not only made the nearly four-hour runtime tolerable but often entertaining. Here then are this year’s performance and other highlights.

Queen Bey Reigns Supreme
Beyoncé, an icon with too many monikers, can now add Grammys GOAT to the list. The legendary artist added four more gramophone trophies with her album Renaissance, surpassing Hungarian-born classical conductor George Solti for most career victories with 32 awards (sorry Solti).

Beyoncé, who is also tied for most Grammy nominations (88) with her husband/tablemate, Jay-Z, received a boisterous standing ovation from her peers and fought back tears during her speech.

Though she was late for her first televised win (Curse you L.A. freeways, but thank you Nile Rodgers for your heartfelt speech!), when she finally got up there she thanked her family and her late gay Uncle Jonny, whom she credits as the person who exposed her to queer culture and inspired her album.

“I’d like to thank the queer community for your love, and for inventing the genre,” she tearfully said, noting how house music influenced Renaissance, “God bless you. Thank you so much to the Grammys.”

Hip-Hop’s Half Century
The Grammys delivered an unforgettable history lesson Sunday, celebrating 50 years of hip-hop with a dense 14-minute show curated by Roots’ Questlove that briefly chronicled eras of the genre, from Grandmaster Flash to Lil Uzi Vert and far beyond.

Following the opening O.G. genius of Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Scorpio and Rahiem doing “The Message,” Run-DMC performed “King of Rock,” L.L’s Cool J did “My Radio,” DJ Jazzy Jeff put on “Rock the Bells,” Rakim rocked “Eric B. For President,” and the power-Public Enemy duo of Chuck D and Flavor Flav, with their Bomb Squad badness, hit the stage with “Rebel Without A Pause” taking it to another level.

The medley also took the time to honor the women of hip-hop with Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, GloRilla and Missy Elliott, whose smooth performance of “Lose Control” demonstrated the pop sensibilities of the genre.

Busta Rhymes took the segment to an even more uproarious pitch with his breakneck speed flow, performing “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” and transitioning to a verse from Chris Brown’s hit “Look at Me,” and impressed audiences with his verbal dexterity, especially fellow New Yorker Jay-Z.

The hip-hop historian that is the Roots Questlove also brought in OG GOATs like Wu-Tang’s Method Man (“Method Man”), Trugoy from De La Soul (“Buddy”), Queen Latifah (“U.N.I.T.Y”) and Ice T (“New Jack Hustler (Nino’s Theme).”

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Spliff Star and Busta Rhymes perform during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Arena on Feb. 5 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Timothy Norris/FilmMagic)

Way To Say Bye
With the Boomer generation now getting up in age, the Grammys allotted time and thought into honoring the incredible artists lost in the past year, with one of the best produced In Memoriams in recent memory.

Kacey Musgraves paid tribute to Loretta Lynn with an acoustic performance of “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” followed by an emotional outing from Quavo and Maverick City Music that honored his late nephew and bandmate Takeoff. David Crosby’s music played for a brief period as his image graced the screen, and Mick Fleetwood was accompanied by Bonnie Raitt and Shery Crow for an emotional performance of “Songbird,” paying tribute to Fleetwood Mac bandmate Christine McVie; while Jeff Beck was honored amidst one of his searing guitar solos.

Bad Bunny Gets the Party Started
Bad Bunny demonstrated why he was 2022’s highest-grossing star in the live biz setting a new calendar year record by getting everyone’s hips moving to his Afro-Carribean-inspired hits from the Grammy-nominated Un Verano Sin Ti, the first Spanish-language earn a nomination for the album of the year honor. With a troupe of dancers and cabezudos (large-headed figures often seen during Puerto Rico’s biggest celebrations) of Latin legends, Bad Bunny’s energetic and dynamic performance set the tone for the evening and demonstrated the power and influence of música Latina. And his subsequent speech from broken English (“Passion and Love!”) to full-on Spanish was incredibly endearing.

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Chris Stapleton and Stevie Wonder perform onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Stevie Wonder & Chris Stapleton — Can That Be a Joint Tour? 
Stevie Wonder is a damn treasure, and the legendary musician led a rousing set that honored Motown legends Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy.

He opened with “The Way You Do the Things You Do” and was then joined by Robinson  for “Tears of a Clown.” Wonder saved the best for last and brought the house down alongside Chris Stapleton with an electrifying rendition of “Higher Ground.” That brought everyone to their feet and showed that inextricable link between soul and country others have mined over the years as well as Stapleton’s soulful growl and brilliant fretwork.

Host Trevor Noah said it best after the medley: “Are you kidding me right now? I mean, how amazing was that everybody?”

Harry Styles Hug-Jumping With 78-Year-Old Fan
For many, Harry’s House winning album of the year may have been an upset, but it wasn’t for Reina of Sudbury, Ontario. The 78-year-old Canadian grandmother was one of several fans to take center stage for the final honor of the evening and stumped for Styles during a treacle segment featuring fans making their case for the artist most deserving of the Album of the Year award.

In what was one of the night’s best moments, host Trevor Noah had the 78-year-old present the winner of the prestigious honor a shocked Styles approached the main stage and embraced an excited and emotional Reina, hugging and jumping up and down with his biggest fan before giving his speech. Perhaps in two years, they can make “80 For Harry.”

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Harry Styles accepts the Album Of The Year award for “Harry’s House” and hugs his biggest fan. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

“Well, shit,” Styles said after the win. “I’ve been so inspired by every artist in this category with me. A lot of different times in my life, I listen to everyone in this category when I’m alone. I think on nights like tonight, it’s obviously so important for us to remember there is no such thing as best in music. … This is really, really kind. I’m so, so grateful. This doesn’t
happen to people like me very often and this is so, so nice.”

Styles also shined on stage with metallic-colored attire performing his big hit “As It Was,” with dancers and a rotating lazy-Susan stage.

Lizzo Lizzo Lizzo
Lizzo brought plenty of soul and heart to the show with not only a stunning and maximalist performance of “About Damn Time” and “Special” that included a massive gold-hued choir, but she also gave one of the night’s best speeches.

Following her record of the year win, a stunned Lizzo gave shoutouts to the artists who inspired her, including Prince.

“I want to dedicate this award to Prince,” she said. “When we lost Prince, I decided to dedicate my life to making positive music. … This was at a time when positive music and feel-good music wasn’t mainstream at that point, and I felt very misunderstood. I felt on the outside looking in, but I stayed true to myself because I wanted to make a better place, so I had to be that change to make the world a better place.”

She also shared a story that shows the power live music can have on a person, telling Beyoncé that she skipped school in fifth grade to watch her perform.

“You changed my life,” Lizzo said to Beyoncé. “You sang that gospel medley, and the way you made me feel, I was like, I want to make people feel this way with my music. So thank you so much. You clearly are the artist of our lives.”

Kim Petras Makes History 
It was a night of inclusivity as Kim Petras became the first transgender woman to win a Grammy. She and Sam Smith took home the trophy for best pop duo/group performance for their song, “Unholy.”

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Kim Petras and Sam Smith accept the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance award for “Unholy.” (Photo by JC Olivera/WireImage)

Smith allowed Petras to take centerstage and asked everyone to stand up as she spoke to the audience, name-checking a trailblazer who unfortunately passed away in 2021.

“I just want to thank all of the incredible transgender legends before me who kicked these doors open before me so I could be here tonight,” she said. “Sophie especially, my friend who passed away two years ago, who told me this would happen and always believed in me. Thank you so much for your inspiration, Sophie. I adore you, and your inspiration will forever be in my music. Madonna for fighting for LGBTQ rights. I don’t think I could be here without Madonna.”

Later in the ceremony, Madonna introduced the duo as they performed their Grammy-winning hit with a fiery performance.

Brandi Carlile Rocks!
Following Bad Bunny is no easy feat, but Brandi Carlile successfully did so with a roaring good performance of “Broken Horses,” which included an awesome guitar solo by one of those Hanseroth twins.

Carlile’s wife and two children introduced their favorite artist, and she didn’t disappoint, putting her rock sensibilities on full display with her remarkable voice and guitar-playing abilities and showing us how she earned the Grammy awards for best rock song and best rock performance.

Bonnie Raitt Is Stunned 
Competing against superstars such as Beyoncé, Lizzo and Harry Styles, Bonnie Raitt was genuinely as shocked as everyone else was to hear her name called for song of the year for “Just Like That.”

Raitt, 73, became the first woman over 50 to receive the honor and the legendary singer-songwriter said the win “gives me the drive to keep going” as she approaches the second year of her big tour.

“I’m so surprised because they were just massively talented, great tunes that represented tremendous excitement of the public,” she said backstage after the win. “… I’m so glad to be nominated, I was very surprised, holding up our end of the American roots and my generation. That made me very proud.”

Who’s That?
And lastly, Samara Joy, a 23-year-old jazz-singing wunderkind straight out of the Bronx, NYC, won best new artist category, which no one thought possible with a non-mainstream genre and also facing down ten(!) very worthy nominees, which included Wet Leg, Omar Apollo, Måneskin, Molly Tuttle, Tobe Nwigwe and Anitta. Pollstar had a feeling that with her “once-in-a-generation” voice, she could take the whole thing and if anyone saw her pre-tel performance they’d know why.