Reporter's Notebook

The 2016 Grammy Awards
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Our live coverage compiled below.

Show 2 Newer Notes

Kendrick Lamar Saves the Grammys

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

Tributes to late artists and respectable crooning from young ones were pretty much all the Grammys offered until Kendrick Lamar arrived to remind the world what music engaged with the present and unafraid of offending can achieve. He showed up as an inmate in a mock prison, and if the racial implication of the image wasn’t clear, he performed the first verse of the fiercely political confession “Blacker the Berry,” with stop-start instrumentation that somehow made the song even more intense than the version on his album.

The performance morphed into what looked like a tribal ceremony with an eye-searing bonfire, as Lamar broke into “Alright,” which is nominated for Song of the Year and has become a rallying song for Black Lives Matter. The set then shifted again as Lamar performed alone in front of the mic; quick camera cuts created a chaotic, hallucinatory effect. When the music ended, behind Lamar was a silhouette of Africa—but inscribed with the word “Compton,” the home of Lamar and a birthplace of gangsta rap.

After Beyonce’s performance at the Super Bowl a week ago, we can officially say a Black Power moment in mainstream pop has arrived.

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

“Hello and welcome to the 2016 Grammy awards,” Taylor Swift said in the midst of her show-opening performance. “But right now, it’s 1989.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s actually the fall of 2014: That’s when Swift’s world-conquering synthpop album came out. But thanks to the Grammys’ strangely off-set consideration window (October 1 to September 30), it’s only up for awards nowafter its world tour has concluded, and after its run of top-10 singles seems to have ended. The song Swift performed to open the ceremony, “Out of the Woods,” was one of the two songs that the public heard before the album dropped, and its video was released on New Years Eve 2015a long time in pop.

If Swift wins Album of the Year tonight, it will be the capstone for the reign of one of the most commercially successful albums of the new millennium—and maybe the end of Swift’s quest to dominate headlines for more than a year. If she doesn’t win, Swift may take a break anyway. As for her performance tonight, it was passionate and professional. But it suffered from featuring many of the same elements that the public has grown used to seeing her with over the past 15 months: a shimmery jumpsuit, and the sight of thousands of light-up wristbands flashing from the audience.

We’ll be updating the list of winners as the Grammys go on. Note that these are for the awards at the primetime ceremony; a number of contests were decided earlier in the night.

Best Rap Album: Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly

Best Country Album: Chris Stapleton, Traveller

Song of the Year: Ed Sheeran, “Thinking Out Loud”

Best Musical Theater Album: Hamilton

Best Rock Album: Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color

Best New Artist: Meghan Trainor

Album of the Year: Taylor Swift, 1989

Record of the Year: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk”

Danny Moloshok / Reuters

A couple of minutes ago on E!, one of the red carpet reporters touted her network’s “exclusive camera angles” on the musicians walking by. It’s a funny boast—right here, a successor to the Dutch tilt, discovered?!—but it’s also fitting, given how much of this award show about music can rise or fall on its visuals.

Which is another way of saying that for most folks, the performances and pageantry matter a lot more than the awards. The credibility of the Grammys when it comes to recognizing significant achievements in music is not high. But as a chance to launch conversation-starting TV moments, it is perhaps the best awards show there is. This year, there’s more suspense around those performances than usual.