Jon Batiste Wins Album of the Year and Ukraine President Zelenskyy Delivers Powerful Speech at the 2022 Grammys

The 64th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony lit up the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday. 

Just a week after one of the most chaotic moments took place in Oscars history and following a two-month delay and sudden location change, the biggest award show in music finally happened with host Trevor Noah kicking the night off.

Noah seemed truly hyped to let the music finally play as the ceremony had been postponed two years in a row. He also wasted no time in alluding to Will Smith’s highly controversial slap of comedian Chris Rock during last Sunday’s Oscars. 

“Don’t even think of this as an award show,” Noah said about the ceremony after opening act Silk Sonic performed their song “777.”

“It’s a concert where we are giving out awards, we will be listening to music, dancing, sing, keeping people’s names out of our mouths and we are going to give people awards all throughout the night. So, let’s get straight into it,” he continued.

Noah wasn’t the only one to take a crack at the King Richard actor. Questlove also addressed Smith’s slap while presenting the Grammy for Song of the Year to Silk Sonic, saying, “All right, I am going to present this award and I trust that you people will stay 500 feet away from me. 

Silk Sonic, the magnetic team of Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak, also won Record of the Year for Leave the Door Open. 

“We are really trying our hardest to remain humble at this point, OK?” said Anderson .Paak. “But in the industry, we call that a clean sweep! Drinks is on Silk Sonic tonight. We’re gonna get drunk!”

Album of the Year went to an elated Jon Batiste, who had the most nominations this year at 11, for “We Are.” 

Batiste said in his acceptance speech that making music is “more than entertainment for me — it’s a spiritual practice.” He added, “I really believe this to my core: There is no best musician, best artist, best dancer, best actor. The creative arts are subjective and they reach people at a point in their lives when they need it most. It’s like a song or an album is made and it has a radar to find a person when they need it the most.”

Rock band Foo Fighters won three awards: Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Album and Best Rock Song. The band was unfortunately a no show following the sudden death of their drummer Taylor Hawkins last month.

Host Trevor Noah introduced a video montage of Hawkins performing, while the band’s song “My Hero” played. The video then led to the In Memoriam segment, performed by Ben Platt, Cynthia Erivo, Leslie Odom Jr. and Rachel Zegler.

Indian composer Ricky Kej won his second Grammy this year for Best New Age Album for Divine Tides on which he collaborated with The Police drummer Stewart Copeland.

Olivia Rodrigo won best pop vocal album while Best Pop Duo/Group Performance went to Doja Cat for “Kiss Me More” featuring SZA.

Pop star Justin Bieber had also left the show empty handed, despite receiving eight nominations, a total topped only by Jon Batiste. Bieber did however take the stage to perform his hit song “Peaches” with Daniel Caesar.

Billie Eilish was another pop star to go home empty-handed despite seven nominations, including album, record and song of the year. The young artist did however, win an Oscar just last week for the song “No Time to Die” for the latest James Bond film. 

Halsey, who showed up to the ceremony only days after having endometriosis surgery, lost for best alternative music album to St. Vincent. She has yet to win a Grammy. Selena Gomez, who has been recording music for 13 years, finally received her first nomination this year for best Latin pop album but sadly lost to Alex Cuba.

After speculation that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy might make an appearance at the show, the audience and viewers at home were given a pre-taped speech that the president shot recently in a bunker in Kyiv.

Zelensky, whose career started in show business, pressed Hollywood for an appearance at the Oscars but he did not speak at the show.

Sean Penn made headlines the day before the Oscars by telling CNN’s Jim Acosta that he would “smelt” his Oscars in public if the Academy elected against asking Zelenskyy to speak during the live telecast.

“There is nothing greater that the Academy Awards could do than to give [Zelenskyy] an opportunity to talk to all of us,” Penn said at the time.

The Grammy video introduced John Legend’s performance about two hours in and included an emotional speech from Zelenskyy. 

“The war. What is more opposite of music? The silence of ruined cities and killed people,” Zelenskyy said. “Our children draw swooping rockets, not shooting stars. Over 400 children have been injured and 153 children died, and we will never see them drawing. Our parents are happy to wake up in the morning in bomb shelters, but alive. Our loved ones don’t know if we will be together again. The war doesn’t let us choose who survives and who stays in eternal silence.”

He continued, “Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos. They sing to the wounded in hospitals. Even to those who can’t hear them. But the music will break through anyway. We defend our freedom. To live. To love. To sound. On our land, we are fighting Russia which brings horrible silence with its bombs. Fill the silence with your music. Fill it today. Tell our story. Tell the truth about the war on your social networks and TV. But not silence.”